Lux Interior of The Cramps once sang “I don’t now about art, but I know what I like”, and I can definitely find many examples of this in the films I dig. I haven’t seen most Godard, Bergman or Kurosawa films, but I’ve sat through this Umberto Lenzi-helmed turdling (also known as City of the Walking Dead) at least a dozen times… willfully. Yes, it’s sloppy constructed, poorly acted, laughably scripted, and atrociously dubbed. The special effects look like they came out of a few hundred boxes of Kraft Mac’n’Cheese coupled with food dye. Also, at the time the notion of running zombies was considered zombie-lore heresy until 28 Days Later and World War Z made it acceptable for the masses. (The fact that Lenzi’s undead also brandish machine guns is still off the fucking map.) But even before my family bought its’ first VCR, I was ogling the over-sized VHS box for this flick at our local mom’n’pop rental-joint for months. And once we finally did get our clunky new JVC deck, this was the first tape I brought home to test the machine out. The movie was everything I expected it to be, as well as being my first introduction to Italian horror.
And thus, I’ll always have a special place in my trash-loving heart for this steaming pile of Italo-doodie. (I don’t think I’m the only one either; I detect some of its’ influential stink in Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror.) It wouldn’t be until the DVD age when I’d stop thinking of Lenzi as a cinematic hack, with the wider availability of his earlier genre-defining gialli, crime and cannibal films. The guy could make an excellent film if he wanted to, but I’m not sure how much his heart was into Nightmare City. This is pure garbage of the highest order. Just check your brain at the door, and go with it the flow.
(click on images to enlarge)