Helloween Day One: Nightmare City

Do you crave bad zombie movies? If so, Nightmare City qualifies! Be warned, though: this movie is bad. If you were to get really, really drunk at a party you might like it. Say you ate a bunch of Oreo cookies while watching it, and then vomited them up before blacking out on the bathroom floor. That’s the kind of drunk Nightmare City requires.

Dean Miller is a reporter. His assignment: interview an important nuclear scientist. Miller goes to the airport, where an airplane full of zombies lands. The zombies kill everyone. Miller rushes to his news station, interrupting footage of a bunch of women in tights doing aerobics (this was the early 80’s!) to try to warn the public of the danger. Soon afterwards the zombies storm the news station and kill everyone. I’m sensing a pattern here.

Miller rushes to the hospital, where his wife works as a doctor. They get out just before the zombies storm the joint and – you guessed it – kill everyone. These zombies are badasses! Instead of shuffling, they sprint around like cheetahs chasing down frightened gazelle. They wield knives and axes and even guns. At one point they are referred to as vampires, but that’s a dubbing error. Trust me, these are zombies.

The best part of Nightmare City is the climax, which takes place in an amusement park and reminded me of Zombieland. Maybe the scene in Zombieland is a homage. Who knows? The last two minutes of Nightmare City contains a twist that anyone who’s ever seen a Twilight Zone episode knows is coming.

Made in 1980, directed by Umberto Lenzi, Nightmare City is subpar Eurotrash. The effects are dreadful, and I’m not saying that as someone spoiled by 21st century special effects. Believe me, these effects are dreadful. That said, there are some gruesome death scenes and also a few scenes where the zombies tear open their female victims’ shirts before stabbing them. If you want more of the latter watch Jean Rollins’ Grapes of Death, a vastly superior movie. If you still insist on seeing Nightmare City, it’s available on Shudder. The version I saw is both subbed and dubbed, and the sub and dub didn’t match up.

You’ve been warned.

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