Five strangers end up in an abandoned theater where a strange projectionist (the one and only Mickey mother fuckin’ Rourke) shows them some fright flicks that contain each of their deepest fears. Thus begins Nightmare Cinema; the latest arcane anthology that weaves five terror tales balls deep in the ol’ horror biz!
The first story is titled The Thing in the Woods (directed by Alejandro Brugués) and it begins with us thrown directly into the third act of a slasher picture already in progress. Our spunky final girl is on the run from the wicked Welder (and his implements of bodily harm) who has managed to kill nearly all her friends. Unfortunately for that masked maniac, our heroine is more than capable of putting up quite the fight…and then something turns this already pitch-perfect stalk n’ slay pastiche into a real thing of beastly beauty.
Full of great grizzly gore, excellent shifting of paradigms, and an ability to bring some laughs with the lacerations; Brugués’ piece is one hell of a strong start to these putrid proceedings!
Next we get Mirari (directed by the always awesome joltin’ Joe Dante); the tale of a scarred woman named Anna (Zarah Mahler) who agrees to go under the knife of smooth-talkin’ Dr. Mirari (Richard Chamberlain). Of course this being a horror film and all; her stay in Mirari’s hospital is anything but pleasant and she soon learns it isn’t nice to fool with mother nature!
We’re two for two here my faithful fiends as this segment includes some fantastic practical effects work, strong acting, and a solid Twilight Zone aesthetic!
Following that comes Mashit (directed by Japanese horror maestro Ryûhei Kitamura). This yarn concerns a Catholic school that has fallen head over asshole under the sway of a seriously bad-news demonic entity that has it’s talons sunk deep into the student body…and it’s up to a psychic nun and a priest with a sword to set things right.
Full of copious amounts of gore, grievous harm brought unto (possessed) children, demons, lurid lighting, an off-kilter (yet hard rockin’) score, and a sense of the holy contrasted with that sweet, sweet blasphemy; this is simply the best ’80’s Italian fright flick never made in the ’80’s…I absolutely LOVED this segment, and would put it head to head with classics such as Lamberto Bava’s Demons or Michele Soavi’s The Church. Pure perfection!
Following that we get This Way to Egress (directed by David Slade) which details a woman’s visit to her doctor…a visit that rapidly descends into hell on Earth!
Think that sinister synopsis was a tad brief? Let me lay this on your ass: imagine if Shinya Tsukamoto directed Silent Hill from a script by David Cronenberg. Yeah, you bet your ass that’s awesome as fuck…and that is exactly how this segment plays out…all organic weapons, decay, and deformity! Absolute genius through and through…now, let’s see if we can stick that landing…
Finally we come to Dead (directed from horror biz mainstay Mick Garris…who also directed the wraparound segments). A young lad finds himself in the hospital after being shot during a mugging that left his parents dead. As fate would have it; he soon begins communing with the recently deceased after being resuscitated on the operating table. hopefully these preternatural powers will serve him well as that miserable miscreant that nearly did him in makes the scene to finish the job!
Full of suspense, a decent amount of blood n’ gore, and a very strong lead actor in Faly Rakotohavana as our hero Riley; Garris delivers a solid supernatural shocker with plenty of suspense…just don’t expect any of the full-on insanity present in the previous four segments.
Bottom line; Nightmare Cinema is a creepy collection of sinister stories that really satisfies (for the record my fav segment was Mashit followed closely by The Thing in the Woods and This Way to Egress), and I highly recommend it to all you horror hounds! Why are you still reading this…go watch this fright flick dammit!