Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


NIGHTMARES (1983). Director: Joseph Sargent.

This horror anthology is unusual because it has no framing sequence. "Terror in Topanga" is the old chestnut about an escaped maniac terrorizing a town. Phil (Joe Lambie of Falcon Crest) tells his wife Lisa (Cristina Raines) not to go out for cigarettes, but she doesn't listen. The ending to this segment is so utterly flat that it's a wonder anyone bothered reading past it in the screenplay. "The Bishop of Battle" is equally forgettable, a silly business about a young man, J. J. (Emilio Estevez of Mission: Impossible), who has a desperate need to reach the highest level of a video game and wishes that he hadn't. 'The Benediction" is a lower-case version of Duel and The Car, with a priest (Lance Henriksen of Damian: Omen 2) who is having a crisis of faith, being pursued on the highway by a demonic van. This is religious twaddle, but the highway scenes are not badly done. The fourth and best episode is "The Night of the Rat," in which a couple (Veronica Cartwright and Richard Masur) discover that their home has been invaded by a giant and rather intelligent "Devil Rat." Some would dismiss this segment as monster schlock, but it is undeniably creepy and suspenseful with some very effective scenes.

Verdict: "Night of the Rat" pretty much saves this otherwise lame horror pic. *** out of 4.


angelman66 said...

Great cast, though, you've sold me on this one, Bill. I loved Cristina Raines in one of my favorite shlocky (but kinda scary) horror movies, The Sentinel...Lance Henrikson (so creepy good in Omen II), Veronica Cartright (loved her in the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and Richard Masur (he will always be Ann Romano's bf in One Day at a Time). And a young Emilio Estevez? What more could I ask for??

William said...

Don't forgot that big rat, ha! "The Sentinel" is another one I have that I have to re-watch one of these days. Cartwright has kept on working ever since she was the child in "The Birds" but I don't know what became of her sister, Angela, who was on "Make Room for Daddy."