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John’s Shamefully Bad Horror Corner: Nightwish (1990)

April 26, 2012

MY CALL:  Watched alone, this will be a shamefully regrettable experience.  Viewed with friends and your favorite adult beverage, this has the potential to bring you closer to your friends via bad movie-ness.  IF YOU LIKE THIS THEN WATCH: John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987) is similarly bad in theme, but bad-done-better to achieve so-bad-it’s-good status.

If you’re in the market for impossibly silly, non-existent technical jargon from a movie that manages to jam elements from every major horror genre into one, compact, 96-minute movie…at the expense of making sense or having an actual story—then this lobotomizingly mind-numbing flick is for you.  Were it not for the unnaturally forced inclusion of frequent gore then this couldn’t have even qualified as a horror movie rather than the visualized mental shavings of a paranoid schizophrenic.

Everything unnatural that could possibly be out to get you is in this movie: zombies, malevolent aliens, oozing mutants, inbred hillbillies, disturbingly retarded people, mad scientists, evil Satanic spirits, psychic energy, séances and summoning, ectoplasmic entities, torture, over-sized mongoloids and melting corpses.  The result of so much single-serving content is a compilation of cluttered scenes delivered with no more sense or sanity than that of a sprayed roach.  That said, clearly lovers of cheesy horror idiocy will be nothing but pleased.

The story—if we’re being so bold as to call this a story—follows a graduate student-mentoring university academic who researches something radically unfundable but somehow manages to rally grant money to support the latest in mad science.  This professor and his four brow-raisingly good-looking graduate students have been practicing guided dreams called visualizations.  During these visualizations the goal of the dreamer is to utilize their own worst fears and envision their own death.  So far they haven’t been able to do this.  Why they would want to is beyond me and isn’t explained in the movie at all.  I guess they’re abnormal psychologists?

The students are an interesting bunch and include the attractive Elizabeth Kaitan (Twins) and the muscle-bound Brian Thompson (Fright Night Part 2).

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So the blatantly creepy professor arranges for his students to visit some dank mini-mansion to investigate paranormal activity.  This sounds an awful lot like John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987).  And why do they suddenly seem to be paranormal psychologists?  What happened to the whole dream-studying deal?

Of course, this house has a history of demonic presence, Satanist medium tenants, and a “psychic pattern…” whatever that means.  The students set up all their spirit-detection gear—really they’re rather well-equipped ghost hunters and not dream clinicians—like in Insidious, Grave Encounters or Paranormal Activity, then they sit and wait for some creature from beyond to visit them.  No, that’s literally what they do.  They sit and wait—AND IT WORKS!!!  As if it happened there every night, doors randomly slam about and some ectoplasmic slug-snake-thing emerges from the fireplace.  They are all way too calm about it.  Even the chick who freaks out and dematerializes the slug-ghost with her purse seems fine ten minutes later.

 Cue the green-glowy shit!

They take some photos.  There’s something weird about them.  They do a terrible job of explaining it.  Get used to it.  Nothing goes explained in this random flick.  There are suggestions of mass hysteria to explain various horrific sightings.  They do a terrible job of explaining that, too.  The students are charged with monitoring each other for irregular behavior because their “data” must be impeccable.  However, we don’t know what their data is supposed to be.  What happened to studying dreams!?!  They’re not even sure if they’re hallucinating or encountering a supernatural force!

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Is a girl this hot really into science or is it just the séance magic?

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The events of this flick somehow make less and yet less sense.  Some little boy’s ghost dies.  Wasn’t creepy—just stupid.  We learn a little history about the kid—pointless.  They attempt a “summoning” while shackled.  Yeah, ‘cause if I was going to summon a creature from another dimension I’d consider it to be the responsible decision to manacle myself in front of this likely-to-be-pissed entity.  The summoning is a farce at best.  They draw a star on the floor, light a candle, simply wait around for a while, and then a green cartoon cyclone appears while the professor utters some deplorably bad dialogue.

Yeah, that’s the movie.  Horrible when viewed alone but, in hindsight, this probably would have been really fun with beer and some friends.  Group mockery can be so fun.  So if you watch this, do so with many well-imbibed friends.

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