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DVD: Nightmare City (City of the Walking Dead/ Incubo sulla città contaminata ) (1980)
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August 6, 2002



Genre: Horror/Zombalaya  
Zombies infiltrate a city, and slowly drain the life from each foolish inhabitant. Kind of like the orientation department at government offices.



Directed by:

Umberto Lenzi
Screenplay by: Jose Luis Delgado,  Piero Regnoli,  Tony Corti
Music by: Stelvio Cipriani
Produced by: Diego Alchimede

Hugo Stiglitz,  Laura Trotter,  Mario Rosario Omaggio,  Francisco Rabal,  Mel Ferrer,  Sonia Viviani,  Eduardo Fajardo,  Stefania D'Amario,  Ugo Bologna

Film Length: 92 mins Process/Ratio: 2.35:1
Colour Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages: English Mono
Special Features :  

"Tale of the Contaminated City" - (12:47) Interview with Director Umberto Lenzi Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic / Theatrical trailer for "Nightmare City" (3:46)

Comments :

According to the DVD's concise director bio (which, oddly, appears verbatim on the IMDB), veteran genre director Umberto Lenzi made this zombie riff between the infamous cannibal flicks "Eaten Alive," and "Cannibal Ferox," so a certain level of grotesquerie is expected with attacks involving intimate and vulnerable areas of the human anatomy.

Like the included theatrical trailer, "Nightmare City" (aka "City of the Walking Dead") is taken from an excellent print, and comes uncut and very wet, with beautifully composed widescreen cinematography that shows off the effective interior and exterior locations in and around Rome, though the locale is supposed to be Anytown, U.S.A. The colours are solid, the reds amply saturated, and the blacks and dark browns of key nighttime scenes and an eerie basement attack are natural, and show little artifacting.

The film's mono soundtrack is quite punchy, benefiting from plenty of screams, munching sounds, and Stelvio Cipriani's propulsive, monothematic score.

As a perfect compliment to the film, there's another solid Blue Underground featurette with a still piquant and unrepentant Lenzi (in Italian, with English subtitles). The director discusses the film's genesis and his frustration in being engaged as a hired gun without much influence, and the few successful efforts to improve an already weak screenplay - including the finale, the reasons for the zombie attacks, and the insistence on basing the premise on the real-life chemical disaster in Sereso, Italy, during the 1970s.

The interview offers a curious claim that "Nightmare City" dealt with various AIDS metaphors, later exploited in Jonathan Demme's 1993 film "Philadelphia;" an amusing anecdote concerning a celebrated American director in new York City; that the Fulci moments were at the insistence of the film's producer (alas, Fulci remains unique); and Lenzi concludes with a prescient statement on the future worth and purpose of horror in films.

© 2002 Mark R. Hasan

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