Image Entertainment // 1989 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // April 11th, 2003
Coming out alive is a victory
The whitest man in the world (he's an albino -- get it?) sets up shop in his super sweet high tech van (complete with quadraphonic stereo and self destruct button) on the outskirts of an original Stuckey's rest stop, Canyontownville BFE. After listening to a kick ass eight track of "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group (because he's an albino -- get it?) ,he proceeds to poison the hillbillys' drinking water with a vial of Nickelodeon gak. The minute the retarded residents imbibe the brackish brew, they turn all green (and it ain't from envy). Feeling the need to spread destruction and mayhem, these rejects from the Dr. Seuss' sequel Bartholomew, the Oobleck and an Uzi set about stabbing, shooting, and scaring the pathetic population of the small town. The sheriff is too constipated to do anything but lurch about in intestinal distress, and his deputy dog daughter is a floundering reject from the gang that couldn't shoot straight. So as the marauding maniacs render their victims pale with terror (because he's an ALBINO!!! -- UNDERSTAND!?!...oh wait...), it's up to a runaway cop, Winger's whizzed off lawyer (who is also named Wings -- weird), and his halter top challenged wife (who learns that experimental nerve tonic and silicone just don't mix) to save this Podunk paradise from a Nightmare at Noon, or maybe 12:23. But if they don't hurry up and figure this fracas out, our pasty purveyor of all this panic will get away squeaky clean (because he's an alb...oh, forget it).
Nightmare at Noon, the delightfully deranged action thriller from Nico Mastorakis and Omega Entertainment, is out to do two things and two things only. Mind you, they do both of them very well, but there is not even an attempt at any other aspect to modern moviemaking. They do not create believable characters or craft a clever, tight sci-fi screenplay. They just can't provide scenes of complex action or dire suspense. And no, there's not a chance in Chaucer they will manufacture believable zombie killers or authentic high tech gadgets. No, you see, Nightmare at Noon is all about SHOOTING GUNS and BLOWING STUFF UP! YEEEHAAAW!!! That's right folks! Break out your Anarchist's Cookbook and dust off the membership to the NRA, because this lunchtime lunacy is a mindless celebration of the meat and potatoes joy of discharging gunpowder. MASSIVE QUANTITES of gunpowder. If the Chinese could have imagined, a few hundred centuries ago, that the mixing of saltpeter with charcoal and sulphur would result in such a saleable commodity (especially to the effects stunt crew on Nightmare), they would have hop singed their hinders down to the local patent office for a trademark on the mayhem maker, in perpetuity. This is one completely wigged out motion picture that, honestly, wants nothing more than to celebrate the explosion, be it from a rifle, a car gas tank, or George Kennedy (another kind of methane reservoir altogether). When last we left Greek director Nico Mastorakis, we were wiping the layer of sleaze off our corneas after being subjected to his cinematic cesspool known as Island of Death. Obviously attempting a kind of direct to video atonement for his previous misdeed, he decided to cut out the emotional middleman and offer the action fan what they truly crave. THAT'S RIGHT -- DANG BLASTED GUNS GOING OFF AND GOBS AND GOBS OF STUFF BLOWING UP!!! WHOO BUDDY!!!
There are actually a couple of high quality moments in what is basically a love letter to Alfred Nobel and his superfly TNT. There is a sequence where Kennedy, his daffy daughter, that oddly monikered Wings Hauser, and Little Peep's Daddy Bo Hopkins (isn't he related to Anthony somehow?) walk down main street, Western style, watching as all manner of murderous pandemonium detonates around them. Daddy's little deputy also has a nice scene where she chases down a murderous mother tormenting her should-have-been-Newt baby girl with a bloody butcher knife. And both the drive-in showdown and the helicopter chase at the end have a decent action aggression to them. But really this is just a "hope they rent it" retail product, devoid of even the smallest amount of cinematic sense. Logic leaps out the window like Michael Jackson's progeny, as the tiny western enclave at the center of all this silliness possesses that most wonderful of all cinematic non-realities: guns that never need reloading. Characters in this film uncork several trillion rounds of metal projectiles, and magically (obviously with the help of Second Amendment zealot pixies) they can simply squeeze the trigger and always find more. Canyontownvillecity is also the home of the arsonists' ultimate amusement, the volatile inflammable victim. Every time someone crashes a car, falls to the earth, or is thrown from their motorcycle, they are accompanied by a huge fireball, like the umlauts on a German verb. It's all part of the film's fixation with conflagration and shrapnel. Some lover of mindless government conspiracy sci-fi sprinkled quasi Dawn of the Dead-head air rifle ridiculousness may get off on the bad script, worse performances, and lack of narrative closure. But if you simply sit back and let the chemical bombasts pontificate, you will get your C-4 rocks off.
Image and Omega Entertainment create a wonderful, if decidedly strange, DVD package for this film. First, on the cover art, it is called "The 2003 Version." What, exactly does that mean? Does it have something to do with the year the film was released to DVD? Are their alternative versions out there with even more dynamite induced detonations? Clarity would be nice -- the kind of clarity one gets (segue!) from the anamorphic widescreen image. Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Nightmare at Noon's pyrotechnical permutations are offered in an exceptional transfer. Sadly, the concussion bombs blasting off every 1.786 seconds onscreen do not create a scintillating aural package. After one or two subwoofer rumbles, you'll quickly grow bored. But the most unusual aspect of this DVD is the choice of bonus material. First, you get an in-depth filmography of all the major players here. If you think you've seen Wings or Bo before, you'd be right, since they seem to be a bit player in every single film ever made in the last 20 years. Next is a screen offering six 4 to 5 minute trailers of other titles either associated with or made by Mastorakis. A couple of them (Grandmother's House and The Time Traveler) sound more alien than the music of Fred Lane. But the final extra is the most disconcerting of all. Called The Films of Nico Mastorakis, Part II, it has nothing to do with Nightmare at Noon (which appears in Part III (!) apparently), but is instead a continuation of a self-produced documentary by the director, chronicling his vast career. While entertaining, it's like picking up a copy of Carrie, reading the part where her classmates anoint her with pig's blood, and then putting it down, left to wonder what came before or since. Unlike the movie it's attached to, this featurette needs the preceding piece to add narrative clarity. But there's no need for plot development in Nightmare at Noon. As long as there is plenty of nitroglycerin, blasting caps, and .45 long slides with laser sighting, this non-stop barrage of boom-booms will cause even the most hardened action fan to explode with guilty pleasure delights.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Part II of the Documentary Featurette The Films of Nico Mastorakis
* Omega Entertainment