Monday, October 3, 2011

"Incubo sulla città contaminata"(1980)d/Umberto Lenzi

When I say that tonight's review is a becloudedly inept, low budgeted mess that often defies explanation, it's less out of criticism than it is out of love.We're talking about the Umberto Lenzi here, exploitation master whose Toscanan ass occupied the director's chair on such diverse genre classics as Attentato ai tre grandi(1967), The Man From Deep River(1972), Eyeball(1975), Napoli Violenta(1976), and, of course, everyone's favorite grindhouse feature, Cannibal Ferox(1981).Even when his lens isn't focused upon despicable acts of animal cruelty or a coked out Johnny Morghen, the man's managed to do everything from gialli and poliziotteschi to westerns and horror movies in his long and illustrious career, even managing to pioneer the cannibal sub-genre along the way.Though tonight's movie, also released under the alternate titles of City of the Walking Dead and Nightmare City, suffers from a Crayola script full of hokey cine-science and putrescent dialogue exchanges made to decompose more rapidly through adventitious performances from its lackluster conclave of actors, as headed by Hugo "One facial expression oughta cover it" Stiglitz and Mel "I've got more Maybelline on than the entire female cast" Ferrer, and filled out by familiar Italian genre faces like Stefania D'Amario, Ugo Bologna, and Maria Rosaria Omaggio, there's an undeniable emptyheaded charm about the Italo-Spanish collaboration that's hard not to notice.I've heard it said that Lenzi's weapon-toting, sprint speed contamino-zombies were an inspirational precursor to Danny Boyle's wildly successful 28 Days Later, and though that comparison holds some modicum of possibility, to be sure, let's not hastily rush to judgment here.Away from the smoke and mirrors of trendy fanboy analysis, Incubo is an uneven, cheap, continuity-free puddle o'schlock n' sloppy gore that vainly tries to cash in on the Italian zombie craze of the day, or, in other words, exactly what you're looking for.
Hugo Stiglitz, Hugo Stiglitz, oh, oh, oh, Hugo Stiglitz...Hugo Stiglitz-litz-litz-litz.Falco shoulda totally tried the song out that way.
Dean Miller(Hugo Stiglitz), a television news reporter, awakens from a bad dream, running late for an interview concerning a recent nuclear accident(based on a similar 1976 incident at a chemical plant in Seveso) with a prestigious scientist in the field named Hagenbeck.As Miller and his assistant arrive at the local airport, a large military Hercules air transport silently approaches the runway for an emergency landing with no clearance.The plane is quickly surrounded by airport security and beret-sporting military types who shout cautionary warnings (in familiar dubbing editor Nick Alexander's voice) into a bullhorn, but when the door finally opens moments later, a congregate of crazed radiation-deformed psychos(translation:Italians with latex slopped randomly on their faces) led by Hagenbeck bound from inside, armed with knives, axes, bats, and machine guns, and immediately begin hacking, stabbing, and shooting the fuck out of anybody in attendance, pouncing on open wounds to greedily gulp the red stuff spurting out.Evidently, the military plane was stocked to the gills with handheld melee weapons.Or maybe they just brought their own.One of the tox-omb-pires is swinging a farmer's scythe around.I'm not gonna try explaining that one.Miller and assistant somehow barely avoid ending up dead(translation: unconvincingly playing dead, lying on the asphalt with stage blood sparingly dripped on them) like all the others, making their way to a nearby television studio where some lycra-bound guys and gals are being filmed as they flail about out of sync to some embarrassing disco for the cameras.Miller tries to interrupt the broadcast with an emergency bulletin, but the station's plug is momentarily pulled by the military, as led by Murchison(Mel Ferrer), a General defiant enough to rock enough eyeshadow and lip gloss to choke Adam Ant(in the pre-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era, mind you), in attempt to suppress widespread panic.Miller, faced with the impending gag order, chooses to quit his job instead, and extricate his wife(Laura Trotter) from the hospital where she works so they can flee together.
Major Holmes(Francisco Rabal) scrutinizes his wife's(Maria Rosaria Omaggio) major hams.
With the oatmeal-faced rascals on their murderous bender, it seems like every guy in the movie is obligated to call home and warn a wife or daughter not to venture out into the blood-letting hijinks.When Major Holmes(Francisco Rabal) calls his wife(Maria Rosaria Omaggio), she's startled to find the lawnmower running on its own and a bloody knife jutted into the eye of her latest sculpture.Meanwhile, the television studio is attacked(luckily their tv monitors explode into flame when chucked), the hospital is besieged(luckily the doctors have been well-versed in the art of precision scalpel throwing), and despite the military's theory of post mortem tox-ghoul indestructibility(We've estimated they can't be destroyed, after autopsying this here dead one), flames and well-placed lead to the dome does the bastards in, right proper.Miller and wife make it to an abandoned gas station, where they share stale coffee, speculation towards man's responsibility for the countrywide terror spree, and a couple of heartily wooden laughs(!), despite said epidemic, which the military continues to suppress knowledge of to the public, long after they've failed to contain it.In the end, they're rescued in the nick of time by Holmes-in-a-helicopter, but his wife plummets from the sky to her death, unable to hold on long enough.Dean wakes up from his horrible dream alongside his wife in time to rush to the airport with his cameraman for an exclusive interview with Hagenbeck, when an unidentified Hercules transport emergency lands on the runway.Surrounded by security and police, the door slowly begins to open, titles reading "The nightmare becomes reality" flash across the screen, and the credits roll.
Pass the claret to me, Barrett.
As you might have guessed, the infelicitous Stiglitz is even outperformed here by random muck-faced extras(both Dell'Acquas included), whose propensity to run up to the camera and posture dramatically in front of the lens to show off the cheap makeup appliances spirit gummed to their faces is a frequent occurence.Then again, none of the major characters emotes worth a good goddamn here, hardly detracting from the frenetic low brow ambience of the movie, also ushered along by an appropriately groovy Stelvio Cipriani soundtrack.Years after throwing down long dollars at Mondo Kim's(R.I.P.) in Manhattan for the Dutch import region 2 'Red Edition' from Laser Paradise, which suffered from possibly the most impoverished print transfer to disc this side of truck stop horror fifty packs, I spotted the recent out-of-print Blue Underground release at an F.Y.E. for roughly forty dollars less and jumped on it.Though the extras are sparse(a Lenzi interview, a trailer), the print is pretty gorgeous, far better than something like this really deserves.On the scale, one well-deserved wop isn't going to stop a rabid genre nut like you from seeking this one out and adding it to your collection forthwith.I know you guys by now.
Does this mean we're gonna have to sit through the whole goddamned thing again??


Kev D. said...

When I saw that line go up at the end, I almost shit my pants.

It honestly made me want to watch it again. Sort of. Ok, not really at all.

Great review.

beedubelhue said...


I know, right? Thanks for the words, brother!


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