• Nightmare Beach (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: October 30th, 2018.
    Director: James Justice, Umberto Lenzi
    Cast: Nicolas De Toth, Sarah Buxton, Rawley Valverde, John Saxon, Lance LeGault, Michael Parks
    Year: 1989
    Purchase From Amazon

    Nightmare Beach – Movie Review:

    When Nightmare Beach (also known as Welcome To Spring Break) begins, a notorious biker named Diablo (Tony Bolano, who had a small part in Invasion U.S.A.) in a small Florida beachside town while a few onlookers, including top cop Strycher (John Saxon of Enter The Dragon and Cannibal Apocalypse), watch him breath his last. Shortly after this happens, however, Diablo’s body goes missing and a mysterious guy with a killer motorcycle designed to electrocute people makes the scene.

    Shortly after, two football players, Skip (Nicolas de Toth of The Stuff) and Ronny (Rawley Valverde), arrive in town. Skip is pretty chill but Ronny? He’s the self-proclaimed captain of the Beaver Patrol – watch out ladies! The two dudes hang out at a bar where Skip hits it off with pretty local bartender Gail (Sarah Buxton), still rocked by the mysterious murder of her sister a year ago. Elsewhere, a promiscuous young woman named Kimberly (Christina Kier) cons horny old dudes out of money by basically prostituting herself. Yep, it’s Spring Break, and all the immoral young folks from miles around have gathered at the beach for Miller Lite, wet t-shirt contests and casual sex. This doesn’t sit well with Reverend Bates (Lance LeGault), who doesn’t want his daughter getting mixed up in all of this. When the bodies start piling up, keeping Doc Willet (Michael Parks of Kill Bill, Caged Fury and Death Wish V) busy, Strycher figures it’s Diablo’s old gang The Demons up to no good… but there’s more to it than that.

    Sort of.

    Nightmare Beach is a bit of a mess in terms of its plot and the ending feels like something lifted straight out of an old Scooby-Doo cartoon, but it’s definitely not without its charm. Originally intended to be directed by Umberto Lenzi (of Cannibal Ferox and Eyeball fame), he backed out after disagreements with the producer but was kept on as an advisor throughout the shoot. Maybe. That was reported in the book Spaghetti Nightmares. The Lenzi interview contained in the liner notes of this release tells a different version of the story, proving that maybe the late filmmaker liked to change his story now and then. The vast majority of the film appears to have been directed by James Justice under the pseudonym of Harry Kirkpatrick. Justice also wrote Primal Rage, which also stars Ms. Buxton in a prominent role, under the same alias. Either way, regardless of who was in charge behind the camera the movie is pretty goofy stuff. Still, if you’ve got an affinity for low budget slashers, particularly those with an overabundance of eighties style, then Nightmare Beach ought to seriously float your boat.

    Set to a hair metal soundtrack featuring contributions from top acts like Kirsten, Animal, Derek St. Holmes (who used to play with Ted Nugent), Rondinelli, Dio protégé’s Rough Cutt and... Juanita and an original score from the inimitable Claudio Simonetti (whose score was released on CD by Beat Records back in 2015), this film is a serious time capsule. The fashions are garish and loud, the hairstyles bigger than should be humanly possible and the cars beautifully boxy in the way that a lot of cars from the era were. For those of us who lived through it, there’s sure to be a pretty heavy nostalgia rush from the film.

    If logic isn’t the movie’s strong point, it does feature some decent murder set pieces and effects work from Gary Bentley (who worked on Robocop 3 and No Holds Barred) and Alex Rambaldi, another hold over from Primal Rage. Antonio Climati served as cinematographer on the film. He got his start shooting Mondo films like Mondo Cane, Africa Addio before then directing a few himself like This Violent World and Savage Man, Savage Beast. Oddly enough, he also served as cinematographer on, you guessed it, Primal Rage! Climati’s work on the film is pretty solid, he does a nice job of capturing all of the ‘beautiful people’ hanging out at the beach and gets a few decent shots of the local scenery as well.

    The acting might not be much to write home about but this one doesn’t ask you to take it so seriously that it really matters that much. It’s a perfectly enjoyable slasher made with a modest budget, a fun cast and with entertainment value put front and center.

    Nightmare Beach – Blu-ray Review:

    88 Films brings Nightmare Beach, number 44 in their Italian Collection, to Region B Blu-ray on a 50GB disc framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and in AVC encoded 1080p high definition with a transfer taken from a ‘2018 2K Scan from the original camera negative.’ Aside from some minor compression artifacts, there’s not much to dislike about the picture quality here. Colors look great, the garish hues of those eighties fashions on display in every frame of the movie popping quite nicely. Black levels are fine, and there’s solid detail here too. The picture has good depth to it and there’s nice texture too. Not much in the way of print damage at all, just a few white specks now and again. The picture is very clean, though a natural amount of film grain is noticeable, as you’d want it to be.

    88 Films has also supplied an alternative 1.33:1 open matte option for the feature that is comparable quality to the widescreen version. It’s an interesting alternate version. Not all of the compositions look better in widescreen and not all look better open matte, it’s sort of a toss-up as to which version frames the movie better so it’s cool that both are included. Some comparisons below:

    Uncompressed English and Italian audio options are provided in LPCM 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles (not dubtitles) available for both tracks. While the English track suits the film better (it looks like the cast were all speaking English), there’s a bit of sibilance noticeable on that track. It’s not super distracting but it is there. Otherwise, no complaints, it sounds fine, especially when that beautifully awful hair metal kicks in. The Italian track sounds a bit cleaner and doesn’t have the sibilance on it, but the dubbing is painfully obvious and for that reason, the English track is the way to go.

    The main extra on the disc is Nightmare Rock: An Interview With Composer Claudio Simonetti wherein the man spends sixteen-minutes in front of the camera talking about his work on the film. He talks about how Goblin broke up, how life in Italy was changing and how he wound up doing some solo work on movies like this one. He notes musical trends of the time, how orchestras were still used even to create dance music, and working with other Goblin members here and there. He notes that working solo is much easier in a lot of ways, he shares some stories about different directors he collaborated with over the years and why. He also talks about landing the job for Nightmare Beach and how he was more or less given ‘carte blanche’ to create what he wanted for the movie.

    A theatrical trailer for the feature, static menus and chapter selection round out the extras on the disc. As to the packaging, the first pressing of this disc comes with a limited-edition slipcover and an insert booklet that contains an interview with Lenzi conducted by Eugenio Ercolani that focuses on his later career, especially Nightmare Beach, and that solidifies the Primal Rage connection. 88 Films also provides some nice reversible cover sleeve art featuring the Nightmare Beach art option on one side and the Welcome To Spring Break alternate art on the reverse side.

    Nightmare Beach – The Final Word:

    Nightmare Beach is a lot of dopey fun. A cool cast, a great setting and some decent kill scenes make it a slasher picture worth revisiting, particularly if you’ve got a soft spot for eighties culture. 88 Films’ Blu-ray release looks nice, sounds fine and features a sweet interview with Simonetti to complement some cool packaging. Lots of entertainment to be had here – recommended!

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