Monday, 14 January 2013

Frightmare (2000)

As baseline production values in commercial cinema improve, the goalpost for quality moves. Therefore, you need to adjust bad movies for inflation, just like currency. The special effects in King Kong (1933) are objectively inferior to those in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), but judged in its creative context, the former is a better movie. I bring this up only because, properly adjusted for cinematic "inflation", Frightmare (Ash Smith, 2000) might be the worst movie I've ever seen.

Yeah, I went there.
What is the plot of Frightmare? I watched it twenty-four hours ago and I've already forgotten. There are some teenagers in a town called Sugar Hill trying to finance their spring break in the Cayman Islands through a haunted house fundraiser.... there's renegade psychopath called the "Conscience Killer"... there's a rave... a car breaks down... there are extended shots of cockroaches crawling around on the floor of an abandoned house... nope, I've got nothing.

I've never seen most of the movies popularly held up as the "worst ever" (The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Troll 2, etc.), so I'm by no means the ultimate authority on bad movies. But Frightmare, you know... it's really, really bad. And it's bad in that adorable early 2000s way: the "hardcore" typeface on the intro credits, the NIN-lite background music, the needless zoom shots, handheld camera footage, and jump cuts. Frightmare wants to be 3/4 Scream and 1/4 I Know What You Did Last Summer, with the power tool dance from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre thrown in for good measure: but it's actually eerily like what would happen if the creative team responsible for the "Piracy: It's a Crime" ads were asked to make a feature length horror film.

I got Frightmare on VHS and paid twenty cents for it, which feels right in retrospect. I can't in good faith recommend it, but it had its moments (and - gore warning! - a hilariously accurate one-liner from the killer).

Some mornings I feel like that too.
FINAL GIRL: Shanda Besler as Sarah Falls. Shanda had a career after Frightmare, but she had to change her name to do it.

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