Director – Norman Thaddeus Vane (You’re So Dead)
Starring – Ferdy Mayne (Conan the Destroyer), Luca Bercovici (The Granny), and Nita Talbot (Puppet Master II)
Release Date – 1983
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Tagline – “The ultimate nightmare”
When I was in high school I would visit my brother and his family in Tennessee anytime my Dad would let me. My brother was 12 years older than me so while I was growing up he was out raising a family of his own. During my visits his wife would take me to Blockbuster where I could rent movies that my local ma and pop shop didn’t have. One movie that I was able to rent that I had never seen was Re-Animator. This was one of the few VHS tapes left at Blockbuster at the time and it looked insanely fun. This spawned a love for all things Lovecraft, Gordon, and Jeffrey Combs.
Since then I have tried to collect everything of theirs that I could. Recently, my friends over at Vinegar Syndrome released the film Frightmareon blu. The film is known for starring a young Combs before Re-Animator. I had the film on DVD but never opened it but I thank Vin Syn for sending me the updated blu to check out.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a group of kids who break into a cemetery to find their favorite horror actor who recently passed. They find his tomb and steal the body in the dead of night. They take his body and coffin to an old mansion that may have been the location for several horror films that Conrad, the horror star, was in. They spend the night drinking it up and propping up Conrad’s body in silly poses until they pass out. During the night the police find out the body has been stolen and Conrad’s widow sees a psychic to find her husband’s body. Her power brings Conrad back from the dead and he starts killing those that took his body one by one.**Spoiler Alert**
Frightmare is a film that actually confused me a bit before I actually bought the Troma released DVD. I was under the impression that Frightmarewas a 1974 horror film but when I was buying up Jeffrey Combs flicks I came across this one. When I learned it was originally titled The Horror Star I could not figure out why the film’s title was changed. The original was so much better and this blu release has the reverse cover to show that original title and artwork.
The acting in this one is fantastic. Ferdy Mayne is brilliant as horror star Conrad. He was amazing and channeled his inner Vincent Price and John Carradine. This is a name I am shocked was not more known considering how great he was in this role. The remainder of the cast , including Jeffrey Combs, offers up some great performances but their characters are very flat and not very memorable. This was a fault in the writing and not the cast’s fault. They can only do so much with their roles when their is a character as flamboyant as Conrad.
The story for this one is pretty fucking fun. The dead horror star killing fans in a slasher manner was pretty damn clever. It did leave room for some dry scenes but it pretty much cruised along as a steady pace. Finally, the film has several on screen kills. Most are are funny and clever while others were lacking imagination. Horror from the 80s was known for their kills but this one dropped the ball somewhat.
Overall, Frightmare is a solid early 80s horror film that oddly pays tribute to horror stars of yesteryear that were sadly out the door by this time. The film has a fun story and a great cast. The kills are nothing special but they do offer up some entertainment value. I recommend this one.
2K scan and restoration
Joel King Interviewer
Director Norman Thaddeus Vane Interviewer