Nightmare City

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Not to be confused with City of the Living Dead.
Nightmare City
Italian poster for Nightmare City
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Produced by
  • Luis Méndez
  • Diego Alchimede[1]
Screenplay by
Starring Hugo Stiglitz
Laura Trotter
Maria Rosaria Omaggio
Music by Stelvio Cipriani
Cinematography Hans Burman
Edited by Daniele Alabiso
Release date
  • 1980 (1980)
Running time
90 minutes
  • Italy
  • Spain[1]

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.


Director Umberto Lenzi felt the film was not to be labeled as a zombie film but a "radiation sickness movie" with hints of an anti-nuclear and anti-military message.[2]




Nightmare City was first released in 1980.[4] It was first released in the United States in 1983 under the title City of the Walking Dead.[5][6]


From retrospective reviews, Sight & Sound referred to the film as a "spirited, if preposterous, zombie saga" with a "deeply contrived ending".[1] John Kenneth Muir in his review of 1980s horror cinema, referred to Nightmare City referred to the film as a "cobbled together disaster"[7] 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.[7] 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".[5] 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".[2] 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".[8]


Fangoria announced in 2015 that Tom Savini would be directing a remake of the film.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Macnab, Geoffrey (April 2003). "Nightmare City". Sight & Sound. Vol. 13 no. 4. British Film Institute. p. 59. 
  2. ^ a b Kay, 2008. p.111
  3. ^ Muir, 2007. p.121
  4. ^ Mannikka, Eleanor. "Nightmare City". AllMovie. Retrieved May 7, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Shipka, 2011. p.128
  6. ^ a b Gingold, Michae (March 3, 2015). "Tom Savini remaking Umberto Lenzi's Zombie Fave "Nightmare City"". Fangoria. Retrieved May 7, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Muir, 2007. p.122
  8. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6. 


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