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  Nightmare at Noon Running Wild
Year: 1988
Director: Nico Mastorakis
Stars: Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins, George Kennedy, Kimberly Beck, Brion James, Kimberly Ross, Neal Wheeler, David Christiansen, Mark Haarman, Jean St. James, Tabi Cooper, Todd Collard, Larry Campbell, Bob Miles, Sheri Griffith
Genre: Horror, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The experiment is about to begin, as the Albino (Brion James) sets it in motion under the cover of an environmental protection agency - or that's what it says on the vans they are using. But as one local of this smalltown discovers, they are out to do more harm than good; he drives up and greets them, only for the uniformed men to turn on him and blast him to smithereens with their machine guns, then send his truck with his body in it into the nearby river. That distraction taken care of, they can resume: poisoning the water supply, jamming the radios, cutting off the town...

Quite why they're carrying out this experiment is not made entirely clear, until you realise that it was simply because writer and director Nico Mastorakis wanted an excuse to stage as many action scenes his budget would allow. The Greek exponent of genre exploitation was an old hand at such material by that point, so at least the mayhem was arranged with some degree of professionalism, and there was lots of it, betraying the fact that while this looked like a horror movie in the opening sequences, what it actually turned out to be was a Western in disguise, most obviously when the characters take to the rocky desert in the last half hour.

That didn't mean Nico skimped on the violence, but it was more the type of thing you'd see on some cop show on TV rather than a cinematic masterclass in suspense and excitement. The presence of Wings Hauser, Mr Eighties Straight to Video himself (this did apparently escape into a few cinemas, mind you), should have alerted you to this, although he was not playing the typical man of action and was more a reluctant bystander drawn in against his will when he stops his Winnebago in the town with his wife (Kimberly Beck), looking for a bite to eat. The Griffiths get more than they bargained for when a local yokel, previously cheery and polite, suddenly attacks the waitress, and all hell breaks loose.

But the Griffiths have had the assistance of a hitchhiker, Reilly (Bo Hopkins), whose laconic charm belies an ability to shoot crazed gentlemen in the leg, whereupon they bleed green blood which is how you know they're infected. Meanwhile the Sheriff (George Kennedy), is feeling a little odd as his town goes nuts, because he made the mistake of having a cup of coffee before everyone worked out the water was contaminated, therefore every so often he twitches and makes a funny noise. Luckily his deputy, also his daughter Julia (Kimberly Ross), only had orange juice for breakfast, so is able to take matters in hand when dad falters, but it's pretty much Reilly who is our hero.

Needless to say there's a debt here owed to George A. Romero's The Crazies, which also blamed its characters going insane on the authorities, and had similarly attired heavies going around picking them off (or being picked off themselves), only in this case there doesn't seem to be any message, political or otherwise, Mastorakis just wanted to stage the havoc. Which here meant every vehicle so much as nudged by someone goes up in a huge explosion, honestly, the amount of cars and vans which burst into flames here would indicate the director had something against the motor industry, it's worse than an episode of CHiPs in some places. As Mrs Griffiths and the Sheriff succumb to madness, snarling, going a funny colour and whatnot, it's up to the survivors to get surprisingly easy access to a variety of weaponry and start making the bad guys eat lead - and the infected victims too, which we're supposed to feel sad about. Unpretentious at best, a bit silly, if you don't want anything taxing then this should fit the bill. Music by Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer (really).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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