June 17, 2019 Nightmare Cinema (Movie Review)
Set to hit theaters and On Demand through Good Deed Entertainment as of Friday, June 21st, 2019 is Nightmare Cinema– the newest addition to the vast world of Horror anthologies from Cranked Up Films.
Imagine walking up to the Rialto, an abandoned theater, in the dead of night to watch a film no one has ever heard of. Not a creature is stirring, minus the ghastly-looking Projectionist (Mickey Rourke: 9 1/2 Weeks 1986, The Wrestler 2008) lurking in the shadows above the auditorium as he plays a film with you as the main star. That is the premise of Nightmare Cinema as we watch five strangers forced to witness their deepest and darkest fears play out on the screen.
First, there is Alejandro Brugués’ (Juan of the Dead 2011, From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series) segment The Thing in the Woods. We see Samantha (Sarah Elizabeth Withers: Minolta 2015, Play by Play series) as she is chased through the woods by a crazed man in a welding mask. The segment plays out like a typical teen Slasher flick, complete with excessive blood, a seemingly indestructible villain, and a final girl trope. However, Brugués takes viewers on a journey as things go from 1980’s Friday the 13th to 2006’s Slither in the matter of minutes with the introduction of a strange spider-like creature.
Next is Mirari, directed by Joe Dante (The Howling 1981, Gremlins 1984). This segment follows Anna (Zarah Mahler: Major Crimes series, 9-1-1- series) as she undergoes plastic surgery for a facial scar left behind from a tragic car accident. It starts as a kind gesture from her fiancé David (Mark Grossman: Double Mommy 2016, The Young and The Restless series), who offers to pay for the whole thing in addition to sending her to the “renowned” surgeon, Dr. Mirari (Richard Chamberlain: The Towering Inferno 1974, The Last Wave 1977). Things quickly turn nightmarish as Anna wakes up, bandaged and bruised, with everyone around her being slightly off as they try to keep her in the dark on her “improved look.” In this case, “the price of beauty is high” is an understatement.
In the third episode, Japanese Director Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Mean Train 2008, Downrange 2017) brings Mashit. Set in a Catholic school, we see Father Benedict (Maurice Benard: Joy 2015, General Hospital series) as he and his staff battle a demonic force that’s hell-bent on torturing kids until they kill themselves. The opening scene shows a student being forced to jump from the top of the school, splattering blood over the young students watching from below. From there, it turns into an all-out blood bath, with limbs flying all throughout the school in the final battle between good and evil.
The fourth installment, and arguably the darkest, comes from David Slade (30 Days of Night 2007, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010). Titled This Way to Egress, it is a black & white descent into madness as we see Helen (Elizabeth Reaser: The Haunting of Hill House series, Easy series) in this surreal and bleak metaphor for mental illness. This tale signifies where the film drops the campiness in favor of a more harrowing plot. In this Silent Hill-esque nightmare, Helen begins to rapidly lose touch with reality as she struggles to find her two sons in this psychiatrist office-turned-hellish. This segment is disorienting, as the audience begins to feel as confused and lost as Helen.
Lastly, Horror master Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers 1992, Masters of Horror series) wraps things up with his segment Dead. In this segment we see Riley (Faly Rakotohavana: The Mick series, Raven’s Home series) a young pianist leaving a recital with his parents when they’re all gunned down. Riley awakens in the hospital to discover that doctors had to revive him after he died on the table for 17 minutes. He soon learns that both his parents have died. However, he still sees his mother (Annabeth Gish: Mystic Pizza 1988, The X-Files series) around the hospital. Riley continues to straddle the line between the dead and the living in this heart-wrenching segment. While it plays out like a drama as we see Riley tormented by the loss of his parents, Garris delivers enough mystery throughout the story, with the right amount of terror and blood in the final minutes to make for a satisfying tale.
At approximately 119 minutes, Nightmare Cinema manages to hit just about every-known Horror trope, while offering a simple, yet arguably entertaining plot. Additionally, it pays homage to past anthologies like Tales From the Crypt and The Vault of Horror by utilizing the Projectionist character as a makeshift Crypt Keeper type. In typical EC Comics fashion, Nightmare Cinema manages to combine all of the campiness of Horror clichés with the horror of nightmarish dreamscapes and ghoulish characters that both Horror and non-Horror fans will enjoy. Which is why Cryptic Rock gives Nightmare Cinema 3.5 out of 5 stars.