Twisted Nightmare (1987) *
D: Paul Hunt
C: Rhonda Gray, Cleve Hall, Robert Padilla, Brad Bartrum, Scott King
Plot Synopsis: A group of teenagers win a trip to a summer camp they had attended as children. However, soon after they get there they begin to disappear one by one. The survivors suspect that the disappearances may be connected to the death of a handicapped child at the camp years before.
Review: Twisted Nightmare takes place at a camp, near a lake, where a killer dispatches of young adults that they felt were responsible for the death of a mentally handicapped teen at the very same camp. Sound familiar?!?
Most will write off Twisted Nightmare simply as a ripoff of Friday the 13th, but that's a bit too easy and a bit too obvious. In all actuality, I've enjoyed some of the various aspects of films that came about as a result of Friday the 13th, such as the campfire scene in Madman or the raft scene in The Burning.
What trips up Twisted Nightmare is its efforts to separate itself from the other camp themed slashers of the 80's. The film opens up with some narration about an ongoing evil, but most of that is drowned out by an over bearing music score. We eventually learn that this summer camp was built on an ancient Indian burial ground. We witness a teen burn to death for no inexplicable reason other then to tie together the Indian burial mumbo jumbo with that of a revenge type scenario. Why this teen and why now? The opening narration tells us that this place is evil, but why haven't more evil things been going on in the history of this camp till now?
Eventually, this teen is resurrected as a hulk like killer with supernatural powers, but those powers are never fully explained. Another question that reoccurred to me was, why has this teen returned with supernatural like powers and why is he killing off people that weren't even responsible for the fire that sets up the overall scenario?!? The film proposes on one hand that he isn't devoid of emotions or thoughts, but, on the other hand, it suggests that he's a monster, a by product of the Indian burial ground. Twisted Nightmare never quite figures out its own ideology in regards to the killer or the setting.
As a flat out slasher, some scenes are so poorly lit that it's hard to make out what exactly is happening. Other scenes feature slow motion for the sake of slow motion. The slow motion doesn't enhance the suspense or the terror that is unfolding. There's a lot of kills, but no real suspense leading up to those kills. As for the characters, no one in particular is off putting, but no one character is particularly likable either. When it comes to slasher films, you have to have a character that you want to root for or against.
So what exactly are we left with? As a low rent Friday the 13th clone, it fails. As a supernatural revenge thriller, it fails. So what we're left with is a film that has been sloppily assembled and thrown together from a patchwork of various ideas that have never been fully thought out or realized. [R] 95 mins.
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