Monday, January 3, 2022

Bike-mare Beach


The snow might be falling. The temperature is dropping. We're thick in the dregs of 4PM sunset and the winter blues but damnit, that's why film exists as an escape. You want fantasy? You want saltwater breezes and carefully curated tanlines? We got this. Throw on your best fire red mesh t-shirt. We're going swimming.

Quick Plot: It's spring break  - 

Sorry, required reaction when those two words are spoken

- in the wilds of Florida when a biker named Diablo convicted of multiple homicide is executed via the electric chair. His crew insists Diablo was innocent, but when his body disappears and the murders resume, tensions rise higher than the tan lines you get from an above-the-waist thong.

Enter Skip and Ronny, two failed college football would-be stars who come to town to party. Ronny quickly becomes the mysterious Maybe-Diablo's victim, prompting Skip to team up with a bartender named Gail to solve the crime.

And WHAT a crime! This isn't your stabbing, machete swinging slasher. CHILD'S PLAY Nightmare Beach says to that! Our killer, you see, rides a juiced up motorcycle with its very own pop-up electric chair built into the passenger rear.

It. Is. Metal.

This is the kind of sleazy beach slasher that lacks even the restraint it takes to keep a woman's wet, nipple-showing top on during any of its MULTIPLE wet t-shirt contest time fillers. Directed by the aptly named James Justice (aka Harry Kirkpatrick, but James Justice is SO much more fun to say) after Umberto Lenzi lost a battle with the producers, is certainly one of the stranger slashers to battle it out on the shelves of your beloved VHS rental store. Naturally, I mean that in the best of ways.

You get bikers that feel like refugees from the bar in Pee-Wee's Great Adventure. John Saxon shifting his eyes as a dishonest cop. Murders far more creative than anything Jason Voorhes could cook up. And best of all, an actual point to the killings that genuinely does tack on an actual theme to the glorious chaos of the 90 minutes that came before. What more can you ask for from a cheap '80s slasher?

High Points
I'm a simple, simple woman, one made exceedingly giddy by such filmmaking decisions as "let's use as many dummies to simulate murder victims as possible." Folks, Nightmare Beach uses a LOT of dummies, and the world is a better place for it

Low Points
This is a very dumb thing to be mad about, but in such a glorious chunk of low quality but delicious cheese, I find it perfectly valid to be most angry that the token PRANKS guy (you know the type if you've watched any horror or horror-adjacent film from the '80s) who CONTINUES to throw on prosthetics and pose himself as dead even AFTER multiple homicides, just doesn't get NEARLY a painful enough or grand demise. This is a guy who dons greasy fake bullet wounds IN A PUBLIC POOL FOR GOODNESS SAKE, and yet all we get is the discover of his actual real body, while our most lovable character (the ridiculously cheerful and savvy sex worker) is brutally set fire to before our eyes

Lessons Learned
When you're 18, you can do what you want

Men were telling women they'd be prettier if they smiled since at least 1986, though back then, the price of such assholery was a cruel and immediate death

Less a lesson and more a question to keep you up in the middle of the night: who's dumber? The PRANKS guy who does the fake-Jaws shark swim on a crowded beach, or the police officer who fires his pistol at the water?

Nightmare Beach is gloriously steaming on Kanopy, the free-through-your-library service more commonly associated with educational documentaries and Criterion releases. What a time to be alive folks. What. A. Time.

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