This week's VHS is Bruce R. Cook's 1989 horror Nightwish.
Four undergrads and their professor get more than they bargained for while searching for paranormal activity at an old mansion.
I remember watching this as a teen, but remembered absolutely nothing about it other than it starred Liz Kaitan and Brian Thompson. I realize now my lack of recall was due to the fact that the movie was largely dream logic nonsense. I feel Cook wrote the beginning and the end with the middle being shot on the fly.
It was very hard to get a handle on, as it flowed along untethered for most of the running time with threats varying from spiders, demons, aliens and ectoplasmic tentacles. Throw in a couple of cringe-worthy mentally challenged characters for good measure and you've got yourself a party. A really uneven and confounding party.
Thankfully, Nighwish did offer a few positives. Kaitan's appearance was a welcome one, as she was always one of my favourite SQ's back in the day. Clayton Rohner was on hand, even if this was the least substantial of his eighties horrors. Perhaps most significant was Brian Thompson as Dean. I feel like he was given free reign to do pretty much whatever he wanted here, as I can't imagine his roadkill bloodlust, looping tribal music and unhinged demeanor were all in the script. Dean was a terrible person, but the movie was such that his parts were among the most palatable.
|Elizabeth Kaitan as Donna in Nightwish|
It should also be mentioned that this was one of KNB's earliest projects, perhaps even before Berger, Nicotero & Kurtzman adopted the moniker. As you would expect, the work was solid, but sadly often underlit so it couldn't be fully enjoyed.
Nightwish was a not a winner. Given the ending, I'm sure the lack of logical sense was intentional, but that also didn't make it particularly engaging either. It may have made a decent Outer Limits episode, but as a feature, not so much. But, then again, eighty-seven minutes of Kaitan, Thompson and KNB is still better than a kick in the jimmies.