Nightmare at Noon (Death Street USA)Overview -
Raving psychopaths are running wild after drinking tainted water in Nico Mastorakis’ 1988 B-movie thriller Nightmare at Noon aka Death Street USA. Starring George Kennedy, Wings Hauser, Kimberly Beck, Bo Hopkins, and Brion James the film is a schlocky good time filled with explosive stunts. Arrow Video brings the film to Blu-ray with a stellar A/V package including a new 2k restoration of the negative. Heaps of bonus features accompany the feature making this sci-fi actioner Recommended.
DON’T DRINK THE WATER!
From cult director Nico Mastorakis (Island of Death, Hired to Kill) comes Nightmare at Noon, a hectic mashup of eco-horror and shoot 'em up full of daring stunts and explosive action!
Something strange is afoot in a small remote town in Utah, as a series of sinister state experiments in the surrounding desert leads to the contamination of its water supply, transforming the residents into lethal brainless maniacs. Enter vacationing lawyer Ken Griffiths (Wings Hauser, Vice Squad), his sassy wife Cheri (Kimberly Beck) and Reilly (Bo Hopkins), the mysterious hitchhiker they pick up on the road, who find themselves thrust into the midst of this madness when they stop for a drink at the local diner.
Featuring an epic score by Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Dark Knight series) and set amongst the spectacular backdrop of Arches National Park, Nightmare at Noon is a non-stop adrenaline pumping thrill ride!
Special Features and Technical Specs:
- BRAND NEW RESTORATION from the original negative
- Original uncompressed stereo audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Optional Greek subtitles
- The Films of Nico Mastorakis: Nightmare at Noon, featurette on the making of the film with commentary from director Nico Mastorakis
- Behind-the-scenes footage
- Original onset interviews with actors Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins, Kimberly Beck, George Kennedy and Brion James
- Image gallery accompanied by the film's score from Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- First pressing only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Johnny Mains
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
“Be careful, this thing doesn’t make any sense.”
Something is running afoul in the isolated community of Canyonland. A heavily armed force has introduced a poisonous agent into the water supply. Their leader is an albino scientist (Brion James, Future Shock) whose gadgets are as deadly as his tactics. Representing the Agency for the Protection of the Environment (A.P.E) the crew dump a glowing green substance into the reservoir and use their future tech to cut off all communications with the outside world. California show business lawyer Ken (Wings Hauser, Vice Squad) and his wife Cheri (Kimberly Beck, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), pull into town in their RV with shady hitchhiker Reilly (Bo Hopkins, Trapper County War). The trio get into a tussle at a diner after a local goes psycho on everyone. This draws the attention of Sheriff Hanks (George Kennedy, Brain Dead) who joins the fight to save the town from itself.
Nightmare at Noon is a schlocky b-movie filled with explosive stunts and character actors having a blast. Greek exploitation director Nico Mastorakis begins this mayhem-filled feature like any other horror flick with a deserted town overrun with psychotic monsters. Drop in the local authorities and a few fish-out-of-water yuppies to complete the equation, right? Halfway through the film turns into a western with horseback shootouts in the arch rock formations of Utah and gorgeous backcountry vistas for our heroes to track down the albino scientist. Mastorakis references High Noon and even has the film displayed on the town’s drive-in theatre marquee. At its heart, this is a western with Romero-esque influences up and down.
Shot in Moab, Utah years before it became a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, the film is bloated with gorgeous scenery that elevates this schlocky flick. Nightmare at Noon best utilized these locations with an infamous helicopter chase that clearly doesn’t belong in this film. When unlikely hero Reilly tracks the albino scientist through the rocky outcrops and archways he finds himself face-to-face with his foe. Rising up between the two men are buzzing helicopters that engage in an utterly reckless chase that is sheer entertainment.
Performances in Nightmare at Noon are memorable and committed. Wings Hauser channels the egocentric attorney with ease, imbuing him with enough ego to make anyone happy he gets grazed by a few bullets. Brion James doesn’t speak a single word during the film but gives the strange scientist an unsettling performance that works so well. Kimberly Beck ramps up her performance as a needy wife hoping to escape her life with Ken. Believable and full of energy. George Kennedy looks tired but commits to the bit laying into the Sheriff role easily. Finally, Bo Hopkins chews every scene to pieces! His character goes through quite a bit during the course of the film but no matter what happens the man perseveres.
Nightmare at Noon doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. What was A.P.E. hoping to achieve with their experiment? However, in stunt execution and explosive mayhem, the film is a stone-cold 10. I’ll give Mastorakis plenty of credit for combining western tropes with a sci-fi contamination flick. It’s silly but watchable with plenty of moments worth gasping over (especially the helicopters and Kimberly Beck). It’s an odd film for sure but genre audiences will absolutely love this bizarre effort.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Nightmare at Noon arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Arrow Video. HighDefDigest was provided a pre-production check disc for evaluation which didn’t include an artwork sleeve, booklet, or proper keepcase. However, the A/V components of our supplied disc are identical to those of the consumer release. The disc loads the Arrow Video logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes playing above typical navigation options.
Arrow Video brings Nightmare at Noon to an AVC-encoded Blu-ray with a fresh 2k restoration sourced from the original 35mm interpositive in the film’s original 1.85:1. This HD Image looks solid with bright vivid colors, deep black levels, adequate depth, and fine detail present throughout. Outdoor photography blooms with lush greens and reds in the Utah landscapes. Contrast levels are solid with color saturation and depth looking good. Fine detail reveals the hundreds of folds hidden in Bo Hopkins' face as he chews the scenery. Grain levels are fine and stable throughout the feature. Previously released on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory this new release from Arrow shows an uptick in detail, color saturation, and depth. For fans, this upgrade is a no-brainer.
Nightmare at Noon explodes on Arrow Video Blu-ray with DTS-HD MA 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 Stereo audio tracks. Both audio tracks sound great with dialogue exchanges clear and clean without hiss or pop detected. Surrounds in the 5.1 mix are generously used in scoring, effects, and atmospherics. Gunshots occasionally lose their clarity in larger shootouts taking on an echo chamber effect but doesn’t detract from the experience. English and Greek subtitles are available.
As expected Arrow filled this release with bonus content for fans of the feature. Start with the Films of Nico featurette before moving through the interviews and behind-the-scenes archival footage. Please note that this pre-production disc did not contain an insert booklet that is common with Arrow Video Blu-ray releases.
- The Films of Nico Mastorakis: Nightmare at Noon (HD 33:15) A behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film. This is Part 3 of a 4 part documentary on the films of Nico Mastorakis.
- Behind the scenes cuts of Nightmare at Noon (HD 49:15)
- On-Set Interviews:
- Wings Hauser (HD 12:39)
- Bo Hopkins (HD 11:06)
- Kimberly Beck (HD 7:36)
- George Kennedy (HD 4:28)
- Brion James (HD 17:09)
- Trailer (HD 3:04)
- Image Gallery (HD 12:30)
Nightmare at Noon is a schlocky sci-fi action flick filled with a dynamite cast and non stop action. It has all the trappings of 50’s alien contamination flicks with the explosive action expected from a Mastoraki film. B-movie fans will no doubt enjoy this as an afternoon matinee. Arrow Video brings the feature to Blu-ray with a stellar new 2k restoration and a heap of bonus features. Recommended.
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