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WRITTEN REVIEW: Nightscare

By MATTHEW STEWART
I feel like looking for bad movies is both a rewarding, and highly dangerous thing to put oneself through. For one, it tests your mettle as a viewer and there is the outside chance that your preconceived notion will be shattered by the fact that you might actually like the movie. On the other hand, you have the chance that you just wasted 80-100 minutes of your life and as a reviewer you need to make the wasted time worth it in writing a review. Granted, this can also be dangerous because the first thing you’d like to do is rip the film because you feel betrayed in that it wasted your time, but at the same time you put yourself in the situation of watching the movie in the first place. See the conundrum. This leads me to my first film in the The Seven Levels of Netflix Hell series; Nightscare from 1994, starring Craig Fairbrass, Elizabeth Hurley and Keith Allen.

“Because your question searches for deep meaning, I shall explain in simple words.”
–Dante Alighieri, Inferno

Also known as Beyond Bedlam, Nightscare is about an experimental drug that is being tested on a dangerous criminal named Gilmour (Allen). As well as being used on Gilmour, it’s also be used by Dr. Stephanie Lyell, played by Hurley. After a series of mysterious suicides in Stephanie’s apartment complex, top cop with a past, Terry Hamilton (Fairbrass), is on the case. Needless to say a nonsensical plot begins that involves Gilmour, Stephanie, and Terry and the ability of Gilmour to enter people’s minds and kill at will. If I went any further I feel like I would only confuse you.

The first thing you’ll notice is the cover art. The claim is quite braggadocios, stating, and I quote “The best horror film since ‘Hellraiser’.” Now, to insist that a film is better, or even in the same ballpark as Hellraiser is pretty ballsy. Considering the source of the quote is from Empire, a British film magazine, and the film is in fact, British, can also raise a red flag. I’m not saying that Empire isn’t a quality film magazine either, it’s quite good, but I’m certain there is some hyperbole to this quote.


This was the press screening in 1994.

Nightscare is a mish-mosh of Hellraiser, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Ghost in the Machine and maybe even a little Shocker. It’s all over the place and really tries hard to create and maintain suspense, but the cheesy acting, needless shocks, and pseudo-science make the film very hard to take seriously. Despite an interesting ending, the damage is done for the most part as the film trips and stumbles numerous times over the course of its 90 runtime.

From a stylistic standpoint, I like the look of Nightscare. It’s moody and atmospheric, and you can see the influence of Hellraiser in several scenes, and the character of Gilmour actual reminds me of Pinhead, sans white makeup and pins. I will say, the DP looks like he has a love affair with gels, namely blue, and fog. Usually the use of fog is a cheap way to hide incomplete or cheaply made sets, but for a mid-90s horror film, it’s used decently.


Gilmour wanting.....more?

Overall, Nightscare is a pretty tough sit even with a relative short runtime. I will say that Hurley is pretty easy on the eyes, as she usually is, and even in one of her early roles, she knows that she’s simply paying her dues in this film. It’s not easy for an actor to deliver a performance when a film is this bad. The one saving grace outside of Hurley, which I just mentioned, is the production design, who gives off an “Elm Street” boiler room-type vibe, but even that isn’t enough to make up for everything else that is wrong with Nightscare.

During the late 1980’s and early to mid-1990s, we got a lot of these types of films; serial killers who are either killed or incapacitated and suddenly had the power, either through science, computers, or an other-worldly source, to attack us at our least vulnerable. It all started with A Nightmare on Elm Street and its sequels and continued through the 1990s with films like Shocker and Ghost in the Machine. It was a pretty bad time for horror. “Elm Street” worked because of both its elaborate kills, effective premise, and of course the main antagonist, Freddy Kruger. With Nightscare we have Gilmour, an antagonist that we know very little about, and with the lack of character development throughout the film we’re left to assume that he’s a pretty bad dude, but he simply comes off as a third-rate Freddy with a British accent.

Is this film worth your time? Normally I would say no, but every film has its day, and as difficult as it was to sit through this film, I did it. As I said earlier, you always take a gamble when watching a movie. I knew what I was possibly getting into, and Nightscare didn’t let me down; it was a typically lackluster mid-90s horror film that is easily forgettable. There are a few good ideas, and some of the “dream” sequences are interesting, but if anything stands out it probably Craig Fairbrass’ rippling pectorals.

“Hope not ever to see Heaven. I have come to lead you to the other shore; into eternal darkness; into fire and into ice.” –Dante Alighieri, Inferno


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes a motion picture is only worth one. Simplistic Reviews gives you a minimum one word review from avid film buffs Justin Polizzi, Matthew Stewart and DJ Valentine. If one isn't enough, you can read on and enjoy their further analysis of the film or television show. Simplistic Reviews is, for lack of a better word, GOOD.

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