Director – Umberto Lenzi
Cast – Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Francisco Rabal, Sonia Viviani, Eduardo Fajardo, Stefania D’Amario, Ugo Bologna, Sara Franchetti, Manuel Zarzo, Tom Felleghy
Release Year – 1980 / 1983 (USA)
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Italy’s stronghold of cannibal horror was made famous partly thanks to director Umberto Lenzi’s “Cannibal Ferox” in 1981, and “Eaten Alive” in 1980(I mentioned the ‘81 flick first because it is higher on the “iconic“ scale). Between these films is a more “infected” learning film that has rocked the cult classic horror scene with its psychopathic plot and awesome title…”Nightmare City”. With thrills, kills, and gut spills, this flick is one sure to please fans of sleazy Italian infected/cannibal horror.
This flick stars Hugo Stiglitz(ring a bell from Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”? Heh) as Dean Miller, a journalist on the break of a huge interview. Dean Miller is about to interview one of the greatest scientific minds the country has to offer. He is awaiting the scientist’s arrival at the airport, but something is odd. The plane carrying the scientist behaved strangely(yes, plans can “behave”) upon landing, causing the security force to stand guard as they await for the plane’s passengers to open the door. Upon opening the entrance/exit to the plane, a multitude of bloody psychopathic maniacs rush out of the plane and immediately begin hacking up everyone in their path. Those who come in contact with the infected succumb to the same demise, which quickly spreads throughout the countryside. Dean Miller, accompanied by his wife, Dr. Anna Miller(Laura Trotter), must fight for their survival if they hope to make it out alive in a world where anyone could be out to kill them.
This one surprised me a bit. I was expecting the usual zombie bit from a film with a plot like this but instead was given some fully functional bests able to weld guns and…land a plane(so it seems). It sounds silly, but what would you expect from a 1980 Italian horror film with a low-budget and one of the genre’s sleaziest directors? Personally, I wanted a more “undead” feel to it, but I can totally, and do, respect the rout this flick took.
The storyline for this one is simple and to the point. Not much development goes on, it is simply kill kill kill from beginning to end. Pizza night? This flick’s for you. The only real conflict we get is one character trying to keep their loved one alive, and most of the time failing at it when they are both killed by someone they recognized, but had “changed”. it really helped the mayhem that each of the “infected” for the most part looked exactly as they did prior, much like George A. Romero’s 1974 classic, “The Crazies”. Only seldom did we get an infected person who really looked like they had been “infected” and suffered the effects of it. I really wish we had been given more of them. I find them more interesting than normal looking people doing the killing. Oh well.
Umberto Lenzi’s direction in this film is OK for the most part, lacking on any great gore except for a few sweet scenes towards the end of the film. He did not shy away from showing some pretty risqué kills though, which I respect him for. Horror is horror, regardless of taboo. His pacing is mediocre because this film does tend to drag at times thanks to some needless scenes that should have been done away with or executed better. Overall, this is a mediocre watch that will only be enjoyed by those who like sleazy Italian horror. While I did enjoy this one, I expected more from it in terms of gore, story, and execution. Give this a watch if you want to see some “infected” horror done with that good ole’ Italian influence.