Tall, Dark, and Dead – 75 – Frightmare
Director: Norman Thaddeus Vane
Leads: Ferdy Mayne, Jennifer Starrett, Leon Askin
Favorite quote: “You see, a star in life is a star in death.”
Thoughts: Norman Thaddeus Vane.
Norman Thaddeus Vane.
My GOD. Marry me.
Frightmare is one of those early eighties horror films that has nonetheless managed to age rather well. I found it campy and hilarious, and thoroughly enjoyed viewing it. It’s right on the borderline of zombie purity, being not so much about a zombie as about body/death politics – the use/abuse of dead bodies, post-death agency, etc. However, as the body in question actually gets up and moves around and enacts the revenges cooked up by the “evil spirit,” or whatever we can assume is actually controlling it, I think it belongs here. (Also: Ferdy Mayne!)
In fact, the film is a weird (and awesome) hybrid of zombies, ghosts, the supernatural, and technology. Radzoff (Karloff by any other name) has an extremely tacky mausoleum that figures into his post-mortem adventures, complete with neon lights, gas, and various other tortures. There’s a slight nod to voodoo lore in that Radzoff’s revenge starts after his corpse is stolen by a cadre of adoring film students, who hold a sort of post-burial wake/seance for him – which really hits close to home. I think it says something about the affection horror fans can feel for their idols, whom we watch die countless times before they actually do.
I think I most enjoyed the nod to my pet theory of “no malice meant, no malice met” – the law of horror films that is probably best embodied in Craven’s Scream rules. I like finding examples of this, seeing as I so often root for the monsters/people/things doing the killing and maiming. See, they’re not all bad!