Thursday, 19 September 2013



You certainly can't fault Umberto Lenzi's pseudonymous 1988 teen slasher on the grounds of lack of incident - there's an execution, a biker gang, grave-robbing, an alcoholic police doctor, John Saxon as a corrupt cop, a beach full of horny teenaged halfwits on Spring Break, a peeping tom, an imbecile practical joker, a ranting priest and a homicidal maniac whose signature method is electrocution via a customised motorbike. However, you can certainly fault it for being thoroughly shoddy: badly acted, badly written and far more interested in hot teens in their swimwear and cretins looking to get laid than the mechanics of the daft slasher plot.

Following the legally questionable conviction and execution of a motorcycle gang leader (the gang is named The Demons, apparently after the Lamberto Bava movie by the look of the logo on their jackets), a maniac is cruising the streets on a motorbike that's been customised with an electric pillion seat, frying hitch-hikers in a shower of sparks. The mayor and the cops don't want a panic because it'll scare away all the kids who've turned up for spring break, so they cover it up, dump the bodies out of town, threaten any troublemakers and arrest someone else with no evidence, even as the bodies pile up and a TV crew sits outside. Has the evil biker leader somehow survived his electrocution, autopsy (a legal requirement), embalming and burial? If it's not him, who?

It's only when one particularly horny teen idiot is killed, and his best mate teams up with an initially frosty barmaid (the sister of the girl for whose murder the biker was executed in the first place) that the movie picks up a bit, but it's still more interested in the wild and crazy spring break antics than the slasher and coverup plots. Nightmare Beach is still three parts Porky's to one part Friday The 13th and that's not a satisfying ratio (unless of course you just want to see sex-crazed teenagers behaving like morons). The ultimate "blimey, it was XXXXXX all along?!?!?" revelation of the maniac's identity is utterly ridiculous in that you almost expect the line "...and I would have got away with it too, if it hadn't been for you pesky kids!".

Maybe back in 1988 it might have played better than in the more sophisticated 21st century, but I don't think so. By that point even the big slasher franchises (Jason, Michael Myers) were winding down with poor films stripped of their gory money shots by the ratings boards on both sides of the Atlantic, and we'd had more rotten slasher movies than anyone should ever feel compelled to trudge through. And even by the desperately low standards of rotten slasher movies, Nightmare Beach is third-rate, uninteresting fare. One to avoid, which isn't difficult given the lack of UK distribution.


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