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NIGHTMARE AT NOON, 1988
Movie Review

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NIGHTMARE AT NOONNIGHTMARE AT NOON, 1988
Movie Review

Directed by Nico Mastorakis
Starring: Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins
Review by Russell Hill



SYNOPSIS:

A villainous albino poisons the water supply of a small town. Soon, the residents begin to turn into zombies that have to be stopped by heroic outsiders and the local police force.

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REVIEW:

Regarded as one of the finest contemporary B-Movies, this side-splittingly funny flick tries to take its narrative seriously but ends up creating a picture which that will easily make you laugh at what unfolds.

At the very beginning of the movie a suspicious looking van led by an albino, who looks oddly like former Presidential candidate John McCain, goes about setting traps for those entering this small town. And the reason why they have set traps? Only a potion for altering the water of the town forever. What could the water do to those who drink it? Only time will tell.

Unbeknown to them, a young couple named Ken (Hauser) and Cheri and a drifter they picked up named Reilly (Hopkins) enter the town in a very expensive looking campervan. However, when they arrive in this small town, they find themselves trapped courtesy of an electromagnetic beam set by the albino, cutting out their engine. Hot and bothered, they find a local diner and order some drinks. Sitting at the counter, a hillbilly sips at some water. Oh dear. Soon, the hick is changed into a green-faced, murderous son-of-a-bitch who begins trying to kill people. He is soon defeated by the three mentioned, and find others are soon acting the same way. They team up with the man in charge of running this town, Sheriff Hanks (Kennedy) and go about killing anyone who looks like they have been possessed and pose a threat to someone. The problem is though; have any of our renegade heroes drunk some of the water? And will they be able to defeat the villainous albino?

Recommended by a work friend, I fortuitously found this in the bargain bin at my local video store. Hyped up by this work friend, who said it was nothing short of outrageous, I was intrigued at what this movie was like. To my joy, I found out the original assessment was right. First of all, there are so many deaths in the most striking manner throughout this relatively short movie. Explosions galore, green blood pouring out of every zombie pore and humour to boot as well.

With the leading actors, I found that I really wanted Ken to become a zombie so that he could then be killed. The acting skills of Hauser were capable of pulling off such a role but the character of Ken himself was indeed annoying and frustrating.

It is the character of Reilly who really is the hero here. As with a number of action movies, he is a stereotypical Vietnam veteran who has an axe to grind and answers to seek. He is the character who I never wanted to become a zombie because a) his shooting skills were that good many a zombie’s head blew up covering any poor sod in walking distance in green goo and b) he was the only main character which I found myself rooting for and not wanting to die. Simplistic as my reasons are, that’s what every protagonist in an action movie should be like (maybe not the zombie reason but certainly the shooting skills are important). Think of other leading actors in Hollywood action movies; John McClane and Rambo being prime examples and I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion as myself. Unlike Ken, Reilly is a man you want to succeed. And it is to Hopkins honour that he does this, and comes off as a combination of McQueen and Bronson. Not a bad thing, that’s for sure.

The other actors cope well with the action, but is the veteran Kennedy who succeeds like Hopkins does. An Oscar winner whilst starring in “Cool Hand Luke” alongside Steve McQueen in 1967, he really does flex his muscles here amongst much younger cast members. Filmed the same year as the first Naked Gun movie, this must have been an entertaining break for Kennedy as he tries so hard to act so sternly amongst the ridiculous action going on, such as a ten-minute helicopter scene which makes no sense whatsoever. But hey, I guess Kennedy was simply running out of money and needed some cash quick but I don’t think he would have been unhappy at his performance here. Unlike what is happening around him, his acting skills never become farcical and this is a credit to Kennedy and the mark of a true professional.

So, what to make of “Nightmare at Noon”? If you’re into the movies of Andrei Tarkovsky or Ingmar Bergman, you might find this movies over-the-top action sequences a bit silly. But, if like me, you prefer a respite from the seriousness of life and just want to laugh your ass off then this movie is for you. A classic recommended for all, especially those who want to put a smile on their face as “Nightmare at Noon” is bound to do that for you.

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