Let’s get back into some good ol’ fashioned weirdo 80s horror, courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome! I swear, 2019 should just be called “The Year of Vinegar Syndrome” for B-Movie Enema. Looking back and ahead, I’ve got so many VS titles on my calendar, I should start asking for official sponsorship!
This time around, it is the French-produced, shot in Florida Nightmare Weekend from 1985. Apparently, we’ve got ourselves something special here – head explosions, softcore sex, bikers, rollerskating, telepathic puppet… And Dale Midkiff of Pet Sematary fame. Just when I thought I would be all in with weirdo horror movie made in Florida, the weirdo horror movie of a state, you had to toss all the rest of that jazz into it, too?
Oh, a bit of shameless self-promotion… Over at Film Seizure, where I talk movies with Jason Oliver, I also do a thing called Monster Mondays. Just about a month ago, I did a Monster Mondays feature on Pet Sematary. Check it out!
But also come back here, and read the rest of this article.
Real quick, before we dive into Nightmare Weekend, let’s take the synopsis from the back of the VS Blu-Ray/DVD release: “A brilliant computer scientist has just finished work on his greatest creation: A super computer with the ability to transform the personalities of bad and disobedient people. In anticipation of sharing his work with the scientific community, the scientist invites a fellow expert to test the machine on a group of debauched young women. Little does he know that his colleague intends to use the computer to turn their subjects into bloodthirsty mutants!”
This is directed by a guy named Henri Sala. He has made nothing else I’ve ever heard of, nor can I pronounce. I can say that 1986 (which is what IMDb says is the date of release for this movie) was the last year Sala made movies. I’d Google to see if he’s still around and kicking, but… eh. I’m lazy like that. I don’t think you come here to read facts about the movie. I trust you come here for my sparkling personality, my quick-as-a-whip sense of humor, and for me to say things like this:
You just know Sala pronounced his first name as “On-Ree” because… pfft. French.
The movie begins with a couple guys landing in some empty field and climb onto motorcycles, radio some lady, then get to some target location to sneak inside. Okay, sure, I’m on board for all this seeming interesting and maybe even a little espionage-y to get things rolling. BUT I’m having a hard time getting around the warning system. No, not the video game cut sequence warning of said danger:
No… It’s the other part of the warning system:
They really didn’t bury the lede on this puppet thing, huh? I mean… Yeah, it’s right on the back of the box in the synopsis, but you didn’t expect this right in the first few minutes. I’m now left with questions about whether or not there is a hand in that puppet or if it is a sentient puppet free from having a hand crammed up its butt. THESE ARE THE THINGS I THINK ABOUT WHILE WATCHING THESE MOVIES ALONE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT!
Anyhoo… That puppet totally murders one of the biker guys. How? Well, I’m no scientist to be able to explain it, but it has to do with one of the bikers having this necklace that he left on the ledge of the building he climbed up. The puppet pushed some buttons, moved some levers and turned the necklace into a steel ball and then shot it into the guy’s face, causing him to fall off that fucking building.
Also, it looks like the guy’s face fell off while his body fell from the building. But, no time to figure that shit out because credits.
Cut to college where a couple aerobicizing college babes are talking. The one with the Zardoz-shaped hair, Annie, is going to take part in some experiment. The other, Jessica, is apparently seeing her dad and is missing out. It seems the lady who was getting reports from the biker guys about sneaking into some installation where a murderous puppet is hanging out and killing dudes is Julie Clingstone. She is a big ol’ bitch. She calls one of her maids a whore like her mother was just from the maid asking a question about the people in the experiment.
The guy not killed by the murder puppet is Ken – played by Dale Midkiff. He’s some sort of hot shot biker and Julie tries to ease his pain over his buddy’s death by explaining it was an accident…
Wait a minute, everybody… I need to back up here.
Again, this movie has a goddamn murder puppet. A fucking talking, sentient murder puppet. And that’s not even where the crazy train stops. But it’s where we need to start. This movie… This fucking movie opened with a scene in which a murder puppet with green hair, a green nose, and a black heart for a mouth killed a man by transmuting the metal of the guy’s necklace into a metal sphere which he used to tear the face of the guy off before throwing him off a building. He has a name too, because of course he does. It’s George. What’s more, it appears Jessica is the daughter of another science guy who is in competition with Julie or something. George is maybe an invention of Jessica’s dad’s or something? He’s also, I dunno, Jessica’s boyfriend or something?
Pffffft-yah… That’s something I just typed.
Murder puppet also tries to kill Julie. There’s a racing game that Jessica plays that is programmed by George but it connects to Julie’s car causing it to go nuts but when she regains control, she’s just fine with everything and drives off normally and shit. Julie talks to Edward, Jessica’s dad, about making his Apache program ready for human trials. It’s a behavior modification thing that has worked perfectly on mice, rats, cats, and dogs. Apparently it works by transforming something into one of those spheres and making the subject eat the ball. It then… does bio-shit… turning… the subject into a docile… thing…? But it also can control cars because George was still hooked into Apache when Jessica was playing the racing game? And tear faces off? Also, murder puppet? Who has a hot girlfriend?
This movie makes little to no sense, but goddamn is it fascinating.
So one weird meet cute that involves Jessica rollerskating into a bar, falling down, getting made fun of by Dale Midkiff, and watching a couple fuck on a pool table, Jessica decides to tie a monogrammed scarf of hers to Ken’s motorcycle. Elsewhere, it appears that Julie is working with some shadowy dude and they are going to steal Apache and using some girls from college, one of which is Jessica’s friend Annie, to test it out on human subjects. The girls seem to be settled into Julie’s house for their study, but when Jessica gets home, she talks to her murder puppet to find out why she feels so weird ever since seeing that hot hunk Dale Midkiff at the bar.
So apparently Jessica needs a murder puppet and a computer to tell her she’s in love. I will say that Debra Hunter, who plays Jessica, is really cute. She’s made to be really innocent, but she’s kind of a jerk to Julie when she’s trying to tell Jessica how she was shitty about taking over the car. She’s also kind of playful when she follows Ken into the bar – while on rollerskates. Yet, she’s also completely out of place and completely curious AND upset over watching the live, far more consensual, re-enactment of the scene in The Accused that happened on the pinball machine. But she’s so damn innocent that she has to ask her puppet, which then uses a computer to get the analysis, why she feels the way she does. It’s bizarre, it doesn’t exactly fit right, but goddamn is it interesting. Not to mention, Debra Hunter is so cute.
Things back at the experiment for the three girls are starting to accelerate. There are three girls in the experiment. Annie is Jessica’s friend and seemingly kind of a baseline normal girl, just there for the hell of it. There’s a slutty chick, Pamela, who just wants that d all the time. she’s the first of the three girls to be turned into a mutant. Then there’s Linda who is kind of a higher class chick.
For Apache to work, you need a personal item of the person you want to mess with their personality. Ken collected some of the girls’ personal effects. That is what is transmuted into one of those spheres. After the slutty chick brought a guy home to fuck, a sphere is shot into her mouth while she’s in the shower. She comes out and starts to ravish the poor dude. She mostly just grunts and stuff while she paws at the poor dude. What exactly happened to the dude is uncertain, other than he clearly got his rocks off whether he wanted to or not, but the next morning she’s pretty out of it.
Jessica gets some advice from George and Apache on how to dress to impress Ken. Apparently, she lands on the advice to go hitchhiking to vet his attention. This only draws the attention of the dude who was fucking his girlfriend on the pinball machine. He runs her down and decides to rape her. While that is happening, George is freaking out and connects to Apache to run a “Protect Jessica” program. Ken randomly finds them and starts fighting with the rapist biker. Meanwhile, George turns Jessica’s watch into one of those balls and uses it to explode the rapist!
Alright, well, Julie continues her uncool experiments. She learns her maid is scared of spiders, so she gets a tarantula to see if she can make her like them. She also plans to move forward in betraying Edward, as well as deal with Jessica. First up, after Ken comes over to pick Jessica up, Julie tells her that she and Ken are lovers and makes out in front of Jessica. Ken chases after Jessica and gives some real melodramatic shit about how he is in love with her and wants to leave Julie and so on.
However, one little issue… The dog that was the last experiment for Edward and Julie with Apache died unexpectedly.
Two local guys show up at the house to find out what’s going on with the babes. Julie allows them to stay and plans to use them in her experiment. The three girls are given dresses to wear to hang out with the dudes. Julie turns something of Annie’s into a ball so it can eventually begin to change her. First, though, the maid gets a ball, but not before she sees the tarantula. When she ingests it, suddenly she is real friendly with the spider. I should mention that I hate spiders, and I really don’t appreciate this movie cutting in between Linda’s softcore sex scene with some dude and this maid making friends with a big, hairy spider.
Alright, so sure, maid girl is now a super spider lover, fine, whatever. Your funeral, girly. Linda got deep dickin’s and is like totally in love, but about to get a different type of ball in her mouth, sure. But two of the most insane and most bizarre things I’ve ever seen now take place. The second, I can barely describe and a gif will do me no good, but I will try. However, first, we turn to Annie who is getting cozy with one of those dudes who crashed the Nightmare Weekend Party at Julie’s. The only way I can describe the below, which is a for real thing that happens in this movie that almost seems like it was an outtake, is that it is the most confusing set of signals any poor guy could ever receive.
I mean… Whoa. So, like… They gonna make out? Is she just kind of drunk? Is she hoping her terrible dance skills will impress him a la some sort of weird mating ritual? Is she a tease? Is it just fun and games? Wow.
The second thing happens just after that. So Ken and Jessica are gettin’ it on now. And remember that scene in Superman when Lois Lane was flying with the Superman and she was thinking about stuff and asking if he could read her mind and stuff? You know, that really, really bad dialog scene? This one right fucking here.
Okay, basically the same thing happens in Nightmare Weekend. It’s not enough that Dale Midkiff is getting to hang out and have a softcore sex scene with a very pretty girl, but we gotta have some voice over acting too from Debra Hunter. Gosh, it is bad too. Like, are we too dumb to understand that this is a tender moment with two people exploring their feelings for one another – by the way, one of them is totally brand new to these sensations and feelings? Yeah, we can get it. We don’t need her telling us about how she likes having her face stroked or how she can hear his heart calling for her or how gentle he is and how his eyes is telling her he loves her. Goddamn this scene is bonkers.
No, this whole movie is bonkers.
With the movie entering the final 15 minutes, it remembered that, oh yeah, it is a movie about a weird mind control machine turning babes into mutants. I would also argue it has forgotten it has a murder puppet, but there is still time. Annie gets her ball, as does the dude she’s hanging out with. Everyone who was mutated start acting weird and aggressive. Linda seems mostly normal, but that might just be a blip in an otherwise perfect movie.
Oh… wait. I meant to type that the weirdo French guy who was making this movie had an absolute brain aneurysm and this movie went off the rails.
Edward figures out that Julie is messing with his shit and experimenting on people. Julie knocks him out and ties him up. Jessica comes home and is told by Julie that her dad is waiting for her at the mansion. Jessica is attacked by Linda and Pamela in one of the “money shots” often shown from the promo stuffs.
They leak green goop on Jessica but she escapes to find Annie all messed up, but misses out on the maid hacking her up with garden sheers. A ball chases Jessica around, but her dad also remotely shuts down Apache, so… Not sure what’s going on there with that. Julie shows up to tell Jessica that everything is her dad’s fault and he’s a bad dude. Edward shows up to see what’s happened to the experiments. Julie leaves after asking Edward how he will explain all this horror to the cops, but she doesn’t’ realize one of the mutants is in the car with her. Julie does make it all the way to the airport where Ken is only to have her throat slit by the maid mutant. Ken beats that mutant up with a pipe wrench, but our murder puppet makes a return in the final moment to activate the Protect Jessica protocol… That shuts the airplane hangar door right onto Ken killing him. Credits. The end.
Also… Har har, movie:
This movie is weeeeeeeird, man. I will say, though, that for all its weirdness and over the top acting and dialog and some really bad inconsistencies in certain areas pertaining to when Dale Midkiff and Debra Hunter were clothed/not clothed in their sex scene, this movie is fascinating as hell to watch. It’s actually got a fairly decent plot device with this machine that can fundamentally change the very fabric of one’s personality. Why you would want something like that I don’t really know other than to reform criminals or something, but the movie wasn’t interested in explaining that so I won’t be interested in trying to figure it out or get an answer.
Hell, George alone is worth showing this movie to friends or at a bad movie night.
There’s another elephant in the room here – Troma Entertainment. Troma is the production company behind the one and only movie of theirs that I covered on this blog way back in 2016. Yes, it is the infamous Pot Zombies. That’s the movie that will probably forever be the single worst movie I’ve ever covered on this blog. Does Nightmare Weekend redeem that movie?
The fuck do you think? Do you see a list of characters with their images that I wanted to punch one after another? No. So, yes, this movie is in a whole different league.
Next week, B-Movie Enema returns to the works of James Bickert, the man behind Amazon Hot Box as I take a look at the film he did directly prior to that masterpiece, Frankenstein Created Bikers. Catch you suckas on the flip side!