April 23, 2007

Nightmare City (Lenzi, 1980)

In an interview on the DVD, director Umberto Lenzi discusses his film in relation to the AIDS epidemic and refers to it as realistic with some fantastical elements. This misplaced seriousness, also evident in the film itself, is perhaps the primary reason why Nightmare City fails. It manages none of the wit, charm, or low-budget ingenuity one always hopes to find in exploitation/cult cinema. As a result, the colorless, expository screenplay and stilted acting are impossible to overlook. Aside from the opening minutes, and a tense scene involving a helicopter rescue attempt, there is little else to recommend. Lenzi has crafted a horror film without scares that feels repetitive within the first ten minutes. Amongst Italian horror films this is certainly a lesser work. Nevertheless, it is mildly entertaining, moves quickly, and elicits quite a few laughs, though I doubt they were intended.

*Special mention must be made of the inconsistent gore effects. There are a few appropriately gruesome scenes, but by and large, this film contains some of the most laughably awful effects I have ever seen.

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