Nov 23

Nightmare in a Damaged Brain

nightmareinadamagedbrainGenre: Horror
Year: 1981
Country: USA

aka: Nightmare, Schizo, Blood Splash

Director: Romano Scavolini
Starring: Baird Stafford, Sharon Smith, C.J. Cooke, Mik Cribben, Danny Ronan


«From the man who terrified you in «Dawn of the Dead» and «Friday the 13TH»!


George Tatum is not very stable. He is haunted by some terrible nightmares from his childhood. The doctors at the mental asylum he is staying at tries an experimental drug on George, and when he seems to respond positive he is labeled sane enough for release. Back to real life, he is unable to cope with the everyday life in New York and travels down to Florida instead to start over. In his new city he becomes focused on a family that seems to have problems with the morbid and violent thoughts of their little boy C.J. and his mental problems are slowly rising up from the depths of his demented mind.

Nightmare in a Damaged Brain is one of the most controversial slasher movies ever made. It’s one of the infamous Video Nasties, but that isn’t really were much of the controversy came from. Upon release it was promoted as being made by the man behind Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13TH, which refered to the young and popular special effects guy named Tom Savini. Savini however denied that he had any part of the movie at all. That controversy still goes on today with Savini still refusing to talk about the movie and director Scavolini still saying Savini did all the effects. According to other people who were around, Savini wasn’t the head guy of the effects but were involved in overseeing some effects in the New York shots. So as usual the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

The third and worst part of controversy however is that David Grant who was the owner of World of Video 2000 in the early 80’s was sentenced to 18 months in jail for being in possession of 200 copies of an obscene article (this movie) for publication for gain. He went to JAIL for distributing an uncut copy of this movie! That is the only time in history that a distributor of a horror film has led to incarceration. Now one thing is to be against violence in movies, but this is an embarrassment for the British law system.

Is the movie worth going to jail for or disowning involvement in? Well, it’s a dirty, grim little slasher flick. The killings are gruesome and gory and its got an insane tone going for it during the entire movie. It will remind you a bit of other movies from the same era, such as Maniac and Pieces and it actually feels like a mixture of both those films, although it is not as good as Maniac and not as fun as Pieces.

Nightmare starts off pretty nasty with a severed head in a bed after just 30 seconds, but instead of keeping it nasty it goes to a midsection where the family that George is stalking gets the main attention. The reason why this family is so important is later revealed, but it’s a section of the movie that does bring it down a little even though it has it’s reasons for being there. There is also a great scene of George walking down the sleazy New York streets. If you where going for a sleazy and nasty atmosphere in the early 80’s, all you really had to do was to film your leading character walking down these filthy streets. If we could only rewind back the time ey?

Romano Scavolini directed Nightmare. He has done 10-12 other movies aswell, none of which I am familiar with. He does an ok job, but he is no Fulci or even Lenzi. The gore effects aren’t very good. They are nasty and effective, but not very well made. Baird Stafford who plays George does a good job. He only did another movie after this called Dog Tags, which also happened to be directed by Scavolini.

In the end, the controversy surrounding Nightmare in a Damaged Brain will probably be more interesting to most than the movie itself. It’s a gory output and well worth seeing for fans of 80’s slasher movies, but its problems lies in that there are other films that are doing the same thing at the time, just better.




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