Friday, 4 September 2015

Nightmare City (1980)

Now here’s a blast from the past, and a film that I never thought I would see on Blu-ray. Yet here it is, shamelessly restored and given the best makeover possible (with plenty of extras) by Arrow. If you’re a fan you’ve probably already got this. If not

NIGHTMARE CITY is utter bloody silliness from ‘Mr Entertainment’ himself, Umberto Lenzi, and is one of the many Italian films that were made as a result of the success of George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD in Italy. In this case the zombies aren’t actually dead, just ‘contaminated with radiation’. Apparently this means they have to keep drinking fresh blood, although usually all they seem to do is practice that recurring peculiar Italian zombie habit of taking one big bite out of someone before moving on to the next victim. 

Lenzi tries to make things a bit different by making his zombies fast moving and adept at using machine guns and other weapons. The film actually starts quite well, with the arrival of an aeroplane full of radiation victims at an airport and the ensuing mayhem is lots of fun. Unfortunately a flagging pace, too many heavy handed philosophical interludes, the presence of charisma bypass victim Hugo Stiglitz as the hairy hero, and an ending that is bleak, silly, contrived and poorly executed - all at the same time - ultimately drag this little potboiler into the bulging file marked ‘daft’.

That hasn’t stopped Arrow pulling out all the stops on this one, though. For a start you get two versions of the film - one with higher resolution but a few yellow blotches and stains now and then, and one that has a softer picture but looks cleaner overall. The reasons for these two versions are explained in detail in a brief featurette that should hopefully satisfy anyone finding Arrow’s exhaustive attempts at restoring this to be wanting.

Audio-wise there are Italian and English dub tracks, and a brand new, almost pathologically enthusiastic commentary track from Fangoria editor Chris Alexander. You also get a new interview with Umberto Lenzi, one with star Maria Rosario Omaggio, a trailer, and Eli Roth talking Lenzi in general and NIGHTMARE CITY in particular. Both he and Chris Alexander exhibit a love for this film that I’ll admit I find a little mystifying, but if you love this film as much as they do, you’re going to be delighted with Arrow’s presentation of it. 

Arrow Films released Umberto Lenzi's NIGHTMARE CITY on dual format Region 2 DVD and Region B Blu-ray on 24th August 2015

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