Italian poster for Nightmare City
|Directed by||Umberto Lenzi|
Maria Rosaria Omaggio
|Music by||Stelvio Cipriani|
|Edited by||Daniele Alabiso|
Nightmare City (Italian: Incubo sulla città contaminata) is a 1980 Italian-Spanish science fiction horror film directed by Umberto Lenzi. The film stars Hugo Stiglitz as a television news reporter who witnesses the collapse of order in a city overrun by irradiated blood-drinking ghouls. Victims of the ghouls rise from the dead to join the host, adding to the chaos.
The American television news reporter Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) waits at a European airport to interview a scientist about 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 resistant to the most grievous wounds and are relentless in their assault, stopping only to consume the blood of their victims. Miller tries to alert the public, but General Murchison of Civil Defense (Mel Ferrer) will not allow it. Miller tries to find his wife Anna (Laura Trotter), who works at a hospital, as the crazed assailants overrun the city, their ranks swollen by many of their former victims.
Military scientists determine the attackers are contaminated humans whose tissues have been mutated by radiation. Their bodies, while capable of feats of strength, speed and reflexes beyond those of most humans, are unable to regenerate red blood cells, hence their appetite for blood. Miller and his wife escape to an abandoned amusement park that is also overrun with ghouls. They climb to the top of a roller coaster where they will be rescued by a military helicopter, but Anna falls to her death. Miller then wakes up, revealing the whole situation to be a dream. Miller then rushes to meet a scientist at the airport. When he arrives, a military plane makes an emergency landing, repeating the events of 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
From retrospective reviews, Sight & Sound referred to the film as a "spirited, if preposterous, zombie saga" with a "deeply contrived ending". John Kenneth Muir in his review of 1980s horror cinema, referred to Nightmare City referred to the film as a "cobbled together disaster" Muir 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". In The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle wrote that the film is "at the best of moments, a forced and pointless test of endurance". Dendle described the zombies as "utterly unconvincing".
- Macnab, Geoffrey (April 2003). "Nightmare City". Sight & Sound. Vol. 13 no. 4. British Film Institute. p. 59.
- Kay, 2008. p.111
- Muir, 2007. p.121
- Mannikka, Eleanor. "Nightmare City". AllMovie. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
- Shipka, 2011. p.128
- Gingold, Michae (March 3, 2015). "Tom Savini remaking Umberto Lenzi's Zombie Fave "Nightmare City"". Fangoria. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
- Muir, 2007. p.122
- Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.
- 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.