Runaway Nightmare is a true cinematic oddity, one that should not have been forgotten in time and space. It never got a release outside the US, which added to the overall rarity of it. To my knowledge it was never released down here in Australia, and there's probably a few reasons why. It was too weird for a mainstream audience, it's bizarre for a modern audience; imagine how audiences back in 82' reacted. Mike Cartel wrote directed and stared in this movie, this is his opus his citizen Kane. He is quite a talented director and it is a shame he never went on to direct another feature film.
The film starts off with Ralph (Cartel) and Jason who are sitting in the desert when they spot two men who appear to be carrying a coffin, immediately I though of Fright Night (even though this movie was 3 years earlier). The two men bury it and our two protagonists go to see whats inside; it appears to be a young woman who has been buried alive. They take her home and from there they get ambushed by a group of females with guns. These girls are part of a cult, which is run by the great Hesperia. The two men are then kidnapped and taken hostage by the the women to a retreat in the desert, from there they become accepted into the cult. With various plot twists and turns throughout the film, the pacing of the movie is brilliant. it never slows down as you have absolutely what is coming next; the movie is a genre of its own and has not category to fit into.
Jason appears to get along fine with the women, but ralph has a hard time fitting in, as he is constantly being threatened. From here we discover girls work for a type of mafia and need to steal back a case of platinum; it is interesting as the film now falls into a crime genre.
Cartel's directing is probably the most interesting aspect of the film, his use of colours and shadows really stand out. It feels at time like a German expression silent film, using emotion and body language to present the beauty and evil of the women. The black backdrops as a surreal feeling, as characters stand out like objects. It certainly is creepy and effective, there is a fight scene with Jason in a bar, then it shows a shot of one of the girls sleeping on a table. There is a vintage circle around her, once again paying a stylish homage to silent cinema. There is character development throughout the film as we slowly see he sanity of the characters slip, and it makes you wonder what is reality.
The films ending honestly had myself laughing, and I'm unsure whether hat was intentional or not. It's just unexpected. Overall runaway nightmare is a true gem that stands out in the crowd of lost films. I thank Vinegar syndrome for introducing me to this wonder, if it wasn't for them, I would have never known about it's existence (and I know a lot of obscure titles).
Vinegar Syndrome brings us runaway nightmare on blu ray in a 1080p transfer. For an obscure lost VHS title, it looks amazing. From what I saw online from previous prints of this movie, there are some appalling VHS rips that make your eyes bleed and your stomach churn. This is a true revelation, with a clear image containing natural grain. The outdoor scenes are very clean; and the hot sun desert really stands out in glorious colour. The indoors shots are grainy, but it is a very natural grain; some of the well lit indoor scenes show extreme detail in characters faces. The grain is not distracting infact it is how it was intended to look, being low budget it is obvious the film it was shot on was not most expensive. The fact that we have this title in HD is enough to please all genre fans.
Runaway Nightmare sounds good, it has a 1.0 DTS-HD MA mix and is presented in its original mono score. The Dialogue is very crisp, and there is barely any hisses or cracks. The catchy theme song sounds great when you blast it up and it really makes you get in the mood. Once again the fuzzy VHS rip version on the web is plagued with horrible sound noise and buzz. The scenes of suspense effectively jump at you and works well.
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack | Region Free | 16:9 Anamorphic | DTS-HD Mono
+ Scanned and Restored in 4k from 35mm original negatives
+ Commentary track with director Mike Cartel and co-star Mari Cartel
+ Alternate VHS scenes
The commentary track is very informative and I have to give credit to Vinegar for tracking down Cartel for this. He explains the long production and how the amount of time it took to complete.It gives you an idea of the history and why it fell into obscurity.
The Alternative VHS shots are bizarre; it appears the VHS distributor decided to make it more sexy and appealing by adding nude bodies of female actresses (or prostitutes?). The scenes feel so out of place and are good to have a laugh over.
Overall this is a extremely strong package from Vinegar Syndrome, they ship to Australia; so I'd advise fans to quickly hurry up and order this as stock is running low. An amazing effort for such an obscure title. Buy it here: