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Run Zombies, Run! --> The Reviews From The Bigscreen Series
on 13 March 2017
Title: NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)
Label: ARROW VIDEO
Tranfer by: ARROW ?
ARROW now have released their BD set of the notorious italian film buffs dream NIGHTMARE CITY. Hurray! And what a mingle-mangle between euro zombie trash and low budget mercenary action flick this is. All you Bergman, Antonioni, Herzog, Fassbinder, Godard, Truffaut and what not more lovers (okay I am one of these too)...you might think this could be the worst movie of all time? You are wrong. It is one of the most funtime movies made in 1980 and it is still a whole lot of fun watching it today. Long before films like GROUNDHOG DAY (1993), NIGHTMARE CITY has a fantastic sarcastic ending. The Zombies are very agile and fast and it nearly seems like Umberto Lenzi sneers at the genre. The movie is well crafted, solidly acted and it has a very funny make-up style concerning the zombies. It "borrows" some musical elements from DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and in general it also could be named DAWN OF THE DEAD ... ON SPEED. Totally crazy stuff here from Italy. If you are able to not take it serious than I can absolutely recommend this movie for genre film buffs and wannabes.
No Grain Baby, No Gain / The Transfer(s):
ARROW did a great job offering two different transfers and you are here to choose which one to see. First there is a 2K scan of the 35mm dupe negative and I label it under the category "nice to have but unimportant". It lacks level of details and sharpness. It simply looks flat because there is no texture (grain) to it. In my opinion it is not suitable for big screenings at all.
Second there is a 2K scan from the original camera negative and this transfer looks very filmic and has all the nice and fine grain structure filmfreaks and cineasts love about movies. There is a very rich level of detail either and the colors are brilliant (but slightly effected by the damage of the negative). Blacklevels are great and thats the same with the overall deep dimension picture. I couldnt spot DNR or edge enhancement or other digital destructive working filters and such monstrosities.
The side effects here are visible damages throughout the movie. This results in greenish flickering, dirt and stain due to the chemical corrosion of the film negative. But hey. This (the source) is analog film and photography/filming is nothing more than a chemical processes. This is not made to last in all eternity and we can be (very) happy the film negative could be saved by digitization. The way it looks now is a very good compromise and I am lucky being able to see NIGHTMARE CITY in this kind of quality. All former releases looked plain awful and barely filmic. Now after years ARROW VIDEO made it possible to watch this gross-out flick in high quality via very big projection. Maybe the damaged elements of this transfer are even increasing the feeling of watching a movie that was shot on real filmstock 37 years before. I love the way it looks and appreciate ARROWS decision to offer their BD set the way they did. Welcome to an authentic looking digital reproduction of a wonderful grindhouse movie.
Cut and Run:
The scanned source material is integral. NO inserts from different sources have been applied. I find this to be so damn important for a perfect filmic enjoyment.
Fans, collectors and people with bigscreens or projectors can spent their money without any further doubts while they can live with the camera negative damages...and they should :) ARROW VIDEO made a fantastic collectors item with nice supplements and a small but top-quality booklet. And they left the choice of version to us. No wishes left here. The movie itself (camera negative scan) looks and feels filmic even via big screen projection. Maybe there will never be a better version of NIGHTMARE CITY out there. Okay, they will come out with a 4K scan for sure some day :):):) Highly recommended.
Run zombies, run!
My ratings refer exclusively to technical aspects of BD sets. The more filmic / photographic a movie looks and feels via bigscreen projections and the more authentic to its camera negative (or other sources) the movie is scanned and digitally treated afterwards, the higher the ratings will be.
I do not rate movies at all. I just watch them and I think of them as artificial pieces of work where many efforts have been taken (including complex postproduction) to accomplish a vision of whatsoever kind. No movie ever shot has earned a 1 star rating on AMAZON or a 1 point rating on IMDB. Anyway, I could rate them because I have studied in private many publications about making films, their psychological impact, and the subject violence on film. And because I am a hobby photographer for years now I know much about frame compositions, color composition and different styles and so on. I am interested in the arts in general. I am also a hobby musician and sound designer with a little studio. So I even could rate the filmical scores. But hell...why should I? Things are what they are and nothing more or less. I like to think beyond mind constructed terms like good and bad. So called "objectivity" becomes fast diluted by personal preferences which results in comments of personal taste. And that should not be the base for a rating-scale which claims to be universal. When it comes to technical aspects thats a different kind of thing. DNR, edge enhancement or block noise and such things are obvious on big screens and we can speak of objectivity and measurability.
All about Ev(m)e:
I am a collector of films for about 27 Years, own about 3.000 films (would be far more, but I often sort out transfers I dont like) and watch them in a home-cinema room via bigscreen projection. I am also a hobby musician and photographer with some experience scanning camera negatives in high definitions. I am fascinated by films from reels since I am a kid and spent hours for hours in cinemas and visiting film festivals.