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Film Review: Twisted Nightmare (1987)

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SYNOPSIS:

A group of people win a trip to an old campground where they all attended camp years earlier. Once they get there someone starts killing them off in a number of brutal ways. Who is behind the murders, and how is this person connected to a tragic event that occurred that claimed the life of a mentally challenged young man when they were all campers there years ago?

REVIEW:

I saw Twisted Nightmare on video when I was in high school and though that it was a pretty cool little slasher flick. I watched it again recently and while I may not have dug it as much as I did when I originally saw it all those years ago I still thought that it was decent and not too bad even though it does have its share of flaws that I didn’t notice when I was just a dumb teenager. For some reason it seems to be universally despised by most online reviewers but I don’t think that it deserves all the hate that it gets as it does have its moments and is just a fun slasher flick in general for the most part. I’ll admit that it isn’t the most original horror movie of all time by any stretch of the imagination and it borrows heavily from other similar films (such as Friday the 13th for sure) but if you are as into old school slasher flicks from the 1980s as much as I am then you will most likely enjoy it for what it is.

The premise is mighty simple but it works. A bunch of campers pick on a mentally handicapped kid and he ends up dying under mysterious circumstances after he runs away from his tormentors. His sister witnesses this and goes a little nuts (which is understandable) and ends up in the booby hatch for a while as a result. Years later all the people that bullied the poor guy learn that they have all won a trip to their old camp (not sure why any of them would actually go considering what happened but oh well, you have to suspend your belief sometimes) and before you know it someone is running around slicing and dicing them. It’s your pretty standard slasher flick formula but it works and is sure to satisfy you if you are into these types of movies. It’s not groundbreaking or anything by any stretch of the imagination but you’ll have such a good time watching characters get killed off that you won’t really mind. It makes for a fun, mindless movie that you don’t have to think too hard about and sometimes that’s just what you need, especially if you had a particularly horrible, stress-filled day and just want to unwind in front of your TV and see people get slaughtered.

I like the fact that Twisted Nightmare had a pretty impressive body count. At first it seems almost as if there are way too many characters in it (and unfortunately none of them are all that developed as most are just your usual stereotypes that are fodder for the killer) but it’s OK because you’ll have a blast watching them get taken out in a variety of ways. While the death scenes themselves are lacking a bit in the creativity department (we get your typical stabbings, a ripped-out throat, fun with a machete and an impalement or two) it’s just cool that so many people end up on the chopping block after everything is said and done. The killer doesn’t mess around and obviously enjoys taking out as many people as possible which is pretty damn entertaining.

On the downside the movie isn’t without its issues. As I’ve already said, it isn’t very original at all and as such many viewers will probably forget all about it a week or so after they’ve seen it. The acting is pretty bad too (but on the plus side Devon Jenkins, the chick from Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” video-who was also in Slumber Party Massacre III-and special effects artist Cleve Hall are in it), and most of the characters are interchangeable. I also wasn’t too big on the supernatural aspects that are thrown in at one point as they just don’t work and feel very, very forced. I think the people behind the movie inserted them into the plot because they wanted to try something a little different but I thought that they were a little silly and didn’t quite fit with what was going on with the rest of the movie. It’s almost as if at the last minute the screenwriters were like “You know what? I think we’ll put some supernatural stuff in here for no particular reason! People will love it!” but sadly it just doesn’t work as well as they hoped and they should have just left these elements out completely as they really don’t add anything to the plot overall.

I liked Twisted Nightmare for what it was. It’s just a low budget slasher flick that doesn’t bring anything new to the table but I didn’t mind because it kept me entertained for 90 minutes. I don’t think that it will ever go down in history as one of the greatest slasher films ever made but it is at least watchable and a nice way to kill an hour and a half if you don’t have anything better to do. I’ve seen a lot worse in my lifetime and while I would be hesitant to say that it was my new favorite movie or anything I still thought that it was worth checking out. Give it a shot if you get a chance. It won’t change your life or anything like that but you’ll most likely enjoy the time you spend with it if slasher movies are your cup of tea.

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