This is an interesting interview with Italian horror director Umberto Lenzi.
Lenzi was responsible for many Italian and joint European production throughout his film career and the bulk of his work has mostly focused on genres like peplum, giallo, horror, spy, and exploitation films.
‘Nightmare City‘ was released in 1980, the same year that Lenzi released his controversial film ‘Eaten Alive‘ (which was filmed before the notorious ‘Cannibal Holocaust‘ which dominated the headlines in the same year).
‘Nightmare City‘ was also released under the alternate titles ‘City of the Walking Dead‘ and ‘Incubo sulla cittá contaminata‘ and it deals with a radiation leak that transforms victims into blood-thirsty and flesh-hungry killers.
Not strictly a zombie film as the ghouls in this movie are not really dead, plus they can communicate and use tools and weapons. It is also the first movie that features running ‘zombies’ (or more accurately ‘infected’ victims) which was used to great effect in later movies like 28 Days Later (2002), and the Dawn of the Dead remake (2004).
‘Nightmare City‘ is not a classic by any means, but it holds a special place in the hearts of many horror and giallo fans.
The two part interview below reveals Umberto Lenzi’s approach and the statements that he was trying to make when creating ‘Nightmare City‘.. He states:
If you ask me, the biggest threat to society is contamination from radiation, and chemicals that cause sickness and death
He also distances himself from the script and from the distinctive (and sometimes ridiculed) visual appearance of the ‘zombies/infected’ in the film, who seem to have brown paper-mache growths on their heads and faces in order to distinguish them as ‘the infected’. Lenzi says:
The problem was the shooting script. It was horrible!. It was a script I totally hated. The producer wanted a movie with different looking zombies. When you’re only the director you are mainly just the executor of a project which has been determined from the beginning. It was one of those rare cases where I wans’t involved with the original concept.
This is an interesting stance, as Lenzi has recently associated himself with a forthcoming remake of the movie which has just been successfully crowdfunded with involvement from Tom Savini. I wonder if this means Lenzi will be stamping his vision on the new version more prominantely then he obvioulsy felt he could on the 1980 original?
Watch the Umberto Lenzi interview on ‘Nightmare City’ below: