American film poster under alternative title
|Directed by||Umberto Lenzi|
|Written by||Piero Mignoli
Jose Luis Delgado
Maria Rosaria Omaggio
|Music by||Stelvio Cipriani|
|Edited by||Daniele Alabiso|
|Running time||90 minutes|
Nightmare City (Italian: Incubo Sulla Cittá Contaminata) is a 1980 Italian-Spanish zombie film directed by Umberto Lenzi. The film stars Hugo Stiglitz as the television news reporter Dean Miller who witnesses the collapse of order and civilization as the city he lives in is taken by storm by ravenous deformed ghouls who feed on the blood of normal humans after having butchered them with improvised melee weapons or firearms. To add to the chaos, several of the ghoul's victims are revived after death as the mutation process that created them in first place (revealed to be the aftereffect of radioactive contamination) keeps spreading.
The American television news reporter Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) waits at an unnamed European airport for the arrival of a scientist that he is about to interview regarding a recent nuclear accident. An unmarked military plane makes an emergency landing. The plane doors open and dozens of deformed people burst out and begin stabbing and shooting the military personnel outside; they prove to be resilient to the most grievous wounds and seem to be relentless in their assault save for when they pause to consume the fresh blood of their victims. Miller tries to let the people know of this event, but General Murchison of Civil Defense (Mel Ferrer) will not allow it. Miller tries to find his wife Anna who works at a hospital as the crazed assailants begin to overrun the city, their ranks swollen by many of their former victims.
Military scientists soon determine the attackers to be contaminated humans whose tissues have been grotesquely mutated by massive doses of radiation; their bodies, however, while capable of feats of strength, speed and reflexes beyond those of most humans, are unable to regenerate red blood cells, hence their ravenous appetite for people's blood. Miller and his wife escape to an abandoned amusement park that is also overrun with ghouls. The two climb to the top of a roller coaster and are about to be rescued by a military helicopter. Miller then wakes up, revealing the whole situation to be a dream. Miller also learns that today he is about to meet a scientist at the airport. When he arrives, a military plane makes an emergency landing, mimicking the beginning of the film.
- Hugo Stiglitz as Dean Miller
- Laura Trotter as Dr. Anna Miller
- Maria Rosaria Omaggio as Sheila Holmes
- Francisco Rabal as Major Warren Holmes
- Sonia Viviani as Cindy
- Eduardo Fajardo as Dr. Kramer
- Stefania D'Amario as Jessica Murchison
- Ugo Bologna as Mr. Desmond
- Sara Franchetti as Liz
- Manuel Zarzo as Colonel Donahue
- Tom Felleghy as Lieutenant Reedman
- Pierangelo Civera as Bob, Jessica's husband
- Achille Belletti as Jim, hospital patient
- Mel Ferrer as General Murchison
Release and reception
Nightmare City has also been released under the title of City of the Walking Dead. In his review of 1980s horror cinema, John Kenneth Muir referred to Nightmare City referred to the film as a "cobbled together disaster" Muri went on to say it's not the worst zombie film of the 1980s which he felt belonged to Hell of the Living Dead. The assistant professor Danny Shipka of Louisiana State University described the film as "absolutely terrible in every way" as well as referring to poor make-up effects, poor acting and a plot that "makes no sense". In the book Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, a review opined that the film is "way too silly to be taken seriously for even the briefest moments" and that it is "not a good movie, but it is a ridiculously good guilty pleasure with some genuine surprises".
- Kay, 2008. p.111
- Muir, 2007. p.121
- Shipka, 2011. p.128
- Muir, 2007. p.122
- Kay, Glenn. Zombie Movies:The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press, 2008. ISBN 1556527705.
- Muir, John Kenneth. Horror films of the 1980s. McFarland, 2007. ISBN 078642821X.
- Shipka, Danny. Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980. McFarland, 2011. ISBN 0786448881.