Terror in Topanga - standard "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" fare about a motorist on an empty country road, and an escaped mental patient.
The Bishop of Battle - screams 1980's decade with a young Emilio Estevez hooked on a video arcade game which gets progressively harder. This was my favorite tale; worth the price of the movie alone.
The Benediction - forgettable tale about a priest being chased by an evil black truck.
Night of the Rat - a silly tale about a family being terrorized by a giant rat; cool ending.
I wish this anthology had a framing story.
The other story here worth seeing is "Night Of The Rat" about the most hilariously gigantic and evil rat, ever to grace cinema, the legendary "Devil Rat" as it cleverly named, which terrorizes a small family.
The other two stories, "Terror In Topanga", which is only mildly funny if youve ever lived in the valley, because Topnaga Canyon is one the least threatening places on earth. Then there's "Benediction" which is about a priest bieng chased by a truck, also possibly driven by the devil or something. There is one scene where truck comes out of the earth, that looks eerily real, but aside from that it's pretty worthless.
I like anthology films, like this, even the bad ones, between "Bishop Of Battle" and "Night Of The Rat", there's just enough laughs (zero scares), to make this one worth seeing.
Also oddly no framing story, you just get 1-2-3-4 the end. Makes the whole thing feel incomplete.
Smoker meets killer and quits smoking, yeah right, for about 30 minutes.
A video arcade (remember those?) player (Emilio Estevez) beats the 13th level of a game, and well, you can guess what happens.
A priest loses his faith and meets the Chevy pickup truck from hell -- it actually drives underground.
A man (Richard Masur) fights ratzilla -- horrible unspecial effects that make scifi movies of the 50's look high tech.
Favorite scene: Emilio rocking to a huge BRICK tape playing walkman hooked to his hip -- I'm amazed he could keep his balance with an extra 40 lbs. hanging on his side.
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Christina Raines, Lance Henriksen, Richard Masur, Veronica Cartwright, Clare Nono, Bridgette Andersen, and James Tolkan
Director: Joseph Sargent
"Nightmares" is a anthology horror movie dating from the early 1980s about which I had very fond memories.The second tale--"The Bishop of Battle"--is one that's stayed with me for the nearly 25 years since I first saw it.
Usually, one should stay away from films watched as a youngster about which one has vague but very fond memories. Thankfully, watching "Nightmares" again wasn't an "innocense of youth"-destroying experience. It's never going to make anyone's Top 100 Movies list, but it's not a bad collection of horror shorts. The segments are all moodily filmed, decently acted, and furnished with nifty plot-twists and shock endings.
In fact, the four tales still put me in mind of some or Ray Bradbury's best fiction, just like they did Back In the Day.
First up, we have "Terror in Topanga", a cautionary tale about the dangers of smoking. It centers on a woman (Raines) who is so desperate for cigarettes she heads outs to buy a pack despite the warnings of a murderous maniac on the loose. It's a fairly straight-forward retelling of a campfire spook-standard, but superior acting, excellent cinematography, and expert use of sound and musical score makes it a very effective one. The last minute twists are also well executed. Seven of Ten Tomatoes for this one.
Second, we have the very best of the bunch. In "The Bishop of Battle", videogame junkie JJ (Estevez) becomes obsessed with beating a virtually unbeatable arcade game... with consequences far more extreme than he could have imagined. It may not be the scariest of the stories, but it's definately the most unusual. Also, for the 40-somethings in the audience, it will invoke all sorts of teenage nostalgia. The story is also bouyed by fine performances by the cast members, great cinematography, and some interesting special effects. Eight of Ten Tomatoes for "The Bishop of Battle."
The third story, "The Benediction", is the second best tale in the anthology, and it's by far the scariest. It focuses on a priest who has lost his faith (Henriksen) and who ends up in a race for his very soul with a demonic monster truck. It sounds goofy, but strong visuals--such as when the truck bursts forth from the desert floor--and more expert use of sound, music, and a top-notch performance from Henriksen keep the horror factor high. Seven of Ten Tomatoes for "The Benediction".
The fourth and final tale, "Night of the Rat", sees a suburban family (Masur, Cartwright, and Andersen) menaced by a giant demon rat with psychic powers. I can't figure out whether this tale was intended as funny, or whether it's just so dumb that it had me laughing. (The scene with Masur blasting away at the rat to "Louie Louie" makes me think it was intended as humorous... but it barely manages to rise to the level of silly.) The lead actors in the segment all do very good jobs, and the superior soundtrack continues to elevate the proceedings, but it's still not enough to make this pig look like a princess. It's a miserable finale to another otherwise excellent film. Four of Ten Stars.
"Nightmares" is an underappreciated anthology horror picture that lovers of such films would be well-served in seeking out. Its television origins have left it in an undeserved obscurity.
Directed by Joseph Sargent.
Written by Jeffrey Bloom and Christopher Crowe.
Rated [b]R[/b] (for strong horror violence, some language and sexual content).
Running time approximately 1 hour 39 minutes.
Joseph Sargent's [i]Nightmares[/i] is a disappointing horror anthology. The first of the four segments is good, but lacks punch. The second involves an overacting Emilio Estevez and some really bad special effects. The third: Lance Henriksen being chased by a demon-possessed pickup truck. The fourth, though it ends very badly (well, maybe not badly, but quite oddly), is the most frightening and satisfying of them all. The film as a whole, though, belongs on television only. For very late nights. Very late. Late.
[i]Terror in Topanga[/i] - [b]**[/b]
[i]The Bishop of Battles[/i] - [b]*[/b]
[i]The Benediction[/i] - [b]*[/b]
[i]Night of the Rat[/i] - [b]**1/2[/b]
[b]*1/2 (out of ****) C-[/b]