The Nightmare Never Ends (1980)

aka Cataclysm
Article 3406 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-30-2010
Posting Date: 12-10-2010
Directed by Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan and Gregg C. Tallas
Featuring Cameron Mitchell, Marc Lawrence, Faith Clift
Country: USA
What it is: The devil in the flesh

A policeman investigates the murder of an old Nazi hunter who thinks he found the man who killed his family. Meanwhile, a woman worries about the fate of her husband, who has written an atheistic book; she’s been having dreams of devils and demons for a warning. These have something to do with an arrogant young man living in a mansion nearby… who may not be as young as he looks.

With a title like THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS, I had two thoughts. The first was that it might make a handy self-review if the movie is really bad and really long. The second was that it probably had a downbeat ending; otherwise, the nightmare would end. Well, the movie isn’t really that long, but it is pretty bad; the central idea is workable, but the script is silly and muddled, and the acting is pretty weak throughout. Even the usually reliable Cameron Mitchell isn’t very good. It’s basically a variation on THE OMEN, albeit one that isn’t a clone. In the final analysis, the movie consists mostly of endless philosophizing about God and the devil interspersed with people getting killed. And though I won’t tell you how it ends, let’s just say that I wasn’t surprised.


The New Original Wonder Woman (1975)

Article 3399 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-23-2010
Posting Date: 12-4-2010
Directed by Leonard Horn
Featuring Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, John Randolph
Country: USA
What it is: Super hero TV pilot

During World War II, when an American pilot ends up on Paradise Island (the home of a race of Amazons) after having been badly injured, he is escorted back to the states by the queen’s daughter. The woman, who is immortal and has special powers, decides to stay and battle the Nazi threat.

I’ve never seen the TV series that was spawned from this pilot, so I’m coming to it fresh. Right off the bat, I noticed two things I like about this pilot (and I know what you’re thinking, so get your mind out of the gutter). First of all, I like the touch that they decided to opt for the period setting. Second, I like that they decided to go the route of light-hearted action adventure, walking a thin line between outright comedy while avoiding being overly serious. Any movie in which the Nazis are played by Stella Stevens, Red Buttons and Kenneth Mars is bound to be on the lighter side, and the addition of Henry Gibson (as a double agent) and Cloris Leachman (as the queen of the Amazons) adds to the fun. On the down side, Wonder Woman’s powers don’t seem particularly impressive; she doesn’t even twirl that silver lariat of hers, and though her reflexes are fast enough to deflect bullets, they don’t really seem all that impressive during the flimsy fight scenes here. Nevertheless, this was quite fun, and Lynda Carter plays the title role with the right amount of aplomb. Oh, and there are two other things I do like about this one (and you’re free to let your mind go anywhere it wants at this point).

Nightmares (1983)

Article 3315 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-26-2010
Posting Date: 9-11-10
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Featuring Cristina Raines, Emilio Estevez, Lance Henriksen
Country: USA
What it is: Horror anthology

Four tales of terror are presented. In the first, a woman decides to go out for cigarettes despite the fact that a serial killer is loose in the area. In the second, a boy becomes obsessed with reaching the possibly non-existent thirteenth level of a video game. In the third, a priest suffers a crisis of faith and then finds himself terrorized by a big black truck. In the fourth, a family’s rat problems turn out to be bigger than they think.

This anthology was culled from stories originally intended for the anthology series “Darkroom” that were considered too intense for TV. The first story is fairly standard, but it does have at least one very good twist near the end, and it has a moral – smoking is bad for your health. The second is the weakest, at least partially because it’s far too long (the first ten minutes should have been trimmed down especially), but also because its very existence in this sort of anthology tells you a lot about just where it’s going; there’s no surprises here. The ending of the third story isn’t particularly surprising either, but it has the best performance in the movie by Lance Henriksen as the priest suffering a crisis of faith, and it is somewhat interesting as a variation of DUEL with religious overtones. The final story is the monster story which is something of a cross between POLTERGEIST and the “Devil in the Dark” episode of “Star Trek”; it’s a little silly at times, a little shrill at others, but acceptable. As a whole, I found the movie entertaining enough, though I suspect that only the third story will really stick with me.

New Year’s Evil (1980)

Article 3247 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-10-2010
Posting Date: 7-5-2010
Directed by Emmett Alston
Featuring Roz Kelly, Kip Niven, Chris Wallace
Country: USA
What it is: Anemic slasher flick

A female DJ hosting a punk/new wave radio show on New Year’s Eve gets calls from a psycho named Evil who claims he’s going to kill someone at midnight for every time zone. The police believe that he intends the DJ to be the final victim.

How authentically punk/new wave is this movie? Well, at one point, we see a punkish musician stick his tongue out to the camera while the music the band is playing sounds like a guitar jam from the Allman Brothers. Later on, when a policeman addresses a crowd of angry punkers on a dance floor, one of the infuriated punks yells “Shut up!” Conclusion: if this was what punk was all about, it was a pretty feeble movement. Fortunately, I’m familiar enough with punk music to know it wasn’t feeble; it’s this movie that’s feeble. Gorehounds in particular will be disappointed; the movie actually gets less and less bloody as it goes along, and ends up feeling more like a police/crime movie than a horror thriller in the final reels. There’s a couple of interesting moments, but a plethora of stupid ones as well, and you’ll see the final twist coming a mile away. This is not one of the high points of the slasher genre.

A Night of Magic (1944)

Article 3154 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-31-2010
Posting Date: 4-3-2010
Directed by Herbert Wynne
Featuring Robert Griffith, Marian Olive, Gordon Ray
Country: UK
What it is: Sheer horror/fluffy British musical

A man receives a sarcophagus with a three thousand year old mummy from his uncle. However, the mummy is very much alive, female, and thrilled to find a man after all those years.

This revue musical is such a piece of fluff that I probably wouldn’t much like it even if it was good. However, such is not the case; the movie is, in a word, ghastly. If anything, it made me realize just how difficult it is to whip up a piece of fluff; you need smoothness, confidence, and a show of effortlessness. Every second of this movie feels forced, static, self-conscious and awkward; every joke falls flat, every dance feels under-rehearsed, etc. The writing is truly wretched; it’s one of those movies where you can see what the writer was trying for while being made exquisitely aware that it failed to accomplish its task. What is most surprising of all is the horrible acting; usually, the one thing you can guarantee in a British film is that the acting will be solid, but not this one. The two leads in particular are awful; the leading man couldn’t project an emotion if he had one, and the leading lady’s face seems cemented in a toothy smile that conjures up images of Gwynplaine in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. This may be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. By the way, I’m going to give away the ending; it turns out that it is all a dream. For once, this type of ending is welcome, because not only can you then dismiss the whole thing as a nightmare, but take heart that the movie is over.

Die Nylonschlinge (1963)

aka The Nylon Noose
Article 3145 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-21-2010
Posting Date: 3-25-2010
Directed by Rudolf Zehetgruber
Featuring Dietmar Schonherr, Helga Sommerfeld, Ernst Schroder
Country: West Germany
What it is: Ersatz Edgar Wallace

A Scotland Yard inspector investigates a series of strangulation murders. It’s tied to a meeting of stockholders at a spooky mansion.

This movie almost ended up being moved from my hunt list to my not found list, but a copy popped up just in time to save it. Unfortunately, the only print I could find is in unsubtitled German, so I only got so much out of it. It’s one of those rare krimis that has nothing to do with Edgar Wallace or Dr. Mabuse, and I haven’t seen any other movies of this genre from the director. Nevertheless, it’s pretty standard issue as far as I can tell, though I do think the plot may be a little easier to follow (if it had been in English, that is). The serial killer provides the horror content, though a “mad scientist” type character seems to play a role in it as well, and Ady Berber is always good for a glowering scare or two.

The Night Nurse (1978)

Article 3064 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-27-2009
Posting Date: 1-3-2010
Directed by Igor Auzins
Featuring Gary Day, Kate Fitzpatrick, Kay Taylor
Country: Australia
What it is: Oddball horror thriller

A woman gets a job as a night nurse for a reclusive former opera singer known as “The Diva”. The recluse’s daughter (who has been selling her mother’s art collection and replacing them with prints) attempts to drive the new nurse away, but the recluse has taken to her. However, there are more skeletons in the closet here than she suspects…

Though I don’t think the user ratings necessarily give an accurate idea of the critical worth of a movie, they do manage to give a little snapshot on how people feel about a movie. This one has a rating of 4.6, which means it’s not highly regarded, and I can see why; as a horror movie, this is pretty mild stuff, and the big horrific finale is clumsy. Still, I think it’s the overly talky script that is the main culprit. I myself didn’t have that much of a problem with it; the talk is there to establish character, and this is a very character-driven story. It seems to be a variation on one of the subplots of THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE; we have a wheelchair-bound recluse, a jealous daughter, and an intruder who threatens to steal the affection of the mother that belongs to the daughter. What I like about this movie is that it is quite unpredictable; the opening set-up (when the daughter kills an art dealer) makes us think we’ve got a handle on where the story will go and who the villain is, but the movie has some surprises in store for us before it comes to its conclusion. I have respect for a movie that can consistently surprise me, especially if the story still holds together with each revelation. Even the very final moment is a surprise, albeit one in which the movie simply refuses to take the expected ending. Due to some clumsiness and slowness, it’s not a great movie by any means, but it is something different for those who like their horror to be a little unpredictable.