Digi-Schlock: NIGHTMARES (1980) (Severin Films DVD)

No can accuse Severin of going soft on the horror genre.  Their late June slate of releases is totally dedicated to the genre: The Baby, Bloody Birthday and Nightmares (known to some U.S. viewers as Stage Fright).  Nightmares is the least of this lot cinematically speaking but it has aspects that might interest the hardcore cult/horror buff – and thankfully, the disc takes advantage of these aspects via its bonus features.

Nightmares features an anamorphic and uncut transfer of this film, presented in its proper scope-format ratio.  Unfortunately, it’s a PAL-to-NTSC conversion (The Baby and Bloody Birthday have new HD transfers but the element available for this disc was apparently an existing PAL master).  The result suffers from some conversion-related issues: namely, it’s a touch softer in image quality than its PAL counterpart and it suffers from some image “ghosting” on motion (not enough to ruin it but enough to be noticeable).  In terms of audio, it sticks to the original mono soundtrack and it sounds fine.

This disc also includes a nice collection of extras.  Firstly, there is a commentary track that pairs director John Lamond with Ozsploitation expert and documentarian Mark Hartley.  The duo announces a cheerful irreverence towards the film in the early moments of the track and this attitude is maintained throughout as Lamond discusses all aspects of the production and Hartley keeps him primed with questions.  They reveal how one memorable scene was added via a reshoot to perk up the first half of the film and how the American casting call for the lead actress included such future notables as Michelle Pfeiffer.  It’s a lighthearted but informative track.

There is also a featurette on the history of the slasher film featuring Adam Rockoff, author of slasher film history tome Going To Pieces.  He runs the audience through this subgenre’s history in 15 concise minutes, touching on most of the key films as he lays out the slasher film’s surprisingly complex series of cycles.  Hardcore fans will know this stuff but it’s presented in an engaging and fast-paced manner, dressed up with plenty of film clips, and it’s a nice little primer for neophytes.  There’s also a fun trailer reel for John Lamond’s other movies, which include Felicity – another Severin release of a Lamond film.  The package is rounded with three bonus trailers for other Severin horror releases.

In short, Severin has put together a sturdy special edition for a film no one ever expected to get this kind of treatment.  If you’re a slasher film fanatic or interested in Ozsploitation, the bonuses make it worth considering.

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