Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Nightmare City

Directed by Umberto Lenzi, 1980

It's our first foray back into zombie movie reviews since the grand excitement of Zombie Lurch! And we certainly couldn't have chosen a worse movie. Throughout much of the film I rooted for the zombies to murder the mewling protagonists. Then I realized how mediocre the zombies were, and my loyalties would switch. In the end, you'll wish everyone dead. Your wishes will not come true.

It's yet another of Italy's ubiquitous zombie films. This one has a nominally ecological slant. Blink and you'll miss it. Our hero is a shaggy-bearded, emotion-challenged journalist. Our shaggy hero's doctor wife wavers between hysteria-- always cured with a backhanded slap!-- and deep lessons couched in cliched speeches. Shaggy enjoys sadistic "plans" that show his wife who wears the pants in the family even if she does have a Ph.D. I did mention, did I not, that I longed for his death? Good.

Our villain is a goopy-eyed masked killer. His squads of funny-looking zombies leap, sprint, and wield tools in their unholy desire to suck some fake blood off your neck. In response to this gymnastic threat, humans scream and perish (if you're a woman, you perish with your breasts out). The dead do return as zombies, though I was terrifically disappointed that the spandex-clad choreographed television dance squad didn't return to terrify the countryside with homicidal jazz hands.

Zombie Explanation: Nominally ecological-- a radioactive spill creates zombies. Mankind has abused science and signed its own death warrant. Et cetera.

Contribution to the zombie canon: You're asking a lot of me here, but I'll venture to say the ecological lesson (though poorly scripted and obscured by bad filmmaking) is actually a fairly rare zombie origin. It is also notable inasmuch as I badly wanted to see the leads die.

Favorite moment: "Stay right here, and don't move until I tell you to." Worst plan ever.