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Nightmare at Noon
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by Jack Sommersby

"A 'Nightmare' to Sit Through"
1 stars

Another all-out stinker from the untalented director Nico Mastorakis.

Actors Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins did superlative work as the heroes in the outstanding 1984 horror classic Mutant, which involved a small southern town overtaken by a horde of zombies made up of the citizens infected by a malicious corporation’s dumping of chemical waste in the water supply. There were plenty of scares and enough ominous atmosphere for ten movies of its type thanks to the superb direction of the talented John “Bud” Cardos (Kingdom of the Spiders, The Dark), so it’s quite the disappointment that Nightmare at Noon, which also stars Hauser and Hopkins, is lackluster stuff from start to finish. The plot is actually quite similar, with the townspeople of the southwest Canyonland being exposed to a nuclear biochemical in the aquifer that turns them into raging maniacs that spew green acid-blood and have superhuman strength as part of a governmental experiment for a defense weapon. Two mysterious black vans roam the streets whose shadowy operatives have employed a magnetic field to jam both the town’s telephones and radios right about the time Hauser’s prissy show-business lawyer and his wife, and Hopkins’s ex-cop are passing through separately -- all three wind up at the local diner and witness one of the patrons stab a waitress in the hand with a knife; and though everybody tries to subdue the madman its physical prowess proves to be too much, with only a gunshot from a Magnum having any effect. From this point on, the movie is a series of poorly staged action sequences and dull talking-heads scenes that fail to work up so much as an iota of immediacy or suspense. Whereas Mutant cared to surround its bare-bones story with three-dimensional characters who made sense, Nightmare at Noon gives us uninteresting sketches masquerading as people, thus we have absolutely no stake in the goings-on; and where the storytelling was expressive and tautly engineered, here it’s flat and lackadaisical to the point of complete and utter inertia -- the proof is in the pudding, with Mutant Yorkshire and Nightmare at Noon plain-Jane vanilla. What a shame, because Hopkins is his usual dependable self, managing to suggest some semblances of depth amid the puerile proceedings, yet Hauser, atypically cast as a bespectacled white-collar professional, seems uneasy and unsure of himself from the get-go (harnessed with his nothing of a role, he isn’t able to employ his alert reserve, resulting in a tepid interpretation far beneath his considerable abilities). Throughout the movie I appreciatively thought back not just to Mutant but 1984’s slightly underrated Impulse, where an Iowa farm community was infected with an accidental chemical spill which deteriorated people’s barriers of self-control; it was uncommonly understated and eerily enveloping, and when the ending credits started to roll you didn’t beat yourself over the head for having wasted an hour and a half of your life watching it. The makers behind Nightmare at Noon simply haven’t tried, or they were trying but their film sense is so stunted that they were simply incapable of recognizing what would and would not play. Either way, the movie is deplorable and not worth so much as thirty seconds of attention from even the most undemanding of audiences. It elicits yawns rather than palpitations.

Still no DVD release, though I can't imagine any sane-minded person crying about it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=29053&reviewer=327
originally posted: 07/13/15 23:40:45
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USA
  28-Sep-1988 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Nico Mastorakis

Written by
  Nico Mastorakis
  Kirk Ellis

Cast
  Wings Hauser
  Bo Hopkins
  George Kennedy
  Kimberly Beck
  Brion James



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