I didn’t intend for my next two choices in the marathon to have a theme, but it turns out they do — they’re both Australian horror films in which the action happens on the set of a play or movie. One was terrible and one was pretty great — and the great one is not the one that features the most naked people.
1. Nightmares (1980). Directed by John D. Lamond. Starring Jenny Neumann, Gary Sweet, Nina Landis, Max Phipps.
(Warning: this trailer is in no way SFW.)
I have a growing fondness for ’80s Australian horror. It’s often a little campier and makes less sense than American ’80s horror, which makes it twice as fun to watch. Nightmares, which also goes by the title of Stage Fright, is the epitome of that description. It takes the “sex is bad and will get you killed” theme typically found in horror films and amps it up a notch or two. And it features what I call the “Trinity of Ridiculousness” of early ’80s horror: over-the-top acting, unintenionally hilarious dialogue, and bizarre editing. It also doesn’t bother with very much of that pesky exposition that helps the viewer understand what the hell is going on — it just gets straight to the killing. So, if you’re in the mood to watch a film full of gruesome murders of naked people tied together by the loosest of plots and featuring an actress hamming it up so much, you’d think she was the main course at Christmas dinner, then this is the movie for you.
Also, this film features a score composed by Brian May. No, not that Brian May — this one.
2. Cut (2000). Directed by Kimble Rendall. Starring Molly Ringwald, Kylie Minogue, Frank Roberts, Jessica Napier, Stephen Curry.
The first thing that drew me to this movie was the fact that it stars Molly Ringwald. I had seen her in the Cindy Sherman-directed horror/thriller Office Killer and thought she turned in a great performance, so I was eager to see how she would do in this Scream-esque Australian slasher flick. When I found out that it also features Kylie Minogue (though just barely), I was even more intrigued.
This is a perfectly satisfying, totally enjoyable modern slasher with a clever plot: a group of film students decide to finish making a horror film that has been abandoned for years due to the fact that members of every cast and crew that has worked on it have been murdered. Once they start filming, the killing begins again. Meta horror made even more meta. The villian is a perfect mix of Freddy Krueger and Michael Meyers and pulls off some pretty inventive kills. And Ringwald is great as the high-maintenance actress who originally starred in the film-within-the-film and returns to finish it, against her own better judgement. I would love to see her do another horror movie soon because she has a real knack for the genre. Of the flicks I’ve watched so far in this marathon, this is the one I’ve enjoyed the most.