Twisted Nightmare (1987)
PLOT - A group of former classmates are all mysteriously invited up to a camp site in the middle of the woods that used to be a summer hangout for all of them. This is the first time they have all been together and back there since the tragic accidental death of one of the girl's brother who was mentally handicapped. Once they arrive the reunion seems like the ultimate weekend of partying, drinking, and lots of sex. It isn't long before a massive powerful killer begins slaughtering these young couples off one by one. Who's responsible? Is it a madman, or something supernatural?
LOWDOWN - Just a few days ago I was looking up one of my favorite sequels out of the Friday the 13th films which is of course part 3. I have a top four of so out of the series but in my eyes part 3 will always win the #1 spot due to it's high rematch value, awesome 3D gimmick, memorable kills, and the fact that this is the first entry in the long lasting series that shows teens just vacationing instead of camp councilors. I was bummed out since this month actually had a Friday the 13th, and I was too sick to truly celebrate due to the head cold from HELL! Still, I made it a point while I laid in bed with a fever to still watch this one. While looking up the trivia for it on IMDB and noticed that another horror movie was shot on the same location. I have always loved this ranch. In fact it killed me to learn that it burned down a few years ago. I got a huge kick out of seeing some of the cast re-visit it for Camp Crystal Lake Memories. I swear if I ever won the lottery and had money to burn I would legit rebuild the cabin from there. I think the reason why I love the location so much is because in part 4 The Final Chapter, it features one of the best openings picking up directly after part 3 where they returned to the same location. One of the scariest shots in the entire movie is after all of the police and ambulances leave and Higgns Haven is left in darkness with only the sound of the crickets chirping. Creepy. I love that directors Joe Lynch and Adam Green for their fan commentary noticed the same thing.
Going back to Twisted Nightmare, I saw that this was the other movie that was filmed on the same exact location featuring the same cabin AND barn. Instantly I knew I had to find this movie. Looking it up I saw it was out of print besides a new old VHS copies on eBay BUT the entire movie was on Youtube. I watched this movie over the course of two nights, and really was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Originally this movie was shot in 1982 but got it's video release in 87. I feel that's a huge reason why this movie honestly is one of those lost gems that got mixed up with the countless low budget Friday the 13th knockoffs that were cranked out on video during the 1980's. As we got closer to the end of the decade more and more kept getting released with lower and lower budgets. Had this movie found a proper release back in 82 (most likely shot right after Friday 3) maybe and this is a big maybe it would have gotten more of a cult following. In fact, I'm honestly stunned this hasn't gotten a DVD or blu-ray release. The biggest bummer was A). Having to watch it on YouTube since it was most likely ripped straight from a VHS tape, and B). How grainy and dark the whole movie was. I'll admit that's a huge part of the charm for me, and I constantly still watch my VHS tapes, but this movie looked to have featured some pretty decent effects and due to the low quality I missed a lot of it. But hey, in today's day of age so many movies you would never dream of getting the blu-ray treatment are being released. I wouldn't mind this being part of a movie pack, but it def deserves a second life, and to be shown to horror and slasher fans. I think today due to the 80's nostalgic that is in full swing it would find it's audience.
The movie is cheesy, and even seems to have bad dubbing. The dialog is AWFUL, but hey, this movie clearly knows what it is and gives zero fucks. The acting is pretty iffy, and at first the large cast makes it a little overwhelming to keep track of everyone, but it's the perfect 80's slasher. This was a fun watch. It has a great location that we all know and love, and a pretty decent story. I love how this is a reunion for this huge group of friends (who are all basically 7 or so couples.) how two years before one of the girl's Laura who was a stunning lead with those big bright eyes, brother Mathew played by Cleve Hall who was mentally retarded died in a mysterious accident and how his body was never found. Yes, him wandering into the barn, and then bursting out completely on fire seemed a little far fetched, as well as the fact they never found his body. I mean really? They could have at least shown him stumbling into the lake to put himself out to make the missing body a little more believable but like I said, this script isn't about to win any awards anytime soon. I love how almost like House On Haunted Hill, all of the friends are invited, as if they won the weekend, having no idea who was behind this entire thing to bring them all together. There's some laughable moments, 80's T&A, but a pretty cool backstory that makes the entire thing creepy. I loved how it took place over the course of the weekend, and like I said it's a shame the film was so dark since some of these deaths looked pretty decent (arms being torn off, face going down on hot sauna rocks, ax/knife going through head.) Would love to see the footage cleaned up as well as the uncut version. This seemed to be shot on video and some scenes cut away before the actual money shot. The black kid (am I'm just saying this because honestly I have no idea who any of the characters' names are besides the two leads) but he had me DYING. Love how he's singing "I feel good" and falls into the lake. That dialog was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Or how him and his girlfriend go to the sauna with the other couple only to be macking it all together half naked. Ah, the 80's.
What makes this movie stand apart from so many other slashers is the reveal mid way through that this has strong supernatural elements. That there is actually two killers in this movie. That Laura, the sister of the boy who died has snapped and is actually the person responsible for gathering everyone together that weekend for revenge. Unlike so many other tales of revenge like the first Friday the 13th, this isn't someone crazed seeking bloodshed for their lost loved one. We learn the camp is actually on a cursed Indian Burial Ground, in which the grounds keeper tries to warn everyone about. That Laura is using black magic to summon the horribly burned spirit of her dead brother, who now is a powerful unstoppable monster to kill all of her friends who were supposed to be watching him the day he died. Here she summons him over and over again to brutally killed them one by one. I loved the scene of Laura alone in the bathroom, lighting on the candles, before going into the shower, and cutting her thigh to summon Mathew only to have one of the girl's become trapped in the ice house. Right away you know she's the villain and does such a great job hiding it. My favorite scene hands down has to be the sauna massacre where one girl gets her face cut off (looked like a decent effect for the two seconds we see it) and the boyfriend struggling and fighting with the killer as the awesome 80's score is blasting only to get raised up and about to be lowered onto the hot sauna rocks. (Would have loved to see the final kill there.) Here it fades into the fireplace and Laura's huge beautiful eyes.
The sheriff's death/woman scream is amazing, as is the other kills. The pacing for some would say is drawn out but I really liked it. I even loved the little "Silent Night Deadly Night" death where a girl gets thrown up and impaled sideways on antlers. Beyond awesome. It's such a shame we never truly get a good look of Mathew. The makeup looked really great, and he was like this massive Universal Monster X 1000. The final barn scene with him and Laura is beyond unsettling but knows how far this sister would go to seek revenge for her poor brother. It has a great ending, and left me pretty stunned by how much I liked it.
Is it amazing? Eh, not really? Is it a fun slasher to watch with friends? Hell yes. I'm for sure looking to buy this baby on VHS to add to my collection. So if you like slashers, the location from Friday 3, 80's cheese, and horror, you will LOVE Twisted Nightmare!!!