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Film / Nightmares

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Just shut your eyes… and scream.

Nightmares is a 1983 horror anthology film directed by Joseph Sargent.

The film is divided into four different stories:

  • Terror in Topanga: Chain-smoking wife and mother Lisa (Cristina Raines), against her husband's warnings, goes out one night to buy another pack of cigarettes. Meanwhile, TV and radio bulletins have announced that serial killer and escaped mental patient William Henry Glazier (Lee Ving) is on the loose after he recently stabbed a highway patrolman. Things go From Bad to Worse when Lisa's car runs out of gas, and she starts getting paranoid of nearly every man she encounters, believing them to be Glazier.
  • The Bishop of Battle: The most popular of the four stories. Gamer and hustler J. J. Cooney (Emilio Estevez) is obsessed with beating an insanely hard video game at his local shopping mall called The Bishop of Battle. The game is so difficult that not even the best players made it to the 13th level, some people thinking that said level isn't even real. J. J.'s obsession with the Bishop has grown so strong that his grades are dropping, leading his father to ground him. He sneaks out after dark and breaks into the mall to play the game some more, and he actually manages to reach the 13th level. Unfortunately, this results in the game's enemies escaping into the real world, where they can do very real damage.
  • The Benediction: Frank MacLeod (Lance Henriksen), a Catholic priest, suffers a crisis of faith after the pointlessly violent death of a young boy in the parish where he serves. Having lost his belief in the concepts of good and evil, he takes some holy water (which he views as ordinary tap water) and drives off into the desert to do some soul-searching. While driving on a highway, he encounters a black Chevrolet pickup truck traveling behind him. The truck soon disappears, but then begins reappearing more and more frequently, even displaying some supernatural abilities. The truck is revealed be driven by Satan himself, who will stop at nothing to claim the life of the ex-priest.
  • Night of the Rat: The Houstons are a suburban family of three apparently suffering from a rat infestation. Steven (Richard Masur), the father, not wanting his ego challenged or any extra money not going into the swimming pool he has been planning to have built, wants to fix the issue himself. His wife Claire (Veronica Cartwright), eventually gets fed up and calls exterminator Mel Keefer (Albert Kague). Despite thinking that a couple of rat traps can take care of the problem, Steven and his family can still hear sounds of scurrying paws in the walls and the attic. After discovering objects falling off shelves, power cables being chewed, holes gnawed in the walls, and family cat Rosie having been torn to shreds, the Houstons discover that this particular rat is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than they thought.

The DVD was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 1999, but it's currently out-of-print. However, a Blu-ray of the movie was released by Shout Factory in 2015.

This film contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Terror in Topanga 
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: It turns out that the backseat of Lisa's car was where Glazier was hiding.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Lisa is driven mad with fear and seemingly nearly killed by an escaped serial killer all for a pack of cigarettes. When she reunites with her husband, she throws the pack away, having decided to quit and save herself the trouble.
  • Gas Station of Doom: Lisa hears over the radio that William Henry Glazier, an escaped serial killer, is on the loose in her area. Naturally, she goes out to get a pack of cigarettes and stops at a deserted-looking gas station that's open all night. The attendant happens to perfectly match Glazier's description and she gets worried. The attendant drags Lisa out of the car, pulls out a gun and shoots...the real Glazier, who was hiding in her backseat.
  • Red Herring: The attendant, as well as every other man Lisa meets on her journey, is not Glazier; the real Glazier is hiding in Lisa's back seat, and he's killed by the attendant.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: The only on-screen character who gets killed is Glazier himself. The police give the relieved Lisa a ride home, where she reunites with her concerned husband. What's even better, she ends up throwing the cigarettes she went to all the trouble to buy in the trash, implying the experience cured her smoking addiction. Or at least, she's working on it.
  • Twist Ending: As stated above, based on how the scene was played out, the attendant looks and even initially acted like a serial killer, but the real serial killer turned out to be someone else.

    The Bishop of Battle 

    The Benediction 
  • Animate In Animate Object: Averted. The truck is driven by Satan, though he never appears on-screen.
  • Car Fu: The truck is responsible for damaging and destroying Frank's car.
  • Catapult Nightmare: This story begins with Frank having a nightmare where a serpent attacks and poisons a baby deer that he was looking after. He grabs the snake and throws it through the air, where it vanishes, and then begins screaming that it bit his hand before it went, causing him to bolt out of bed clutching his hand.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The holy water that Frank took with him (he viewed it as mere tap water after his faith was shattered) ends up being the very item that stops the truck.
  • Dark Is Evil: The truck is pitch black in color, and it's strongly implied to be driven by Satan.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Frank manages to destroy the demonic truck hounding him, and it's strongly implied that his faith was restored following the incident, as he requests the paramedics take him to the hospital in his parish..
  • Everybody Lives: None of the characters are killed on-screen. The only shown death was that of a boy who was killed off-screen by a pair of burglars robbing the local store.
  • Jump Scare: At one point, the truck bursts out from the ground, complete with a the deafening roar of its engine.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Frank was suffering a crisis of faith and was well on his way to a self-exile. If the driver of the devilish truck is truly Satan, he should've left Frank alone, especially since losing one's faith in God constitutes as a win for him.
  • Satan: The driver of the truck, as implied by the inverted cross hanging on the truck's mirror.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The truck blows up MacLeod's car after ramming it several times.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Considering that our protagonist is hounded by a truck that has Satanic origins, this story is essentially a mashup of Duel and The Car.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The incident that led to Frank's crisis of faith was the death of a young boy, who was pointlessly and cruelly shot by robbers.

    Night of the Rat 
  • All for Nothing: Steven wanted to kill the Devil Rodent as a means of boosting his ego. In the end, he puts his gun down and the creature leaves the house, harming no one.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A minor case. Rosie the cat was killed, and the family's house was damaged from the conflict, but the family themselves are left safe and sound, without any other injury or death.
  • Mama Bear: The Devil Rodent starts wrecking the Houstons' house when she couldn't find her baby.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The normal-sized rat killed early in the segment was the Devil Rodent's baby, and she herself is none too happy to find out her child is dead.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The Devil Rodent is about the size of a young human child.
  • Uplifted Animal: The Devil Rodent is shown to have pretty powerful psychic abilities. She's also intelligent to the point that she is capable of differentiating between Claire's other dolls and a stuffed rat, and also telepathically communicate her thoughts to her.