Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
City of the Walking Dead (aka Nightmare City, Incubo Sulla Citta) (1980)
Continental Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor

City of the Walking DeadThis Italian-Spanish coproduction (Dialchi Films-ROME/Lotus Int'l Films-MADRID) is brought to us care of Umberto Lenzi, and it's kind of a mess. Which is disappointing, since I'd heard good things about it during an extended Italian zombie conversation with some fellow fans.

For the most part, CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD is a standard DAWN OF THE DEAD rip-off: Goblinesque credit score; a radioactive spill at a nuclear plant causes the dead to zombify; they attack and munch on their victims; a husband and wife on the run from the marauding mutants; and so on.

However, unlike DAWN and its many Italian counterparts (Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE, NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES), these aren't your typical, lumbering Italian flesheaters. These walking dead come out a fightin' with guns blazing, knives slashing, and hand tools doing whatever it is that hand tools do. Then they munch out. This landmark plot twist is the only thing that sets it apart from the pack, and probably the only reason it has a favorable reputation.

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.

The reporter and his wife (a doctor) take off into the country in an ambulance in an attempt to get away from the carnage. The wife is a constant downer, repeatedly saying things like: "It's part of the vital cycle of the human race. Create and obliterate until we destroy ourselves." Thanks babe, you're really making this a fun trip for everybody.

Some of the highlights include a stop at a church where the hubby battles a zombie priest, and a rousing battle at a zombie amusement park. In the end though, the flick isn't nearly gory enough, and its moronic ending makes you wish it would just go away. With a little work, some Romero-style gore, AND the hyper zombies, CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD could've been a classic. Too bad that it lives up to neither its premise or its reputation.


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