Blu-ray Review: Nightwish (1989)

September 20, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Young Donna (Elizabeth Kaitan) finds herself menaced by ghouls… but the whole scenario is in actuality a (as yet unsuccessful) sleep experiment involving the utilization of dreams to predict one’s death run by a college professor (a scene chewing yet still somehow low-key Jack Starrett, who some of you cats n’ creeps may recognize as the director of Cleopatra Jones and the ‘Peter Fonda against vengeful Satanists’ gem Race With the Devil) and four students, of which ol’ Donna is one.

Anyhow, the Prof and his charges schlep (courtesy of the van belonging to a completely over-the-top, bongo solo lovin’, psychopathic Brian Thompson) out to a creepy farmhouse where seances were held years prior… and naturally is located in the middle of nowhere, to conduct experiments involving contacting the supernatural.

Of course that idea is what one may say is “completely fucking horrible”, and soon our gang are up to their tits in terror trouble including cartoon snakes, a ghost kid, and the Prof.’s brutish man servant Stanley (Robert Tessier channeling Tor Johnson) to name but a very few… then things get completely insane as reality decides it isn’t really needed here. Gore ensues.

I distinctly remember walking by the VHS release of Nightwish roughly 4,568 times in my days as both a patron, then an employee of various video stores located within the bucolic mountain town in which I lived my misspent youth. Walked by, and never rented. I remember thinking it was going to be a Flatliners rip-off, and I never gave a single damn about that flick. I was a dumb-ass… about Nightwish; Flatliners can still go scratch.

To think, I could have been enjoying all of the nightmare logic and gooey, practical effects (realized by the legendary KNB, so you know that shit is tight and outta sight) this baby has to offer for years instead of for the hours it’s been since I watched it tonight.

Nightwish is pure ’80s video store decadence; it’s got a tit or two, makes zero sense, and looks like a million bucks with all of it’s lurid comic book color, otherworldly creatures, and imaginative sets (all created on a budget Hollywood wouldn’t even blow their nose on).

Add into that those whacked-out performances I mentioned above and a story seemingly crafted by a lunatic (apparently writer/director Bruce R. Cook is a teacher these days according to the anecdote-packed audio commentary on this Blu provided by Unearthed Films main man Stephen Biro and the film’s executive producer Paul White) and you got a fright flick sure to please any horror hound that digs on the more fever-dream side of the sinister spectrum!



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