72 user 53 critic

Nightmare (1981)

R | | Horror | 23 October 1981 (USA)
A mental patient embarks on a murder spree upon escaping from an institution.


Romano Scavolini

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Baird Stafford ... George Tatum
Sharon Smith ... Susan Temper
C.J. Cooke C.J. Cooke ... C.J. Temper
Mik Cribben Mik Cribben ... Bob Rosen
Danny Ronan ... Kathy the Babysitter
John L. Watkins John L. Watkins ... Man with Cigar (as John Watkins)
Bill Milling Bill Milling ... Paul Williamson (as William Milling)
Scott Praetorius ... Young George
William Kirksey William Kirksey ... George's Father (as William S. Kirksey)
Christina Keefe ... George's Mother
Tammy Patterson Tammy Patterson ... Tammy Temper
Kim Patterson Kim Patterson ... Kim Temper
Kathleen Ferguson Kathleen Ferguson ... Barbara
William Paul William Paul ... Steve
Tommy Bouvier Tommy Bouvier ... Joe


A mental-patient, who is troubled with horrible nightmares, has escaped from his hospital. Now on the streets he can't help killing innocent people. But there is one family he is more than interested in and when he tries to kill them, he finds that it's not that easy. Written by Tobias Broljung <larry@algonet.se>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Dream You Can't Escape ALIVE! See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



USA | Italy



Release Date:

23 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blood Splash See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Goldmine Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Banned as a Video Nasty in the UK during the 1980s. See more »


Obvious dummy during the climactic decapitation. The neck clearly opens up on the right side even though the boy swings at it from the left side. See more »


Man with Cigar: SORRY? You lose a dangerously psychotic patient from a secret experimental drug program, and all you can say is "I'm sorry"?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original UK cinema version was heavily cut by the BBFC with edits made to closeups of throat slitting and repeated stabs during the telephone murder, the pick axe killing, and axe blows (including blood frothing from a man's head) during the climactic flashback. The film was then listed and banned as an official video nasty, and a successful prosecution was brought against the distributing company World of Video 2000 in 1984 for releasing an unauthorized video version (which was 1 min longer than the cut cinema print). The film was finally granted a video certificate in 2002 though the print submitted was an edited U.S version, which restores the ice pick murder and around 1 minute of dialogue scenes but still has edits to the throat slashing/stabbing scene and some brief cuts to the climactic flashback nightmare murder. See more »


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! Part 2 (2006) See more »


Dancing Close To You
Performed by The DaryB-Barber Band
Music and Lyrics by Ted Daryll
Courtesy of Turbine Films
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Filthy splatter flick laden with psychosexual undertones
2 July 2014 | by drownnnsodaSee all my reviews

The infamy of "Nightmare" no doubt largely centers on the fact that the film's distributor faced prison time for refusing to cut down one scene from the film for its release in the United Kingdom. I mean, after all, how many horror films have that under their belt? The plot follows a disturbed schizophrenic who escapes from his experimental psychiatric hospital in New York City and heads down the coast to Florida, where his wife and children reside, killing along the way before making an attempt at his final hometown hurrah.

With "Halloween" and "Maniac" being obvious influences here, "Nightmare" feels much more like a '70s picture than it does a product of the '80s, and its confluence of influences might be precisely why. The film's formula is fairly straightforward, although its subject matter is remarkably dark, insofar as it has to do with a man who can't help but want to slaughter his own children— it's a macabre affair all around, and the grindhouse aesthetic only bolsters the film's sinister tone. It's part slasher film and part psychosexual thriller, with leading man Baird Stafford playing the villain who's entire distorted existence seems to hinge on his childhood experience of witnessing his father's affair (and subsequently slaughtering both parties in their bed). The film does meander a bit between the realms of dramatic thriller and splatter epic, but it's an engaging watch none the less.

I'd be lying if I said that the real attraction here for most people is the remarkable gore effects, which were controversially credited as being the work of Tom Savini— turns out Savini was apparently just a friend of the effects director and didn't actually work on the film, but regardless, the film showcases a plethora of elaborate murders with some remarkably nasty special effects; throats are slashed, people are stabbed, and heads roll, and Romano Scavolini makes sure his audience has front row closeups to all the nitty gritty details. The special effects work, though dated in some regards, is still surprisingly effective.

Overall, "Nightmare" is a deserved cult classic that would appear to have come from the drive-in era of the late '70s; despite the fact that the film was made in the following decade, it retains a gritty exploitation feel in which violence is the central spectacle. Like I said, it's a dark movie— and a gratuitously violent one. It's the kind of thing you watch and then want to shower after. Like after a humid Florida evening, the film leaves you feeling slightly grimy, but that's what it sets out to do from the first reel. 7/10.

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