Nightmares (1983)


“Greetings, Earthling.
I am the Bishop of Battle,
master of all I survey.
I have 13 progressively harder levels.
Try me if you dare.”


Nightmares is an unusual anthology film that leans more towards The Outer Limits\The twilight Zone end of the anthology scale and is nothing short of entertaining as it tries to be a tad different with its tales, largely succeeding. Another anthology originally conceived as a pilot for a TV series just like Body Bags (1993).

First of we have

Terror in Topanga
The news reports that an escaped killer is terrorising a small town and gives the common warnings for the local population.
Ignoring her husbands warnings because she just must have a fag (typical smoker) Cristina Raines (The Sentinel 1977) sneaks out to the nearest shop to buy some ciggies.
Driving back she realises that she’s almost out of petrol. At this point she’s asking for it.
Stupid people shouldn’t survive horror films unless they are funny.
All the petrol stations are closed, I swear if this killer doesn’t get her then he should refer to my point about stupid people in horror films.
So she finds one that is still open and this is where I will stop before I give away the ending.
I had already worked out the twist about half way through and was waiting to see if I was right yet despite that I really loved the ending.
I loved how all this was filmed and the characters even the wife who really isn’t bad. The criticisms of her are hugely exaggerated.
Good tension overall and a strong start.

The Bishop of Battle
Emilio Estevez is a teen obsessed with arcade games specifically The Bishop of Battle, and spends his time hustling other arcade players to get money so he can bash the bishop.
Sorry Beat the bishop like the game keeps telling him.
With 13 levels to conquer, the furthest he has made it is level 11, he then makes it to level 12.
So with rumours that someone once made it all the way to level 13 getting this far only drives him to bash the bishop, sorry beat the bishop more.
Annoyingly for him the arcade’s owner chucks him out as it is closing time so he breaks in later that night to beat Polybius, I mean the Battle of Bishop, which is when things get weird…er.
Here things go a little more into the out there, over the top territory with that Spielberg feel to it.
The problem with computer games created for films is everything about the game and how they animate them is wrong. They just don’t resemble games at all and while that does apply here a bit the game looks good.
The effects are good making the game passable and definitely suits the segment so effort was taken in designing it.
My favourite segment. Silly, fun nonsense who’s ending could appeal a lot to those do-gooders constantly decrying gaming but gamers will love it.

The Benediction
Lance Henriksen is a priest having a crisis of faith and decides to leave his parish and find his way in the world.
On his way a black pickup truck runs him off the road and disappears only to reappear to torment him again.
A sort of supernatural Duel (1971) including my favourite shot of the entire film when Lance see’s how the truck seems to appear out of nowhere.
Oh that was beautifully done and so 80s.
Slowing down after the high excitement of the previous segment but well worth the pay off.

Night of the Rat
Veronica Cartwright is a housewife sure there is a rat in the house. Nagging the husband to do something about it he sets some traps. Of course this is no ordinary rat and will take more than traps.
She calls pest control who discovers just how dangerous the rat is but is thrown out by the husband who insist on getting rid of it himself.
This is what lets this segment down. The bickering couple. I’m not a fan of unnecessarily added drama and it isn’t needed here. They take what could be two decent characters and turn them into unlikable prats that make you side with the villain.
This segment could’ve worked so well if they got along without his stubbornness and her Neuroticism. A pointless trope.
Still they are far more watchable than any couple in films these days.
Very poor special effects and too much time spent on bickering and even getting to the showdown which let this segment down. That said it has its fun element with the daughter as well as said showdown plus the cast do very well but I wish they had better to work with making this the weakest story.

Just brilliant and very 80s. One of those gems that was probably forgotten when released and needs more recognition now.