Saturday, February 22, 2014


NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN (1981) (UR) Dir. Romano Scavolini
97 mins.

George Tatum is a very mentally unstable individual. Having committed a double murder as a child, he has been hospitalized, suffering from schizophrenia, intense dreams, and seizures. A team of doctors attempt to rehabilitate him with an experimental drug, echoing both the Ludovico technique in A Clockwork Orange, but more appropriately, the MKULTRA mind control scandal that shocked America only a shortly before this film. Considering their project a success, George it let back into society, but when his case workers lose track of him, he begins to lose his grip on reality, and the murders start rolling in.
The bowtie makes this look.
George sets his focus on an alcoholic mother and her family in Daytona, because the youngest of 3 kids, C.J., reminds George of himself as a child, and this triggers one of his many ongoing flashbacks. George then stalks the family, makes obscene phone calls, and starts killing the people around them in the six days prior to his final attack.
Is that a Sid Haig mask?
The most interesting part of the movie is George's character, played masterfully by Baird Stafford. George is horrified of the crimes he commits, traumatized, and is constantly struggling with every act he commits, rendering him sympathetic (unlike the one note killer in Home Sweet Home). It is also ambiguous as to whether his medication keeps him from killing or inspires him to. He wants to stop himself but can't, and even tries to warn C.J. before an impending confrontation. There are two twists in this ending, and while they are maybe not the hardest to predict, work really well. The gore is good, which Tom Savini apparently was not involved in creating, despite the movie's marketing campaign, and I think it shows that it isn't him as it is less Maniac and more Pieces, but his involvement to this day is still a point of contention between the director and Tom, and amongst the fans. Good pacing, well fleshed out characters, lighting and cinematography. A must see grindhouse, yet lesser known, classic. 8/10


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