Friday, October 22, 2021

saxon violence.

I know it's October and the weather's bad so as way of a treat I thought I'd review a film with a beach in it to remind you of sunnier days.

You're welcome.



Nightmare Beach (AKA Welcome To Spring Break, 1988).
Dir: Umberto Lenzi (or maybe Harry Kirkpatrick).
Cast: Nicolas de Toth, Sarah Buxton, Rawley Valverde, Lance Le Gault, Michael Parks, John Saxon, Ben Stotes, Kristy Lachance, Gregg Todd Davis, Yamilet Hidalgo, John Baldwin, Luis Valderrama, Fred Buck, Debra Gallagher, Turk Harley, Christina Kier and Tony Bolano.

"welcome to spring break, the annual migration of the idiot".

Welcome to the B-movie Blackpool that is Manatee Beach, Florida where badboy biker Roger 'Diablo' Whittaker (Bad Boys and 2 Fast 2 Furious 'star'  Bolano) is about to be electrocuted for the murder of the local teen Betty Tilsley.

In attendance are the towns patent bastard of a police chief Jeff Strycher (John 'my illustrious career' Saxon), town coroner and part-time alcoholic Dr. Willet (Twin Peaks Jean Renault himself Parks) and the - Very - Reverend Ralph Bates (TV stalwart Le Gault) alongside the murdered girl’s big sister, Gail (the brilliant Buxton, best know as Debbie in Primal Rage).

As he's dragged kicking and screaming toward 'Old Sparky' Diablo pleads that he didn’t commit the (bad) murder and that it was actually Strycher that did it and ran away but alas no-one seems to care and the switch is pulled as the greasy biker boy is executed.

But not before he promises to return from the grave and exact his revenge.

Yup, seems legit.

"Are you looking at my bra?"

But who really cares about such trivial matters when it's time for the town to transform into a hotbed of sex, booze and bubble perms for the annual Spring Break celebrations?

Not any sane scriptwriter that's for sure.

And it's at the local hotel where we first meet our hero for the next 90 minutes -  college football star Skip Tinkle (latter day film editor De Toth, who comes across like a slightly less charismatic Jai Courtney if that were possible) and his pal Ronnie Spector (Valverde, best known as Santa Barbara bad lad Amado Gonzalez) who are all set for a week of having the sex with a variety of ladies.

Unfortunately Skip is too upset to think about girls as he missed a penalty or something during his last football game meaning that everyone keeps telling him that he cost them money and that he's a bit shit.

Which if I'm honest is way more character background than we usually get so we should really be grateful.

So as Ronnie does his best (R rated) Slater from Saved By The Bell impression, Skip sits dejected in the local bar where he catches the eye of Gail, who's happy to finally meet someone who doesn't try to grab her (albeit peachy) arse whilst asking for booze.

Yup he's a proper gent.

Gail: Tuesday.

Feeling pretty pleased with himself for giving Skip such a great backstory, writer James Justice (or is it 'director' Harry Kirkpatrick under a different name?) throws caution - and logic - to the wind by introducing all manner of other backstories and sub plots including a rat-like pickpocket who’s fleecing all the students and a fright-permed practical joker who's attempts at humour involve everything from pretending to be dead in a pool to swimming around in a home-made shark suit (no, really) alongside the Reverend’s flat-faced daughter Rachael (Gallagher) who would rather get pissed and have 'the sex' with anyone who smiles in her general direction than go to church and don't forget the 'lovely' Kimberley (Kier in her only film role outside the ones her uncle made when she was a kid) who’s on a mission to find fat old (rich) men to fuck for money (this surprisingly seems to work really well) as well as the sleazy hotel clerk (resplendent with the cliched thinning hair, John Waters style mustache and loud, ill-fitting shirt, just in case you hadn't figured it out) who, when not mopping his sweaty brow spends his days spying on Kimberley and her conquests thru' a peephole in a cupboard wall.

Seriously it's like a crack-fueled episode of Crossroads just without the stench of cabbage.

Or if you prefer the reboot, Freema Agyeman in a bath.

"I love jumping in muddy puddles!"

Anyway back at the actual plot, Diablo's old bike gang - the scarily monikered the Demons are pretty certain that Strycher was responsible for framing their leader and getting him executed so their new big boss man, the enigmatic Tony Dawg (Valderrama, who was actually in some other stuff but to be honest I can't be bothered typing what) decides to take revenge on not just the police but everyone in town beginning with Skip and Ronnie who they angrily accuse of parking in their spot.

No, really.

Luckily Strycher turns up saving us the embarrassment  of what would have been a really badly executed fight scene and everyone goes about their business.

Talking of executing and business, the Demons aren’t the only mad bastards on two wheels in town (and I'm not counting the pair of BMX experts that turn up and do a few stunts in the background at one point) as there's also a leather-clad mentalist on the loose whose motorcycle has a home-made electrocution device built into it and he's prowling the streets frying anyone he comes across much like they do with Mars Bars in Edinburgh.

No amusing caption, just total and utter devotion....she will be mine.

But enough random killings for now as we have to check in with Ronnie and Skip.

No change with our football fouling fella tho' as he's still sipping on a warm beer and making doe-eyes at Gail, which leaves Mr sex Machine Ronnie at a lose end.

Which I'm surprised he doesn't have already from the way his pal keeps looking at him.

Anyway deciding to go out on the ton alone, Ronnie soon comes across (not in that way tho' I'm sure she'd be used to it by now)  Diablo’s ex-girlfriend, Trina (Hidalgo, best known for playing a whore in the Eric Roberts actioner The Specialist) who invites him back to the gangs pad for a wee bit of raunchy rudeness.

Wouldn't you guess it tho' it's actually a trap and before he can even consider unsheathing his huge manhood  the rest of the gang beat the shit out of him before stealing his football medallion and leaving the poor guy battered and bleeding in a car park.

We've all been there.

But no sooner have the Demons up and left than the evil electricutor (yes I know that's not a real word but it should be) appears and kills our beaten up buddy.

To death.


Waking up alone and with his trousers still on the right way Skip soon realises that Ronnie is missing and heads off to ask Gail if she’s seen him.

Well obviously she's seen him but I think he actually means recently.

As in the night before obviously as she's only just met them so technically she's only seen him recently.

Unless they were at school together or something and no-one has mentioned it.

But I digress.

Offering to help Skip locate his missing pal the pairs first stop is the local A and E ward where a very tipsy Dr. Willet tells them that he hasn't seen anyone of late before clumsily crashing into a cupboard and phoning Strycher to warn him that those meddling kids are investigating stuff.

Or something.

You see, unbeknown to our young friends, Mayor Loomis (Caddyshack's Buck) alongside Strycher and Willet have actually buried Ronnie’s body in the local builders yard in the hope that no-one discovers that there's a serial killer in town.

Jimbo the spawn of Beelzebub.

As he wanders the streets looking for his friend Skip bumps into Trina and quickly notices that she's wearing Ronnie’s medal and, when questioned admits that the gang beat him up a wee bit but that he was still alive when they left him.

Oh and that Diablo didn't kill Gail's sister and that someone else - maybe a town official - did it.

As Skip and Gayle investigate further even more crispy, battered bodies begin to turn up and it appears that no-one is safe from the bonkers biker.....


When even Umberto (Nightmare City) Lenzi refuses to admit to directing a movie you just know you're in for a treat and Nightmare Beach definitely delivers something.

Just probably not what the producers were expecting.

Taking its killer biker cues from such classics as What Have They Done To Your Daughters? and Strip Nude For Your Killer, Nightmare Beach adds a smidgen of Jaws for good measure - as well as bizarrely a bit of Assault on Precinct 13 - before getting screamingly drunk and just throwing the results at the screen, sticking a Claudio Simonetti score on it (alongside some sub-Bangles shite pop obviously) and hoping something sticks.

True none of it makes any sense and the plot is even more schizophrenic than Peter Sutcliffe at Butlins but it's definitely enjoyable in it's own peculiar way.

And if only to watch the look of utter despair on John Saxon's - gravy-tanned - face as he spits reams of inane dialogue whilst thinking "Surely a new swimming pool can't cost this much?" before realising that this time round at least he hasn't had to perform cunnilingus on a hamster for spare change.

John we salute you.

And feel your pain.

Cinzia De Carolis: Less barely legal more barely human.

As for the rest of the cast, Michael Parks is all big bins and stutters as the doctor with a secret whilst Lance LeGault is so over the top as to become airbourne, ranting and raving about whores and sin whilst little bits of spit collect in the corner of his mouth.

Which is lucky as apart from Rawley Valverde - who let's be honest is actually letting his outfits act for him - the rest of the cast are stiffer than Jimmy Savile in an orphanage with Sarah Buxton's unblinking and flatly monotone portrayal of Gayle especially unnerving.

For fear of accusations of sexism I have to say that Nicolas De Toth fares no better, spending the entire film stumbling around open mouthed speaking his liners like a stroke victim who's only just rediscovered his voice.

But scariest of all is the frankly fantastic Yamilet Hidalgo, who appears to have drunkenly walked on set on the way home from a fairly debauched birthday party and just joined in after mistaking the whole thing as real.

Which is odd as not only does her voice seem to be badly dubbed but her whole body movement does too.

If you've ever had the urge to electrocute a baby dear but were too scared in case you got into trouble then fear not as watching her performance here amounts to the same thing.

Albeit just not quite as sexy.

Yamilet Hidalgo: Dirtier than your mum.

But what I hear you cry of these strange rumours regarding Umberto Lenzi not actually directing it?

Well according to the great man himself, he reckoned that he was originally hired to direct it but fell out with the producers over 'something'* but stayed on set as a courtesy in order to advice screenwriter James Justice who'd ended up with the job as everyone else had gone for a tea break.

I for one kinda believe him seeing as the finished product - which by no stretch of the imagination is in any way well made - is far from being as cack-handed as many other of Lenzi's efforts.

Plus the situation couldn't have been as bad as he made out seeing as the pair re-teamed the week after shooting was complete to make the 'classic' mutant monkey/slasher mash-up Primal Rage for the same producers.

They even invited Sarah Buxton back.

Poor cow.

*Lenzi's off-screen battles with various producers were as legendary as his latent misogyny and if you're in any doubt as to either just watch any documentaries regarding the making of Nightmare City where he rants uncontrollably about   his battles to complete his vision, from producer Luis Mendez refusing to let him cast a 'name' actor in the lead role of Dean Miller (Lenzi favoured either Franco Nero or Fabio Testi whereas Mendez insisted on a Mexican lead to appeal to the movies co-funders who eventually cast alleged lush and professional hairy woodsman Stiglitz) to what appears to be an imaginary 'female executive' forcing him to tone down the films many gore scenes and shadowy government types threatening violence as the script veered too close to the truth - honestly the stories are almost as entertaining as the movie.


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