That comparison is apt since NIGHTMARE, like Lommel’s film, is essentially John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978). The tagline could read “the night he came home to Florida!” The only difference is we never got to see Michael Myers go to a Times Square strip joint or roll around on a hotel bed while crying in his underwear. This is HALLOWEEN with the sleaze factor pushed up to ten. Mental patient George Tatum (Baird Stafford) keeps having a series of nightmares involving a kid in a bowtie. Scary, I know. A team of psychiatrists try an experimental drug on him which seems to work and George is soon released back into the general public in New York City.
of single moms yelling at their kids, then this hour middle section is totally for you. I am a fan of the Florida location shooting though as this carries that same kind of rancid beach town feel as classics like THE SLAYER (1982) and THE MUTILATOR (1985). On the plus side, Scavolini takes what Carpenter did and pushes it all a step further. The finale has kids in peril from a masked maniac, but the crazy Italian makes sure to have young C.J. being the one to take care of business as he fires six shots into the killer and then blows him away with a shotgun for good measure. Scavolini also tries hard to make some points about how sex and violence are interconnected. He delves into the psychology of what happens when a little kid witnesses both of these things, but his point is pretty muffled by the over-the-top sex and violence. The only real lesson I really learned from this is if you are going to hire a lady to tie you up and slap you around, make sure you lock the door to the bedroom before doing the deed.
front of the dead kid’s body. I love that the mom gets these harassing phone calls and never puts together that it might be her crazy ex-husband. And Scavolini has the wildest belief in how phones work. In his mind, you can call the downstairs phone from the upstairs phone in the same house. My favorite is how dumb George’s doctors are. They can trace his movements via their computer and have it guestimate where he will go, but can’t put together why he is heading to this town. Never got any records about a kid with the same name from the same town murdering two folks there? And it never came up that he was married with three kids and they live in that town too? Was there no Google search on their super computer? There is a great bit where Paul, his main doc, argues there is no way George can be in Florida and all the similar names are just coincidences. When told of the police report of the young George murder from 25 years ago, he says, “Oh my God.” He isn’t shocked because of the realization that they are right and George is in Florida. He’s shocked because at that moment he realized what a shitty psychiatrist he is, never having asked something like, “Is there anything in your past that may have triggered these nightmares?” Dr. Freud he ain't. Hell, Dr. Loomis he ain’t!
Sleazoid Express review, 11/81:
Box Office review from 1982:
Gore Gazette review (click to enlarge):
Fangoria covers the Savini FX controversy:
Chicago Shivers review
(courtesy of the great Temple of Schlock):