So I finally watched that actual film on the Redemtion/Kino blu-ray last night, only to be reminded that Nightmares Come at Night is still most definitely one of my favorites. The movie, if you need some background on it, is actually more of an experimental dream-thriller about a double- and triple-crossing heist. All of the characters seem to be in on the plot for their own financial ends, save for our leading lady Diana Lorys (The Awful Dr. Orloff) in her first erotic lead, who is basically being mind-fucked by her friend and her psychiatrist, with a large sum of ill-gotten money dangling as the motivation. Soledad Mrianda, in her small role, is simply lovely, she was entirely magnetic even in her early collaborations with Franco. She and her boyfriend are watching the three-way situation progress from across the property, and they seem to be waiting for the main trio to fuck themselves over so that they can steel the money from a jewelery heist for themselves. The plot is reminiscent of some of Umberto Lenzi's mind-fuck thriller from the late sixties, but Franco really puts a dreamy spin on his take on the erotic thriller.
The opening credit sequence is a brilliant montage of freeze-frames, giving the movie and arthouse lean. What's fantastic about a lot of Franco's films, and I think this is evident in Nightmares as well, is that they seem to be a deconstruction of exploitation thrillers. Instead of hiding scenes of eroticism, they are played out in extremely long sequences that almost juxtapose the thriller/heist plotline. It's almost as if he's telling us that since he went out to make an erotic thriller, he's going to give us exactly that in broken-down genuine terms. I don't think Franco's deconstruction of film genres are intentional, or intentionally artsy or critical of the genres, the deconstruct actually comes out of a basic honesty and directness of the material he's filming - the material he wants to film. And I agree with him -- hell, if you're going to do an erotic thriller, might as well have most of the expositional dialogue rattling off while the actors are naked, or dressed in transparent clothing, right? I think the man was an honest genius, sometimes.
Like so many of his films (Two Undercover Angels, Vampyros Lesbos, Exorcism) it's almost the deconstructed scenes that veer away from the plot that fans remember the most - and they do stick out the most. The slow striptease of Nightmares, the stripping caged go-go-dancer in the silver knee-high boots from Two Undercover Angels, and of course, Soledad Miranda's famous mannequin and candelabra dance-art performance that encapsulates Vampyros Lesbos.
Redemption's blu-ray is amazing. The picture looks fantastic, and they didn't touch the films dirt or scratches - which I love. Personally, I think it's one of the best-looking films, next to Female Vampire. I think I'm going to check out one of Kino's Mara Bava releases next. I have Whip and the Body sitting on the living room coffee table, now.
Thanks to Rock! Shock! Pop! rockshockpop.com for some of these photos!