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Nightmares

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    Scyther
    Senior Member

  • Nightmares



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: December 22nd, 2015
    Director: Joseph Sargent
    Cast: Cristina Raines, Emilio Estevez, Lance Henriksen, Veronica Cartwright
    Year: 1983
    Purchase from Amazon

    The Movie

    Nightmares is one awesome little anthology movie that could; an early 80s take on an old school framing device which highlights four separate horror stories.

    The film eschews any sort of connecting theme which normally classified this genre in favor of getting right down into brass tacks with "Terror in Topanga," a lean and taut little terror tale which details a young housewife who makes the mistake of heading out for cigarettes when there's a murderous maniac on the loose. These first two stores in the film are easily the most successful, with Cristina Raines turning in a very believable performance as the nicotine addicted assault victim, while director Joseph Sargent creates the perfect, desolated city landscape to Raines' night of terror.

    "Bishop of Battle" is the second (and best) story of the series, documenting a young arcade hustler-played by a fresh faced Emilio Estevez-obsessed with getting to level 13 of the titular "Bishop of Battle" video unit. This one is a near perfect snapshot of what many perceive the 1980s to be: all flashy, brightly colored clothes, punk rock music on the soundtrack, and , like totally awesome lingo, dude! Speaking of punk rock, make sure to look for Fear frontman Lee Ving in the first story, and listen for some prime Black Flag in the second!

    The third short here is titled "The Benediction," and features Lance Henriksen as a troubled priest, whose loss of faith places him squarely at odds with a Satanic black truck with no visible driver, determined to run him off the road at any cost. If the plot of this one sounds similar to Steven Spielberg's Duel, that's because "The Benediction" is basically a take on that trope, albeit on a smaller scale. The tale does feature some strong acting from Henriksen and a solid score from veteran composer Craig Safan, but it struggles to ramp up any tension until the final act where the two cars square off in a deadly game of chicken, featuring a memorable scene when the antagonist truck erupts from underneath the ground!

    Sargent and his crew sadly save the worst for last, however, as "Night of the Rat" is a ridiculous "nature runs amuck" story with a supernatural bent, as a family are faced with a giant, psychic rat with a grudge. The feeling of this one on the whole isn't entirely dissimilar to T.V. movie fare like Devil Dog: Hound of Hell, particularly the final showdown between the killer rat and the family's very frightened young daughter. It should be said that none of the stories are really all that bad, but "Night of the Rat" feels like a less than stellar way to round out an otherwise bright and energetic little film.

    Indeed, Nightmares has a T.V. movie feel in the best possible way; a wholesome yet mildly frightening throwback to cinematic days gone by which makes total sense when it's revealed in the commentary the film's connection with ABC Universal's early 80s anthology series Darkroom. Sure, there isn't much in the way of blood and guts with this one, but Nightmares nevertheless delivers plenty of fun.

    Video/Audio/Extras

    Shout Factory presents Nightmares in two versions, a widescreen version of the film's theatrical release and a side matted full screen release indicative of its television roots. Both are presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. "The Benediction" looks the worse for wear in terms of dreary colors and flickering print damage, but nothing that's going to ruin anyone's day. The other three stories look fine, particularly "Terror in Topanga" and "Bishop of Battle," both of which look remarkably sharp, considering their age. The English language DTS-HD audio on the film also sounds fine, if unremarkable, without any sort of drops or muffled voices to report. Optional subtitles are available, also in English.

    Apart from the film's original theatrical trailer and radio spots, there's also an audio commentary with actress Cristina Raines and producer Andrew Mirisch, who laugh and joke with the Shout Factory moderator while recalling various anecdotes about the production and cast involved, including other projects in which the crew were involved. Obviously, Raines doesn't have as much to say with regards to the other stories in which she doesn't appear, but the trio on the whole seem to be having a fun time.

    The Final Word

    Granted, yours truly happens to be a big fan of anthology flicks, but Nightmares is a fun one from start to finish, even though the stories vary in terms of quality. Big ups to Shout! Factory for bringing this one back for one more round.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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