Nightmare City (1980)

Have you ever paused a movie and yelled aloud, “I LOVE THIS MOVIE!” and you’re all alone in the room? If you’ve answered in the affirmative, you understand the pure joy that I felt while watching this movie.

Dean Miller, an American reporter, is waiting to interview a nuclear scientist when a military plane lands and mutated men emerge, killing everyone in their path. Even the worst wounds only slow them down as they hack their way through their victims, pausing to drink the blood of those they kill.

General Murchison (Mel Ferrer, The Visitor) shuts down any news stories about the attack. Meanwhile, the city is overrun with the killers and their victims, who soon join their ranks. Miller saves his wife at the hospital where she works as the city’s power is shut down.

It turns out that they’re fighting humans who have been contaminated by a leak in the nuclear power plant (that’s why the scientist was meeting with Miller in the beginning) and now they have strength, speed and reflexes beyond the range of normal humans. However, because they can’t regenerate red blood cells, they must consume blood. There’s only one way to kill them, which will be familiar to zombie movie fans: shoot them in the head.

No one is safe — the general is looking for his daughter and her husband, but by the time they are discovered, they are infected and must be killed. And Major Holmes warns his artist wife to stay in the house when two infected men break in and kill her friend and almost murder her. By the time he gets to the house to save her she’s been infected and he must kill his wife.

That’s the theme of this movie — everyone gets turned into something horrible, even a priest at the church where Miller and Anna try to hide. Finally, they make a last stand in an amusement park, using submachine guns and grenades to keep the attacking horde at bay. Major Holmes tries to save them, but Anna can’t hold the rope and falls to her death. This being an Italian movie, we see every moment of her demise.

Miller then wakes up. It was all a dream, except he goes back to the airport and the movie starts all over again!

Known as City of the Walking Dead in the U.S., this is a fast-moving, down and dirty gore packed film. Directed by Umberto Lenzi (Eaten Alive!Cannibal Ferox), this film feels like it’s out of control from the first scene. Once that plane opens and the mutated fiends emerge, it’s an orgy of heads being opened up, breasts being eaten, gunshots galore and eyes being ripped from their sockets. In short, this is. a true crowd pleaser. How can you not love a movie where a studio full of disco dancers are mauled and murdered by an army of mutated killers?

There was a remake announced in 2015, which was to have been directed by Tom Savini. While that movie hasn’t shown up yet, you can always watch the original on Shudder!

14 thoughts on “Nightmare City (1980)

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