The zombie apocalypse is soon upon us. Each of us has our own escape plan for when the inevitable occurs, naturally assuming that we ourselves will be survivors, rather than amongst the hoards of undead that suddenly swarm the planet. Our obsession with zombies is not a new thing, however, and can be traced many decades back to a time when CGI was a mere glimmer in a young Steven Spielberg`s pre-pubescent imagination.
Some zombie films have been handled with aplomb; the earlier works of Romero, Twenty Eight Days Later and Shaun of the Dead spring instantly to mind. Some, however are so ghastly that they truly deserve to have their central nervous system destroyed, rendering them utterly dead once and for all.
Thirty five years after its release, Italian director Umberto Lenzi`s tale of terror, Nightmare City gets a shiny new HD Blu-ray treatment. Having sat through the film`s ninety minute run, however, one has to wonder why time and money have been spent reanimating this ghastly mess.
After an aeroplane mysteriously arrives unannounced at the local airport, overly moral and impressively bearded reporter Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz – Instructions Not Included, Senorita Polvora) finds himself fighting for survival in a city overrun by the living dead.
Made amidst an avalanche of Italian zombie films in the late seventies, each clinging precariously to George Romero`s coattails, Lenzi attempts to mix it up a bit by shoehorning in an anti-nuclear message that is so feebly put together, one might even beg for the master copy of the film to be inserted into the nearest nuke.
The acting is wooden and stilted, made even worse by the addition of an array of international cast members, many of whom were clearly dubbed in the worst possible way during post production. The uninspiring script drags its crippled limbs through a confused and lifeless narrative before hitting us with a ridiculous cop-out ending that would have made Dallas proud. Attempts at character backstories and development culminate in cringe-worthy melodrama that adds hardly an ounce of the depth or gravitas that Lenzi had clearly hoped for.
The zombies, indeed the supposed stars of the film, are a gung-ho what-the-hell nonsensity that seem like the meth-addled offspring of Sloth and the Toxic Avenger rather than anything resembling any previous lore.
Overall, I would quite frankly rather be the first to snuff it in the actual zombie apocalypse than have to sit through this atrocity again. Shoot it, burn it, and bury the ashes deep.
Dir: Umberto Lenzi
Scr: Antonio Cesare Corti, Luis Maria Delgado, Piero Regnoli
Starring: Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosario Omaggio, Francisco Rabal
Prd: Diego Alchimede, Luis Mendez
DOP: Hans Burmann
Run time: 92mins
Nightmare City is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now on Arrow Films.