Review: Nightmare at Noon (1988)

Home, James

So, if good guys wear black, I guess, uh…

NAN.BR.Cover.72dpiWhile it’s absolutely packed to the hilt with stunts, thrills, and explosions galore (and how!), Nico Mastorakis’ 1988 flick Nightmare at Noon isn’t exactly the brain food of action movies. In fact, if you go in expecting even a decent plot to speak of, your brain may beat you somewhat senseless about two minutes in and turn itself off so it can enjoy the wild ride without you gargling on about what small amount of plot there is. Basically, if you miss the opening credits, there goes the story, and there’s not much there to begin with (and even less if you’re looking).

All you need to know is a secret scientific agency (or not so secret, as they roll around in two black custom vans with their agency’s name on them!) has chosen a small US town to experiment with some nefarious goings-on and it’s up to a handful of gun-totin’ tourists and local heroes to make things right.  So you get Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins, and Kimberly Beck starring with George Kennedy and Kimberly Ross versus that town full of newly green-blooded raging townspeople and a bunch of well-armed bad guys. A strangely silent Brion James kicks the flick off as the mysterious Albino, but despite all his evil machinations, his total lack of dialog actually hurts the film despite the nearly non-stop action that follows. I gather he was paid enough for bleaching his hair and wearing some contact lenses to make him look albino and decided to charge by the word for dialog or something?

(Thanks, ScreamFactoryTV!)

Speaking of dialog, it’s whenever the film slows down and people start talking that things go awry the most. If your brain did a good job at shutting itself down, the film is quite the enjoyable popcorn film, as it should be. Otherwise, you’ll be baffled by certain elements that advance the plot between all those stunts and explosions. It clear that “What’s my motivation” was probably never uttered by a single actor here. When horseback riding heroes and villains and a thrilling helicopter chase come up in the final third of the film, you’re either along for the ride or if your brain has turned itself back on, you’re trying too hard to piece it all together.  Most of the film makes no sense other than stuff blows up really well and all those stunt people flying thorough the air, through candy glass windows and assorted fire gags deserved every dime they made on the show.

Gal Gun

Okay, Okay! I’ll go make some popcorn! Geez.

By the way, the internet is wrong (as usual) about one key aspect of the film, While Bo Hopkins and Wings Hauser both starred in a similar “B” film called Mutant released in 1984 that has more or less the same plot, it wasn’t Mastorakis directing as noted by a few folks copying each others’ work on one big movie review site. That flick was helmed by none other than John ‘Bud’ Cardos. But you know how correcting people on the internet goes, so you’ll probably just read this here and shrug. No worries, right? Well, thanks to the less than five seconds to look it up, I now have a new “B” to add to my bucket list because of this fact, but we’ll see if I get to watch it soon.

Sigh, The bullets I take for the team sometimes. Speaking of bullets…

(Thanks, ScreamFactoryTV!)

Actually, I keep going back to The Albino character and wondering if the film would be a tad better if the character wasn’t mute save for a brief chuckle he lets out early on when a local yokel is shot to ribbons for no reason at all other than he was driving down the wrong road at night. All you have are the opening title sequence and some words between other characters later who sort of suss out the plot as things get crazier, but it ends up unsatisfying by the finale because the impetus for the action is pretty much “whatever blows up the best and loudest works because the plot is paper-thin”. Eh, at least the music by Mastorakis’ favorite composers Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer (yes, that Hans Zimmer) is pretty great 80’s synth work.

Cop Land

No, that’s NOT Bumper Morgan on the left.

So, you ask, is it a “good” film? Well, no, but it’s a good “B” film has it’s moments of “Did you SEE that stunt?” brilliance and sure, enough action to satisfy fans of the genre. The silent villain and overall cheese factor of most of the acting keep the laugh factor going as long as you refuse all attempts to take this seriously. Throw this pm as a double feature if you like wit a better (or worse) action flick and your day will probably be better with the laughs you get. Just mallet your skull a few times with a rubber hammer to keep expectations low.





4 thoughts on “Review: Nightmare at Noon (1988)

  1. I haven’t seen this since the VHS rental age. Just recall plenty of carnage. Need to revisit it so maybe a new blu-ray coming my way. I have seen Mutant a number of times over the years and while some people may question that, I do concur that my DVD states it was directed by Cardos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it’s certainly got loads of bodies flying and green blood with all those crazed townsfolk getting crazy. I wish the Blu-Ray had all the trailers the DVD I have has, but the picture quality is a bit improved on the BR,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I just watched the trailer, and I would guess it’s a microcosm of the film…explosions, gunfire, and explosions! I’ve never heard of this film before, even with all the video rental I was doing in the ’80s and ’90s, so I wonder if even MY video stores took a pass on it. What was interesting to me, watching the trailer, was how similar it felt – in look, tone, and acting – to a lousy indie film I worked on in the ’90s…as if both directors took the same one-day class on filmmaking. And poor George Kennedy…I’ve never seen him look so bored!


    • It’s a mix of non-stop action and zero important storytelling, but it’s got a certain thrill with all the noise that makes it fun. George gets in his paycheck moment with a stunt double doing a scene that made me laugh quite a lot, so it’s worth a watch for that. Also, that priest who’s infected looks a little like Robin Williams, which is weird in a way.


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