Nightmare Beach

With a motorcycle madman who retrofits his ride with an electrified trident to zap unlucky spring breakers, Nightmare Beach is indeed quite a nightmare — even if few of the kills take place amidst the sun and sand for budgetary reasons.

College students are going missing in fictional Manatee Beach, a city that’s also dealing with the scourge of the Demons biker gang, who wear patches identical to the yellow font used in the Lamberto Bava film of the same name.

The gang terrorizes the local hang-out, Nick’s bar, but this is in no way a call out to It’s a Wonderful Life. What is wonderful though, is this movie, a giallo / slasher pastiche that squeezes out silliness like sunscreen.

There’s a wet blanket college football star, Skip, who distinguished himself in the Rose Bowl by flinging interceptions like a blindfolded Baker Mayfield (or hell, a sighted one). Despite the surfeit of 80s beach babes, cheap booze and pelvic thrusting, Skip simply can’t get into the Spring Break spirit. His buddy Ronny does, chasing skirts like there’s no tomorrow, and eventually falling prey to the masked motorbike killer, who also garrotes his vics when his ride is double-parked.

Unfortunately for Manatee Beach, the only thing standing in the way of both the bikers and the antagonist, is the glowering toupeed presence of law enforcement, John Saxon in a role not dissimilar from his part in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Suffice it to say, it’s up to the non-star quarterback to see what’s up and find out how to stop the worst thing to happen to the state of Florida since Ted Bundy (or maybe Ariana Grande).

There’s so much to like here. There’s the set piece nuttiness of Umberto Lenzi efforts like Nightmare City, a cochlea-pricking soundtrack of knock-off Sunset Strip metal, and naturally, a bevy of babes.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[check out the Really Awful Movies Podcast discussion of Nightmare Beach!]

 

Pieces

Although clearly Europe, the purportedly Boston-set slasher, Pieces, does take the viewer to another place entirely.

(For 80s gore-heads, Bean Town is the setting for the fairly pedestrian slasher, Night School, filmed in the city’s Beacon Hill neighbourhood).

Like other slasher masterpieces from the era, Pieces whets appetites with a delicious prologue and a nudie puzzle-obsessed kid who wastes his mommy all in the first five minutes.

When the authorities arrive, no need for any further forensic investigation, as they just take the word of the child.

Fast forward into adulthood with the nature-nurture problem solved, and Timmy is back to his murderin’ ways, attacking coeds on a campus in a string of set pieces that are more bush than Ivy league.

Pieces then lives up to (or down to) its name depending on one’s perspective, with a couple of whiz-bang gruesome chainsaw killings, and a Red Herring in the form of a leering, cross-eyed college groundskeeper, Willard (such is the level of sedateness / quietude at this particular institute of higher learning that the school’s Dean himself, rather than an underling, is responsible for hiring the gardener and negotiating his contract!)

The real hilarity ensues when genre stalwart Christopher George (City of the Living Dead/Grizzly/Graduation Day) wanders in as law enforcement, with an oft-repeated gag about him needing a cigarette lighter that is as dead in the water as this pic’s vics. Rather than put out a notice to the study body that there are student bodies piling up, he hatches a plan to have one of his colleagues go undercover as a varsity tennis coach! (played by Linda Day, real-life missus to Mr. George).

Suffice it to say, there’s a lot to “love” about the embarrassing strokes (the cast members weren’t quite adept at racket sports). The crowd’s reaction to the matches, and women who the Williams sisters could best with just their backhands, is priceless.

Still, as some wag on Instagram put it, this is the finest Italian, Spanish, Puerto Rican production they’d ever seen! A total blast.

*** (out of 5)