Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nightmare City (Incubo sulla città contaminata)


Ok. First off we'll do a quick Zombie-Survival, multiple-choice quiz question:

You are on the run from vicious, fast, flesh-eating, blood-drinking ghouls. And your escape-vehicle is running out of petrol. When you stumble upon a deserted looking petrol station, do you...

a)Fill your van at the pump, taking advantage of how there appears to be no-one around, and continue fleeing, or...

b)Pop in, have a rummage through the (presumably deceased) owner's clothes and make yourself a cup of coffee, whilst dicussing how man's greed has triggered this crisis. Upon discovering one of the zombies in the back garden, rather than running away, you attack it, alerting others to your presence, allowing them to find your car which you then firebomb, before escaping on foot with only a flask of brandy.

If you anwered a) you might stand a chance of survival. If you anwered b) you'll die like the suckers in this film.

Oh look, there's some glamourous dancers. What'll happen to them, I wonder....?

Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City is both wonderful and awful, serious and silly. The characters are numerous and killed off so fast that we can't really care very much about them; when the military lieutenant is forced to shoot his zombified wife through the head, we're vaguely aware that this seems a shame, but it's hardly a tragedy as none of the characters have enough time to create any depth or link with the watcher.

You can't fault it on body count though. The monsters of the film might not be strictly zombies - they are victims of radiation who haven't died and move incredibly fast (think 28days...) and wield weapons - but they certainly cause havoc, feed on blood and pass on their contamination to those that they injure. And the injure an awful lot of people!

The planned air-strike is somewhat derailed by the discovery of an entire airbase of dead pilots and the notquitezombies munch away at doctors, nurses, patients, soldiers, dancers and relatives with ample enthusiasm.

Plot-wise, this is little more than a vehicle for graphic violence and, although this sounds like a criticism, at least it's fairly open in its lowly ambitions. Refreshingly unpretentious! So if we can't rate a film on its plot, what can we use to evaluate it?

Why, the nature of the killings of course! Zombie movies are generally an excuse to be inventive and/or outrageous in terms of death scenes and this is fairly competent in this regard. Highlights include beating a vicar's brains out on the altar, a harpoon through the chest and a scene with a rollercoaster that I won't spoil...

Whch leads us to Zombie-Survival, multiple-choice quiz question number 2:

If, when fleeing a zombie-outbreak, you encounter an abandoned fairground do you...

a)wander in, or..

b)stay the hell away.

I'll let you figure the answer to that one yourself...

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