Nightmare City aka "Incubo sulla cittą contaminata" aka "City of the Walking Dead" [Blu-ray]
(Umberto Lenzi, 1980)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Televicine S.A. de C.V.
Video: Arrow Video
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime (both): 1:31:00.746 / 1:31:01.539
Disc Size: 49,886,343,212 bytes
'Original Negative' Size: 27,681,687,744 bytes
'Reverse Dupe' Size: 18,427,109,952 bytes
Arrow Negative Video Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps
Reverse Dupe Video Bitrate: 21.98 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 13
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: August 24th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Audio (both versions):
LPCM Audio Italian 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH) for English version, English (for Italian version), none
•Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Nightmare City fan Chris Alexander
• Radiation Sickness a brand new interview with director Umberto Lenzi (28:41)
• Sheila of the Dead a brand new interview with star Maria Rosaria Omaggio (7:41)
• Zombies Gone Wild! director, producer and actor Eli Roth on Nightmare City and the wild cinema of Umberto Lenzi (10:33)
• Nightmare City and The Limits of Restoration featurette looking at the differences between the two transfers included on this release (4:35)
• Alternate Opening Titles (2:11)
• Original Trailer (3:45)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Martin, author of Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
Description: Long before zombies took up jogging in
28 Days Later and Zack Snyder's
Dawn of the Dead remake, they were brandishing axes
and other sharp implements in Umberto Lenzi s utterly insane
radiation-sickness opus Nightmare City.
CITY's inspired beginning features a tv reporter waiting at the airport
for an arriving physicist. An unmarked military transport lands
unannounced and is surrounded by government troops. Zombies disembark
and all hell breaks loose! They attack the live broadcast of a "Solid
Gold" style tv show, a hospital, and some people at poolside.
This delightfully bizarre Italian/Spanish co-production from Umberto Lenzi starts off with the local news station reporting a leak at the state nuclear plant. A Professor Hagenbeck is arriving back into the city by plane after going with his team to investigate the leak. TV reporter Dean Miller (Stiglitz) is sent to interview the professor. Miller arrives at the airport just as an unidentified military plane makes an emergency landing. Airport security and a small number of army personnel surround the aircraft and demand whoever is inside to open up. Big mistake, because inside is the Professor and his team who have now become murderous zombie type creatures!
Worse than that though is their skin condition, as the Professor and friends now look like they have fallen face down in a bowl of chocolate oatmeal! The horror!! Before the startled eyes of Miller the Chocolate Oatmeal Faced Toxic zombies (who we shall call COFTZ from here on in) are hacking, stabbing and shooting their way through the troops and drinking their blood. Yes I did say shooting. None of your slow shambling unarmed rotters here, these COFTZ brandish weapons and run after their victims!
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Firstly, there is also a Kino Lorber (through Raro) release of Nightmare City in region 'A' HERE, but we can safely assume that it pales in comparison to this complete package from Arrow that offers HD transfers of two different prints - Arrow's 2K restoration from the original camera negative and a 'Reverse DUPE negative' source. You can see for yourself in our matched screen captures what the issue is. The original has some damage - almost exclusively in the plane sequence at the beginning and end of the film. It shows in the form of a yellow mist (chemical deterioration). But while the DUPE source is cleaner - it is no where near as sharp (loss of resolution) and crisp as the original camera negative. The original camera negative transfer has a max'ed out bitrate while the DUPE is still 1080P but has not gone through such a robust transfer. The original shows more information on the left and bottom edges and both are in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The original has the Italian title sequences and the DUPE has the English, after that it is exactly the same film - but Arrow have made the audio tracks and subs available for both. We get this preface text screen before the original camera negative presentation:
I think it's great to have the option, but I imagine most would lean to the original despite the damaged sequences. I must applaud Arrow for producing the Blu-ray in this manner. Neither, alone, would be a complete package. The only thing I thought might have been discussed is to replace the damaged parts with those from the DUPE, but the disparity may have been too obvious and 'unacceptable quality'.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Arrow give us the option of both the English-language or Italian - both in a linear PCM mono track at 768 kbps / 16-bit. There are plenty of effects and the mono holds up with some depth. The electronic score is by veteran Stelvio Cipriani (Killer Cop, Rabid Dogs, Baron Blood, A Bay of Blood) and it sounds clean with a bit of a screechy high-end (which I assume is authentic to the original). There are optional English subtitles (newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtrack and for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack) and my Oppo has identified it as being a Region FREE.
Arrow continue to stack their releases with excellent extras - all self-produced. We get a splendid new audio commentary by filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Nightmare City fan Chris Alexander whose passion invigorates the discussion. There are also interviews; Radiation Sickness is a new interview with director Umberto Lenzi and runs almost a 1/2 hour in Italian with English subtitles - also Sheila of the Dead spends 7-minutes with delightful star Maria Rosaria Omaggio and Zombies Gone Wild! is a 10-minute piece with director, producer and actor Eli Roth discussing Nightmare City and the wild cinema of Umberto Lenzi. Nightmare City and The Limits of Restoration is a 5-minute featurette looking at the differences between the two transfers included on this release. There are alternate opening titles and an original trailer. The package itself has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Martin, author of Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
August 27th, 2015
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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