Appellate Judge Tom Becker's nightmares come on Monday mornings.
Full Disclosure 1: Despite my general love of cult films, I really haven't seen a lot of Jess Franco's work. This is because…
Full Disclosure 2:…what I've seen has pretty much left me cold. I don't mind exploitation—in fact, I generally embrace exploitation—but Franco's exploitation seems somehow desperately exploitative, and his violent scenes are more gross and/or silly than scary or disturbing.
I'll admit, I'm basing this assessment on a small selection of Franco's films—minute, really, when you consider the extent of his work. I thought maybe older Franco would be a better bet, and in fact really enjoyed The Awful Dr. Orlof, which Kino Lorber/Redemption recently released and I recently reviewed.
So I thought I'd take a blind shot at Nightmares Come at Night. I ignored the idiotic title—which sounds like a Mad magazine spoof—and took to heart a few mentions of the film that Tim Lucas made in his commentary for Orlof.
If The Awful Dr. Orlof piqued my interest in Franco, Nightmares Come at Night effectively squelched it.
It's the story of exotic dancer Anna (Diana Lorys, from Orlof) who falls under the spell of a woman named Cynthia (Colette Giacobine, What the Peeper Saw). Anna and Cynthia have lots of sex, and Anna dances nude. Anna also has nightmares, which come at night, causing Cynthia to call a psychiatrist (Paul Muller, Nightmare Castle), who also comes at night.
There's all sorts of sex and naked dancing, and Anna, who if she had a personality would likely be described as emotionally fragile, talks endlessly to the doctor about her relationship with Cynthia. Around 20 minutes before the end of the film, we see clips of another couple in a nearby apartment. They turn up for no apparent reason and don't interact with Anna, Cynthia, or the doctor. Around 10 minutes before the credits roll, this new couple—who are even more boring than the other group—basically gives away a big secret that the non-plot has apparently been hinging on, and then we get a bunch of idiotic carnage and the word Fin. Roll credits.
It's impossible to convey just how tedious this film is, what with its lustful descriptions of topless dancing and group sex, but there you have it. It's a dullard.
A big part of the problem is that, evidently, Nightmares Come at Night was really two different projects banged together. The scenes with the couple in the apartment were apparently from a separate project from the bulk of the film; its main interest (besides spelling out an otherwise obscure plot point) is the appearance of Franco muse Soledad Miranda.
While the film itself might be, at best, an acquired taste, Kino Lorber/Redemption has certainly done a nice job with the disc. The transfer seems a bit hit-or-miss; it's certainly not a clean, clear high-def image. Given the film's crazy production history, that's to be expected, and Redemption helpfully includes a featurette describing the restoration. Unlike many restoration demos, this is actually an essential supplement as it offers a lot of background on the film.
Elsewhere, there's an informative and valiant commentary track by writer Tim Lucas; a featurette detailing the production and distribution of this film as well as another "lost" Franco film made around the same time, Sex Charade; a featurette that was on the Orlof disc, "Jess! What Are You Doing Now?"; and trailers.
Redemption has done a great job on a disc for a film that's not all that great on its own. Franco completists will be thrilled with this release, but casual viewers…not so much.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
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