NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)
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Italian filmmaker Umberto Lenzi is probably most known for his notorious cannibal film Cannibal Ferox, thought, many believe this to be his best film. Story has a radioactive spill occurring at a nuclear power facility and a group of people becoming contaminated by the radiation. It gives them a mutated appearance, superhuman strength and an appetite for blood, as the radiation depletes their red blood cells. These mutated, zombie-like creatures lay siege to a nearby city and soon all bloody hell is breaking loose as they kill and spread the contamination. The film focuses on the efforts of the military to contain and stop the outbreak, while a news reporter (Hugo Stiglitz) and his doctor wife (Laura Trotter) try to get out of the city alive.
The fact that this nonsensical flick has three writers attached to it is actually the most entertaining thing about it. The film has a bare bones plot, but is basically a series of random ultra-violent attack sequences as the creatures butcher their victims in a variety of ways. It gets tiresome quickly and despite a lot of gore, it and the make-up effects are cheesy, even for an 1980s Italian gore movie. The story makes little sense as the ‘zombies’ appear to be animalistic and bloodthirsty one moment, then very coordinated and strategic the next. They savagely rip their victims apart yet, seem to be organized enough in their attack patterns and smart enough to hijack and fly a plane, then later take out the airports to avoid military bombings. They seem crazed and don’t speak, but act as if their is distinct communication between them and possibly leadership, but we never see or hear evidence of it. Even more ridiculous is that the army figures out quite early that they can be stopped by a bullet to the brain, yet soldiers and police rarely use that option when in direct combat. It’s just silly. There is no suspense and Lenzi doesn’t seem to have much in terms of choreographing in the mayhem, so the film almost seems made up as it goes along. If not for the continual violence and bloodshed, which as stated, gets quite monotonous early on, there really isn’t much to recommend as the acting, dialog, story and action are all bad…and it’s up to you as to how much entertainment you can find in such epic fail badness.
So, despite liking these 80s Italian flicks and certainly having a strong tolerance for bad in my movies, I found Nightmare City to be tedious, repetitive and just, overall, bad. This flick has it’s fans and I can understand why, but even my ‘so bad it’s good’ tastes couldn’t find much to entertain me with this. I was not a big fan of Cannibal Ferox either, but did find some amusement in Lenzi’s scatterbrained Ghosthouse. Apparently this flick is set to be remade with horror legend Tom Savini in the director’s chair…and this is one flick that could use an update!
Rated 2 (out of 4) irradiated zombies with make-up and acting of equal badness!