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Nightmare Beach (1989) Blu-ray Review


Umberto Lenzi was one of the leading Italian giallo filmmakers in the 1970s. Lenzi was a genre director, some may even say something of a journeymen director, but nevertheless for any fans of the sleazier side of Italian cinema (and I am thinking more gore than of the Tinto Brass variety) then Lenzi is up there. In the 1960s he made a bunch of war films, before going on to the trend for giallo with such early classics as So Sweet… So Perverse (1969), Seven Blood Stained Orchids (1972), Spasmo (1974) and Eyeball (1975), before going on to make violent crime movies such as Almost Human (1975), entering the cannibal genre with Eaten Alive (1980) and the notorious Cannibal Ferox (1981) and pure horror zombie features like Nightmare City (1980). Nightmare Beach (1989) was a late giallo shot in the United States with a mostly American cast. Indeed, although it is a very American looking and sounding film, Nightmare Beach, sometimes known as Welcome to Spring Break does contain many of the tropes one would expect from a giallo, not least of all a gloved masked killer, or in this case wearing a motorcycle helmet murdering people in his own special way; here they are all electrocuted in a variety of ways.

The film opens at sunset with a group of bikers standing silently while their friend, a biker called Diablo is put to the electric chair, thanks to his chief persecutor, a cop named Stryker (Lenzi regular John A Nightmare on Elm Street Saxon). He vows to return. A year later young people gather for the Spring Break in Miami, Dade County. Among them is Gail (Sarah Buxton), the sister of the girl murdered by Diablo. Over the next few days a biker in red and black leathers, resembling Diablo is going around and murdering some of the partygoers through electricity and to all intents and purposes appears to be the returned Diablo.

Nightmare Beach has all the goofball humour prevalent in teen American movies through the 1980s including the dreadful 1980s soundtrack. Other than the usual giallo tropes it feels like an American B movie with some nice Miami and Fort Lauderdale locations. It keeps the sex to the minimum but pushes the gore to the foreground, such as a girl tied to a chair and immolated or another with her face electrocuted to the point her eyes pop out (!). The red herrings are plentiful and the final reveal will be greeted with a meh, but for those who like this sought of thing it is good fun and looks particularly good in the brand new 2K transfer from the original camera negative. It also comes with both English and Italian soundtracks, although I would recommend viewing in the English language version. It also has a reversible cover sleeve featuring posters both as Nightmare Beach and Welcome to Spring Break titles.

Extras on the disc include an interview with Lenzi (sadly he passed away last year, but retired from filmmaking in the early 1990s) from a forthcoming book, ‘The Devil’s Spectrum’. The only significant extra is an interview featurette with musician, Claudio Simonetti. Simonetti, no stranger to giallo soundtracks, especially in the prog rock band Goblin who had provided the soundtrack to several of Dario Argento’s films talks about his career in films as well as on Nightmare Beach.

Chris Hick


Chris Hick