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May 24, 1985 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1985-05-24

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Page 8 Friday, May 24, 1985
'Nightmare' scores with
cheapo chills 'n' thrills

The Michigan Daily


By Byron L. Bull
which was released on a limited
basis last year, found a cult, and now
returns in nationwide release, looks
like just another grimy B-movie
horror film. But it belongs to that
special school of trash classics,
alongside Halloween and Night on the
Living Dead as. an admittedly
amateurish, often cliched, though at
times genuinely clever novelty. It's a
film self conscious and unashamed of
its junk food status, and works well
within its boundaries to deliver some
good, lurid chills.
The film centers around four
suburban adolescents (of course) who
find themselves being stalked
through their dreams by a relen-
tless ghoul. The ultimately bizarre
twist is that when it catches up with
them they don't wake up. The heroine
is true to formula) the shy, virginal
girl of the group, and the first to
figure out what they're all being
haunted by the same apparition, and
what its nature is (he's the
cadaverous ghost of a child murderer
killed vigilante style by their parents
some years ago). After seeing her
friends slaughtered in their sleep, she
figures out that the only way to stay
alive isnto stay awake.

The girl (played by Heather
Langenhamp) promptly starts put-
ting away gallons of coffee and suc-
ceeds in staying awake for nearly a
week, though a few brief naps, one in
a hot bath, the other in her high school
English class, nearly do her in.
Given a girl in the midst of puberty
and a villain whose chief means of
doing his victims in is gouging them
with a razorfisted hand, Nightmare is
ripe for any number of deliciously
twisted sexual metaphors. Alas,
director Wes Craven is either
oblivious to such possibilities, or he's
content milking the purely sadistic
angle of the premise. The film is
essentially an extended variation of
the time worn cat and mouse theme,
complete with the always effective
but antique gimmicks of raspy
breathing over the soundtrack, an
almost self-parodying "ominous'
score, and so many scenes where the
ghoul bursts through a door or win-
dow that half the fun of watching this
film is predicting the set ups before
they happen.
There's little suspense to be had,
just lots of cold shocks, which Graven
does have a knack for delivering
fairly consistently.. The lighting is
quite professional, with an ap-
propriately eerie ambiance, and the
effects, though modest and
sometimes derivative of The Exorcist

or Poltergeist, are more inventively
used than in many more expensive
and elaborate films. One particular
shot, of the ghoul prowling down a
darkened alley, his arms suddenly ex-
tended to grotesquely long, spider-like
length, is one of the more memorably
unnerving images to appear on the
screen in some time.
One other thing in Craven's favor is
that he bucks the trend of gratuitous
gore, and, aside from one really
gruesome murder at the beginning,
most of the film's mayhem is more
suggestive than graphic. Even when
Craven floods a set with a torrent of
blood, it's in a purely abstract style
not unlike the crimson tidal wave
Kubrick rolled down a Hotel lobby in
The Shining (which is where I'm
willing to bet the idea came from the
begin with).
What ultimately weakens Night-
mare's hold is its purely improvised
script, which bogs down about mid-
point with some hokey exposition and
psycho-philosophical doubletalk, and
ends with a shabby DePalma like
trick ending. Most detrimental is the
woefully thin characterization, the
cast being so much ghoul fodder who
obligingly walk backwards into
darkened rooms on cue. Nightmare
has more than a few shivers, and for
those looking for thoughtless schlock
entertainment, it's as satisfying as
The Terminator or any Harry Callhan



Killer bee
Jamie James brings his band, the Kingbees, to Rick's Cafe Saturday
night at 10 p.m. The Bees broke out of Boston a few years ago with 'My
Mistake' and 'Shake Bop.' Tickets are $4 at the door.




(8 10 S. State St.; 996-T ACO)
New ideas in Mexican food including:
Salads, Chimichangas, Buritos. Hours: 11
a.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Sat., Noon-Midnight
e Stevens (342 S. State; 662-2663)
Homemade ice cream, hot fudge and whip-
ped cream. Specializcs in The Mixin -
cookies, candies, nuts and fruit - skillfully
blended by hand into your favorite large
Open 12- 12 daily.
eats & drinks
e will serve you
cream in the world" 'your guide to dining for
both the visitoruand
the longtime resident
IM BELTMAN, Manager of ihe city.


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