John Lamond is a bit of a legend in the Australian film industry. He's best known for his work on The ABCs of Love and Sex, Australia After Dark, Felicity and Pacific Banana. He was not afraid to push the envelope, and his films often explore taboo subjects.

But in 1980, he directed arguably Australia’s first ‘slasher’ film, ‘Nightmares’. The screenplay was penned by Colin Eggleston, also known for his work in the Ozploitation genre, most notably ‘Long Weekend’, from a story idea from John Lamond and John- Michael Howson.

Jenny Neumann plays Helen Selleck, a theatre actress with a horrific past. Her life is changed forever when she causes a car accident that kills her mother. Years later, she plays the starring role in a stageplay called Comedy of Blood, while all around her, the rest of the cast are being killed off by a psychopathic killer.

Who’s killing the cast? Who will survive? And why is the killer revealed in the film’s trailer?

Nightmares owes a lot to the slasher and Giallo genres in style, and Halloween, released in 1978, is an undeniable influence. There are many POV shots and lots of heavy breathing in the soundtrack. What there isn’t, however, is much variety in the way that the killer dispatches Helen’s theatre buddies. In every case, a shard of glass is used in place of a knife or some other weapon. There is reason in the context of the film, but more variety from the killer would be appreciated.

We can’t talk about this film without mentioning the frequency of nudity and sex scenes. Most of the cast is killed before, during or after sex, and some scenes are gratuitous. People seem to get naked in this movie, whether in the theatre or outside in the back laneway. It’s easy to see the influence of John Lamond’s earlier films here. Yours truly is certainly no prude, but I found some of these scenes uncomfortable.

The performances are, on the whole, serviceable, we don’t get to know the characters much, and there’s not much happening between them except for the director of the play, played by Max Phipps and the theatre critic, played by John-Michael Howson. They have a caustic relationship, and you feel they have some history between them. 

I had a great time watching this movie. It's not for everyone, but if you like Slasher and Giallo movies, I'm sure there will be something to enjoy! If you can get together with friends, pour a few drinks and enjoy riffing on this movie, all the better!

Two and a half Dingos out of five