Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Frightmare (1983)

Non-graphic murders in horror movies like strangulation, drowning and gassing should be forbidden. A badly executed graphic murder scene is still a graphic murder scene. Frightmare does not have any scenes involving drowning, but are still guilty on all accounts of skipping gory deaths. This is of course a sin as big as any other cinematic sin when it comes to making a genre movie less attractive for a bloodthirsty audience. It's a pity, because Frightmare is quite good and ambitious compared to others in the same sub-genre.

Ferdy Mayne (what kinda name is that anyway, Ferdy?) plays Conrad Radzoff, an aging horror star stuck in crappy TV-commercials and making appearances at film festivals and conventions. That don't stop him from suffer from extreme megalomani. After collapsing at a university, during a Q&A, he retires to his home and decides to take revenge on his old director, and then he dies. A couple of the students from the university attends his funeral and decides to kidnap his corpse and party with it all night long, which is of course a very bad idea. With the help of some black magic Conrad Radzoff comes alive again and starts hunting down the kids having fun with his dead body!

Director and writer Norman Thaddeus Vane creates a good-looking movie with a story similar to the better and bloodier 1987 oddity Bloody Movie. In one of the parts we see a very young Jeffrey Combs, who got cast because he had the same hair-colour as the fake head being used in a not so interesting decapitation later on in the movie. It's easy to see that he got himself a long career, charisma all the way and a lot of talent on display.

I love movies, especially horror movies, set in the world of horror movies. It's always a pleasure and gives the filmmakers opportunities to make references to good movies, actors and other filmmakers. I guess that was the plan with Frightmare and Vane really makes a good job with the visuals and some sly in-jokes. Conrad Radzoff seem to be based on the legends: Cushing, Lee, Karloff and Price and Mayne makes a good job both spoofing and celebrating their careers and personas. The scenes are filled with fog and smoke, spooky staircases, a big mansion, graves and nicely lit night scenes - but something is missing. First of all, it's hard to understand why Radzoff wants to take revenge. He might be crazy, but obviously has some sense of humour and would probably never be that angry if someone stole his body. The other thing is the lack of creative kills.

I never understood the point of making a bloodless slasher. Why the f**k would someone want to do something like that? Even of the murder-set-pieces are nicely done, they are weak and has no power at all. A tongue-ripping is obviously cut and the decapitation is sloppily edited and filmed in complete darkness. The rest is non-graphic kills: strangling, gassing, someone getting hit by a coffin and dies that way, etc etc.

With some gore and blood Frightmare would have been a lot better, a lot more entertaining. Because you can never fool fans, slashers aren't high art - they are Grand Guignols of teen angst.

No comments: