Sunday, March 2, 2014

FRIGHTMARE (Redemption/Kino Blu-ray) - Your Mommy's a Monster

As a part of the Fango 300 challenge from a couple's year back I had to watch Pete Walker's Frightmare. The version I watched was moderately trashed, faded and pretty much looked terrible. It definitely played uneasy on my eyes, and even more so in my opinion of the actual movie. I truly didn't understand how it had made the list of 300 movies that Fangoria saw the need to highlight as part of its 300th issue. Fast forward a couple of months to October of that same year. I was at Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horrorthon in Philly. In between movies I'd pop out to the lobby area and pick up some food/coffee and hang out with some friends. When I heard that Frightmare was on I pretty much ignored the call to my seat. As fate would have it this was a completely different Frightmare featuring Jeffrey Combs aka Horror Star from 1983. Now THAT was a great piece of 80's moderately obscure horror. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was upset that I missed the first 20 minutes or so based on my distaste for the Walker version. Today, Pete Walker's Frightmare has made it to Redemption/Kino Blu-ray, and I am happy to report that a second viewing has given me a new outlook on a pretty damn creepy movie.


Sheila Keith stars as a former patient of a mental institution, who has settled down in a remote farmhouse, where she tells fortunes in her spare time. But the kind, maternal exterior conceals a dreadful monster, which the asylum, it seems, was unable to cure.

What changed from my initial viewing that could make me really enjoy a movie I previously disliked (not hated)? The damn thing looks really great. It's far from the washed out version I watched a few years ago. Because the blacks are crisp and the reds really bounce off the back of the screen and jump straight at your eyeballs, the movie has better presence, holds your attention longer and offers nice contrast that is pleasing to the eyes. Walker's characteristic use of beautiful Crayola red, HG Lewis esque blood is enticing. It's delicious. It's what I want to see in a movie from 1974 (post The Flesh and Blood Show).

Sheila Keith's performance is actually terrifying. She has crazy person eyes, and combined with some psychedelic shot selection and cinematography there are moments that have stuck to my eyes like fly paper. Her voice and appearance were built to be demented. Pete Walker just let it out. Make sure to heck out the featurette "Sheila Keith: A Nice Old Lady" on that disc to affirm that she isn't the nut that you see on screen.

The disc contains "For the Sake of Cannibalism" an interview with Pete Walker, audio commentary by Walker and DP Peter Jessup as well as a profile of Sheila Keith and theatrical trailer.  1.66:1 AR, 1920 x 1080p and appears in black and white and color (which is a Walker standard trait).

For a movie that was panned and reviled, it has come a long way to become a cult classic. Maybe it's only natural given the pre-Video Nasty backlash against this exceptionally artistic rendering of a psychotic break and subsequent murderous rampage (and all in a single house). Frigthmare is a look into madness and into the genius of Pete Walker. It's definitely a great movie with a brilliant score and performances, on par with the 1983 version and clearly creepy.

Order Frightmare now! It releases March 18th.

-Doc Terror

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