Friday, June 8, 2018


Nightmare (1981)

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A schizophrenic man (Baird Stafford) with vivid nightmares about a gruesome decapitation is released from a psychiatric hospital because he is cured of his violent tendencies. He then immediately travels to Florida to stalk a single mom (Sharon Smith) and murder a whole bunch of people.

The only good thing in this movie was the gore effects which, according to the credits and poster, were created by Tom Savini, but according to Tom Savini, were created by somebody else. Whether or not Savini was actually responsible for the effects in the movie is shrouded in controversy - I'm going to go ahead and believe the guy when he says he wasn't, but I will say that whoever did end up creating the effects did a really good job of imitating Savini's work because they looked great and fabulously gory. That's all I have to say about that.

Another controversy of the movie is that the British distributor apparently went to jail over this for refusing to comply with local censorship laws which, again, I'm not really here to comment on other than to say it's insane to me that people can actually be incarcerated over film censorship. Also it says a lot for this movie that the most interesting thing about it is how much other people were pissed off by it.

For the most part, Nightmare is just confusing. Title cards tell us what day of the week it is so that I guess the passage of time makes more sense, but they end up having the opposite effect by implying that the killer guy went from being incurably mentally ill, to cured, to released in a span of less than twenty-four hours.

It's unclear how his release worked too. Like, on the first night he's shown in a psychiatric ward being given sedatives for his screaming night terrors so obviously he's being held there, and there's a mention of him having murdered somebody or whatever so he's probably not allowed to leave. The next day he's released, then the day after that he fails to show up to a meeting with his psychiatrist, prompting the police to assume he's fucked off to go kill people. At that point, we learn that he hasn't showed up to his job in two weeks, which makes exactly zero sense.

There are so many other small logic/sense problems with the movie - for example, the police have this really advanced super computer that answers questions and has seemingly limitless information on people, and yet they also didn't know that (spoiler) the killer guy has a wife and kids that he might try to get in touch with. In another part, a police officer (or paramedic?) shows the shitty kid his friend's brutally murdered body, out in the middle of the street, and starts questioning him about where he was at the time of the murder. He doesn't even take him to the station or whatever, he just does this out in the open.

In addition to being confusing and disorienting, Nightmare is also extremely boring. There is a lot of nothing going on, and no characters that are remotely sympathetic. The woman who is being stalked and harassed by the killer is a terrible mother who divides her time laying in bed, fucking her boyfriend, and yelling at her kids. The boyfriend (I actually forget the character's name so I'm not sure who played him but process of elimination tells me Mik Cribben) is almost okay because yknow he's actually trying to make an effort with this horrible woman and her horrible kids, except he also sometimes tries to keep her from going home to her kids so she can blow him or whatever which is a dick move. Also he lives on a boat which immediately tells me he's an asshole. Also he makes a casual reference to the Antonioni film Blow Up which is just a weird thing to do. The only one of the kids we get any information about (CJ Cooke) likes to play extremely elaborate pranks and terrorizes his mother, siblings, and babysitter. The babysitter (Danny Ronan) blatantly neglects the children. The killer almost seems like he was supposed to be a sympathetic character - he's driven to kill because of this recurrent nightmare of a horrifying decapitation. But at the end of the movie it turns out that it's a memory of himself, murdering his dad and the woman his dad was with. So like... fuck you, guy?

The weirdest thing about Nightmare is how much it feels like a hardcore right wing American fantasy. At the end of the movie, the killer is stopped by the shitty kid, who knows where his mom keeps the Family Gun and apparently has wicked good aim. So there you have it - arming our children can prevent murder.

But wait, there's more. The reason the killer guy killed his dad and dad's.... lady friend, is because he saw them having sex. Not just regular sex, but mild BDSM sex, with the dad tied up and the woman hitting him with stuff. So obviously exposure to sex is bad for children (as opposed to exposure to handguns which is beneficial in this movie), and exposure to dominant women is even worse, sending the kid so far over the edge he goes for an axe and fucks shit up.

As an adult, the killer guy abandons his family, leaving a single mother to raise the children and apparently doing a terrible job of it because at least one of her kids is a shit head. She's shown laying around in bed most of the time and having liaisons with her boyfriend, and doesn't seem to have a job of any description, which shows, I guess, that women are lazy and useless, especially single mothers.

I think I've made my case. This movie thinks guns are good, and sex and women are bad. I think this movie was bad, so we'll just have to agree to disagree.

- Tom Savini-ish gore effects (+2)
- Babysitter's boyfriend's extremely earnest acting (+1)
Total: +3

- Soundtrack sounds like a shitty 70s porno (-1)
- Too much scream, not enough dream (-1)
- Movie makes no fucking sense (-1)
- Passage of time confusing (-1)
- All of the characters are shitty people (-2)
- The kid character is seriously fucking terrible (-1)
- Nobody calls the cops when they should (-1)
- That's not how police/computers work (-3)
- Killer puts a mask on late in the movie for no good reason (-1)
- Guns good, sex bad (-3)
Total: -15
Final Score: -12

Written and Directed by: Romano Scavolini.  Starring: Sharon Smith, Baird Stafford, CJ Cooke, Mik Cribben, Danny Ronan.

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