Nightmare CityNightmare City

Nightmare City”(1980), Directed by Umberto Lenzi, Not Rated (equivalent of an R)

Quite frankly, this will probably be the least scary film I’ll put on this list. And this isn’t one of those films that tries to be scary and fails — no, this is a film that is more or less an action film that deals with zombies — or zombie-like beings. Plus, this film was an inspiration on Robert Rodriguez for his “Planet Terror“, and after watching it, I can see how and why. While it may not be all that scary in the traditional sense, this film is undeniably entertaining and it moves at the speed of a fired bullet.

This was directed by Umberto Lenzi, sort of an Italian “go-to” guy. A solid craftsman, most of Lenzi’s films are nothing but fast-paced entertainments and usually succeed at their modest aims. The “zombies” in this film are probably the most energetic ones to ever hit the screen, and you could also say that this movie paved the way for the more modern interpretation of the zombie — ones that move fast, use weapons, etc. Really, the only thing that makes the zombies in this film “zombies” is

the fact that they crave blood. Director Lenzi even said that to him, these creatures are more like vampires than zombies. Whatever they are, they make for workable antagonists — I, for one, get tired of the dead-slow “UUUUUHHHHH….BRRRRAINS!!” zombies quite easily.

The plot: A radioactive leak causes mass contamination of a large, unnamed city. Shortly thereafter, an unmarked, seemingly unmanned plane touches down on a military

runway without authorization. Military officers converge on the plane for inspection when a large group of bloodthirsty, weapon-wielding, fast-as-shit zombie-like beings bust outward and begin to slaughter and drink the blood of anyone in their way. The press and television happened to be with the military during this event, and one particular TV reporter named Dean witnesses the carnage first-hand. Realizing the absolute futility of trying to fight back, he now has to rush across the city to a hospital where his wife works so that they may make it out of the city alive.

And that’s basically it. Simple exploitation film plot, full-throttle execution. As ridiculous as this movie is, it moves at such a fast clip that I couldn’t stop watching. For those of you that are into true zombie carnage, I’ve seen films with much better effects, but this one is bloody and juicy enough to get the job done. It does, however, have one particular scene where one of the knife-wielding zombies cuts something off of a woman — and it’s scene that makes your jaw drop and then laugh promptly thereafter. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to be in the right frame of mind to view this, but if you are, lots of fun.

The trailer:

For a fast-paced, action packed 90 minutes of zombie-like action and mayhem, you could do a lot worse. Get in the right frame of mind, get a group together, get some spirits (perhaps), and let the good times roll.

INTERESTING TRIVIA: The lead actor of the film is Hugo Stiglitz. Tarantino fans would probably recognize this as the name of the silent but deadly renegade German officer in “Inglorious Basterds“.

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Written by Josh

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