Nightmare City Review
OK, there is a confession to make at the start of this review. This is a movie that defies attempts to review it. What criteria can it be judged against? What can be said about the wooden acting, the lousy effects and the creaky storyline that can truly be said to be objective? Well, let’s try.
The acting is wooden, the dubbing lousy and the special effects are ‘special’ in the same way as that kid in school with the snot-encrusted sleeve was ‘special'. There is little to endear this film to anyone. If any film deserved to be lost and forgotten forever, this is it.
However, this is where it starts to get weird. The introduction above was written with a standard, Blockbuster renting, Scorcese worshipping, Oscar junkie type of film fan in mind. The sort of film fan that is only able to judge a film on pre-determined criteria. The acting must be of a certain standard, the plot must keep moving, and constantly surprise, and the direction must be suitably flamboyant. If all these elements are in place, our mythical fan can check all the little boxes and wander home from the multiplex all pleased that he or she has seen ‘a true modern classic’. Umberto Lenzi cares little about the sensibilities of such people, and neither should we. If you fall into this category, you might as well stop reading now and go and watch ‘Taxi Driver’ again.
The plot is, as is the fashion in Italian Zombie movies, is based heavily on the work of ‘others’. A strange disease threatens its victims with a nasty, lingering un-death, as they become super athletic zombies. Of course, the disease is a result of man’s own meddling with things he shouldn’t be, and the old ‘ecological message’ is wheeled out again.
Plot aside, this film moves with the energy of a punk band on speed. The zombies are fantastic creations. Though the make-up leaves a lot to be desired, you could probably achieve the same result, or a better result, with the contents of your bin. But, they move, they run and jump, and are actually quite viscous creations, and a pleasant change from the usual shuffling, moaning things we are all quite used too. The gore is lively, and very over the top. It’s one of the only things that make the film worth watching. That, and the zombies bad timing when it comes to catching women; for some reason they are a little too slow at this, and usually only manage to pull their tops off. There seems to be quite a few ladies who get their tops pulled off for no reason at all. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This is fast, furious, no budget Italian film making at it’s very best. The acting is poor, the direction muddled and the plot is so wooden it could be mistaken for a witch. The cast, including Italian star Hugo Stiglitz, perform adequately, no more, no less. There are numerous and bizarre action set pieces including a rampage in a television studio that defies explanation suffice to say it includes many topless dancers and knife-wielding zombies, usually a good combination. The film races along at furious pace, never outstaying its welcome, and the end, well lets just say, it will make you groan out loud. Highly recommended.
Anamorphic 2:35.1 transfer that looks a lot better than it has any right to. There is some minor print damage at some points, but nothing to worry about, and if you were not looking for it, you probably would not notice it. It’s clean and bright, with good, strong colours. There are times when it looks a little overexposed, but this is probably due to Lenzi’s ‘methods’ than any mastering problems. Flesh tones are good, and the blood is a nice rich red.
Only a stereo remix, but good and clear. Not hugely exciting.
A trailer, which is even faster and funnier than the film.
Much better than average, a 12-minute interview with Lenzi himself, which is both interesting and informative. He gives a nice, frank, account of his involvement with the film, but be warned, he does give the ending away, so make sure you watch this last.
It’s a sad testimony to the censorship laws of this country that this harmless pap is only now available in its full-uncut glory. A worthy purchase if you have a weakness for this sort of thing, just don’t go expecting miracles. It’s gore bubblegum all the way, 90 minutes of punk rock, manic, zombie mayhem, with added topless ladies. If your expectations were as low as mine were, you might be pleasantly surprised.