When the slasher genre is brought up, a title that is either too well-regarded or criminally forgotten is always Nightmare. Some people look at it as a deep and realistic psychological thriller, while others don’t look at it at all. Perhaps the title may be too simple for its own good. Try to do a search for this one on Ebay, I dare you. It’s also got a bit of a troubled past mainly having to do with master effects man, Tom Savini and the Brits. Tom Savini threatened to sue because they wrongly credited him as Effects Director, when really he was only a consultant. You try to pull a fast one of The Savini? Nice try. It also became known as a video nasty in the UK and was banned, but that was mostly a result of creative marketing (involving barf bags and the like) and not so much the film itself. Despite all these things, the film itself is mostly hit or miss. It feels almost like a poor-man’s Maniac, falling somewhere between masterpiece and deservedly left off the “great slashers” list.
The movie opens ala the scene in The Godfather, but instead of a horse’s head, you get a female’s, along with all her other body parts. The decapitated head winks, causing our lead character to scream his ass off, of course revealing he’s dreaming and actually is in a mental institution. What a surprise. Weird how frequently that seems to happen in film. Somehow the idiotic doctors allow the patient to escape. I don’t even remember how he got out; All I remember is how easy it was for him. He basically opened the front door and walked right out into the streets. First thing you do after you escape an insane asylum? Roam the streets of New York City until you find a peep show! I guess being locked up that long really makes you want to see some boobies.
Sad thing about our lead character is that boobies cause him to go berserk, froth at the mouth, and kill! He slits the peep show skank’s throat. Her boobs reminded him of when he was just a wee 8-year-old butler (complete with a tiny bow-tie and suit) and he witnessed his father having crazy sex. Nothing pisses this young butler off more than sex! Slowly, but surely, more of this flashback is revealed and you see that the reason he was in an institution all those years was because he grabbed an axe and killed his father and his father’s sex slave.
You want to know what really pisses me off in this movie and in most nightmare-related horror movies? When all that keeps happening is the character dreams for a minute or two then wakes up screaming. In Nightmare this happens about 20 times in the first half hour. There’s nothing less satisfying than watching something happening and it being interrupted by a sweaty screaming Peter Lorre-looking mother fucker.
(Okay, well maybe he doesn’t look like him so much in this picture, but trust me!)
He begins a random killing spree until he is inexplicably drawn to this family and their babysitter. The young kid in the family, C.J., is a nonstop joker scumbag who won’t stop giving his mom and babysitter a hard time. He sees Peter Lorre stalking their house (obviously) and then happens to stumble home covered in blood saying the guy stabbed him. Everyone freaks out (though no one thinks to call 911) only to reveal the kid was faking it the whole time. Wow, hilarious!
No one at the hospital seems too concerned about this missing patient except one crazy old fool. One of the doctor’s even says, “He’s not that dangerous.” If by “not that dangerous” you mean he’s going to kill an entire family and already killed a bunch of other random people, then you’re right! For some reason Lorre is in love with this family. It’s not clear if he has some relation to them or what, but he stalks the shit out of them all the same. C.J., being the completely annoying jokester that he is, causes about twenty fake-out scares, including an obligatory shower scene fake-out, the above-mentioned fake death, a mask fake-out, an entire huge masked-dummy fake-out, among others.
The next day, Lorre pays the babysitter a visit with a pickaxe to the head while the mom is away. The kids are obviously doomed and now the killer has added a badass mask to the equation. He begins to look for the kids and finds them locked away in their room cowering in fear. As Lorre is cutting through the door, C.J., out of nowhere, has a pistol. I literally have no idea where he got this gun from. Maybe I blinked when he got it, but man this kid can shoot. He’s a fucking marksman. He shoots him right in the gut like five times through a tiny hole in the door. Then when he doesn’t die shoots him a couple more times. And after you thought this unstoppable beast was finished, he gets back up and wants some more lead. C.J. runs and grabs a shotgun, which he somehow handles with ease (need I remind you he’s like 8 years old, max?), and blows him away. The movie ends with the mom screaming, “That’s my husband!” Umm, what in the ungodly fuck are you talking about, lady? Are you insane? I have no idea why that was included and just like the majority of the movie, it’s entirely implausible and stupid. Despite that, though, it’s an enjoyable and gritty flick with some good Savini-influenced effects. At the end you see the full, uncut flashback sequence and you get some great slut beheading and some son-to-father knife-to-the-skull action that makes all those 30-second long dream sequences worth it.
Nightmare is one of the most sought after films in any release form. A mint Continental big box of this would command some pretty high dollars in auction, and the Planet Video release is always in high demand, too. I haven’t witnessed any release of this film sell for under $50 in a long time. With each different release you never know what cut of the film you’ll get, too. Some versions that are said to be uncut have more gore added in, but take away some dialogue, and vice versa. It’s highly debatable which version is best and there is still no 100% definitive release. Just the other day I heard rumor of a foreign release that contains more footage than any other version out there. It’s crazy that someone doesn’t do their research, find all the different footage, and release a completely uncut DVD version. Many people would cream themselves for a nice special feature-packed, uncut DVD release. Our Continental release is sadly cut, but works as a placeholder until I can snag one that’s not cut. If you ever come across this in any form definitely pick it up. Not only is it a pretty enjoyable movie for what it is, but it also has some stunning cover art that would look beautiful on any collector’s shelf.
The whole movie is uploaded to YouTube!