Runaway Nightmare

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Runaway Nightmare
Pandora of Runaway Nightmare.jpg
Directed by Mike Cartel
Produced by Eldon Short
Written by Mike Cartel
Edited by Mike Cartel
Distributed by Vinegar Syndrome
Release date
  • 1982 (1982)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Runaway Nightmare is a 1982 dark comedy/mystery/thriller film about two desert worm ranchers caught between a female death cult and the mafia over precious stolen plutonium.[1][2] The film developed a cult following[3][4] and had a national theatrical re-release in 2014.[5][6] "Runaway Nightmare", Diabolique Magazine said "…is an enigma; a sexploitation without the nudity; a rare hybrid quasi-exploitative-horror-comedy-western-noir that has been salvaged from the past…let yourself go and have some fun."[1]


Two Death Valley worm wranglers, Ralph (Mike Cartel) and Jason (Al Valetta) secretly watch strangers bury a coffin in an empty ravine. When the gravediggers leave, Ralph and Jason uncover the shallow grave to find a beautiful woman marked with the name ‘Fate’ (Seeska Vandenberg) unconscious in the box.

After saving Fate's life, the worm ranchers get abducted by several female cultists who were searching for their recently vanished sister-member, Fate.

At the cult commune, Ralph and Jason finish a series of lunatical ordeals that earn them membership in the clan. Amiable Jason quickly finds romance from the group while hostile Ralph is treated with contempt.

Ralph (Mike Cartel) takes a shotgun blast to the chest while wearing a cheap bullet-resistant vest.

The cult boss, Hesperia (Cindy Donlan) tells the men that Fate had been negotiating with a gunrunning cartel to help her sell something priceless (referred to as platinum) on the world market for a fee, but was instead betrayed. The cartel group then buried Fate as a warning.

Fate says the mysterious contraband is under guard at the cartel desert warehouse, that she knows intimately. Hesperia leads a break-in to steal back the platinum, using Ralph and Jason as expendable decoys

The heist is successful but the outraged cartel follow the cult and attack the commune in a ferocious gun battle. Hesperia loads her girls and Jason in a helicopter from the commune roof to the worm ranch. Ralph is left behind, captured and brought back to the warehouse for a tortuous interrogation. At the moment before death, an explosion from a time bomb set earlier by Ralph saves him, while eliminating his tormentors.

Fate meets Ralph after answering his phone call for help. She drives to the commune, gets Ralph to tell where he hid the mysterious platinum box, then casually shoots him. Unknown to Fate, Ralph still wears an armored vest (under his shirt) from the earlier gunfight but plays dead as Fate drives away.

At the commune, Fate finds the invaluable suitcase as Ralph described and opens it immediately. Fate breaks the lock and lifts out a metal box - but it moves on the table, glowing as it slowly unseals. Fate fights to shut the lid while burning light from the box ignites walls, table, floor into fire as the commune (with Fate) vaporizes.

Ralph learns that Hesperia has abandoned her cult, flying away as mystically as she had arrived. With sly malice, Ralph puts the confused women to work on his worm ranch. While delighted with the arrangement, Ralph and Jason see what seems to be another human burial down their hill. This time the coffin's payload is far worse, but may be just what vampirian Ralph has needed all along.



Crew of three, four/five lights, five minute setup, one-take, no rehearsal.

The unfinished second draft of Runaway Nightmare was rushed into production by Mike Cartel[7][8] after having taken over direction of his ailing film project, Bitter Heritage[9] in late 1978.[10]

With a 48-hour turnaround and pre-production, Runaway Nightmare began filming with the same Bitter Heritage crew and location set.[11] For casting, Cartel asked actors Al Valetta and Georgia Durante from Bitter Heritage to join the production while Cartel’s wife, Mari filled most of the actress roles with model/actress acquaintances from her days as a jack Lalanne health spa manager and aerobics teacher.

After a horrific three-week schedule,[12] Cartel was unsatisfied with the coverage (while editing himself) and started shooting on weekends with a skeleton crew, cheap Friday-Monday rentals, scratch track sound,[13] staged from his own home studio with movable sets and unpaid or deferment-paid actors while going without insurance or permits.[10] Everything except lab and raw stock[14] bills were bargained or bartered as filming labored for another two years,[15][3] although there were weeks when nothing was filmed.

Cartel's weekend desert 6-person crew rushes remaining shots before the sun sinks.

Cartel also saved money by doing his own dangerous stunts that included taking a shotgun blast to his chest while wearing a cheap bullet-resistant vest; crashing through a glass window door; falling down a concrete cellar staircase; having a ‘stunt’ bottle smashed across his face, then doing a barroom fight scene with a very large bar patron he met the morning of the improvised sequence.[16][17][18]

Several of Runaway Nightmare's revolving crew members went on to great success, including Road House director Rowdy Herrington[19] (working as the gaffer on some weekends), Mean Girls cinematographer (and three-time ACS president) Daryn Okada[20][21] (who was the key grip during principal photography) and semi-retired 20th Century Fox Senior Vice President Steve Escovedo [22] (as the assistant cameraman/operator at the start and on many weekends).

Cartel spent another year in post-production until the project arrived in 1982 as a 8460-foot answer print.[23] Contracted with one distributor,[24] Cartel later discovered Runaway Nightmare online as a home video, marketed by a completely different distributor[25] (with unauthorized nude inserts spliced into several scenes)[26][3] where it was released as one of the very first straight-to-video VHS.[27][28]

After several years without fanfare, 'underground' Runaway Nightmare slowly developed a loyal cult following.[3][29][30][31][32][33]

L.A. movie marquee from Runaway Nightmare theatrical premiere, July 22, 2014.'s James Harris wrote, "I'm happy to say that the positive reviews that I had heard about this film by word of mouth are absolutely true that the cult importance of a picture of this type cannot be understated."[34]

A new film restoration/distribution company, Vinegar Syndrome[35] approached Cartel in 2013 regarding his possible interest in a modern ‘director's cut’ (without the bizarre nudity) release of Runaway Nightmare in several medias.[29][36]

In early June, 2014, Runaway Nightmare arrived in DVD, Ultra HD Blu-ray,[37] and even a retro-VHS version from Tyler Babtist's Videonomicon.[38] An audio commentary came with the new release where Cartel could finally explain his singular production backstory, scene by scene with film historian/filmmaker Howard S. Berger, moderator (film preservationist/distributor) Joe Rubin and polymath Mari Cartel.[39][40][11]

The next month, Runaway Nightmare premiered in its first 35mm showing as a theatrical release, followed by a national cinema tour.[41][42][43][44][45][5]


Runaway Nightmare features three single songs that play during the film,[46][47] including two written for the movie, "Hard to Find" and "Sunnin'", and "If You Won't Say You Love Me," written by Cartel's mother[48] and released by Imperial Records in 1955.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Runaway Nightmare (US Blu-ray review)". Diabolique Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  2. ^ Turek, Ryan (2014-06-05). "DVD & Blu-ray Guide for June-July 2014 -". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Vinegar Syndrome's Runaway Nightmare Blu-ray Release". Paracinema. 2014-06-29. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  4. ^ "Runaway Nightmare". 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  5. ^ a b "Project nightmare: 1982's Runaway Nightmare gets LA theatrical premiere -". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  6. ^ [1] Archived 2015-07-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Mike Cartel". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  8. ^ Los Angeles Daily News, Jennifer Lowe, December 24, 1986, p 10.SE - Michael Cartel Interview "Cartel has done some scriptwriting and directing for low-budget firms in which he also starred."
  9. ^ "Circle of Crime (1982)". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  10. ^ a b "Runaway Nightmare (Blu-ray/DVD)". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  11. ^ a b "Runaway Nightmare (1982) | UnRated Film Review Magazine | Movie Reviews, Interviews". 2014-08-20. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  12. ^ "Vinegar Syndrome's Runaway Nightmare Blu-ray Release". Paracinema. 2014-06-29. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  13. ^ "Glossary Of Film Making Terms - S". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  14. ^ "Glossary Of Film Making Terms - R". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  15. ^ "Runaway Nightmare (US Blu-ray review)". Diabolique Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  16. ^ "Project Nightmare: 1982's Runaway Nightmare Gets L.A. Theatrical Premiere." The WorldNews Network, July 22, 2014 “Mike Cartel…does the stunts no stuntman will do”
  17. ^ "Matt Lynch – In Review Online". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  18. ^ "Runaway Nightmare (1982) directed by Mike Cartel • Reviews, film + cast". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  19. ^ "ROWDY HERRINGTON". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  20. ^ "The ASC". The ASC. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  21. ^ "Daryn Okada Biography (1960-)". 1960-01-02. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  22. ^ "Loyola Marymount University People | Vitae". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  23. ^ "Complete Glossary of Film Terms Our Film School Students Learn". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  24. ^ "CINEMA RELEASING CORPORATION - CaliforniaCorporates – Company Profiles of California". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  25. ^ "ALL SEASONS ENTERTAINMENT, INC. - CaliforniaCorporates – Company Profiles of California". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  26. ^ "…the alternative video scenes that were added (without Cartel's knowledge) to the VHS release of Runaway Nightmare…the scenes "dub" in nudity into a film that originally had none."'Diabolic Magazine, July 11, 2014
  27. ^ Chas Balun (1989) Deep Red Horror Handbook. Fantaco Enterprises. (p 37-38). ISBN 0-938782-12-6
  28. ^ Charles Balun. "Deep Red Horror Handbook by Charles Balun — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  29. ^ a b "Runaway Nightmare". 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  30. ^ d. "Blu-ray Review - RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE (1982)". Daily Grindhouse. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  31. ^ "'Runaway Nightmare' Blu-ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)". Nerdly. 2014-09-14. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  32. ^ Harris M. Lentz III, (May 7, 2015) Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2014, McFarland and Co., p 351, ISBN 0-786476664 "She starred as the female lead, Fate, in Mike Cartel's offbeat cult film Runaway Nightmare in 1982."
  33. ^ "LunchMeatVHS Blog » Canadian Video Vindicators VIDEONOMICON Continue the Rental Store Dream and Unleash a Few Slabs of Fresh VHS featuring RYAN'S BABE and RUNAWAY NIGHT MARE with an Analog Edition of LOWLIFE On Deck!". 2015-01-16. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  34. ^ "REVIEW: Runaway Nightmare (Vinegar Syndrome Limited Edition Blu-ray) - Worm Farmers Locale Union vs. The Mega Babes". Docterror.Com. 2014-06-27. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  35. ^ "Movies : Smut Refreshed For a New Generation". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  36. ^ Nastasi, Alison (2015-02-11). "Meet the Archivists Working to Preserve Classic Sex Films – Flavorwire". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  37. ^ "Runaway Nightmare Blu-ray: Limited Edition 1,000 Copies". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  38. ^ "LunchMeatVHS Blog » Canadian Video Vindicators VIDEONOMICON Continue the Rental Store Dream and Unleash a Few Slabs of Fresh VHS featuring RYAN'S BABE and RUNAWAY NIGHT MARE with an Analog Edition of LOWLIFE On Deck!". 2015-01-16. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  39. ^ "Blu-ray Review: Runaway Nightmare - Horror Movie News and Reviews". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  40. ^ "DVD Reviews: Vinegar Syndrome's Summer Releases". Inside Pulse. 2014-08-03. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  41. ^ "Terror Tuesday - Runaway Nightmare - Film Calendar". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  42. ^ "The Grindhouse Film Festival Presents: Runaway Nightmare / Nightmare | New Beverly Cinema | Film, Film | Los Angeles News and Events". Los Angeles Weekly. 2014-07-22. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  43. ^ Jason Anderson (2014-06-12). "Projections: Animation festival promises to be toon-tastic | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  44. ^ "NOW_2014-06-12 by NOW Magazine". 2014-06-18. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  45. ^ "Runaway Nightmare". Village Voice. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  46. ^ "Soundtracks - Runaway Nightmare (1982)". 2016-07-26. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  47. ^ "Runaway Nightmare (1982) Soundtrack OST". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  48. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series. p. 515. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  49. ^ "Imperial Records 78rpm numerical listing discography: 8000 series". 2013-02-13. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 

External links[edit]