Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (2004) Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
Nightmares in a Damaged Brain has the distinction of having been banned as a Video Nasty in the UK following its 1982 release, so that alone tells you it’s definitely worth watching. Personally, I loved it, even though a true, uncut version of the film is still unavailable. Is it gory? Yes - unless you’re a gorehound, in which case you’ll be disappointed by the lack of detail in a couple of murders. I certainly didn’t find this film exceptionally gory, but it does like its blood. Is it shocking? Uh, no - not unless you’re a real horror novice. Is it disturbing? You’ll have to answer that question for yourself. Is it worth watching? Oh, yes, definitely - if you can find it (note that it has also been distributed under the title Nightmare).
It’s pretty obvious to me that this film’s resident psychiatrist did not attend the same medical school as Dr. Loomis of Halloween fame. When you have to put a patient in a straitjacket at night because he frequently wakes up screaming his bloody head off, you just don’t let someone like that back on the street. Oh, but those experimental drugs from the military have cured said patient of his schizophrenia, seizures, and violent tendencies, they’ve made his amnesia so easy to deal with, and the good doctor is already hard at work on some dream modification. So what if he misses a few of his regular appointments? Even as he follows this lunatic’s trail of blood all the way down to Florida, the psychiatrist insists that his patient could not possibly be doing anything wrong. For their part, the military want their boy back the minute they learn he has disappeared; it’s bad enough their little guinea pig is gone, but it just won’t do to have him go around murdering people.
Here in the South, we’d take one look at George Tatum (Baird Stafford) and say that this fellow just ain’t right. A laundry list of mental disorders, bushels of experimental psychiatric drugs, and a plague of nightmares - this guy is a total mess. We get glimpses of the root of his problem very early on - let’s just say it involved some kinky sex and an axe and let it go at that. That kinky sex business can really mess a little boy up. The very first thing George does after bailing on his psychiatrist is to enjoy some cheap entertainment down at the sex arcade (those who perused the downtown district of New York in the early 80s may well recognize Tara Alexander as the, ahem, performer in this scene). After that, George starts heading down South for reasons of his own (apparently, he’s managed to crack open his little amnesia problem).
Down in Daytona Beach, we meet up with the aptly-named Susan Temper (Sharon Smith); she lives up to her name quite frequently, and who can blame her after getting to know her three obnoxious, far too loud kids. The real brat of the lot is C.J., whose imagination is always getting him into trouble. Susan herself isn’t a very good mother to begin with; she can’t control her kids at all, and she spends an inordinate amount of time with her hippie boyfriend, leaving the kids on their own. The hippie is actually the only real voice of reason to be found amongst the entire cast - that shows you just how bad things have gotten down there in the Temple household. News flash: things aren’t going to be getting any better in the short-term, either. As you might have guessed, good old George and the Temper family are on a collision course. And oh, yes, there will be blood.
The acting oscillates between mediocre and average, but offsetting that deficiency to some degree is the fact that the movie actually has a discernible plot, with everything coming together quite nicely at the end. Take a decent story, throw in a generous helping of blood and gore, then season it with just the right amount of suspense, and you’ve got yourself a party. I can only hope the uncut film will be released at some point in the future - but for now, this edited version still earns four bloody stars from this reviewer.
About Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (2004)
Starring: Baird Stafford
Runtime: 90 minutes