“It’s never too late” is a commonly used phrase so here I am watching this anthology horror film for the first time that stars a few well known faces of the day including a baby faced Emilio Estevez in the second of the four tales of terror presented from director Joseph Sargent.
First up is Terror in Topanga. It’s the classic tale of the escaped mental patient on a murdering spree. Cristina Raines plays a housewife who needs her pack of cigarettes and against her husbands wishes, takes off late at night in the family car to appease her habit. Off to the local mini mart where Anthony James is the store keeper. Could he be the killer on the loose? I think not but he does make an effective red herring.
It’s a rather short tale that has a couple of effective chills as it fades to the next tale, The Bishop of Battle.
Emilio plays a sharp shooting game player at the local video arcade. He’s caught up in a struggle to reach level thirteen of a game that has him hooked. It’s not really all that terrifying but it does feature some dated f/x and the chance to see a young Emilio. A side note is the fact that Mariclare Costello is portraying Emilio’s Mom when in fact she starred opposite his real life Dad, Martin Sheen way back in 1974’s The Execution of Private Slovik.
The Benediction pops up third with shades of Duel and The Car featuring the always fun Lance Henriksen in the lead role of a priest questioning his faith and deciding to leave his parish. He sets out on his cross country desert trek by car only to be stalked by a black truck with an upside down crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror. It’s kind of creepy and has a great shot of the truck rising from the earth as it battles Lance on the open road.
The final story takes up a good third of the 90 minute running time. Titled Night of the Rat it’s the terrifying tale of a married couple and their young daughter who seem to have a rather large rat making it’s presence known by killing their family cat and generally destroying the house. Richard Masur and Veronica Cartwright play the feuding parents who have to fight for their lives when the giant rat goes on a rampage in true Bert I. Gordon fashion.
Cartwright has a wonderful look of terror about her when she calls upon it. Worked well here and in the 1978 remake, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Let’s not forget Alien either.
Apparently these four tales of terror were originally filmed for television but deemed to scary. Subsequently, the footage was padded and released theatrically with the tag line in the trailer…..
“Nightmares, they don’t only happen at night.”
Anthology horror titles can be fun when tied together like the many features Amicus productions put together. Flicks like Asylum, Vault of Horror, Torture Garden and even 1981’s The Monster Club from Amicus producer Milton Subotsky after the Amicus years had come to a close. Then there is the Dan Curtis TV productions we shouldn’t overlook.
In the end, Nightmares is watchable, and of course there is Lance Henriksen, yet I’ll stick to re-watching Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors and the above mentioned titles for my horror films with an anthology theme when I’m in the mood.