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Frightmare (1983) - Blu-ray Review


2 beersWith a plump fleshy tongue planted firmly in its teeth, Frightmare is a fun and puzzling little flick hailing from 1983.  This dusty horror gem is certainly not a waste of time and, as it achieves much more than it has any right to on its small budget, should be lapped up proper-like by any legitimate hound of horror.  The problem lies in its stop-and-start delivery.

But before we get to the momentum-killing roadmap let’s talk about what’s good with the picture.  Starring Ferdinand Mayne as aging horror star Conrad Ragzoff, Frightmare concerns itself with corpse stealing and a punkish prank turned on its head.  The fictional career of Ragzoff is not unlike that of Boris Karlogg’s.  He is known more for the monsters he played than he is for his talents.  He takes it to heart and, upon his passing, has a videocassette recording of himself warning any visitors to his tomb: Do not disturb or else!

Meg (Jennifer Starrett), Saint (Luca Bercovici), Bobo (Scott Thomson), Eve (Carlene Olson), Donna (Donna McDaniel), Oscar (Alan Stock), and Stu (Jeffrey Combs in his debut) do not heed his warning.  These drama students go for the ultimate prank and decide to steal the corpse and, you know, have a Weekend at Bernie’s time with it. 

Turns out that the joke is on them … and it is a deadly one. 

Written and directed by Norman Thaddeus Vane, Frightmare was never meant to be seen by the general public.  The audience for this slasher-like movie is very limited.   Most of them will only be paying attention to Ferdy’s tech-loaded tomb and his picking off of the teenagers as they dim-wittedly find a means to their own individual end at his cold hands.

But getting to those scenes is a bit of a chore.  Much of the movie just plods along that you lose interest by the antics of teenagers with too much time on their hands.  The expected hormones are all inflamed and, s Ferdy is an equal opportunity killer, no one is safe.  Even the virgin.  Of course, with little characterization, there’s just little to gain from actually paying attention to the “who said” what and why.  Just get to the killing already.

Look, the plot is a great one and it is almost enough to make this one matter but, sadly, there’s just not enough time spent on characters for you – regardless of your horror taste – to give a damn.


[tab title="Film Details"]

Frightmare (1983) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
86 mins
: Norman Thaddeus Vane
Norman Thaddeus Vane
Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux
: Horror
There is no escape, not even death
Memorable Movie Quote:
Vinegar Syndrome
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 9, 1983
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 29, 2016
Synopsis: Drama students decide to pay tribute to their favorite horror star by stealing his body from his crypt for a farewell party. They fail to realize their violation of the tomb has triggered powerful black magic, and Conrad hasn't taken his final bows yet.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

Frightmare (1983) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 29, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Region-free

Want to know the limits of high definition?  Anything shot in soft focus or with a waxing filter of some sort.  Much of Frightmare is plagued with an extra unintentional sheen that comes from the use of these stylized soft focus techniques.  The 1.78:1, 1080P presentation of Frightmare from Vinegar Syndrome is a decent one but Joel King’s stylistic lighting – good for stage and very illuminating – doesn’t exactly inspire crispness.  This is normal for the era but is oh so distracting when it comes to watching things unfold.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mix does a fine job with the dialogue and the score.



  • Once called the greatest writer in Hollywood, the commentary track with the film’s director is really one long extended interview.  It’s a solid listen and is a good move considering that this filmed interview might have been a bit tedious to watch.  There are two other commentaries, as well, one with David Del Valle and David DeCoteau and a final one with The Hysteria Continues.

Special Features:

Three commentaries aren’t enough?  Also included with the release is an interview with cinematographer Joel King, an artwork gallery with 20 images, and a theatrical trailer.

  • Joel King Interview (20 min)
  • Trailer


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