DIRECTOR: Umberto Lenzi
SCREENPLAY: Pierro Regnoli, Tony Corti, Jose Luis Delgado
STARRING: Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosaria Omaggio
RUNNING TIME: 93 mins
FORMAT: Dual format Blu-ray/DVD
Reviewed by Guy Adams
Umberto Lenzi, the originator of the Italian cannibal movie craze (and therefore a man who was to cinematic wildlife what Ronald McDonald was to the welfare of cows) offers his twist on the zombie picture. Apparently he wasn’t interested in doing zombies so he rewrote the original script to make the rampaging hordes (ish… we’re on a budget) victims of radiation instead. They don’t eat people, they just drain blood. Preferably exposing women’s breasts while they’re at it, because even radioactive Not-Zombies know blood is better for you when its storage container is jiggling towards the camera.
Hugo Stiglitz, played by Droopy the animated dog in his first live-action role, is the journalist charged with staring angrily at the oncoming disaster as it lumbers around him. Once it becomes clear that even his journalistic standards can’t save us, he rushes to the local hospital where his girlfriend (Trotter) works as the Head of its Wandering Around Doing Nothing but Looking Vaguely Sexy department.
Together they go on the run together, Stiglitz (played by a melting candle hidden inside a spaniel) guarding her blouse and its wobbling, commercially viable contents jealously.
One can only hope that the army, led by Mel ‘Can I film it in a day?’ Ferrer, can get the situation under control.
Arrow’s disc offers two versions. One is crisper but contains some print damage, the other is soft but free of yellow splodges (all the rest of the splatter is supposed to be there). It doesn’t matter which version you go for, let personal taste be your guide, the film’s just as silly in either version, right up to its deeply annoying bloody end.
Not that Nightmare City doesn’t offer pleasures. It’s crowd-pleasing screen shod and there’s nothing wrong with that. Only Hugo Stiglitz (played by the withered, haunted bones of Charles Laughton after six months on the Slim Fast) seems to think he’s marching alongside country roads in search of an Oscar, everybody else knows they’re there to pay the mortgage, jiggle and scream.
The disc comes with plenty of extras, with Eli Roth explaining why he loves Lenzi’s work. Lenzi himself being interviewed, and Maria Rosaria Omaggio reading a letter she’s had translated into English, looking like a kidnap victim orating an overlong ransom note. There’s also a commentary from Fangoria editor Chris Alexander.