Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nightmares / Stage Fright (1980)

As you know if you read my blog at all, I don't post many nasty reviews. If I don't like something, I just don't write about it. However, there are times where something is warrants a little write up because it's so bad it's good. NIGHTMARES aka STAGE FRIGHT from 1980 is exactly one of those films. It's a ham-fisted mess and it's so much fun to watch.

In a year where biggies like The Shining, The Changeling, The Fog, Motel Hell, and most of all Friday the 13th were coming out, it's no wonder why Nightmares hit the scene. It's a copy - style wise - of Friday the 13th in many respects.  Now, don't get this confused with STAGE FRIGHT from 2014 (...that looks interesting...) or STAGE FRIGHT from 1987 directed by Michele Soavi - also really good. This is the version from John Lamond who made other nuggets like Felicity in 1978.

We open with the classic date on the screen (...with a musical score that would be more fitting for a movie showing 18 knife swinging murderous clowns chasing nuns...)  with a little girl walking in on her mother and her mother's boyfriend having sex. TRAUMA! Oh, but then it gets WORSE! She is in the back seat of the car as the three of them are the middle of the night...for some reason...and the boyfriend is man handling the Mom. Well, the daughter gets angry and slaps the boyfriend in the back of the head or some such, then the car smashes into another car when her mother turns to yell at her for the slap. Annnnnd, out the windscreen goes mom!  MORE TRAUMA!

She's catatonic for the most part and in the hospital. Boyfriend says things like, "You killed your mother," at her angrily. YET MORE TRAUMA!!!   She has some nightmare, then we cut to her waking up in present day - a beautiful blonde with sad eyes.She's an actress and is auditioning for a play. And so begins the nightmare that is Nightmares. hehehehe

Some of the AMAZING acting poor Jenny Neumann delivers  :)

It's so much like a bad giallo version of Friday the 13th that I found myself giggling at it all the way through. It's a clunky murder mystery that's poorly edited, poorly written, and has some really awful acting in it, but I really liked it! hehehe   It's like a film that they've made specifically to play on a television set in a horror film about Halloween. Does that make sense? Like the film the characters would have on that you'd see playing every now and then in the background.

Now, even these films have their upsides at times and this one is no different. While there is a nasty smell to most of the movie, the "scary", gloved attacker parts are not bad as they stand. They are well shot and there are some little touches added that make them interesting - like the fact that glass is the main murder weapon and that every murder involves the sound of glass breaking somehow. Interesting for sure. We also get the classic "camera as killer" and we float along with them as they stalk their prey.

The sad and laughable thing is we keep being subjected to the "actors" in the play we're seeing the rehearsals for going through their lines (badly) and getting yelled at by the Director. Or we see Jenny Neumann's blank stare or confused, fear faces as she tries to show us just how scared and alone poor Helen Selleck is. The more I think about this film, the more I believe it to be a masterwork. hehehe Something to put on with friends at Halloween and eat pizza and drink to.

Now I'm going to do something else I don't often do. I'm going to add a spoiler in below. It's a biggie and it's pretty great. If you don't want it spoiled, go seek it out RIGHT NOW on SHUDDER! If you don't really give a care, read on, McDuff!   :)

So sad a production that it doesn't even get it's own trailer. It has to share. :(

Keep scrolling.....almost there....

SPOILERS warned! Keep scrolling......

The big spoiler is the big reveal at the end of the film. The thing that we're supposed to...not be aware of? Really?  REALLY?! D'uh!

The killer is....a big surprise. So shocking! So amazing! Nothing like it since the likes of PSYCHO! Since the end of Friday the 13th! It''s....   Yeah, it's Helen Selleck. You know, the little blonde girl who saw her mom humping, saw her mom go through the windshield in the beginning, and who was told that she was the cause of her mother's death by the boyfriend. The same boyfriend (I think - it's not super clear) and she had to push away when he tried to kiss her and the same one this little 7 or 8 year old stabbed in the neck with a broken glass in the very beginning of the movie! THERE IS NO TWIST, really. It's all presented right in the beginning of the movie! hehehehe  That in and of itself is BRILLIANT! I kept waiting for the humping mother to be revealed as a man in drag, or a clown, or her aunt who's crazy.....SOMETHING. But, nope, the secret, hidden killer was her all along...which we all knew already. HILARIOUS! The more I think about this film, the more I believe it to be a masterwork. hehehe Something to put on with friends at Halloween and eat pizza and drink to.

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