Thursday, February 5, 2015

Nightmare City - 1980

AKA City of the Walking Dead, Invasion of the Atomic Zombies, and sometimes Zombi 3

This movie gets pretty bad reviews from what I saw online.  Upon watching this last night, I discovered I had seen the first 30 minutes or so about 2 years ago and never finished it.  Which is strange, both of these facts are strange, because it's not like it's THAT bad of a movie.  It suffers from some horrible problems, sure, but at least it didn't bore me half to death.

The plot follows a television reporter, Miller (he is really not called by his first name Dean that much).  Miller goes to the airport in the first couple minutes of the film, to interview someone who is flying in.  Suddenly, the airport crew finds out that an airplane is approaching quickly, it has not called them on the radio, and does not respond to their calls.  It's a military plane, very ominous looking, and it lands at the airport.  Assuming the worst, Miller and his cameraman and several police officers run to the scene.  Out of the plane comes the man Miller needs to interview...and he attacks a policeman with a knife!  Out burst dozens and dozens of horribly burned people!  Attacking everyone with guns, knives, axes, and other weapons!

That's basically all the setup, the rest of the movie is Miller and his wife running from the creatures.  I have not called them zombies yet for a reason; because that's one of the weird things about this movie and perhaps a reason why it gets bad marks.  It is made clear that the guys who got off the plane and started attacking people in the first segment of the film are not zombies but irradiated people.  Perhaps mutated, definitely altered in thought process, but still alive.  It is said later that their infection spreads to people they come into contact with- in fact you could even get it just by being close to them, it seems.  And then also, some people they kill do come back from the dead as zombies.  But not all.  Hmm.

A couple things randomly worth mentioning:  at one point Miller throws a radio at a zombie and it fuckin explodes!  Awesome! Also, I honestly wondered if someone involved had a breast or nipple fetish.  I know, it's supposed to show us skin, but it seems almost on purpose how often a girl's breasts are exposed as she is being killed, and they purposely slice off a nipple in one scene.  Also, in a love scene at one point, the guy spends most of the scene touching her nipples and sucking them.  It just seems like a bit too on-purpose.

It's weird, it's kinda dumb, it's flawed.  But the movie is great!  It moves as a very quick pace, it's well done, it's got tons of blood and nudity, and the acting is solid.  Miller, played by Hugo Stiglitz, does a really good job, and I think is very realistic.  The zombie/irradiated people effects are pretty bad.  I do have to say that.  When it's just a little light makeup it looks too minimal, when it's full blown burned the fuck out radiation, it looks like an awful rubber mask.  Also, radiation?  What is this, 1955?  We haven't taken that seriously as a movie watching public since at the latest the early 60's.

The best way to look at this movie is not what doesn't work, but what does.  Even other movies with smart zombies, other movies with running zombies, other movies where they're not actually zombies at all, these still didn't have zombies using guns, zombies that could cooperate as a team, etc.  If anything, I would argue that this movie in some way is the logical grandfather to 28 Days Later.  Since it's treated more as a disease, and since the zombies run. Another thing that is confronted in the movie, is the "is this happening anywhere else" question.  Whereas in 28 Day Later it is pretty much said and later confirmed that it was only in England, in this movie it is eventually said that this thing is spreading.  But take that little part away, and you also have that part in place as a precursor to 28 Days Later.

The ending sucks and is another reason for bad marks.  I wish some movies would just take the fucking idea and run with it instead of giving us some weird WTF who knows ending.  I would've loved to just see the characters die and credits roll.

I'm going to start a rating system that I use in every review.  Since I don't only rate B movies, serious films will be on a different scale.  But B movies I'm just going to be giving stars.  You know, the bland, boring rating system.
This one would get maybe 2.5, 3 out of 5.  It has a lot going for it, but the end and the makeup do bring it down significantly.  I'm going to go with 3.

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