It’s a trio of slashers with killers that aren’t quite all there…until it’s time for the killing to start! Kinda reminded me of an infamous baddie we all know and love.
BRING ME A DREAM (2020)
I checked this one out mostly because Martin Kove of Karate Kid/Cobra Kai fame appears in it with his hot as hell son, who plays a cop.
A young woman on the run and suspected of murder arrives at a sorority house that seems to be in the middle of nowhere and holds the college crowd hostage. She starts to ramble about the Sandman, and before long all the kids are experiencing nightmarish hallucinations from which they can’t wake up.
The whole movie feels like a psychotropic trip. The kids are mostly experiencing nightmares in which they are bullied by all the other kids based on their insecurities and vulnerabilities—pretty girl, closeted gay guy, Black guy, etc. (and the n word is used a lot in his sequence—like seriously uncomfortably too much).
The Sandman is mostly a shadowy illusion, but he does take a larger role (and does some killing) when there are only about twenty-five minutes remaining.
There’s some gore, but nothing particularly frightening happens, and the plot is rather convoluted. Reminds me of when the Elm Street franchise started going off the rails.
But damn is Martin Kove’s son fine.
THE MANOR (2018)
This time around the one dragging her demons into the real world is a young woman just out of the psychiatric hospital, where she was under the care of Rachel True (one of our favorite witches from The Craft), which we see in occasional flashbacks to her therapy sessions.
Thinking it will be good for her daughter’s mental health, the young woman’s mother decides to bring her to a resort to meet all her distant relatives. This doesn’t stop her from having freakish visions of a demonic man committing grisly murders.
And although the visual elements are horrortastic, the demon remains just visions for a majority of the film. Most of the time, the main girl is dealing with weird relatives, horny hunters, and some sort of spiritual cult and their big burly leader.
The demon, wielding an axe, does his first hack job 45 minutes in this 92-minute movie, but it’s not until an hour in that the kills start coming fast.
Of course the question remains…is this demonic killer real or is the main girl just batshit crazy?
It’s predictable, reminiscent of the later Elm Street films, and a little quirky and odd—but at least the demonic killer is entertaining when he finally shows up, and he does have a hunger for a muscle hunk.
THE BLOODY MAN (2020)
The shaky acting, indie vibe, and practical effects of this film may turn some people off, but it perfectly captures the feel of 80s direct-to-video horror…plus it takes place in the 80s. What hurts it is the unthinkable decision to not edit it down from its 2-hour and 13-minute running time. This so easily could have been remedied in large part if they had simply removed several unnecessary segments that are supposed to be stories the kids in the movie are telling each other. I would love an edit of this film that omits them completely.
When things finally get going, this is the type of movie that would have spooked the hell out of me when I was a young teen in the eighties and would have become an instant cable and video rental classic. It offers an 80s style synth score, plenty of 80s pop culture references, and some faux 80s pop songs, yet smartly refrains from trying too hard to get the eighties fashions exact, which only makes throwback films look like a bunch of people dressed for a bad eighties costume party.
The plot is just quirky enough to capture the weird storytelling of many 80s indie films. A boy bullied at school is struggling with his home life. His mom died (played by Lisa Wilcox of Elm Street 4 in flashbacks), he fights with his older brother and younger sister, and he’s not too happy that he has a new stepmom, played by Tuesday Knight of Elm Street 4. Tuesday even performs several of the faux 80s songs used in the film—and now I totally want a soundtrack CD to be released.
The inclusion of these two actresses makes sense, because after way too much family drama that pads much of the film, it ends up having a very Elm Street vibe—the best one of this trio of films.
The main boy reads a little wish spell on the back of a comic book…which brings to life “The Bloody Man” just in time for the kids to be stuck at home with their stepmom when the dad goes away.
The lights go out, the phone line is dead, and the main kid begins to think stepmom is evil because she suddenly begins to act very different. Tuesday Knight’s performance as the stepmom when she’s normal is rough, but once she gets to acting sinister and mean, she rocks it.
The movie gets intense as the kids run around in the shadows of the house trying to avoid their stepmom at first and then eventually The Bloody Man. The scary scenes with The Bloody Man are so Freddy Krueger, and there’s also plenty of cheesy kid-centric horror camp, including a fight with a dismembered arm and some inspiration to fight back brought to them by He-Man!
Unfortunately, all this good stuff doesn’t kick in until 90 minutes into the film. I sooooo wish this feature film had been trimmed down to its core elements, because I really think it would totally be embraced by fans of true 80s horror if it were a bit more streamlined.