Friday, October 17, 2014

Film Review: Nightmare City (1980)

Nightmare City (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"If you're looking for something to make fun of with your friends..."

As news reporter Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) prepares for an interview with a scientist, an unmarked military plane lands and unleashes a horde of zombies.

Nightmare City is a relatively simple rehash of every zombie film known to man. Okay, this time around the zombies are treated as superhuman and like to stab their victims' throats or boobies, but everything else is very familiar. The set of character -- none of which have any distinct character -- basically fight for survival. That's it! The ending was unnecessarily stupid, too. I mean, I had a great laugh, but what was the point!

Fortunately, Nightmare City has some B-movie charm. It has the laughable dialogue and plenty of unintentional humor. Like a surgeon who throws his scalpel like a throwing knife, or all of the melodramatic deaths. It's not nearly enough to fully redeem the uneventful and occasionally boring story, but it makes the film a little more enjoyable -- something you can laugh at and have a good time. There are also some great practical gore effects, too, like some sick eye-gouging.

Aside from the boring and uneventful story, the film also feels like it takes itself way to serious. This ends up negatively effecting the B-movie charm and humor. There are scenes where it tries to talk about its themes, like mankind's self-destruction and living like machines or whatnot, but it does it without any subtly. I mean, it actually spells it out for you, like: "this is the theme of the film, thanks for watching." Unlike George A. Romero's iconic Dawn of the Dead, and others, where the theme and commentary are blended seamlessly with the film.

The acting is all-around melodramatic. I think most of the performances were actually kind of funny, to be honest. That's partly due to the actual performance, but also due to the terrible dialogue -- everyone sounds so unnatural. The music is good, but it doesn't fit the film; I'd listen to the music without the film, though. It's shot well, at least, and the camerawork is good. By B-movie standards, the film is funny and somewhat entertaining; by regular standards, director Umberto Lenzi has a big mess of a movie that lacks an eventful story and a strong, distinct vision.

Overall, Nightmare City is a mediocre zombie-horror film. It has some b-movie charm and some great unintentional humor, as well as some decent gore, but not enough to redeem the film's other shortcomings. The story is uneventful and often boring, as well as generic, there isn't any actual horror in the film, and the dialogue is terrible by any standard. If you're looking for something to make fun of with your friends, this is a satisfying time-killer; otherwise, stick to Dawn of the Dead.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, and nudity.

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