Saturday, 5 January 2019

Nightmare Beach (1988) Mini Review...

What's it about?
The leader of a biker gang is executed for the crime of murder, but when his body goes missing and rowdy Spring Breakers start turning up dead-by-electrocution, the authorities desperately try to keep a lid on things - but the bodies keep piling up.
Who would I recognise in it?
John Saxon, Michael Parks, Lance LeGault.
Directed by Umberto Lenzi (Syndicate Sadists, Eyeball) under a pseudonym, Nightmare Beach was one of his last directorial outings - into which he put little effort (as he himself admitted). Coming in after years of slasher movies, this cheap little killer flick - written by Vittorio Rambaldi (with some rushed rewrites by Umberto Lenzi) - proves to be a rather mixed bag. Indeed, just in terms of acting, the movie comes across rather schizophrenic. The ever-reliable John Saxon (A Nightmare On Elm Street) plays a sheriff doing the dirty bidding of a mayor who's only worry is not scaring off tourists (*ahem* Jaws *ahem*), while Michael Parks (Red State) plays an alcoholic doctor/pathologist/pervert, and Lance LeGault (The A-Team) gleefully hams it up as a Bible-clutching priest - all good stuff, but the rest of the acting on-show ranges wildly from under-sold to reprehensible. Mind you, in a movie like this (ideal VHS rental fodder), that's part of the fun...

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Gore-wise it's not over-stuffed, but there are some gruesomely good gags chucked about, such as the use of an industrial furnace as an impromptu flame-thrower. Naturally, being that the film is set during Spring Break, there's plenty of bikini babes and buff dudes strutting about, so the exploitation meter ticks up fairly high on this one - but the film's main letdown is the script and Lenzi's uninterested direction. Most of the kill sequences lack tension while the rushed style of editing rarely allows a crescendo to build, let alone settle, before moving into the next scene. The plot, meanwhile, is all a bit jumbled and incoherent, which is a shame as there are various elements that arouse the viewer's interest (particularly the dirty cop and the boozing pathologist being held under the Mayor's thumb).

88 Films' Blu-Ray release features a good, clear print of the movie, although the audio track does falter due to hissed 'S' sounds from the original materials. Extras wise there's a trailer, alternative 4x3 'open frame' version of the film (which gives you more visual information at the top and bottom of the image - what folks would have seen when viewing this movie on VHS - with black bars appearing to the left and right of your widescreen telly), a booklet featuring a short interview with Lenzi, reversible sleeve/slipcover combo, and a 15 minute interview with soundtrack composer Claudio Simonetti. Despite its various weaknesses, Nightmare Beach is still a good bit of fun for trash cinema fans. Alright.

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