There was a time in the ‘80s where aerobics was so popular that the fashion and rhythmic aerobic moves integrated itself into anything and everything one could imagine. Naturally, this would eventually lead to aerobics making its way to film, specifically the horror genre. While there are plenty of examples of aerobics in horror (Death Spa, Aerobicide, Murder Rock, Slash Dance, etc), one of the most memorable comes from a small but incredible dance scene in Umberto Lenzi’s pseudo-zombie opus Nightmare City.
This scene in question takes place in a television studio, where a number of beautiful women adorned in powder blue leotards
erotically erratically dance in a fashion that, despite their best efforts, lacks any sort of synchronization. I would assume the standards would be higher for TV, but then again, the fact that people actually watch a show where women wearing blue spandex perform aerobic inspired dance moves on a set designed by Milton Bradley only proves that people will watch anything. Considering that shows like MTV’s The Grind actually existed, I probably should have never even questioned it.
In any event, the song used for this moment is titled Sustain, and is provided by legendary Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani. The tune is gleefully upbeat in a fashion that makes one want to put on a pair of roller skates and glide through the streets of 1980’s New York while eating an ice cream cone. Of course, a bunch of nice looking ladies in blue onesies is innocent enough, therefore the song is quite fitting; however, things take a frightening turn when the dead body of one of the aerobiciders (that’s a fake word… feel free to use it) is discovered. At this point all hell breaks loose, as a gang of radioactively infected zombies come bursting into the studio, violently attacking everyone in sight and in a variety of grisly ways.
This scene works for a number of reasons, the main one being the fact that it’s so completely ridiculous. Regardless, it has a way of tapping into a fear; a fear of being overwhelmed by madness without any warning; a fear of being suddenly vulnerable in a place that should be safe, which in this case is at work. Sure, the “infected” are wearing bad suits and their makeup looks like puked up breakfast cereal smeared on their faces, but the dance sequence and subsequent attack scene are a highlight of a film that, despite my enjoyment, is a little uneventful.