Horror anthology about a college professor (Zada) teaching a course called "The Psychology of Fear". He brings his students (including psychic McWhirter) to his home, one dark and stormy ... See full summary »
A little girl named Cathy tries to keep her mother from making out with a man while driving one day, and she inadvertently causes her mother's death in the car crash. 16 years later, Cathy ... See full summary »
A collection of short stories. In one a woman who leaves her house late at night to drive to the store while a killer is loose encounters some problems. In the second an arcade whiz kid's obsession with a game leads to deadly consequences. In the third a small town priest loses his faith and decides to leave town, but in the desert is stalked by a mysterious black pick-up truck. In the final story, a family's problem with a rat is larger than they think. Written by
Parca Mortem <email@example.com>
The names of the film's four segments are [in chapter order of appearance]: Chapter One - "Terror in Topanga" ; Chapter Two - "The Bishop of Battle" ; Chapter Three - "The Benediction" ; and Chapter Four - "Night of the Rat". See more »
Episode: Bishop of Battle
When J. J. Cooney starts playing the head arcade game, a scene shows his score raising from 380 to 470 points. As he progresses in the game, another scene shows his score raising from 1740 to 1830 points. However, when J. J. reaches level 13, the scene shows his score at just 100 points. A few scenes later, we can see his (presumably normal) score raising from 10390 to 10510 points. At this point, however, the highest score of 89462 points looks quite hard to be beaten. See more »
Greetings, Earthling. I am the Bishop of Battle, master of all I survey. I have 13 progressively harder levels. Try me if you dare.
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Straight from the mid-80's comes the mild-mannered 'Nightmares,' a horror anthology of four seemingly unrelated tales of terror that hardly deserve the R-rating they so unjustly received (the film was released one year before 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,' which resulted in the PG-13 rating, a rating this film deserves, if not a PG).
Segment one, 'Terror in Topanga,' re-tells the old urban legend of a woman, an escaped psychopath, and a suspicious gas station attendant. In this case the woman is Lisa (Christina Raines), a cigarette smoker who needs a nic-fix so bad; she's willing to risk being horribly stabbed for some Marlboro 100's. I suspect the filmmakers were trying to comment on the health hazards of tobacco--something new in 1983. This is the third best, or second worst-depending on your point of view, segment of the film.
Segment two, 'The Bishop of Battle,' on the other hand, is undeniably the best! It stars none other than a very young Emilio Estevez ('the 'Mighty Ducks man himself!') as J.J. Cooney, a kid so good at arcade games, all the other kids stop playing to watch him. One game Cooney can't seem to beat is 'The Bishop of Battle,' which supposedly has 13 levels, although it is believed level 13 is a myth as nobody has gotten past level 12 (Cooney claims he heard about 'a kid in New Jersey' who did so twice). Cooney becomes obsessed with surpassing level 12 and defeating 'The Bishop,' the digital master/boss of 'The Bishop of Battle,' he looks like an electronic-neon version of Magic Mirror from 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' So obsessed does Cooney become, that he alienates his parents, sneaks out of his bedroom in the middle of the night, and breaks back into the arcade to take on 'The Bishop' one more time. I won't spoil the funky ending; suffice to say it evokes 'Tron,' sort of a 'Tron-in reverse.' The most enjoyable aspect of Segment two is the lacquer of 1980's youth culture it evokes. Estevez sports a neon, sleeveless shirt and a Walkman the size of a toaster that blasts punk-rock as Cooney hustles amateurs in the tough arcades of Oakland. Back at the mall, one anonymously delivered line of dialog from an unseen member of Cooney's spectators is, I kid you not, 'Totally awesome!' At one point, a flirtatious female friend asks him if he wants to 'Get a pizza!' This isn't really the 1980's I remember, it's how I'd like to remember them.
Horror legend Lance Hendriksen gives arguably the best performance of all segments in #3, 'The Benediction,' as a priest in the American-Mexican wasteland who, after witnessing the pointless death of a child, loses his faith and begins the long trip home across the desert. On the way he encounters a demonic monster truck apparently intent on killing him 'Duel' style. The truck is loud and deep black, with an upside down cross hanging in its rear-view mirror. At the stories climax, we see the truck literally burst out from the desert earth as if it were a surfacing submarine. It's a surprisingly effective, and very cool, moment in the film.
Despite a well tuned cast, 'Night of the Rat,' the fourth segment, is terrible, the worst in the film, and a poor finale. It centers on the Houston family's encounter with, as the title so eloquently eludes, a giant rat. As if that weren't enough, the rat has psychic powers as well! Wife Claire is the protagonist, played by polished actor Veronica Cartwright, who tries to convince her arrogant husband Steven (mustached character actor Richard Massur, whose demeanor mirrors his dry-toast last name) to call an exterminator. But alas, Steve refuses, and it's not until the devil-rat almost kills their young daughter (future overdosee Bridgette Andersen in a phenomenal child performance) that he whips out the conveniently closet-stored shotgun and goes-a-rat huntin'. The finale of 'Night of the Rat,' is too awfully hilarious for words to define.
Overall, 'Nightmares,' is too gentle to be scary. It reminded me of Nickelodeon's soft-core, 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' which also had happy endings and corny fables (although I remain a fan of that series). I would recommend this film only for the nostalgic 'The Bishop of Battle,' Hendrickson's performance in 'The Benediction,' and as an overall night of laughs for 80's horror connoisseurs. 'Creepshow,' and 'Creepshow 2' are far superior horror anthologies than this film.
However I must admit I enjoyed it, in some ways, more than 'The Twilight Zone, The Movie.'
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