14th Sep2014

‘Runaway Nightmare’ Blu-ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Mike Cartel, Al Valletta, Seeska Vanderberg, Cindy Donlan, Jody Lee Olhava, Cheryl Gamson, Georgia Durante, Debbie Poropat, Alexis Alexander, J. Christopher Senter | Written and Directed by Mike Cartel


Ralph, played by director Mike Cartel (Pets, The Outsider) and his buddy Jason, played by Al Valletta (The Incredible Hulk, Alley Cat) are just a couple of guys who live in Nevada and run a worm farm (…. you can just smell the American Dream right there). One day, whilst shooting and catching some rays, they see two shady characters dumping a chest. They soon discover there is a body of a naked young girl who lays unconscious. This is Fate, played by Seeska Vanderberg (Bitter Heritage). The guys take her back to the farm to nurse her back to health until they are ambushed and kidnapped by a commune of foxy female cultists (THAT’S the American Dream right there right!?) lead by a woman named Hespiria, played by Cindy Donlan (Schizoid). After some bizarre initiations, the men become members and are enlisted in the task of stealing a suitcase of platinum from the mafia. Of course, being the only me, seems like it’s not just the platinum that some of chicks want to get a hold of. OK, that’s as far as I am willing to go with a synopsis because this film is out there man and there are many twists to the tale (not all make sense) for you to enjoy.

So what did I think of this piece of cult cinema? I have no idea! Runaway Nightmare is one of those films that falls perfectly in to the weird and wacky world of psychotronic cinema. You are either going to adore this, or find it a bot too hokey and camp. For me personally, there were some genuinely enjoyable and out there moments but overall, I just didn’t dig it as much as I thought I would. For a film made in 1982, it sure had that feel of a late 60’s or early 70’s piece of hokey exploitation…. Which is always hit and miss for me. It’s something you would expect to see being released by Something Weird back in the day. It wasn’t a bad film by any means, not just my cup of tea. If you like absurd moments in your films, you will get a kick out of this. There is a massive cocktail of genres in here. There’s thriller, dark comedy and even surrealist touches throughout. Like I said, this IS a psychotronic film in every shape and form. If you stay with this film right to end, you will see EXACTLY what I mean.

Vinegar Syndrome initially released Runaway Nightmare as a limited to 1000 Blu-ray and DVD combo pack. Even though it’s sold out on the Vinegar Syndrome store, you can still pick this combo up from Diabolik. If you don’t want to pay extra for the limited edition combo, you can also pick up the regular DVD release which is still widely available. I can only watch DVDs as I refuse to upgrade to Blu-ray and I can safely say, you won’t be disappointed as once again, Vinegar Syndrome have done a stellar job with the presentation, that being said, one can only imagine how much nicer the Blu-ray looks. The film is restored in 4k from original elements and is presented in its OAR. On the disc you get a commentary that is entertaining and informative as well as alternate scenes from a VHS copy of the film (basically inserts of lots of tit shots) which has its own fun story on its own.

Overall, this is a great release for fans of quirky cult cinema. Runaway Nightmare is not for everyone but for fans this is a must. Maybe a few more on disc special features would have been nice, but the fact that such an obscure film like this is being presented in 4K is reason to pick it up. There’s definitely replay value and it’s a perfect film to throw on with some good friends, pizza and of course, beer. Give it a try, this could be a revelation!

You can buy the limited edition of Runaway Nightmare from Diabolik here, the DVD version is available directly from Vinegar Syndrome here.


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