Combustible Celluloid
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With: Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Francisco Rabal, Sonia Viviani, Eduardo Fajardo, Stefania D'Amario, Ugo Bologna, Sara Franchetti, Manuel Zarzo, Tom Felleghy, Pierangelo Civera, Achille Belletti, Mel Ferrer
Written by: Antonio Cesare Corti, Luis Mara Delgado, Piero Regnoli
Directed by: Umberto Lenzi
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 91
Date: 12/31/2013

Nightmare City (1980)

1 Star (out of 4)

Zombie Plane

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For a while, World War Z was the worst zombie movie I'd ever seen, but now Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City takes the prize. It's the only zombie movie in which the zombies are smarter than the humans; the creatures seem organized and crafty while the humans simply bungle along with no idea of what to do or where to go.

It begins when a mysterious airplane lands and its infected passengers get off and begin running rampant through the city. Two humans, A journalist (Hugo Stiglitz) and his wife, a doctor (Laura Trotter), are ostensibly the heroes, but they don't do much. The journalist works for a TV station that seems to run nothing but aerobic dancing girls. Mel Ferrer co-stars as a general, equally ineffective.

Lenzi is perhaps better known for his notorious Cannibal Ferox (1981), a.k.a. Make Them Die Slowly. He was pretty much a grindhouse director, notable for his daring levels of gore. Nightmare City is the only movie of his I've seen, and I'd be willing to check out more to further understand his appeal, but this one was just dumb.

Kino Lorber has happily acquired the Raro Video label, which releases all kinds of underprized Italian classics, both highbrow and lowbrow, onto deluxe U.S. Blu-rays. The 2014 release includes a long video interview with Lenzi (who is 82 as of this writing), trailers, and a liner notes booklet.

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