Quick Takes: Nightmare City, Your Highness, The Foot Fist Way

nightmare-city-poster-161Nightmare City [Incubo Sulla Cittá Contaminata] (1980)
AKA City of the Walking Dead

fourstar

Starring Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Francisco Rabal, Sonia Viviani, Eduardo Fajardo, Stefania D’Amario, Ugo Bologna
Directed by Umberto Lenzi

I’ve had Nightmare City on my radar for a while, but the arrival of Tom Savini’s crowdfunded remake-to-be gave me that extra little push in the right direction. Simply put, Nightmare City is a fuckin’ blast. I’ve always been a firm supporter of traditional, walking zombies, with the focus on the incessant nature of the never-tiring horde instead of the more immediate threat that running zombies deliver. But Nightmare City, the first film to use running zombies, proved to me that they can be just as fun, if not more. Director Umberto Lenzi crafts a film with scene after scene of pure balls-out madness, and the way it all bursts forth and inundates the unsuspecting viewer is incredible fun. One moment I was in tense apprehension for what might be behind that aircraft door, and then WHAM! A fucking horde of mud-faced, bloodthirsty fiends runs out, and the rest of the movie never lets up. The running zombies work here because Lenzi still embraces the overwhelming nature of the horde, while also delivering more fun than I think I’ve ever had with a zombie movie. It’s firmly a B-Movie, though, so many will scoff at its low-budget FX, but I say fuck all that and just have a good time with it!

yourhighness_1Your Highness (2011)
threestar

Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Rasmus Hardiker, Natalie Portman, Toby Jones, Justin Theroux, Zooey Deschanel, Charles Dance, Damian Lewis
Directed by David Gordon Green

Not sure how to review this one because it’s the kind of movie you pretty much know how you’ll feel about it before you watch it. If you liked Eastbound & Down and you’ve come on a quest for more Danny McBride to put in your head, Your Highness is a hoot. It helps if you also have an affinity for ’80s movies, specifically ’80s fantasy flicks like Beastmaster or Conan the Barbarian. If you’re not that person, I can’t imagine this being anything close to entertaining. But for me, I’m firmly in the first group, so I really enjoyed seeing Danny McBride in a fantasy setting. The ’80s-style CG lightning was also a quick way to my heart, but I think the perverted, Yoda-like Wise Wizard, brought to life by a puppet, really sealed the deal. Where a lot of ’80s throwbacks just feel like modern movies, Your Highness actually gets the spirit of ’80s sword-and-sorcery movies down pat, and it’s got more than its share of hilarity if you’re in the right frame of mind.

foot_fist_way_xlgThe Foot Fist Way (2006)
threestar

Starring Danny McBride, Mary Jane Bostic, Ben Best, Spencer Moreno, Carlos Lopez, Jody Hill, Ken Aguilar, Collette Wolfe
Directed by Jody Hill

Your Highness got me in the mood for some more Danny McBride, which naturally led me to The Foot Fist Way. McBride plays a Tae Kwon Do instructor that is every bit the foul-mouthed blowhard you’d expect him to be. The character is not as defined as McBride’s Kenny Powers role on Eastbound & Down, but you can clearly see the beginnings of that idea in The Foot Fist Way. Fans will definitely enjoy this one, but as this is the roughest of the McBride films, it’s not one to show everybody. Of course, I love me some martial arts, so the parody of that environment and the characters that inhabit it hit very solidly with me.

A Coffin for the Sheriff (1965)

A Coffin for the Sheriff [Una bara per lo sceriffo] (1965)
AKA Lone and Angry Man & Tomb for the Sheriff

Starring Anthony Steffen, Eduardo Fajardo, Fulvia Franco, George Rigaud, Armando Calvo, Arturo Dominici, Luciana Gilli, Miguel Del Castillo, Jesús Tordesillas, Tomás Torres, María Vico

Directed by Mario Caiano

Expectations: Low, but I enjoy Anthony Steffen so hopefully it’ll be good.


Let’s just cut to the chase: A Coffin for the Sheriff is a good, enjoyable spaghetti western, but one that is very average and clichéd. The fact that it remains interesting and fun is a testament to the quality of the storytelling, with the mystery of our main character Shenandoah slowly revealed over the course of the film. If you’ve seen any movie like this before, I’m sure you can unravel it rather quickly as I did, but regardless, it’s a story well told with lots of good scenes sprinkled throughout.

The film opens with Lupe Rojo’s gang robbing a wagon and murdering the people on it. This leads into an awesome montage of wanted posters, telegraph operators and the ever-riding Lupe Rojo as he continues to skirt the law in any way he can. After this we meet Shenandoah (played by genre-staple Anthony Steffen), a mysterious stranger who rides into town and has a run-in with the bandit group. Instead of fighting against them as you’d expect though, he rides off with them, helping an injured member escape along with him. Is this Shenandoah worthy of your trust? (On a side note: The word/name Shenandoah ranks near the top of my most hated words in the lexicon of classic Western cinema and its use here continues to annoy me.)

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Django (1966)

Django (1966)
AKA A Fistful of Dollars Part 2, Jango

Starring Franco Nero, José Bódalo, Loredana Nusciak, Eduardo Fajardo, Ángel Álvarez, Gino Pernice, Simón Arriaga

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Expectations: High


Django opens with a tight shot of the back of Django’s head. A black hat sits atop it and the theme song begins with a djangly guitar. As he walks away, the camera zooms out in the opposite direction, slowly revealing that he laboriously walks across the barren, muddy landscape, dragging a coffin behind him. Django continues up a muddy hill as the credits fade in and out around him. He is a mystery and will remain that way throughout the film. Knowing too much about his character would ruin his mystique. He simply is Django.

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