Frightmare (1983)

06/15/2023 08:21

Film: Frightmare

Year: 1983

Director: Norman Thaddeus Vane

Writer: Norman Thaddeus Vane

Starring: Fredy Mayne, Luca Bercovici and Nita Talbot



This is a movie that I heard about through podcasts. I most likely got this confused with the one from the 1970s and just had the title on my list of movies to see. I do know that Duncan from the Podcast Under the Stairs brought this one up on a podcast in fairly recent memory. I was curious to as what we would get here since the title is great.

Synopsis: when his loyal fans decide to steal his fresh corpse from the mortuary to party with it all night long, a true horror film star returns from the grave as a ghastly bloodsucker, bent on revenge. At least, will he spare his followers?

There are elements of that synopsis that are correct and others that I don’t feel fit. Regardless, the star is Conrad Radzoff (Fredy Mayne). He’s akin to a Vincent Price or Christopher Lee. The opening sequence is him shooting a commercial and butting heads with the director. I like that we see how unbalanced Conrad is. He pushes the director off the balcony, killing him. It looks like an accident though.

The movie then shifts over to a college. Conrad is there to make an appearance thanks to a horror movie society. This consists of Saint (Luca Bercovici), Meg (Jennifer Starrett), Eve (Carlene Olson), Bobo (Scott Thomson), Donna (Donna McDaniel), Oscar (Alan Stock) and Stu (Jeffrey Combs). Conrad has a heart attack. Back home, he talks to Wolfgang (Leon Askin) who is a director that helped make Conrad famous. Conrad’s wife is also there, Etta (Barbara Pilavin). Conrad tells Wolfgang that he wants to make his funeral a spectacle. There is pent up animosity with the director that we see after the actor passes.

Our group comes to the funeral. They also get the idea as the synopsis said to steal the corpse as a prank. They also want to party with him. The news gets back to Etta that her husband is missing. Mrs. Rhomer (Nita Talbot) comes over to the help and does a ritual to find the body. What this does is wake it up from the dead. The coffin explodes and that is when our group of teens are picked off one by one.

That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to the story. Where I want to start is that this is an odd little movie. It plays like a slasher film. I thought it was a good touch to set up that Conrad isn’t a good guy. His fans love him and he does like that he is respected. It is when he’s talking to Wolfgang or the other director that we see his bad side. He also doesn’t like people coming into this crypt to steal his body. It does feel a bit contrived that he would have these videos pre-made, but he is a narcissist though. I can work around it.

Then to delve a bit more into this being a slasher of sorts. It falls in line with being supernatural since Conrad is dead. I don’t recall him being a vampire or a bloodsucker of any sorts. He did play a vampire, but that it is. I do like though that Conrad was a horror movie star. It is given that he was classically trained and knew other great actors. He had a lot of success in horror, but he feels he’s better than that. He is a diva so it feels like this might be mocking Marlon Brando a bit. I know that he became difficult later in life, like Conrad here.

Since I’ve talked about this being a slasher, we get a solid number of characters for this villain to kill off. I think that the deaths we get there are good. I know there’s one that gets his tongue ripped out. Another that is bashed against a wall with a casket. I don’t want to go through them all, but on the whole, they were good. I did have an issue with one just using gas, but I digress. I’d say that the effects were decent. They went practical which I appreciate. It was interesting to see Troma’s name at the beginning. I do think they just did distribution.

I do need to go over to a negative though. This movie was boring. I struggled to keep my attention on what was happening. Part of it is the satirical nature. Looking at the horror genre with a meta approach can be effective when it is done well. I don’t think that is done here. They also try to make Conrad be witty and almost like Freddy Kruger in those respects. All that did was take me out of it and I didn’t necessarily laugh either. It doesn’t do well with building tension either which didn’t help.

Where I’ll then go will be to the acting. Mayne is solid as Conrad despite me not liking the comedy. I think he hides how evil he is in life so when he comes back, I think they should have went darker. He can handle it from what I saw. Bercovici, Starrett, Stock, Olson, Thomson and McDaniel were all good as this group of friends who are the victims. Also with them is Combs and he’s solid in this early role. Pilavin, Askin, Talbot and the rest of the cast also round this out for what was needed.

All that is left to go into would be with the filmmaking. I think that the cinematography we get here is good. It doesn’t do anything that makes it stand out, but there were no issues. Same goes with the soundtrack. We get to hear voices that match missing friends, so I did like that. There is a good atmosphere with this mansion the society uses as almost a fraternity or sorority. The graveyard with the crypt is also a good setting that we use a few times.

In conclusion, there are good elements here. They don’t come together well enough though. I thought that Mayne was good as our villain. My issue there is the comedic approach they have him take. The rest of the cast is solid with special credit to Combs and a Talbot appearance. The effects worked, I just wanted more of them. I also like the setting and there weren’t any issues that I had with the filmmaking. This just was a struggle to keep my attention as I found it boring. I’d only recommend it to fans of supernatural slashers or quirky movies of the 80s.


My Rating: 5.5 out of 10