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April 8, 2016

Movie Review: Frightmare (1983, Vinegar Syndrome)

I’m not sure I can come up with an intro for this review. The premise of this film is just so…beyond ridiculous. I mean, I know it’s from the 80s and cocaine was the driving force of the time, which should explain everything, but I just can’t even.

Frightmare begins with Conrad Radzoff, a big name old movie star who has been relegated to the kiddie table of the acting community - television commercials. The director is sick of Conrad’s fuck ups and berates the legend in front of everyone. Luckily Conrad knows how to handle such situations with grace and dignity - he pushes the director off a balcony to his death.

Like you do.

While the rest of the world may not remember how important he is, never fear. The Horror Society of a local college invites him to a presentation honoring him and his life’s work. This is exactly what Conrad’s ego needs and HOLY FUCK IS THAT JEFFREY COMBS AS ONE OF THE STUDENTS?? Yaaaaasssssss!


Anyway, Conrad collapses at the event and dies shortly thereafter at home. In true flamboyant fashion, Conrad has prerecorded a short film to play at his funeral. As he alludes to returning from the dead, everyone has a good chuckle. The students, since they LOVE him so much, think it’ll be a great idea to steal his body from his crypt and have a party with him.


This stoma is interfering with my smoking.

Only after desecrating the dead does the one girl, Meg, decide this is a very bad idea and contacts Conrad’s widow to let her in on the shin dig. But while she and the cops take their fucking time locating the grave robbers and their prize, Conrad actually DOES rise from the dead and, seriously pissed off (wouldn’t you be?), takes out the students one by one.

Damn this movie was terrible. But in a good way. Any movie that Troma Films or Vinegar Syndrome get involved in usually delivers some wonderful camp. This movie is no exception. Conrad is a grandiose over the top Dracula wanna be, complete with silk cape and cravat and massive ego. His eyebrows alone should have had their own casting credit. The students and the lead detective are stupid and ridiculous and cliche.  The widow and conveniently psychic friend/mistress, though total over-actors, were hilariously fun to watch.

The practical special effects were so much fun. That’s what I really enjoy about ‘older’ horror films. People catching on fire, tongues pulled from mouths, heads chopped and bouncing out the front door in slo-mo (my personal favorite). These are the things I hang around for. Even when they look fake, they’re so much more enjoyable to watch than shitty CGI.

Suddenly there came a tapping...ON MY BRAIN CASE.

What I hated was the sound value. The dialogue was quiet and rather muffled. The sound effects were not so in order to hear characters talking, I risked losing more hearing every time there was a loud bang or explosion. The pacing was uneven. It took forever for the first character to die (not counting Conrad), quickly took out a few more, then sagged as we waited for the cops to catch up, etc. 

But the worst part was this movie felt like it basically stole ideas from Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. Not scene for scene or anything but there were enough similarities to piss me off. Other parts of the writing felt lazy or convenient. No one hears the coffin EXPLODE? Seriously? And is it normal for your friends to disappear for days at a time?


Survey says: Camp plus Lazy Writing divided by Stupidity = average entertainment value. It’s mostly fun.

2.5 Hatchets (out of 5)

(sorry - couldn't find a trailer for this film - just another one of the same name from the 70s with a completely different plot)

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