Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nightmare City (1980, Umberto Lenzi)

So let's take a few minutes and discuss the preconceived notions of the Zombie genre. I know what you're thinking: Zombie movies have pretty much become a dime a dozen lately. I agree that any genre that produces a noteworthy film also produces an immeasurable number of crappy ripoffs. So let's skip those for now. Let's talk about a film that often gets lumped in with the zombie genre, though when put under the microscope it actually bares little resemblance to the defining films that comprise the genre, the indisputable kings of which are George A. Romero's original living dead trilogy (I refuse to list them because you already know what they are...and if you don't, well...I don't even want to think about that possibility). The film I'm talking about is Nightmare City (aka City of the Walking Dead).

Nightmare City begins with an unmarked airplane landing on an airport runway without any notice or response to radio communication. Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) is a reporter who sees the spectacle and decides it might make a good story, so he brings his cameraman over with him to catch it on video. When the plane doors open, out pop a whole army of crazed madmen who start killing everyone in sight and drinking their blood. Miller tries to get his footage shown on the news but is stopped to avoid an unnecessary panic. The psycho vampires invade the station and soon appear to be everywhere. Miller escapes and goes to find his wife, a doctor at a local hospital which has also become overrun by bloodsuckers. We then learn that these zom-pires were actually exposed to radiation causing them to go apeshit. The couple get away and have to fight for their lives to find a safe place away from the killers.

Nightmare City was a great zombie movie, despite the fact it's not really a zombie movie. Unlike most living dead films, the zombies here aren't really even dead. They have become supermen of sorts (thanks to radiation) who need to drink blood to stay alive. Plus, they don't stumble around like most zombies. These fuckers run, drive cars, shoot guns and plot out attacks. They even manage to cause a major blackout fer crissakes! Good stuff. The action is great, the gore is well done and the story hardly gives you time to breathe. A nice addition to...well...whatever the hell genre it belongs to.


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