Scream Factory is having a hell of a year. So many releases to cover in such a small amount of time (I’m lying, I’ve got time, so keep ’em coming!). With how many releases the Shout! Factory horror imprint puts out every month, we figured we’d tackle a couple of them at once, and give you fright fanatics a double dose of Scream Factory greatness.
This time, we’re taking a good look at two films which could not be more different from each other. 1971’s pre-slasher era whodunnit, BLOOD AND LACE and 1983’s anthology film, NIGHTMARES. So, whether it’s Seinfeld’s Uncle Frank chasing people with a cleaver or Christina Raines trying to protect herself from deranged murderers is your thing, there’s a little something for everyone.
BLOOD AND LACE (1971)
Setting the slasher tone before films like BLACK CHRISTMAS or HALLOWEEN did, Philip Gilbert’s BLOOD AND LACE is a film that not only gives its viewer a mystery heavy approach, but has enough twists, turns and confusion to give any of its viewers a serious case of jetlag. Beginning with the murders of her mother and her mother’s customer (let’s just say that her mom got around), Ellie Masters is sent to live at a home for orphaned teens. Running the home, Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame) and her handyman Tom (Seinfeld‘s Len Lesser), are immediately suspect, especially when Tom chases a runaway with a weapon and chopping off limbs while doing so. Mrs. Deere and Tom needs the money given to them for each kid being there, and when kids wants to leave, they’re murdered, frozen in a cooler, and when a corrupt social worker visits, are made to look like they’re in their beds. Talk about a gnarly situation.
If that rundown isn’t enough to make you scratch your head, the hear you me, fright fanatics, there’s even more. Ellie is oddly hit on by Detective Calvin Carruthers (ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE‘s Vic Tayback), and the detective seems to have quite the obsession with Ellie. One more plotline to add to the mix: Ellie begins to see the masked murderer who had killed her mom, complete with a hammer in his hand. So, we’ve got a masked murderer, two murderers who live where Ellie is staying, and a detective who is interested in Ellie. Talk about having problems.
Now, BLOOD AND LACE isn’t necessarily a bad movie, per sé, it’s just a batshit crazy one. There’s so much going on, so many plot-lines and subplots, characters being good then bad, that you’re not quite sure of what’s playing out in front of you. It’s a film to experience for sure, and one of the film’s few treats is a very young appearance of Dennis Christopher (FADE TO BLACK, DJANGO UNCHAINED), who just wants something to drink, give the kid a drink!
Light on the supplemental side, BLOOD AND LACE features a commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith and an alternate opening title.
Originally shot for the very short-lived Television show Darkroom, Joseph Sargent’s anthology NIGHTMARES took various episodes that were either too much for the TV show or just left over when the series was cancelled and threw them into what is easily one of the most enjoyable anthologies to have been released in the ’80s. Comprised of four stories, the film starts off strong with the great “Terror in Topanga“, a segment that sees THE SENTINEL‘s Christina Raines as a wife and mother who needs her cigarettes (don’t we all?). Against her husband’s wish to stay in (there’s an escaped killer on the loose), Raines’ Lisa decides to go for it anyway, and comes across various suspect individuals, all of which could very well be the murderer.
Following the awesome ending of “Terror in Topanga“, we get “The Bishop of Battle“, a segment that sees Emilio Estevez as J.J., an avid arcade gamer, who makes money by pretending not to know the games and then hustles his opponents. J.J.’s major obsession is getting to the legendarily impossible level 13 of The Bishop of Battle, a game full of mazes and objects trying to kill its player’s character. After almost getting to level thirteen, the arcade manager makes J.J. leave, leading to the gamer breaking into the place afterwards and inadvertently causing the game and its characters to come to life outside of the game, all trying to kill J.J.
Character actor Lance Henriksen leads the film’s third story, “The Benediction” , one that revolves around a priest losing his faith following the death of a boy. Leaving his ministry and faith behind him, the priest makes his way elsewhere and is continually stalked by a 4X4 truck. By the end of the segment, the priest must decide what he believes in and if it’s enough to stop the truck from claiming his life.
“Night of the Rat” follows Claire and Steven (Veronica Cartwright and Richard Masur), a couple whose house is being terrorized by a rat. Claire thinks it’s something sinister, while Steven swears up and down that there isn’t a problem. Making matters worse, Claire enlists the help of an exteriminator, angering Steven and causing her husband to kick the exterminator out. It’s safe to say that there’s most definitely a problem in their house and it’s one that is QUITE large.
NIGHTMARES features two versions of the film, one in 1.78:1 widescreen and one in full frame (1.33.1) . Also included on the disc, is a commentary featuring Executive Producer Andrew Mirisch and Actress Christina Raines herself (swoon).
While NIGHTMARES might not hold up for some, it absolutely does for me, it’s just as entertaining as it was during my childhood. It’s a solid anthology, put out in a time where anthologies were SO good, unlike a lot of anthologies put out these days. Definitely worth picking this one up.