Nightmares, a horror movie made up of four stories, is a film you barely remember watching on cable in the 80s. Lance Henricksen as a priest being chased down in the desert by a demonic car? Veronica Cartwright terrorized by a giant rat? Emilio Estevez fights a video game voiced by Mr. Strickland? Any of that jog your memory? Either way, you can relive the nightmare or discover it for the first time because Scream Factory has put Nightmares out on Blu-ray. It’s a Christmas miracle!
According to Wiki, the films were originally created for the short lived ABC show, Darkroom yet were rejected as being too intense for TV. However, this story is debunked on the new Blu-ray’s audio commentary by executive producer Andrew Mirisch who says that while one of the scripts was indeed written for Darkroom, it was presented to NBC as part of a pilot for another anthology series. The shorts had not been shot and then were conceived after NBC ordered the pilot. So, THERE Wiki. Damn, know it all.
The shorts from Nightmares definitely have a television vibe, although the production value of each story is surprisingly good, better than many cheap horror films of the 80s. I would attribute that to the director, Joseph Sargent, who made some classic flicks like The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three and White Lightning.
I’ve owned a copy of Nightmares on VHS and never picked up the Anchor Bay DVD from a few years back, so it’s been a while since I’ve watched the film. I have to say, not only does it look and sound the best I’ve ever seen, the movie holds up pretty well. Yes, it’s a bit hokey and like with all anthologies, it’s a mixed bag. But when it’s on target, it’s awesome.
The standout for me is, of course The Bishop Of Battle. Estevez plays video game expert JJ Cooney who is addicted to the coin-op game The Bishop Of Battle and hell bent on beating the legendary “13th level” – which no one has ever seen (except for a kid in Jersey). Not only is this just a great story, but for arcade lovers it’s a wonderful snapshot into the heyday of the mall arcade. Makes me nostalgic for my days spent at the Aladdin’s Castle. As a fun side note, I’ve been to the arcade in downtown LA where Cooney is caught hustling at the start of the film. It was still open when I visited a few years ago, although this Google Maps image is not encouraging.
I’ve also visited the Fox Hills Mall, which is actually in Culver City and NOT Pasadena as the bus headsign would have you believe. Sadly, the arcade seen in the film is no longer there. However, Ken Berry did sing all about Kinney Shoes there in the 70s!
[Via] Sean MC
As for the Bishop Of Battle, I wonder if anyone still has the cabinet they made for the film. Or any of the game elements itself. That would be cool. Let’s crowd fund a real working version of the coin-op. You get started.
Aside from the already noted audio commentary from the executive producer Mirisch and star Christina Raines, the Blu-ray is thin of extras. Mirisch doesn’t have a great recollection of the film, which doesn’t allow him to fill the fans in on any deep trivia or behind the scenes. The film is presented in TV aspect ratio and theatrical. I think that’s odd since the film looks as if it was shot in 1:78 and matted for TV. But, you have both here for the true connoisseur.
Lack of extras aside, this Blu-ray is worth it if JUST to have the best copy of The Bishop Of Battle. For me, that alone is worth the price. It’s certainly a better deal than what JJ Cooney gets for his quarters at the arcade.
Makes a great Christmas gift, so get it here.