Nightmare Cinema – USA, 2018

‘When the lights go down, your time is up!’

Nightmare Cinema is a 2018 American horror anthology feature film directed by Alejandro Brugués, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Ryûhei Kitamura and David Slade. The movie stars Mickey Rourke, Richard Chamberlain and Maurice Benard.

Plot:

A series of down-on-their-luck individuals enter the decrepit and spine-chilling Rialto movie house, only to have their deepest and darkest fears brought to life on the silver screen by The Projectionist (Mickey Rourke) – a mysterious, ghostly figure who holds the nightmarish futures of all who attend his screenings. By the time the doomed patrons realise the truth, escape is no longer an option…

Segment stories:

Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead) – ‘The Thing in the Woods’ by Brugues
Joe Dante (GremlinsThe HowlingPiranha) – ‘Mirari’ by Richard Matheson
Mick Garris (The Stand) – ‘Tyler’s Third Act’, from his own story
Ryûhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train; Versus) – ‘Mashit’ by Sandra Becerril
David Slade (30 Days of Night) ‘This Way to Egress’ co-written with Lawrence C. Connelly, based on Connelly’s short, ‘Traumatic Descent’

Good Deed Entertainment and Cinelou Films co-produced and Good Deed’s genre label Cranked Up teams with Shudder on Blu-ray on September 3, 2019.

Reviews:

“Simply put, four of these entries are worthwhile, leaving only one stinker. That’s an impressive batting average. But lack of cohesion and a confusing overall premise hurt the film much more than you’d expect. It’s still very much worth seeing…” Birth. Movies. Death.

“The tricky thing about bringing such varying, distinct voices together in one film, though, is that it can be difficult to meld together such stylistically and tonally different directors together in one film. Add in a wraparound that doesn’t quite work, and Nightmare Cinema is a mixed bag.” Bloody Disgusting

“The shorts themselves however are a bit of a mixed bag. They range from amazing such as David Slade’s segment, to the okay by Joe Dante. It’s worth noting there is not a truly bad segment of the bunch, and while I was not a huge fan of Joe Dante’s it is mostly due to the ending feeling a tad mean spirited…” Bloody Good Horror

“The film’s wraparound segment starring Mickey Rourke does a poor job connecting the disparate segments, but at least, it gives the filmmakers an excuse to slap one well-known actors name on the film poster. Nightmare Cinema might have plenty of blood but it has as much fat as it does meat.” Cinema Axis

“A bit of restructuring would the film a heap of favors. However, Nightmare Cinema is still ultimately a stronger-than-average anthology with some good-to-great material worth checking out, especially ‘The Thing in the Woods’ and ‘This Way to Egress’, which are both true horror anthology bangers.” Collider

” …a mixed bag that might best be experienced depending on the viewer’s horror sensibilities. If its gory fun you want the first two segments should satisfy, while Slade brings a more elevated sensibility to the proceedings, with the third and fifth segments being the runt of the litter.” Coming Soon

“… it wobbles into wicked weirdness more often than it flirts with creative collapse. Totaling together two outstanding segments, three midrange ones, and one dumb wraparound, Nightmare Cinema averages out to a decently entertaining feature.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

…Nightmare Cinema gets so much more right than it gets wrong, and I think fans are going to enjoy what these genre masters have cooked up in their anthological collaboration. It might lose a bit of its energy towards the end, but as a whole, Nightmare Cinema delivers up a steady stream of genre goodness that crackles with ingenuity and affection…” Daily Dead

“If you adored the TV series Masters of Horror (2005-2007), you’ll enjoy the zaniness of this film. It represents exceptional teamwork and extraordinary planning, with each director bringing their experience to the table to create something on their own terms. As with most nightmares, this movie will have you thinking about it long after you watch it.” Dread Central

Nightmare Cinema works more often than it doesn’t. The performances are uniformly fine, there are clever laughs to be had in “The Thing in the Woods” and “Mirare” — though the humor is of a much different stripe between those two offerings — and there are shudder-worthy moments galore.” Gruesome magazine

“Frankly, Nightmare Cinema is definitely one the stronger horror anthologies in recent years and most likely one of the more consistent. Mickey Rourke […] just shambles disinterestedly through the connective scenes as the Projectionist, but Garris and Slade deliver first-class work—and Brugues and Kitamura are never boring.” J.B. Spins

“Overall, Nightmare Cinema is certainly not a runaway success. It’s uneven to say the least, and I think each of the stories could have benefited from a little more length to flesh out story, characters, and ideas. The premise also doesn’t quite coalesce the way it ought to, though the idea of a movie theater from hell is solid.” Nerdist

“There is a consistency missing from the stories, but it’s a consistency that is impossible to maintain while allowing each filmmaker creative freedom, style, and expression. Like Masters of Horroreach segment lives and dies by that creative freedom. In a way, it’s good to know that some of your favourite directors can still surprise you.” Nightmare on Film Street

“Even when the stories flip their perspectives, or pile on their emotional demons, or just try to build up an old fashioned jump scare, the enterprise comes up short. It’s oddly annoying too, how the shorts can overlap thematically and aesthetically, but without meaning anything…” RogerEbert.com

“Five short films which vary wildly in style and content, connected with a framing device not quite as kitschy as the Crypt Keeper from HBO’s venerable Tales From the Crypt anthology show, and yet, it must be said that Mickey Rourke is as awkward as he is unsettling (intentionally or not) as ‘The Projectionist.’” Screen Anarchy

The five shorts and wraparound offer a lot of material. This viewer enjoyed Brugués’ “The Thing in the Woods” and Slade’s “This Way to Egress” the most. The others are a bit hit-and-miss.” 28 Days Later Analysis

Main cast and characters:

  • Mickey Rourke … The Projectionist
  • Richard Chamberlain … Dr. Mirari
  • Maurice Benard … Father Benedict
  • Adam Godley … Doctor Salvadore
  • Orson Chaplin … Jenkins
  • Stephanie Cood … Dani
  • Jamie Lynn Concepcion … Cindy
  • Kevin Fonteyne … Jason
  • Lexy Panterra … Casey
  • Mark Grossman … David
  • Eric Nelsen … Fred / The Welder

Filming locations:

Los Angeles, California

Image credits: Mike Moriatis/Cinelou Films

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