Nightmare City  (1980)

Octoblur 2015 - #19: Nightmare City (1980)

 
By dorrk, October 17th 2015
Octoblur: If the quality doesn't scare you the quantity will.

The first time I watched Nightmare City — over 10 years ago — I came away thinking of it as my favorite Italian zombie movies of its era. Now, I must accede that isn't really a zombie movie: the hoards of contagious cannibalistic attackers in Nightmare City aren't dead (even though one of the alternate titles for the movie was City of the Walking Dead) and they have more personality than zombies — they smile, they get excited, and they get really really stabby with weapons — but in every other respect they are quintessentially zombie-ish, so I still consider it "a zombie movie," even though it isn't, and one of the most fun, mainly because of those differences.

In Nightmare City, it's radiation poisoning that creates a wave of murder-crazy mutants who appear to be covered in splotches of moldy cheese. As these toxic avengers proceed to rip the shirts off of most of the women they eat before they eat them, a TV news reporter (Hugo Stiglitz) and his wife (Laura Trotter), among a few others, try to survive the world gone mad.

Director Umberto Lenzi may have thought he was making a sociopolitical statement with Nightmare City — Trotter has few anemically polemic speeches that recycle the old "who are the real monsters?" trope — and not just an almost-zombie movie, but the scenes that work are the wild and savage not-zombie attacks. More than any other zombie-like movie I've seen, Nightmare City's action scenes are a dazzle of particularly unhinged mayhem, with a raw energy that completely mitigates the absurd lack of spatial continuity and poor self-preservation instincts on the part of the victims.

While it's not a non-stop gut-munching carnival like last Octoblur's Burial Ground: Nights of Terror, Nightmare City is distinctive, visceral and as good as any Italian zombie movie of the late 1970s or early 1980s, even if it isn't one (but really is) itself.

Great lesser-known horror movies

Fun, weird & dark corners worth exploring.
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Demon Seed (1977)

Demon Seed (1977)

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

The Funhouse (1981)

The Funhouse (1981)

The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)

The House Of The Devil (2009)

The House Of The Devil (2009)

Housebound (2014)

Housebound (2014)

The Johnsons (1992)

The Johnsons (1992)

Kill List (2011)

Kill List (2011)

Little Otik (2001)

Little Otik (2001)

Motel Hell (1980)

Motel Hell (1980)

Orphan (2009)

Orphan (2009)

Seed Of Chucky (2004)

Seed Of Chucky (2004)

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)

Spider Baby... (1968)

Spider Baby... (1968)

Starry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes (2014)

The Stepfather (1987)

The Stepfather (1987)

Suicide Club (2001)

Suicide Club (2001)

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Dorrk's Top 20 horror movies

The boring list of horror essentials. If you haven't seen these yet, what are you doing?
The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist (1973)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)

Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)

The Thing (1982)

The Thing (1982)

The Fly (1986)

The Fly (1986)

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Psycho (1960)

Psycho (1960)

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist (1982)

Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)

The Omen (1976)

The Omen (1976)

Rosemarys Baby (1968)

Rosemarys Baby (1968)

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu (1922)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein (1931)

The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

Suicide Club (2001)

Suicide Club (2001)

Repulsion (1965)

Repulsion (1965)

Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Trailer for Nightmare City (1980)

Beware: Galleries may contain spoilers.
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The Top 20 Movies of All-Time

#1: The Godfather Part II (1974)

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Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#2: The Godfather (1972)

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#3: West Side Story (1961)

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Dir: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise
#4: Manhattan (1979)

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Dir: Woody Allen
#5: The Graduate (1967)

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#6: Tootsie (1982)

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#7: Apocalypse Now (1979)

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#8: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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#9: Star Wars (1977)

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#10: The Exorcist (1973)

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#11: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

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Dir: Peter Jackson
#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

Dir: Martin Scorsese
#13: Annie Hall (1977)

#13: Annie Hall (1977)

Dir: Woody Allen
#14: Vertigo (1958)

#14: Vertigo (1958)

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Dir: Steven Spielberg
#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson
#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Dir: Tobe Hooper
#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

Dir: Frank Capra
#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Dir: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
#20: Zodiac (2007)

#20: Zodiac (2007)

Dir: David Fincher