• American Nightmares (MVD Visual) DVD Review

    Released by: MVD visual
    Released on: October 2018
    Directed by: Rusty Cundieff, Darin Scott
    Cast: Danny Trejo, Jay Mohr, Vivica Fox, Clarence Williams III
    Year: 2018
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    American Nightmares - Movie Review:

    “American Nightmares” is a “Tales from the Crypt style” anthology film written and Directed by Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott, who worked on things like “The Chapelle Show”, “Menace II Society” and “Tales From the Hood”. The stories, for the most part, deal with issues like racism and domestic violence. Not all of the entries hit the mark, but the ones that do hit in a manner that works both as a horror film and as a political statement. When this movie is good – it is very good, and a strong entry in the horror genre.

    Danny Treo is Mr. Malevolent, the cryptkeeper-style master of ceremonies. The conceit here is that Mr. Malevolent appears on the monitors of two hackers who have developed a system to spy on every day people. They access the camera on devices sitting around the house and capture people at their most vulnerable moments. They then request that the victims submit a payment to keep the hackers from uploading the photos to all of their social media accounts. That is, until Mr. Malevolent starts appearing on their screen…


    A woman escaping a bad relationship receives a mysterious invite for a new online dating service. She meets what appears to be the perfect man. She soon learns that the trial period comes with a cost, but full membership certainly has its benefits, and may help her escape her stalker ex-boyfriend.

    “The Prosecutor”

    Jay Mohr plays Ray, and overzealous Texas prosecutor running for governor on his “accomplishment” of sending the highest number of criminals to death row in state history. He only cares about his career and is not overly concerned about whether those “criminals” are actually guilty or not. Like all great “Tales from the Crypt”-style morality tales, Ray’s evil acts comes at a great price.

    This entry does a great job of using horror tropes to reflect the failures of the American justice system in regards to minorities. There’s a moment where the camera cuts between an innocent African American man contemplating his execution in his sparse jail cell interspersed with the white DA who put him there eating a nice dinner with his nice family in his nice house. The moment ends when Mohr’s phone rings, interrupting his dinner. His ring tone, of course, is “Hail to the Chief”.

    This entry alone is worth the price of admission.

    “White Flight”

    Tommy Bouchet is a racist. Two deliverymen show up to his door to deliver a package. One is of Filipino descent, the other African American. Tommy makes a series of disgusting racial remarks to both. One of the deliverymen recognize Tommy as a cop who was fired for beating a defenseless Africa American during an arrest. They deliver his package and leave in disgust. The package contains a transporter that magically delivers Tommy and his family to “White Fork” a town comprised exclusively of white people with a sign that states “no blacks allowed”. To his horror, Tommy learns that White Fork defines “black” a little differently than he thought.

    “The Samaritan”

    Chris Kittan plays a man suffering from a terminal illness who collects circus memorabilia in his run down apartment. He hires a prostitute and pays her to dress up like a clown. While preparing, she notices a foul smell coming from his bedroom closet. What she finds sends her spinning into a nightmare reminiscent of what might happen if “Suspiria” took place in John Wayne Gacey’s house.

    This entry is the most straight ahead horror entry of the film. It’s creepy and deranged, but really doesn’t say much. Because of this, it’s the weakest of the series.

    “Hate Radio”

    A Rush Limbaugh type radio host is suddenly transformed into a woman. “American Werewolf”-style, his hair fills out, he grows breasts, and his penis falls off in the bathroom. While he looks like a woman, his voice remains unchanged and retains the forced gruffness of the carnival barkers who populate the AM dial. This is the weirdest and shortest of the entries, and other than a well-deserved dig at the right wing peddlers of hate who poison the airwaves, it’s kind of pointless.

    “The Healer”

    Reverend Love is a fake healer. He’s made an empire selling fake relics to real sick people, promising them that the garbage he sells will heal them. He gets kidnapped by a mysterious man and learns a grisly lesson about the damage his fake goods have caused. This entry’s heart is in the right place, but the payoff is telegraphed, obvious, and kinda silly.

    “Thy Will Be Done”

    A woman is impregnated after being raped. She seeks to terminate the pregnancy but is abducted outside the hospital by a group of anti abortion terrorists who plan to keep her in captivity and force her to give birth. They keep her tied to a bed and force feed her baby food. What plays out is a tense game of cat and mouse as she tries to escape and get back to freedom before she is forced to give birth. Of course, this being a horror movie, there’s a twist – and it’s a doozy.

    American Nightmares – DVD Review:

    This is a bare bones, direct to DVD presentation. The movie itself is slightly tinny and overly bright. It’s not necessarily a problem, as the movie doesn’t claim to be a masterwork of cinematography. The anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean and clear.

    Audio is limited to two options - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surrround and 2.1 audio, both in English. Clarity is fine, no problems here. There are no alternate language or subs of any kind included.

    The only special features are trailers for six other films: “Abominable”, “Lycan”, “Return of Swamp Thing”, “Shadowbuilder”, and “Violence Movie.”

    American Nightmares – The Final Word:

    Who doesn’t love a good anthology film? Not all of the entries here are great, but even the lesser ones have decent writing, good performances, and are fun to watch. The entries that are great are fantastic, and well worth watching. For that reason, I recommend this film.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      The seventh tale sounds a hell of a lot like where I live.