Written by: Tera Kirk
Directed by: Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Franciso Rabal, Sonia Viviani
According to director Umberto Lenzi, Nightmare City (aka Incubo sulla città contaminata), is totally not a zombie flick. Sure, the monsters reproduce by injuring people and can only be killed via a very specific way, but they’re not zombies.
Lenzi’s assertion is by far the least confusing thing about this movie.
While journalist Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) is waiting to meet with a scientist at the airport, a plane makes an emergency landing. The passengers stab almost everyone and drink their blood. As a newsman, Dean wants to tell the public about this mysterious crime, but the government shuts down his broadcast. What happened to these people? Why is the military so tight-lipped about them? Why is that lawnmower running by itself? Why is that statue bleeding? How in the hell did that poker get from piercing that lady’s boob to piercing her eyeball?
I watched all of Nightmare City, and I still don’t know the answers to these questions.
Okay, that’s not quite true. There is an answer, but it’s the kind of lazy, rage-inducing answer that’s the difference between a cheesy-gross-and-mostly-ok horror flick and watching this was a complete waste of time and I can’t punch anyone to make it better.
Oh, there are interesting moments now and then. The Italian military knows exactly what the people on the plane are, how they “spread” by injuring people, and how to kill them. They tell no one, ostensibly to prevent a panic. But when all these people with slashed throats end up in the hospital (as injured people do) the staff doesn’t know how to deal with them. What happens is worse than a panic.
In addition to the criminally negligent, possibly nefarious military (again, there’s no real answer), there’s more misogynistic violence than usual. (Umberto Lenzi went on to make Cannibal Ferox, and you can see some of that same breast-hacking-off stuff here.)
Nightmare City isn’t very good, but I would’ve been glad I saw it except for the ending, which ruined everything. The worst part? That terrible ending is the only way anything that happened in the movie makes any sense at all.
About the author: Tera Kirk has loved horror movies since before her mom allowed her to watch most of them. (One of her fondest childhood memories is being terrified of the trailer for Stuart Gordon’s Dolls.) She has written for Monsters At Play, and reviews video games for GameCritics.com. Her more-or-less personal website is Sweet Perdition.