Long before zombies took up jogging in 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, they were brandishing axes in radiation-sickness opus Nightmare City. Counting Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth amongst its fans, the film is a slice of Italian zombie carnage from Umberto Lenzi, the man who shocked the world with Cannibal Ferox.
In true Zombie Flesh Eaters form, our story begins with the arrival of an ominous, seemingly unmanned craft: in this instance, a military plane making an unscheduled landing at a European airport. Upon forcing the aircraft doors open, the waiting soldiers get a nasty shock when out bursts a horde of pizza-faced radioactive ghouls. The walking dead are here, and they’re hungry…
Nightmare City is available on dual format now. Win a copy below.
Gather around the campfire, and hear the tale of Madman Marz: an ill-tempered old farmer who, one dark night, chopped up his wife and two children into pieces. When the locals caught wind of his heinous crime, they meted out revenge: sinking an axe into his head and hanging him from a nearby tree. But the next day, Marz’s body was gone…
Inspired by the same Cropsey urban legend which informed its slasher peer The Burning, Madman stands as one of the very best of the camp-based terror flicks and was a clear influence on Hatchet, Adam Green’s love letter to the slasher genre.
Madman is available on dual format now. Win a copy below.
DIRECTOR Dan Berk; Robert Olsen WRITER Dan Berk; Robert Olsen STARS Helen Rogers; Alexandra Turshen; Lauren Molina DVD 31 August
REVIEW Rich Wilson
When does a feature become a short, and vice versa? It’s a question to be levelled at the stark 68 minutes (excluding credits) on offer here from writer-director duo Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. Even at this length it’s hard work to get through, but there’s something of value if only a good script and film editor had tightened it up and cut long scenes of pointless dialogue. As a short it could work; at this length it’s a disaster.
What does work is the always reliable and creepy Larry Fessenden as Arthur, an undiscovered stranger living in a house that’s been occupied by three college girls who have returned home for the holidays. The leader of the group, Cali (Alexandra Turshen), has suggested they use the house while her uncle is away, but unbeknown to the others it’s simply a place where she used to babysit. When her friends discover they are trespassing they insist on leaving, but not before Arthur makes his appearance, and ends up getting pushed down a flight of stairs by the panicking teens. Allegedly dead, the three go about concocting a cover story involving potential rape and self-defence before they call the police.
So far, so very CSI, which Body depressingly starts to imitate, especially when they start planting DNA evidence and tinkering with the crime scene. Naturally there’s much argument and fracturing of the group as their lie increases, and the (obvious) revelation that comes way too late is lazy and cheap, giving the impression that Berk and Olsen really had no idea how to conclude proceedings. This is really a TV episode, although sadly one you’ll have seen many times before.