July 17, 2013

Movie Review: Nightmare City

The more movies I watch, the more I realize I have left to see. It is something that I always know, it is always there, gnawing at the back of my cranium. The good thin about it is that is what leads me to the next movie, and the next and, the one after that. The other day I was looking for Shocking Dark and ended up with Hell of the Living Dead. Hat made me think about another movie I needed to watch, the Umberto Lenzi's classic, Nightmare City.

Umberto Lenzi is one of those directors who is ranked near the elite, at least I consider him up near the likes of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, Ruggero Deodato, and probably a few others that I am forgetting. Anyway, in addition to kicking off the Italian cannibal cycle with The Man from Deep River, and trying to take it back from Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust with Cannibal Ferox, he took a stab at the Italian zombie genre with this wild and crazy outing.

Nightmare City opens with a radio announcement telling of a radiation leak and a team going to investigate it. We then meet a reporter who is scheduled to interview a nuclear scientist who was heading the investigative team for the radiation leak. He heads off to the airport with his cameraman to meet him while his doctor wife heads off to the hospital for her day of work. The air control tower gets a blip of an incoming plane and this is where things begin to get weird.

Well, with a title like Nightmare City, a tack record like Lenzi's, and the mere fact it is an Italian zombie flick should have tipped you off that you were in for an interesting ride. Sadly, the version I was watching appears to have been edited. It lacked the rampant random nudity I had been told was it it, it had some, but I think there was more in the trailer. Also, the gore seems to have been cut down some. While I would have preferred the complete version, it did not destroy the wild and per the top ride this thing is.

Anyway, the unmarked plane lands and is promptly surrounded by police. Against my protestations, they open it only to find the scientist that the reporter was sent to interview. Without saying a word, he steps out of he plan and promptly stabs one of the officers. This triggers an outpouring of irradiated zombie things, they come roaring out of the hatches, attacking anything that moves.

This brings up another point. Nightmare City is not the strictest of zombie films. While it has familiar setups and plot flow, this is really the start of the fast zombie/infected style. These zombies are not exactly dead, but need fresh blood to replace the constantly state of destruction their radiated red blood cells are undergoing. They are fast, they run and know how to use tools. They use knives, machetes, machine guns, and whatever else is laying around to dispatch their intended targets. They also have this great muddy oatmeal look. They certainly look different, not as scary a a Fulci or Romero zombie, but intense nonetheless.

The movie follows the reporter finding his wife and escaping the city and the search of the general in charge for his daughter. They are really only there to take us from zombie attack to zombie attack. Fortunately, we get plenty of interesting locals, the airstrip, a television station, a hospital, an old house, and an amusement park among them. Of course, in between the attacks we have characters saddled with super serious dialogue telling of man's inhumanity and how we are the monsters. Issuing everything in the search for power. It passes for social commentary.

I guess the most controversial aspect of this insane foray into the infected fast zombie sub genre is its endings. I will not give it away here, but it is well played in my estimation, it comes out of nowhere and Is sure to egos a reaction.

The movie is quite ridiculous, but a hell of a lot of fun. It doesn't disturb the way Fulci does, but it does invite a group of friends to enjoy a few adult beverages while watching.

While I watched it, I was encouraged to live tweet/FB reactions, which I did. Among the things that caught my mind were the gratuitous nudity to perform chest compressions, that zombies like milk, the speed of the zombies, "hold your socks on", when getting provisions they grab milk and liquor, the idea of not letting a state of emergency ruin a weekend getaway, how a helicopter looking for oddities notices an ambulance leaving own but doesn't investigate, surgery by flashlight, the interpretive dance show, and how much the infection spreads although I did not hear how it spread. There are more, but this should assist in giving you an idea of what you are in for.


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