Nightmares (1983 film)

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Nightmares
Nightmares1983.jpg
Theatrical poster designed by Design Projects, Inc.
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Produced by Christopher Crowe
Written by Jeffrey Bloom
Christopher Crowe
Starring Cristina Raines
Emilio Estevez
Lance Henriksen
Richard Masur
Veronica Cartwright
Music by Craig Safan
Cinematography Mario DeLeo
Gerald Perry Kinnerman
Edited by Michael Brown
Rod Stephens
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • September 9, 1983 (1983-09-09) (U.S.)
Running time 99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Box office $6,670,680

Nightmares is a 1983 American horror anthology film directed by Joseph Sargent, and starring Emilio Estevez, Lance Henriksen, Cristina Raines, Veronica Cartwright and Richard Masur. The film is made up of four short films based on urban legends; the first concerns a woman who encounters a killer in the backseat of her car; the second concerns a video game-addicted teenager who is consumed by his game; the third focuses on a fallen priest who is stalked by a pickup truck from hell; and the last follows a suburban family battling a giant rat in their home.

The four segments of the film were initially conceived and shot for ABC's thriller anthology series Darkroom, but were deemed too intense for television.[2] When Darkroom was canceled in 1982, Universal Pictures combined the four outstanding segments and released them theatrically as Nightmares in September 1983.[3]

Plot[edit]

"Terror in Topanga"[edit]

During a traffic stop at night, a cop is stabbed to death by someone leaping from the bushes. A killer is terrorizing a local California area and the TV and radio are reporting that the cop is his fifth victim.

After Lisa (Raines) puts her children to bed, she discovers that she's out of cigarettes. Her husband (Joe Lambie) forbids her to go to the store, but she sneaks out anyway and heads down the canyon.

Lisa gets the cigarettes and begins home only to realize that she's almost out of gas. All the gas stations appear to be closed. Finally, she stops at an out of the way station and out comes an attendant (William Sanderson), who just happens to perfectly match the killer's description on the radio. She gets increasingly alarmed as the attendant, who seems to be studying her car and its occupant, suddenly lunges at the car with the gas nozzle. He drags her out of the car, draws a pistol and fires - to protect her from the real murderer (Lee Ving), who was hiding in her back seat.

"The Bishop of Battle"[edit]

Emilio Estevez in "Bishop of Battle."

Young J.J. Cooney (Estevez) is a video game wizard and arcade game hustler with help from his bespectacled friend Zock (Billy Jayne).

After an argument about J.J.'s obsession with video games, they split up for the day, and J.J. goes into his local arcade to try again to beat The Bishop of Battle, a maddeningly difficult video game that features thirteen levels; no one he knows has made it to the thirteenth, and many believe it's just a myth. He repeatedly tries and fails to make it to the thirteenth level until the owner forces him to leave at closing time.

J.J.'s parents, concerned about his performance in school, ground him until his grades improve. That night, he sneaks out and breaks into the arcade to finally finish the game. However, when he reaches the 13th level, the game collapses with the enemies flying out. (Estevez went through a two-week gun training session with the NYPD to realistically perform his gun maneuvers for these scenes.) J.J. flees to the parking lot, but the Bishop of Battle appears drawing closer and closer to the terrified J.J. The scene cuts to the next morning, where his friends and family see J.J.'s image on screen of the arcade machine for a few seconds before it turns into the player avatar and the short ends.

"The Benediction"[edit]

Lance Henriksen plays a priest serving at a small parish and is facing a crisis of faith brought on by the violent death of a young boy. He explains to his bishop (Plana) that he's lost his belief in the concepts of good and evil. He finally leaves the ministry with some blessed water which he now deems as purely tap water, and takes off across the desert in his car.

Out of nowhere he encounters a black Chevrolet 4x4. At first, it just cuts him off and takes off. However, it keeps reappearing, forcing him off the road and knocking off his bumper. With nowhere left to run, the former priest hurls the water at the truck, which is vaporized at the impact.

"Night of the Rat"[edit]

Claire (Cartwright) can hear the rats moving in the walls of her home but her husband Steven (Masur) ignores it.

Even though Steven assures Claire that he'll take care of the problem with a couple of rat traps in the attic, the disturbances get worse: things start falling off shelves, and the family cat disappears. Claire calls an exterminator (Albert Hague) who discovers that this rat has gnawed huge holes behind various cabinets and has also chewed on the power cables. Steven comes home, criticizes his wife, and tells the exterminator to leave.

Claire keeps consulting the exterminator and inevitably she and her family are forced into a showdown with a giant rat.

Cast[edit]

Terror in Topanga:

The Bishop of Battle:

The Benediction:

Night of the Rat:

Reception[edit]

Though the poster and trailer boasted that the film would be a 'sleeper' and ' one you won't forget ',[4][5] the film was not well received on release, with a 'rotten' 17% rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.[6] In her review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Nothing spoils a horror story faster than a stupid victim. And Nightmares, an anthology of four supposedly scary episodes, has plenty of those."[7]

Home Release & Format change[edit]

The DVD was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 1999 in "Full Frame (1.33:1) Presentation" and has since gone out-of-print. However, the movie was originally released in the widescreen format (1.85:1 aspect ratio) in theaters.

See also[edit]

  • Body Bags - A 1993 horror anthology that also was produced for television, and also had major filmmakers attached (John Carpenter & Tobe Hooper).
  • Creepshow - A series of anthology horror films helmed by Stephen King & George A. Romero.

References[edit]

External links[edit]