Nightmare Beach Blu-ray Review:  Somebody Wake Me Up

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to mix an ‘80s slasher with an ‘80s spring break comedy, then Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare Beach is for you. Well, actually it isn’t for anybody because it is a terrible, terrible movie. It wasn’t even for Umberto Lenzi for he swears he didn’t direct it (at least according to IMDB trivia). He was signed on to direct but at the last minute decided it was too similar to one of his other films (Seven Blood Stained Orchids) and begged off the production. The credits name a “Harry Kilpatrick” as the director which everyone has always assumed was Lenzi, but he says it was actually a screenwriter named James Justice. We may never know the actual truth, but when Lenzi, a director who kept his name on such films as Cannibal Ferox, Eaten Alive, and Bridge to Hell swears he didn’t make the film, then you know it has to be bad.

It begins, as spring break comedies do, with an execution. Diablo (Tony Bolano), leader of a biker gang known as the Demons is trapped in the electric chair for a murder he swears he didn’t commit. Meanwhile at the beach thousands of coeds have descended with beer, bikinis, and as much hedonism as a week in Florida can stand. Our heroes, such as they are. are two jocks named Skip (Nicolas De Toth) and Ronnie (Rawley Valverde). Ronnie is all about destroying his brain cells with alcohol and hooking up with any half-naked girl who will have him. But Skip is still bummed about losing the big game where he threw an endless series of interceptions.

Roaming the streets is a leather-clad biker picking up stray coeds for a ride on his ultra-sleek motor cycle, equipped with electrified handles giving us some nicely fried gore to enjoy. Is this killer actually Diablo come back from the dead to seek the revenge he swore he would reap? Stay tuned, dear reader, stay tuned. Or don’t, because really long before you get to the end of this stinker of a film you’ll forget to even care who the real killer is. When Ronnie disappears Skip teams up with Gail (Sarah Buxton), the local bartender who must have a things for mopey guys because she’s hateful to all the muscle-bound ‘breakers hitting on her but immediately falls for Skip who does nothing but play the sad-sack. Together, they wander the town hoping to bump into Ronnie or the killer biker or somebody.

With bodies starting to pile up, the mayor, along with his police chief buddy (John Saxon, making his third appearance in my Halloween horror marathon this year), do some covering up because bikers electrifying coeds on Spring Break is bad for business. They try to frame the alcoholic medical examiner (Michael Parks, who appears for about five whole minutes) but he puts a bullet in his brain before they can get the word out.

Skip and Gail play detective. The mayor and police chief look shadier every moment. The local preacher yells at his wild-child daughter. The Demons fight back against the cops. A sleazy hotel clerk keeps spying on the pretty prostitute through a peep-hole in the laundry room for some reason. And the Spring Breakers throw a wet t-shirt contest. It is all designed to throw the audience off the trail of who the real killer is, but none of it is handled well and beyond the actually pretty-decent gore-effects its all pretty dull and uninspired.

The wave of spring break comedies ended by 1986. In retrospect, none of them were very good as watching drunken coeds isn’t naturally funny. Why Umberto Lenzi (or whoever created this thing) thought that 1989 was a good time to revive it is anybody’s guess. Why he thought teaming it with a slasher film made sense is beyond my powers of thought. The results are not at all interesting.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents Nightmare Beach with a brand new 4K master. Extras include audio commentary from film historian Sam Deighan, an interview with composer Claudio Simonetti (who is a member of Goblin, so that’s something), and the usual trailer.

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Mat Brewster

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