Project Nightmare (1987) – By Baron Craze


Screenwriters Donald M. Jones and James C. Lane penned this very strange bizarre sci-fi film, which leans more to mystery than horror, and this movie, also included on the DVD of Murderlust (1985), which actually on the box says 1987 too. Now almost all critics and fans of this production believe the creation of it occurred in the 1970s (according to DVD box 1979) for the style of dress and other unique aspects of the film, and then later secure distribution in 80s, before Intervision Pictures Corp stepped in and rescued it from languishing in VHS obscurity hell. Jones, already showed his skills with The Love Butcher (1975) and The Forest (1982), but this movie lies, with more questions than answers, and the lack of information in a weird way helps muddy the waters, almost as if this film is a found footage project.

The movie starts with adventurous character Jon (Seth Foster) and his more conservative shy deep-thinking friend Gus (Charles Miller) whose camping trip dissolves quickly as a strange force destroys their camp and chases through the woods and later desolate landscape where nothing exists. Questioning did any of it actually exist before, on a metaphysical level, of what they have seen, being present or rather, lost in time and space, cross into ontology. Beyond this, the psychedelic filming, causes an endless series of questions from the character s and for the viewers, they discover a secluded cabin, which a woman named Marcie (Elly Koslo) has no food, only drink. This nightmarish sequence swirls further down the proverbial rabbit hole, filtered only by synthesizer music, which only recently started to find popularity again dating the movie. It is a continuation from here the men find and lose people quickly perhaps more cause and effects of their actions effecting the state of being, and existence, adding to the movie’s mystery of basis of sound reality, all controlled by a computer keen on locking in on people’s brainwaves. Most of the film centers on lights and special effects, though a beautiful aerial shot of the desert exists, mirror similar from Jones’ film Murderlust, however this time the vast existence of nothingness echoes far greater and more eerily than the other movie. The pyramid in the ground brings more questions than answers and leaves the viewer wondering what in the world I have witnessed, as the myriad of objects come and go on a whim. Watching this movie takes time, dedication and perhaps repeated viewings to understand the entire tale.

A film like this makes and even encourages the viewer to take a different and perhaps self-aware path to one’s own discovery the film in essence another door to a Twilight Zone dimension. While much attention focuses on the date of release, as the outfits and hairstyles don’t fit the release date, however actually plays very little to the basis of the film, which contains stale dialogue and awkward acting, as if the actors even felt unsure of the film itself. In addition, this low budget film shows clearly the entire production, likely, a good script set the stage, but at some point, the ambition of the film grew beyond the capability of understanding of physiological horror, a rarity in the genre of horror, and rather left for fantasy and independent art films. The computer mockups suffer, looking extremely dated, and hinder the concept, thereby showing random images, and screen glowing effects, along with a giant green transparent floating head, (say what?) yes, actually occurs, however, it is nothing like the Star Trek: The Final Frontier (1989) God creation. All the atmospheric buildup works well to bring together both impending doom and question of the life existence of the primary characters, assist by the desert sequence of vast emptiness. However, the pacing, lags, perhaps the acting or even the storyline itself, bringing a boring story to a crawl, not something for most horror or thriller fans.

Project Nightmare, feels as a social experiment for the viewers, the actions of the characters and the surrounding uneasiness, seems other worldly production to test one’s philosophy. So much of the film’s conceptual design leaves much for the imagination, and hence this review more as a tour guide through a checklist of items rather the full understanding of the movie. The scenes present themselves as disjointed puzzle without a clear picture for the final representation of the film; therefore, one likely either accepts the images and weirdness at face value or investigates deeply the time and effort with further viewings.