Infamous former video nasty “Nightmares in a Damaged Brain” (AKA Nightmare), makes its UK Blu-Ray debut courtesy of 88 Films this month, who have also released it to DVD. Having received my copy from Amazon, thought a review might be in order.
Psychiatric patient George Tatum (Baird Stafford) is released from a mental health facility in New York, after the doctors think they’ve cured him. However, once out he immediately relapses. Plagued with nightmares and hallucinations about a traumatic childhood incident, he embarks on a murderous rampage as he decides to up sticks and head over to Florida, bumping off random women with numerous sharp instruments along the way.
Once there, he proceeds to target a single parent family. Plaguing them with bizarre phone calls and lurking round the yard at night. But as her son is a practical joker, she thinks its him just messing around. Something that they may not live to regret later...
This exceptionally low budget slasher film gained notoriety in the UK when it was listed as a video nasty in the early 80s and the distributor actually jailed because the video he released was 60s longer than the BBFC approved cut cinema version, even though this version was still fairly heavily cut.
The film also infamously got sued by noted special effects expert Tom Savini, after they falsely credited him for doing the effects. When in fact he had only acted as a consultant to the real special effects man Ed French (who himself would go on to work on Starship Troopers).
The film was released onto UK DVD in a more complete form back in 2005, which although passed uncut by the BBFC, was still missing a sizable chunk of footage as it was taken from the edited US R-rated version, as they couldn’t find a copy of the uncut version. The uncut version had previously only been available in the US on a limited edition DVD and VERY limited BD. But the good news though is that this uncut version is now available in the UK from 88 Films, on both BD and DVD.
Now, if you have seen the old US DVD, which came with 3 different transfers of the film, you’ll remember those prints were exceptionally scratched and extremely worn. This version has been painstakingly digitally restored, which has cleaned up and removed the vast majority of dirt and scratches from the print. The disc has been authored from a brand new HD scan, however this appears to have been taken from a 35mm cinema print (the original negatives having long since vanished), which obviously has its limitations in terms of picture quality. So whilst the picture is noticeably cleaner than the previous releases, the Blu-Ray quality is little better than DVD.
Extras included on the disc include
Running audio commentary with Producer Bill Paul, which is actually more of a series of bizarre stories of the goings on behind the camera, than whats going on on screen.
Interview with Tom Ward, CEO of 21st Century Films. - A 2 minute interview with the former distributor of "Nightmare", who talks about the films release.
Terror in Times Square Documentary – Which is essentially just 16mins of Michael Gingold and Tony Timpone from Fangoria Magazine talking about New York's long lost Grindhouse cinema district on 42nd street, which features in the film.
Lastly there’s the US theatrical trailer and a selection of trailers for other titles in the 88 Films catalogue.
Now, the US disc contained a commentary track with lead actor Baird Stafford and Effects artist Cleve Hall, however this disc opts for a new track with Producer Bill Paul. Would have been nice if they’d also licensed the other track for inclusion. The US disc also contained several interviews with the cast and crew, but here all we get is a brief interview with the distributor and a documentary about New York’s long lost 42nd Street Street grindhouse district, which is interesting, but only tenuously connected to the film.
Also, it would have been nice if they’d included the old UK trailer, which is available as its on the old Video Nasties documentary set that Nucleus films put out the other year. Instead, we get the standard US trailer.
To summarise, “Nightmares in a Damaged Brain” is an essential purchase for anyone wishing to complete their video nasty collection and this Blu-Ray (and indeed the DVD) is certainly a very nice addition to the 88 Films catalogue, containing some nice extras and the cleaned up picture is certainly a massive improvement over the old US DVD.
However, it would have been nicer had they included some of the extras from the US release. As it is, its appeal lies mainly in the fact the US BD and DVD are both long out of print. However, owing to the condition of the original source material means I doubt there’s much to choose quality wise between the BD and DVD versions.
*EDIT - Although this version was taken from an "uncut" print of the film, there is still one scene missing, which so far has only been seen on the old Dutch VHS release of the film. In which a young lad is grabbed from behind by the killer in the abandoned house. Instead the scene cuts and you hear him scream off camera. This scene has not been included in any known disc release of the film to date.
Buy the UK BD from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the UK DVD from Amazon.co.uk