Nightmares is a 1983 horror anthology film directed by Joseph Sargent.The film is divided into four different stories:
- Terror in Topanga: Smoking addict Lisa (Cristina Raines) goes out at night to buy new cigarettes, against her husband's warnings (and a radio news) that psychopath William Henry Glazier (Lee Ving) is on the loose. Things go From Bad to Worse when her car runs out of gas.
- The Bishop of Battle: The most popular of the four stories. Arcade whiz J. J. Cooney (Emilio Estevez) is obsessed with beating the eponymous and fictional arcade game. The game is so difficult that not even the best players made it to the 13th level.
- The Benediction: Catholic priest MacLeod (Lance Henriksen) lost his faith following the violent death of a young boy. While driving on a highway, he gets stalked by a black Chevrolet pickup apparently intent on killing him.
- Night of the Rat: A family has a rat problem. The father, Steven Houston (Richard Masur) wants to fix the problem himself. His wife (Veronica Cartwright) eventually gets fed up and calls an exterminator (Albert Kague). Little do they know that the rat is bigger than they thought.
This film contains examples of:
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Terror in Topanga
- "Awesome McCool" Name: William Henry Glazier is a pretty cool name for a psychopath.
- Gas Station of Doom: A woman hears over the radio that a serial killer is on the loose. She naturally goes out to get a pack of cigarettes and stops at a gas station. The attendant perfectly matches the serial killer's description and she gets worried. The attendant drags her out of the car, pulls out a gun and shoots...the real serial killer, who was hiding in her back seat.
- Red Herring: The attendant is not Glazier; the real Glazier is hiding in Lisa's back seat, only to be killed by the attendant.
- Surprisingly Happy Ending: The only on-screen character who got killed was the serial killer himself, and the female protagonist returned home, relieved and rid of the cigarettes she had purchased.
- Twist Ending: See Red Herring. Based on how the scene was played out, the attendant looks and even initially acted like the serial killer, but the real serial killer turned out to be someone else.
The Bishop of Battle
- And I Must Scream: Cooney. It was implied that he was trapped inside the game as a player avatar, ready to be controlled by other players.
- Arc Number: The game has 13 levels. Guess what happened to Cooney when he reached the final level.
- Defictionalized: Still a demo version. Hopefully, in the final version it won't come to life or harm you physically in the thirteenth level.
- Downer Ending: It was implied that the Bishop traps Cooney inside the game. He becomes the new player avatar.
- The Game Come to Life: When Cooney finally succeeds (after having snuck into the arcade in the middle of the night), he realizes that beating the game causes the threats and enemies from within to come alive.
- The Most Dangerous Video Game: One of the earliest examples.
- Schmuck Bait: It is better to lose on the twelfth level.
- "Stop Having Fun" Guys: In-universe, with the players who are determined to beat the game, Cooney included. It doesn't end well.
- Too Dumb to Live: Cooney leaves his gun behind when he enters the parking lot. Then the Bishop comes out of nowhere...
- Trailers Always Spoil: Fortunately, it doesn't spoil the ending.
- Animate In Animate Object: Averted. The pickup was driven by Satan, though he never appears on-screen.
- Car Fu: The pickup is responsible for damaging and destroying the Priest's car.
- Chekhov's Gun: The holy water the Priest took with him (He viewed it as mere tap water) ends up being the item that stops the pickup.
- Dark Is Evil: The pickup is black in color, and is strongly implied to be driven by the devil.
- Daylight Horror: The story occurs during day-time instead of night-time.
- Everybody Lives: None of the characters in the story were killed on-screen. The only shown death was that of a boy who was killed off-screen for reasons not related to the black pickup.
- Jump Scare: At one point, the pickup bursts out from the ground, complete with a loud engine sound.
- Satan: The driver, as implied by the upside down cross hanging on the pickup's mirror.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The pickup blows up MacLeod's car after ramming it several times.
- Surprisingly Happy Ending: No one was killed on-screen, and it was strongly implied that the Priest had his faith restored following this harrowing incident.
Night of the Rat
- All for Nothing: Steven wanted to kill the giant rat. In the end, he puts his gun down and the rat leaves the house, harming no one.
- Bittersweet Ending: A minor case. The house cat was killed and the family's house was damaged from the conflict, but the family themselves were safe and sound, without any other injury or death.
- Monster is a Mommy: The normal-sized rat killed early in the segment was her baby, and its gigantic mother is looking for it.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: The mother rodent is about the size of a young human child.
- Mama Bear: The mother rodent starts wrecking the family's house when she couldn't find her baby.
- Uplifted Animal: The giant rat is so intelligent to the point that she is capable of differentiating between a rodent doll and other dolls, and also communicate her requests to a young girl.