• Nightmare Beach (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: October 1st, 2019.
    Director: James Justice, Umberto Lenzi
    Cast: Nicolas De Toth, Sarah Buxton, Rawley Valverde, John Saxon, Lance LeGault, Michael Parks
    Year: 1989
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    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:

    Kino Lorber brings Nightmare Beach to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc with an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, with the feature taking up just under 27GBs of space. Taken from a new 4k scan, this transfer shows a bit more info than the 88 Films release did. Detail is a bit stronger as well, and colors and skin tones look more natural and realistic. There aren’t any problems with any print damage and the image looks nice and filmic from start to finish. Compression artifacts are a non-issue and the transfer is free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement. In short, this transfer is really, really good.

    An English language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track is provided on the disc as is an Italian language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix. Both tracks sound fine, but the lossless English track, which features Saxon’s real voice (the vast majority of the cast appear to be speaking English here and it looks like it was shot with synch sound rather than dubbed in post), understandably gets the edge over the lossy Italian track. Subtitles are provided in English and they appear to translate the English track rather than the Italian track.

    The main extra on the disc is a new commentary track from Samm Deighan that starts off as a bit of a love letter to the great Umberto Lenzi, talking up his skills behind the camera and his importance within the hallowed halls of Italian genre film before then getting more focused on his work on Nightmare Beach. She talks up the cast and crew in the picture, the locations, the music, the look of the film and lots more – it’s a pretty thorough track, but it frequently (and quite rightly) comes back to Lenzi. It’s an interesting track that is worth listening to.

    Carried over from the 88 Films’ Blu-ray release 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.

    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. Kino Lorber has done a very nice job bringing this to Blu-ray in North America, with a rock-solid transfer, fine audio and a few choice supplements as well. Recommended!

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