Nightmares (1983)

directed by joseph sargent

Allegedly produced for NBC TV, though for what, or which anthology series, seems to be in dispute – you can’t trust Wikipedia and I’ve noticed IMDb is far from infallible as well, but let’s ignore for the moment any debate about notions of authority in this exciting modern age – this set of four short vignettes isn’t bereft of effective moments, even if nothing gets visceral or even very threatening, in keeping with its origins. (Aside from the third segment, “The Benediction,” which features some intense moments courtesy of its classic tale of a “duel” on the highway with an unidentified motorized antagonist.) Otherwise, the first segment is piffle, and too short to build any momentum, the second features Emilio Estevez echoing notions of Tron with a ripping punk soundtrack, and the final chapter – which further makes use of Black Flag’s “Louie Louie” – is capped with wild-kingdom FX highly reminiscent of the end of Devil Dog. Strictly for nostalgists.

why did i watch this movie?

It’s one of the “roles” on Lee Ving’s dossier.

should you watch this movie?

The renditions of classic FEAR tunes heard during “The Bishop of Battle” are not the versions from The Record. That’s what I thought upon hearing them, anyway, and the end credits appear to bear out my impression.

highlight and low point

This picture really isn’t that bad, but even for episodic horror it feels slight. None of the tales have any kind of staying power, regardless of content or execution. Honestly, it would have worked far better delivered by cathode ray tube. Estevez is pretty good, Lance Henriksen is solid, Richard Masur is convincing, and the late Bridgette Anderson turns in one of the better
performances you’re likely to see by a 7-year-old.

rating from outer space: C−

XX (2017)

directed by jovanka vuckovic, roxanne benjamin, annie clark, karyn kusama, sofia carrillo
snowfort pictures/scythia pictures/xyz films

Oh hey look, it’s an anthology film! You love those! The hook here is that all four segments are by female directors, and mainly are written by them as well. (The first is based on a story by our old pal Jack Ketchum.) If you are a familiar of the horror anthology film and have seen any of the roughly 2,000 or so that have been churned out over the past handful of years, you no doubt are well aware they are governed strictly by the law of diminishing returns. This one is no different. Of the four chapters, one is effective if burdened by a creaky concept (“The Box”); one is ridiculously derivative of stories in several other anthologies I can think of without much difficulty (“Don’t Fall”); another also sadly lacks in originality and calls to mind analogues in recent compilation films (“Her Only Living Son”); and one is pretty amusing if somewhat predictable (“The Birthday Party”). Each portion is introduced by storebought interrelated stop-motion bullshit interstitial footage. Goddamn, will somebody tell me why I read these spy novels.

why did i watch this movie?

Because I am slow on the uptake, apparently. Go on, Billy, stick yer finger in the flame again! It won’t hurt this time – I promise.

Should you watch this movie?

You should make better use of your time, young woman. Or man. (Insert nonbinary term if preferred.)

highlight and low point

The best part of this collection is the reveal of the full title of part two. That probably says quite enough to wrap this up right here.

rating from outer space: D