FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jun 27, 2011

where the grass is green and the girls are grody

You guys, I'm not really sure what to say about Nightmare City (1980). You know how it is with those movies that don't make you feel strongly in any particular way. It's over and you can take comfort in the fact that if someone asks, "Have you seen Nightmare City?", you can respond with a resounding "Yes!" It is the small things in life, I suppose, that ultimately provide one with pleasure.

The zombies of Nightmare City are zombies of the 28 Days Later ilk, meaning that everyone calls them zombies but they're not undead. Here they're not victims of some virus but of radioactive contamination. No one gets a Silkwood shower fast enough after the exposure and because of this, the victims turn into meatball-headed killers constantly in a search for fresh blood to keep them alive. Hmm. I guess the zombies of Nightmare City are actually zombies of the vampire ilk.

4 out of 5 meatball heads chew Dentyne sugarless gum

So, the meatball heads run around wreaking deadly havoc, turning the city into a total nightmare city (SEE WHAT I DID THERE). It's all quite fun for a time, certainly. Even if you consider this a straight up zombie flick, there's novelty to these villains as the actually wield all manner of weaponry- from guns to machetes- in their search for blood. Though there's ample gore (including some really gnarly breast and eye trauma), I guess it wasn't as extreme as I was expecting, especially considering that the film comes courtesy of director Umberto Lenzi, the man behind the notorious Cannibal Ferox. Overall, Nightmare City is not even Fulci-level grody.

that's alotta meatball heads

I'd call the lengthy aerobic dance scenes gratuitous, but then, can an aerobic dance scene ever truly be gratuitous? Really, every movie should feature one. I mean, think of how much better On Golden Pond would be if Jane Fonda randomly put her aerobics skills to use at some point. It's a foolproof notion!

this is never gratuitous

Nightmare City's first half hour or so is energetic, chaotic, and had me swooning. Things slow down, as I suppose they must, and the fact that Hugo Stiglitz is an incredibly dull leading man doesn't help matters at all. Just as it truly wears out its welcome, however, there's a terrific finale atop a rollercoaster that includes a sequence I had to watch three times in a row. Then it's all over, and here we are.

Nightmare City? Why yes, I've seen that!

the gun is way more exciting than he is, trust me


Smogo said...

I can't believe you didn't mention the TV bomb.

Riccardo said...

Yeah, catching up with the ones you missed can go both ways. I finally saw "Dead and Buried" (after knowing the poster since 1981, like you said in your 2005 review) and expected it to be a "Why yes, I've seen that" type of thing but ended up *really* enjoying it, deliberate pace and all. I know Jack Albertson won an Oscar for "The Subject Was Roses" (which I've seen but barely remember) but I'll pretend it was for D&B.

BTW, I counted the meatball heads in the second picture and I get 42.

Ulrich said...

The woman in the yellow jacket looks bored (Maybe she got to his dullness). Or is that just me?

deadlydolls said...

Isn't it just impossible to not Go Guns 'N Roses on titling a post about this film? I think I enjoyed it a little more than you, maybe because I appreciate a burnt marshmallow faced zombie sprinting through town to kill nude artists. BUt I totally agree that the roller coaster ending MAKES the film.

Anonymous said...

They're zompires! Or vambies. Take your pick.

matango said...

Mamma mia! That's a spicy-a-zombie apocalypse!

So, it's an Italian horror movie. Does the plot make any sort of sense?

dementia13 said...

If the pace didn't let up so much, this would be great. It scratches a zombie itch just fine. It's got Francisco Rabal, which means that Umberto Lenzi is only a degree or two removed from Luis Buñuel, if you can wrap your head around that.

@matango: relatively coherent. It's more action-oriented, so it doesn't get surreal, and it's not edited into oblivion like some of these are.

Matt-suzaka said...

I have seen Nightmare City numerous times and I love it, meatballs and all, so dearly. It's total comfort food, and I can easily pop that film in at anytime and just let the roller coaster ride take me away! Okay, that was a bit much.

Anyway, I love me some Stigs, but he is a tad dull in general. What's funny is, during his interview on the DVD, Lenzi freely admits that he hates Stiglitz' performance and claims he wanted either the great Franco Nero, and his mustache, or the equally great John Saxon to play the part.