Friday, October 5, 2012

Horror Con: "Nightmare in Blood" (1978)

Malakai (Jerry Walter) is the hottest horror actor working in 1978. In San Francisco, Professor Seabrook (Dan Caldwell), his girl Cindy (Barrie Youngfellow), and Scotty (John H. Cochran) are throwing a horror convention, with Malakai the main attraction. The problem? Malakai is not just playing a vampire onscreen, he is one in real life.

Malakai arrives flanked by his weird PR guys Harris (Hy Pyke) and B.B. (Ray K. Goman). We have seen them murder a projectionist at a neighboring theater, so we know they are up to no good. Scotty's fiancee, Barbara, is killed by the pair. A mysterious man dubbed the Avenger (Irving Israel) also shows up, appearing at Barbara's murder just in time for Cindy to see him. He is after Malakai. With the help of a goofy comic book shop, the horror convention nerds finally find themselves battling real horrors.

"Nightmare in Blood" is a goofy horror film nerd's dream movie. Inside jokes abound. I think I owned some of the comics shown at the comic shop. The cast is very likable, and have some good characteristics. There is a nice subplot where the convention is opposed by uptight Dr. Unworth (Justin Bishop), who gets his just rewards. Malakai is really into the art of horror, not appreciating the mockery of a local fright flick host. If you are quick, you will recognize Kathleen Quinlan in a fleeting moment onscreen in a fictitious film. She is billed in the opening credits as "Kathy Quinlan."

On the other hand, the film does meander. There is a clever point where the true identities of Harris and B.B. is learned. However, we find out Scotty was engaged to Barbara, yet her death does not seem to bother him at all! Cindy is more broken up, probably because she found the body. The action and fight scenes are weak, and the gore mostly consists of unconvincing fake blood.

Despite the weaknesses, I found myself enjoying this rarity. It was goofy, but it had its heart in the right place, and the cast quickly won me over. This was made for the typical horror fan, and lets us celebrate our genre without smirking and talking down to us.

"Nightmare in Blood" is no perfect dream, but good enough to recommend. (* * * *) out of five stars.