• Nightmares

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: 6/28/2011
    Director: John Lamond
    Cast: Jenny Neumann, Gary Sweet, Nina Landis, Max Phipps
    Year: 1980
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    The Movie:

    John Lamond’s Aussie slasher Nightmares begins when a young girl named Cathy yells at the man her mother is fooling around with while they’re driving in their car. Cathy’s outburst inadvertently causes a car crash and her mother is killed.

    Cut to the present day where we meet an American stage actress named Helen (Jenny Neuman) looking for work in Sydney. She meets a soap opera actor named Terry (Gary Sweet) who is trying to get a break into stage acting and who is auditioning for director George Dalberg (Max Phipps). They hit it off and before you know it, Helen has landed the female lead in the play. Wouldn’t you know it though, once Helen is onboard and the cast and crew start moving full steam ahead in their production, some gruesome murders, all involving shards of glass and most involving sex, start occurring around the theater. Helen starts having vivid nightmares where she’s stalked by a young woman.

    Complicating matters further is the presence of a lecherous theater critic named Bennett Collingswood (John Michael Howson) who is zipping around backstage basically trying to solicit sex from both Helen and one of her male co-stars, Bruce (Edmund Pegge), in exchange for positive press. When the first reviews of the production hit the streets, Helen is the only one kindly reviewed, which puts her in the hot seat when George and her fellow cast members start to take issue with her – but all the while the bodies keep piling up around them.

    Alternately known as Stage Fright (and having nothing to do with Soavi’s movie of the same name), Nightmares is a gleefully trashy piece of Ozsploitation that borrows pretty liberally from Italian giallos. Directed and produced by Lamond, best known for sex films like Felicity and The ABC Of Love And Sex, it’s a fairly nonsensical slasher chock full of completely gratuitous nudity and plenty of bloody murder set pieces. The fact that it frequently steps in and out of the realm of the logical is secondary, as it moves at such a quick pace and throws in so much sleaze that you don’t really need to worry so much about the plot holes and logic gaps. Rather, you just take it all in and enjoy the show.

    While it’s not particularly difficult to figure out who the killer is and what the deal is behind the murders, there are a few effective red herrings thrown into the film in its final half hour and you’ve got to give credit to Lamond for managing to make the film look as good as it does. The camera work on display here is top notch and the film does a great job of exploiting its theater location for all its worth. A decent score from prolific composer Brian May, he of Mad Max and The Road Warrior fame, helps give the film some welcome atmosphere and a few of the murder set pieces manage to get a good bit of tension going in the film. Performances are decent (a few familiar faces pop up in the cast as this film shares actors and actresses with films like Long Weekend, The Road Warrior and Felicity among others) and production values are strong – if you don’t mind the ropey plotting and wonky storyline, Nightmares delivers, particularly in its longer uncut version as it is presented here.


    Severin’s 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer isn’t bad but the image could have looked bit sharper and cleaner than it does this disc. That said, color reproduction looks good and the film looks good in its original aspect ratio. There aren’t any problems with compression artifacts but some mild blurring and ghosting is definitely noticeable in spots, likely an issue with the PAL source material. Overall though the image quality is pretty decent and perfectly watchable, but don’t expect perfection here.

    Audio chores are handled properly by an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track, no optional subtitles or alternate language options are offered. The audio here is fine, the levels are well balanced and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to note and Brian May’s score sounds pretty good.

    Extras kick off with a fun commentary track from John Lamond and the director of Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley. This is a fairly good natured track with a decent sense of humor to it as Hartley pokes fun at some of Nightmares more obvious problems, but there’s enough serious information in here courtesy of Lamond to make it well worth a listen for anyone with an interest in the film or Australian exploitation in general. Lamond speaks about casting the film, the script, the effects, the locations used and more and discusses some of the film’s more gratuitous qualities quite candidly.

    Severin has also included a fifteen minute featurette entitled A Brief History Of Slasher Films (which was also included on their DVD release of Bloody Birthday) that starts off with some input from Adam Rockoff who wrote Going To Pieces: The Rise And Fall Of The Slasher Film who traces the genre’s origins back to Hitchcock’s Psycho before discussing the influence of Bava’s Bay Of Blood on films like Friday The 13th and their subsequent knock offs. He talks about most of the high points in the genre, like Black Christmas and Halloween before going into some of the finer points of more obscure slashers, such as Bloody Birthday, Bloody Moon, Maniac, Pieces and plenty more before moving onto modern slashers like Scream and Rob Zombie’s stupid Halloween remake. It’s a clip heavy interview but one that fans of the genre will enjoy as it uses some nice poster art and VHS art throughout its running time.

    Rounding out the extras are the John Lamond Trailer Reel (which includes trailers for The ABC Of Love And Sex, Felicity, Pacific Banana, Breakfast In Paris and Sky Pirates), a trailer for the feature, and trailers for other Severin releases, Bloody Moon, Horror Express and Psychomania. Trailers and chapter stops are also included.

    The Final Word:

    Nightmares may suffer from rather large and frequent logic gaps but it’s never less than completely entertaining. Most reading this site will already have an affinity for naked ladies and gore and know right away that this movie delivers both in healthy doses but on top of the more exploitative elements the film also contains a few interesting murder set pieces, some legitimate tension and nice cinematography. Severin’s disc features a good but not quite perfect transfer but makes up for that with some solid extras.