Short Attention Span Review: Nightmare City (1980)
Nightmare City is a rather glorious piece of shit. There's a part of me (and it's not a small part) that wants to leave it at that. That single statement would serve as a perfect review for this movie, yet I can't stifle the need to elaborate. Nightmare City isn't just bad, it's very, very bad. Okay, it's fucking horrible. It is a perfect example of a cheap Italian horror movie, complete with an absurd script, weak acting, Z grade special effects, copious amounts of shoddy gore and pointless T&A, and characters who are largely defined by their need to make terrible decisions in moments of crisis. The only thing missing is a laugh track. But the whole thing is engineered (poorly) with such indisputable passion and vigor that it somehow rises above these shortcomings. There are even a few areas where Nightmare City actually shines. Umberto Lenzi directs this trash as well as trash can be directed, for one, and I do mean that as a compliment. The score is both bonkers and sheer perfection; there could be no better score for this particular serving of cinematic garbage. Finally, there's Hugo Stiglitz in the lead role. Yes, dude is wooden as hell. Yes, the script does him no favors. Yes, he is legendary. He seems like a mild-mannered reporter at first, but then the shit hits the fan, and our boy becomes a tough-talking, ass-kicking, and hard-drinking warrior of the apocalypse. He kicks the shit out of zombies* (literally, his kick may not be all that impressive, but it sends several zombies flying), he throws axes, and he is comfortable mowing down undead ghouls with machine guns or hurling grenades at them. He drinks whiskey and encourages his woman to stay strong and keep walking after he has firebombed their station wagon with a Molotov Cocktail*. That's the kind of shit that happens in Nightmare City, peeps, and that's why we love movies like this.
*Okay, they're not actually zombies. They're irradiated bloodsuckers who can run and wield weapons.
**This happens after the pair stop at a gas station and become surrounded while engaging in a philosophical debate about the pitfalls of modern society and the potential benefits of survival in a radioactive wasteland. Yes, they should have fueled up and peeled out, but one of the writers went into message mode, so our boy Hugo just had to blow that fucking station wagon to bits and start stepping toward certain death.
Final Grade: B
|It's not a special effects extravaganza, it's a straight up bullshit extravaganza. And I loved it.|