Friday, 25 January 2013

Review - Nightmare City (1980 - Dir. Umberto Lenzi)

A plane approaches a runway without any radio contact from the pilot. The control tower is very wary so they send out some military types to investigate. The plane lands and stands silently. No-one is visible in the cockpit. A warning is given for the occupants of the plane to come out and surrender. Intrepid honest reporter Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) is on the scene filming with his trusty camera man. The door opens... and all hell breaks loose with zombies charging about hitting, knifing, biting and shooting everyone. Yep, these zombies can use sub-machine guns. 

As you might have guessed this is pure comedy. It is definitely a bad film but it's not so bad that it's good, although it is funny for a while. Along with the zombies, the camp eighties dancing in the style of Pan's People is a highlight. As are the characters' bizarre behaviours. You desperately need petrol and you find a deserted petrol station. Do you A) Fill up quickly and leg it before the zombies come or B) Make yourself a coffee and sit down for a bit of a chat? You can guess what they do in the film.

The zombies themselves look like what can only be described as turd-people. That wear suits. Most of the violence is very tame with joke shop knives being drawn across necks but the director seems to have a liking for having ladies' tops ripped open and then stabbing them. One unfortunate lady has one of her begonias pruned in a very nasty fashion. This does seem to be a theme in certain zombie films: Zombie: Nights of Terror and The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue also contain similar scenes. Worrying indeed.

The music is by Stelvio Cipriani - of A Bay of Blood fame - but this soundtrack isn't a patch on that. The title music is fair enough but by no means memorable.

A zombie-fighting climax atop a roller-coaster with a slight degree of excitement is completely wrecked by a stunningly bad ending, but again it raises a smile, especially when the text overlaying the final image appears. It all makes sense, in a strange kind of way - unlike the ending of The City of the Living Dead - it's just that a six year old child could have written it. I'm surprised that they didn't all go home, have their tea, play on their PS3, chat to their friends and talk about how much they love their mums and dads and baby sisters and hamsters.

It's worth watching about five minutes of the rampaging zombies careening around (and the camp dancing) but after that it all falls a little flat. One for zombie completists only.

(Average rating for the season so far = 5.25)

If you like this you could also try:
Zombie: Nights of Terror, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, Zombie Creeping Flesh.


  1. It sounds strangely intriguing but not worth watching really.

    1. The full film's on YouTube but it's only worth watching the first ten minutes. You get the idea from that really...

  2. You're definitely right about this being for completists. That being said, since I am a completist, this one is ESSENTIAL VIEWING to me!

    Great review.

    1. Thanks for that and I'd agree that it is essential for anyone who is seriously into zombie films. I can't say that I can recommend this to anyone (hence the 3/10 rating) but I have to admit having a soft spot for it.