Nightmare City, AKA City of the Walking Dead (not that Walking Dead), uses a radioactive deus ex machina – a poorly-explained wellspring for turning victims into bloodthirsty “monsters.” (But NOT zombies, as director Umberto Lenzi took great pains to point out, as we discuss in our NIGHTMARE CITY podcast.)
A couple of journalists are on hand at the airport in the middle of nowhere. (For a movie with “city” in the title, there’s not much in the way of those “urban jungles,” decried by one of the characters.) A mysterious, unmarked Hercules cargo plane gets permission to land and flares are set off.
Soon, the jet is surrounded by cops and military and its occupants ordered out. But these aren’t your usual bedraggled, jet-lagged passengers: they’re monstrous sub-humans (not zombies) who go about killing everyone in their path and replenishing their stores with human plasma.
This development was so newsworthy, it interrupts a hilarious aerobics disco TV variety show with the EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM. The principal dancers bemoan losing out on their “closeups” in poorly-dubbed Lower East Side / Catskills accents, but they lose out on much much more later.
A prominent major who’s banging a gorgeous model gets a coitus interruptus call from Civil Defense, and he’s soon on the case. Sadly for all concerned, the disco dancers are massacred, albeit in spectacular fashion, with boob skewers and axes to the noggin.
In a Dr. Strangelove-like high-level security briefing, generals give us the lowdown that army personnel are to “aim for the brain” as the one undead who’s stayed dead was shot through the skull.
Meanwhile, the hospital is being overrun with zombie, er, monster victims. (“Our sixth emergency in two hours!” That actually doesn’t sound particularly busy.) In response, one of the docs offers this hilarious malapropism, “hold your socks on!” The hungry demons burst into the OR while a surgeon hurls a scalpel at them.
There’s an eye-gouging scene that stands among the best ever committed to celluloid and some unintentionally funny lines (“What are you doing with that gun?”). This partly offsets the slow pacing and blather about being in “the age of the robot,” and whether all this technological advancement was ultimately worth it. The ending is beyond lazy and not up to The Beyond.
***1/2 (out of 5)
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