Nightmare City

Production Year: 1980
Release Date: 12/31/2013
Studio: Raro
Collection Number: #1452

After Romero's Dawn of the Dead (released in Europe as Zombi) and Fulci's unofficial Zombi 2 there was a huge influx of Italian produced zombie films.  Nightmare City was right on the forefront of that Italo-Zombi craze.  While director Umberto Lenzi swears this is not a zombie film, it's safe to say the film's roots are firmly planted in that subgenre's rotting soil.  Indeed Nightmare City did not feature the slow moving flesh eaters popularized by Romero, rather the ghoulish shamblers were replaced by spastic, weapon carrying, radiation-infected, rotting blood drinkers.  Aside from that tiny difference the same rules apply, they're infected, they're dangerous, and if you come in contact with them there's a good chance you too will eventually become one of the radiated masses.

Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) is a reporter covering the return of a famed nuclear scientist.  While waiting for his arrival at an airport an unidentified plane lands causing local law enforcement to swarm the aircraft.  As the door to the plane opens a number of crazed infected men poor out and a small battle ensues.  Sure enough these radiated zombies over power the military using knives, hatchets, and guns.

From there the film takes on the normal zombie themes, escape, survival, and paranoia are a few key elements of the story.  Dean and his wife Anna eventually meet up and take to the road hoping to escape the blossoming plague.

My first experience with Nightmare City was during a my early teenage years.  One Summer I made it my goal to rent every horror flick Movies ETC had to offer.  One fateful day I made my way to City of the Walking Dead.  Perhaps I wasn't prepared for the insanity of this particular film, but upon my first viewing I did not care for it.  I eventually gave it another go when Anchor Bay released the film back in 2002, not realizing it was indeed a retitled City of the Walking Dead.  I gave the film a second chance and found myself enjoying it a little more.  By the third viewing I was hooked.  I can honestly say this is one of my favorite 80's zombie flicks.

That's not to say it's not without it's faults.  Nightmare City is a pretty bad movie by traditional standards.  The zombie makeup looks like latex and oatmeal, there's a very out of place dance scene, a few instances of awkward dubbing as well.  But to be fair, I believe this is a case where it's weaknesses add to the overall charm.  If you like 80's Italian sleaze, you'll love Nightmare City.

I'll be honest, Raro's release is a bit underwhelming in the PQ department.  While when compared to Blue Underground's past DVD release (comparison shots here) there is a noticeable jump in quality.  But unfortunately the jump isn't that big.  While there's more detail present and the color is a bit more natural, it seems to be a case where the print materials just weren't that spectacular which had an affect on the over all quality of the picture.

Both an uncompressed 2.0 Italian and English tracks are available and both are on par with the transfer.  Stelvio Cipriani's score is certainly one of the highlights of the film (as I'm typing this review I still have the main theme stuck in my head).  Everything is audible and clear, the score never bleeds into the dialogue.  For the age and budget that audio is surprisingly good.

Interview with Umberto Lenzi (SD 49:27) - This is an older basic interview with the director Umberto Lenzi.  The production of the film is discussed, his inspirations and relationships with some of the actors are just a few things that are discussed.

US Trailer (HD 03:45)

Italian Trailer (HD 03:45)

Sadly one feature that was not carried over from the past (Blue Underground) US release was a short featurette titled Tales of the Contaminated City which featured a more recent interview with Lenzi.  Thankfully a lot of what was discussed in thas featurette is covered in the included 49 minute interview.

A nice mix of International and US poster artwork is used on the slipcase and blu-ray cover.  I've always been a fan of the Incubo artwork so I'm glad Raro found a way to incorporate it into this release.  Like most of Raro's releases a booklet is also included. 

While the transfer isn't the best, there's still a definite and noticeable difference between this blu-ray and the past DVD.   This release also lacks a past featurette, but it ups the ante with a 49 minute interview, a booklet, and superior packaging.  Overall for fans of the film and those who might not own the past Anchor Bay or Blue Underground release, I'd say it's a pretty worthy buy.