Monday, June 1, 2020

The Good, The Bad, The Gooey

When it comes to action horror sci-fi westerns, you don’t get much more ‘80s than Nightmare at Noon, There’s neon green blood goo, Jeopardy! references, George Kennedy as a sad dad sheriff, and so much more, all in the grainy glory we’ve come to expect from a genre pic dropped on Amazon Prime.

Ladies and gentlemen: load your fanny pack and strap in.

Quick Plot: Somewhere deep in the mountains of Utah, a mysterious albino (seriously: that’s how he’s credited, even if he’s played by Blade Runner’s Brion James) has poisoned a small town’s water supply with some kind of radioactive serum that turns anyone who drinks it into a violent maniac. 

Just down the hills, yuppie lawyer Ken (‘80s stalwart Wings Hauser) and his wife Cheri (Friday the 13th Part IV’s Kimberly Beck) are enjoying their vacation in a luxurious RV when they pick up a hitchhiker named Reilly (first and last name the same). A stop at the small diner introduces them to the first of the green-blooded psychos, and before you know it, they’ve teamed up with local law enforcement for a true cowboy-style shootout. 

Directed by Island of Death’s Nico Mastorakis, Nightmare at Noon is not, let’s say, a coy film. With its red rock mountain backdrop and sweeping score (partially composed by a young Hans Zimmer!), it pulls out every possible stop, from a horseback escape to the classic trope of having an infected team member hide his inevitable downfall from his pals until the grand self sacrifice. This is a movie that fittingly climaxes in a duel…between two helicopters.

When you start with aggressively neon credits that literally whoosh onscreen, your biggest challenge is to maintain that manic energy for 90 minutes. Somehow Mastorakis pulls it off. 

It’s bloody beautiful. Hot green bloody, that is.

High Points
Pro tip: Nightmare at Noon is best enjoyed with the subtitles on, not just for its glorious dialogue but for the fantastically graphic sound listings like “laser sizzles,” and my favorite, “ketchup squelching” 

Low Points
It’s a shame that Cheri gets sidelined so quickly, because Beck has such a charmingly sassy chemistry with everyone else onscreen that the film genuinely loses a little spark when she’s zombieing behind bars

Lessons Learned
The fate of a vigilantes is always death or jail

Contrary to popular belief, one’s ability to negotiate with Twisted Sister does not directly correlate with one’s people skills with rabid mutant junkyard managers named Floyd 

The price you pay for roughing it is microwaved croissants

Nightmare At Noon is a glorious slice of true American cheese. You pretty much have everything you could possibly want from an ‘80s action horror, with a sweaty George Kennedy to boot. Hop to it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment