Nightmare Weekend (1986)

There are some movies where it comes as no surprise that Troma films decided to distribute the film, even though they didn’t actually make it.

I mean who else in their more or less right state of mind would ever decide to distribute a film like Nightmare Weekend?

I’m not sure there is any right way to even begin to describe this bizarre mess of a film.  So we might as well start at the beginning and go from there.

After a brief introduction in which two men break into someone’s estate and try to connect a device to a satellite dish, only for a hand puppet to kill one of them with a flying silver ball…

Look, don’t expect me to explain everything.  It will just take forever that way.

…We find a group of young girls who are making a bit of money by volunteering to take part in a scientific experiment.  They try to bring another friend, Jessica, with them, but she can’t come because she’s planning to spend the weekend with her scientist father.

Mind you, she’ll get there eventually because it is Julia, her father’s evil assistant who invited them.  and she hasn’t told him about it because he doesn’t think his mind-altering device is ready for human trials.

And then…well the film throws in some odd subplot about a local bar, whose hangers on will get drawn into the experiment — or become victims of those who do.  There’s an oversexed tough guy who likes to multitask while playing pinball and will soon incur the wrath of the hand puppet, a young housekeeper who is terribly afraid of spiders, a vicious killer dog turned into a docile pet by the machine, and a nearly lethal Coleco Turbo game.

Oh, and a lot of softcore nudity and sex.

Not to mention the people who get turned into drooling, horrible zombie mutant things…

Part of the explanation for the strange nature of this film is that the Director, Henri Sala, had a long career churning out softcore exploitation films and brought what he knew with him when he was asked to direct a horror film.

But that doesn’t quite explain the presence of George.

You know, the hand puppet?

Now we know Jessica’s father created George to keep her company because he was spending so much time on the sciencey stuff, and while he may look like a hand puppet, there is some sort of electronic device which serves as his base, and he is limited to operating from that one spot on Jessica’s dresser.

However, he clearly has intelligence and some degree of independence, and can tap into the house’s computers or the security system any time he wants.

He is also passionately devoted to Jessica and will do anything to protect her.

Including blowing people up, or crushing them under garage doors.

He also seems to have some sort of grudge against the evil assistant, Julia, and enjoys playing intense pranks on her, which wreck her car and nearly get her killed.

The silver ball is smaller than you are imagining and doesn’t have any spikes sticking out of it.  It is generated by the Doctor’s machine, usually out of something taken from the victim, but we never really learn too much about either the machine or the ball.  It acts like a pill which forces itself upon its victims, but also does a lot of damage to some of them.

And it flies around.

But I suspect you’d guessed that.

Hidden in the background there is someone who wants to buy the doctor’s mind alteration machine, although we never learn who or what they want with it.  It really doesn’t matter as it is just a placeholder to give us some reason for Julia’s actions.  Frankly, while I can see that the machine might possibly be helpful for therapy, it still sounds like a dangerous piece of mad science no matter how earnest your desire to help others might be.

But I suppose that has a lot to do with the fact that most of Julia’s experiment involves people killing each other after she turns the machine up to eleven.

And one of the strangest parts of all this is that the scientist who created the thing hardly seems to play a part in the proceedings at all.  In fact, for all that Julia kept her experiments secret from Dr. Brake, he seems remarkably unconcerned once he does find out.

Although, to be fair, he does suggest that she should stop.

Oh, well.

What a strange mess of a film!  Nightmare Weekend has all the logic and coherence of a nightmare, with a lot of things which just seem to happen without really bringing the plot forward — like the whole subplot involving the bar.  Its mad science doesn’t make a lot of rational sense, and it’s hard to imagine how it turns a stray set of keys or a few hairs into a lethal killer ball.

But then, I don’t suppose anyone cared about whether it all made sense, and perhaps its strange lapses reflect several aborted attempts to get the film made, or directions not taken.  I don’t know.

Nightmare Weekend isn’t just a bad film: instead it is a goofy, inexplicable mess which was clearly made with a certain amount of basic skill and actually looks quite good for a low budget film.

Let alone a Troma offering.

I don’t know.  I can’t exactly recommend it, but I don’t regret watching it either.  Many of you out there will enjoy it, and you’ve probably guessed who you are already.

So if you think it sounds like your kind of transcendently bad movie, then by all means check it out.

You might not regret it.

You never know…

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