The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 ratio – something that would not have happened when this film eventually got a censored UK release in 1986, presuming it ever made it to video – butgiven that it’s shot in Techniscope, before watching this film you get a brief crash course in how that format resulted in half the vertical resolution being available than more traditional filming processes, but since you could get twice as many frames on film, this was a boon for low-budget filmmakers.
This led to two versions of this film being available on this release. Why? Well, only two prints were available – an original negative which allows for a detailed 1080p resolution print, but which has occasional scenes where things aren’t so good because the chemicals used to clean the print often caused degredation; and the other – a dupe reverse negative, doesn’t suffer any of those chemical issues, but looks very soft throughout, very much like a DVD generally looks. A demonstration is given before you watch the film, and between the two, and since I prefer the sharpness of a Blu-ray image, I chose the former print. Glad I did, too, as those chemically-affected scenes are something I can live with given the fact that one alternative is that we wouldn’t have had this film at all.
According to IMDB, a variety of languages were used in this film – Italian, English and Spanish. Normally, I’d go with the original language when watching a film, but for this one, I chose the English dialogue which is dubbed, even for those scenes which were clearly originally spoken in English. However, on this disc it’s just that you either get an all-English or all-Italian language track. That may be all that survives of the original elements. I’ve already described the situation regarding the picture, so it’s not like when this film was originally made, someone would’ve had an eye towards potential home market revenue, unlike releases of today, such as the TV series The Saboteurs, which featured dialogue in Danish, German, Norwegian and English, depending on the location, and each of those are in their original language with no dubbed option.
The extensive extras are as follows:
- The Limits of Restoration (4:34): The aforementioned featurette about why there are two versions.
- Umberto Lenzi interview (28:41): Subtitled “Radiation Sickness”, the director talks about changing the premise of the film to make it the way he wanted so it wasn’t just a typical bog-standard zombie flick – well, in essence it kinda is, but to him they’re less zombies and more like vampires who need human blood to survive.
- Maria Rosaria Omaggio interview (7:41): aka “Sheila of the Dead”, one of the film’s leads, but she humbly considers herself only as one of the extras.
- Zombies Gone Wild: Eli Roth on Nightmare City (10:33): Director Eli Roth talks about not only this one but all of Umberto Lenzi’s work and his influence on him and others, including the reference to Inglorious Basterds.
- Original trailer (3:45): Presented in 2.35:1, it looks like this has been cut from the dupe reverse negative print, since it looks quite soft but doesn’t have any of that chemical shenanigans going on.
- Alternate Opening Titles (2:11): with the title renamed “Attack of the Zombies”.
- Collectors booklet: with film stills and posters, notes about the restoration, and new writing about the movie from John Martin, author of Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal.
- Reversible sleeve: This shows one of the many alternate titles for this movie – City of the Walking Dead.
- Audio commentary: Chris Alexander – filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Nightmare City fan.
Subtitles are in English, but there are two subtitle tracks – one of which is closer to the dubbed version – which I selected, and the other being newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtrack. There are 12 chapters to the film, as usual. As always, I’d prefer more than 12 for the main film, aiming for one every five minutes approximately. The menu features clips from the film set to a short piece of the theme.
Nightmare City Special Edition is out now on Blu-ray/DVD Double Pack Limited Edition and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 92 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: August 24th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Mono (uncompressed PCM)
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Techniscope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Producers: Diego Alchimede and Luis Méndez
Screenplay: Antonio Cesare Corti, Luis María Delgado and Piero Regnoli
Music: Stelvio Cipriani
Dean: Hugo Stiglitz
Anna: Laura Trotter
Sheila: Maria Rosaria Omaggio
Holmes: Francisco Rabal
Cindy: Sonia Viviani
Kramer: Eduardo Fajardo
Jessica: Stefania D’Amario
Desmond: Ugo Bologna
Liz: Sara Franchetti
Donahue: Manuel Zarzo
Reedman: Tom Felleghy
Bob: Pierangelo Civera
Tech: Achille Belletti
Murchison: Mel Ferrer
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.