Unable to deliver a pristine restoration, Arrow offers fans a choice of presentations
Cited by many as the first film to feature running zombies, Umberto Lenzi's absolutely bonkers 1980 Italian-Spanish splatter flick (known in the U.S. as City of the Walking Dead) finds a city overrun with pizza-faced blood-drinking ghouls in the wake of an accident at a nuclear power station.
As you might expect, it's the sort of film that improves immeasurably in proportion to the amount of slack you cut it – although a pre-existing appreciation of bad acting and scenes of schlocky special effects also help. Hardly a classic of the genre then, but still fun in its own way.
Picture: Arrow Video's Nightmare City Blu-ray is one of those platters where the traditional approach doesn't really apply. Once again the label has gone back to the source (in this case the original 2-perf negative) and undertaken its own 2K restoration. However, this time around some of the damage (specifically some large chemical stains that affect the opening reel and a handful of other scenes) proved impossible to correct.
While an alternate 4-perf reversal dupe negative source exists, the trade-off for not having to put up with the staining is a noticeable drop in sharpness and clarity (this was the source used by Raro Video for its 2013 US Blu-ray release).
As such, Arrow Video has done the only sensible thing and included both 1080p presentations of the film on this disc. Clearly neither AVC 2.35:1 encode is in any way perfect, but by putting the choice of which version to watch in the viewer's hands, the label has demonstrated a desire to give us the best possible solution. It should be applauded for doing so.
Picture rating: 3.5/5
Above: Arrow's restoration of the (chemically stained) original 2-perf negative
Above: The alternate hi-def master taken from a 4-perf dupe negative
Audio: Both presentations offer a choice of Italian and English LPCM mono mixes. Thankfully, neither soundtrack proved anything like as problematic as the imagery, and both have been nicely cleaned up ensuring that the (post-sync) dialogue is clear and Stelvio Cipriani's memorable electronic score gets a fresh lease of life.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: In addition to both transfers, this Blu-ray hosts plenty of extra goodies. There's a chat-track from Fangoria editor and zombie fan Chis Alexander; interviews with director Umberto Lenzi and actress Maria Rossaria Omaggio; a tribute to the film and its director from Eli Roth; an overview of the challenges faced by the restoration team (see split image above); a trailer; and alternate opening titles (under the name Attack of the Zombies) The disc also ships with a 20-page booklet.
Extras rating: 4/5
We say: A ridiculously comprehensive hi-def package for an enjoyably hokey slice of '80s Euro splatter
Nightmare City, Arrow Video, All-region BD & R0 DVD, £18 Approx
HCC VERDICT: 3.5/5
Want the latest issue of Home Cinema Choice? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!
Want to see your home cinema system featured in the pages of HCC? Click here for more info.
Home Cinema Choice is proud to be a member of EISA.
Visit www.eisa.eu for more info.