Lethal Nightmare - Lethal Nightmare(DVD) [SRS Cinema - 2021]
Lethal Nightmare is another shot of wonky low-budget horror from the Polonia brothers- made back in the early ’90s, and never really released, here on SRS Cinema is a recent region free DVD of the film. And if you know the bros early work you’ll know what to expect here- splattery-to-unsettling gore, woozy atmospherics, and a ton of lo-fi charm/ invention. Though this is not SOV, instead it’s filmed on super 8- which gives the film an older exploitation feel, which at points is very akin to the more wonky ‘n’ deranged work of Andy Milligan.
Lethal Nightmare was made in 1991/ 1992, and is a remake of the bros' early film Hallucinations- which was made in 1986, though didn’t officially release until years later. Both film plots focus on twin brothers and their stepbrother staying in their parent's house and having a series of disturbing Hallucinations. For this film the brothers Ron( Mark Polonia) and Doug ( John Polonia) are joined by their step-brother Christopher( Todd Michael Smith)- and really it’s a beat-by-beat remake of Hallucinations, but with some neat new effect twists, slightly more polished acting, and a more pronounced wonky/ surreally unsettling air.
The bros basically play the same characters from Hallucinations- so John plays the slower-more-childlike Doug, and Mark plays the more confrontational Ron. Smith, who of course collaborated with the bros on many of their early films, plays the moody and snapping Christopher- and he looks rather creepy with his large shades and receding through thick hair- looking rather like a more sinister take on Brian Eno in the late ’70s. On the gore/ effects front, the monk figure from Hallucinations returns- but it looks way more unsettling with long claws and drifting along presence. We get a reprise of all of the key ‘Hallucination’ scenes- and mostly these are improved, or at least more deranged- the only scene that felt slightly less unsettling /effective is the toilet scene, whereof Doug soils, then cough up his guts. The audio effects/ soundtrack here are really effective and more unhinged- as we get wavering 'n' pitch-shifting keys, overloaded Halloween horror effects and wind samples, and ghoulish moans- there’s also a semi-metal moment at one point. On the whole Lethal Nightmare is another worthy early Polonia film, though if you’ve already seen Hallucinations you won’t be too surprised by the flow/ set-up of the whole thing.
Moving onto this new region free DVD, and the print I am afraid is not great even by normal SOV standards. The picture quality is extremely poor- lacking contrast and often murky, but worse of all is the audio which for the first half cuts in and out quite erratically. I guess both add to the deranged/ nightmarish feel, but even for me, a harden SOV fan, it does all become a little trying in places. On the extras front, we get an introduction to the film from Mark Polonia, as well as a commentary track- and as always these are entertaining/ of worth. He talks about how the film was originally going to put out by the same company that put out Splatter Farm, but it went under before it could happen. He comments on the onscreen action, talks about where different film elements come from, he discusses the similarities between the two films and elements he felt improved and more. So another well worth a play track.
I’d say you need to be a more seasoned SOV fan to fully appreciate Lethal Nightmare, due to the poor film/ audio quality. But there’s no doubt the Bros do manage to create a wonderful wonky, at points very unsettling atmosphere with the film.Roger Batty