Nightmares (1983)

Like a bad dream I somehow remember this film from the early 80’s.  There was a number of anthology films going around at this time (Tales From the Darkside, Tales From The Crypt, The Twilight Zone). For some reason I remember a major segment of this film that has followed me throughout my adulthood, and that’s the segment of the guy who gets sucked in to the video game.

It reminds of things I shouldn’t be doing in my childhood, like going to the local arcade at 10pm when I was….oh 11 years old?  My brother would take me and I knew it was something I shouldn’t be doing, but it was also something that wouldn’t harm me.  That’s the feeling of watching horror films.  They’re not real…but sometimes they affect you in a certain way.

The film is broken up in to 4 segments; A woman runs out of gas on a dark evening and must escape a maniacal Gas Station Attendant.  Emilio Estevez tries to break a high score on an arcade game called Bishop.  A priest deals with loss of faith as he is stalked by a pickup truck, and lastly a family battles a giant rat….which kind of makes no sense at all.  The majority of the film surrounds Estevez’s story, and part of me wishes they would have just made that the film.

If you look at Nightmares only as an anthology it will no doubt get lost in the pantheon of other film anthologies that have come before and after it.  However, some of these segments could have been broken out on their own as films.  It’s a film that seems somehow ahead of its time, but segmented unnaturally as well.

It feels unnerving almost like if you were watching 80s pornography, or perhaps Masterpiece theater as a child.  It doesn’t fit at times, and that’s what makes it most enjoyable watching it 35 years later.  It’s a bit of nostalgia, along with a bit of anxious adolescent viewing.

And you know what’s interesting, is that I see these types of films making their way to the small screen as anthology TV shows once again.  It was something that was done so well on shows like Tales From The Crypt, and the short-lived Nightmare Cafe to name a few.

Grade: B- (though Estevez segment gets an A)

A+ for the poster

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