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John’s Horror Corner: Frightmare (1983), a different kind of slasher movie… that ends up being the typical kind of slasher movie.

January 30, 2023

MY CALL: Just another 80s supernatural slasher that’s just bad enough to call it “bad”, but just good enough not to regret. The highlight for me was seeing a young Jeffrey Combs. MORE MOVIES LIKE Frightmare: For more supernatural slashers with pretty random-style death scenes, consider Superstition (1982) or Death Spa (1989).

If you’re gonna’ talk smack about an egomaniacal actor deep in his tenure, it’s best to make sure he can’t hear you. Shortly after murdering two directors and then faking his own death, horror movie star Conrad (Ferdy Mayne; Warlock II: The Armageddon, Howling II) is abducted by a group of film student fans thinking he is dead. They party around his presumed dead body like Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) until they go to bed, when Conrad rises and stalks about the house. The catch here that at some point during his charade of faking his own death, Conrad actually died and came back with some ghastly powers. To be perfectly honest, I may have been looking at Instagram on my phone and totally missed something. The opening scenes were far from riveting even if nothing was particularly boring about them. Still, with this premise, I was optimistic we’d get a different kind of slasher movie. I was wrong…

From here the movie is like any 80s supernatural slasher with a house full of twentysomethings. They fool around, wander off to investigate a strange noise in the night, get picked off one by one, and die in hopefully entertaining ways. Conrad pulls out a guy’s tongue, goes full Firestarter and makes a girl catch fire and burn to death, uses some rather boring telekinesis, and cuts off a young Jeffrey Combs’ (Castle Freak, Necronomicon: Book of the DeadRe-AnimatorWould You RatherThe FrightenersLurking FearFrom BeyondCellar Dweller) head. The highlight here for me was simply ‘oh, Jeffrey Combs is in this.’

There are other minor (B-movie) actors one may recognize in addition to a before-he-was-famous Combs—Nita Talbot (Amityville 1992, Puppet Master II, Island Claws) and Luca Bercovici (The Granny, Scanner Cop)—and this movie isn’t padding their résumés.

The premise has some charm to it, but the charm is strongest in the early set up scenes introducing us to Conrad, his egomania, and his plans for his own funeral and thereafter. Another aspect of this film that catches my attention is how it opens feeling more 70s era in its stylings. But overall, this is just another among leagues of perfectly passable and just as forgettable 80s slasher-supernatural horror picking off college kids one by one.

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