Jesus 'Jess' Franco is the Woody Allen of sleazy grindhouse films. With well over one hundred films under his belt, Franco was one of the most prolific filmmakers of the last several decades. He died earlier this year at age 82, and was still making ridiculous crack-pot films until his death with the last unfinished film being 'Al Pereira vs. The Alligator Women'. Franco moved from Spain to France so he could indeed make graphic films that garnered him X ratings, where most people said he just made porn. But his films, which were poorly shot with almost no budget, had a psychedelic feel that made you journey into an acid trip from time-to-time. You'll get this feeling from his 1970 film, 'Nightmares Come At Night'.
With 'The Awful Dr. Orlof', 'Vampyros Lesbos', and 'Dracula vs Frankenstein' being his more notable works, 'Nightmares Come At Night' wasn't known for a while. The print was thought to be lost and didn't have much of a theatrical run, but about ten years ago there was a DVD release of the film from a print that was found. Now we have it on glorious Blu-ray.
I would have loved to interview Franco's actresses, as most of them were virtually naked the entire time. It must have gotten cold on set every now and again. The naked chick we center on this time is Anna (Diana Lorys), who is a burlesque dancer who quits her job when Cynthia (Colette Jack), an avid customer of the nightclub where Anna dances asks her to live with her in her luxurious estate. Well, as you can guess, the two form a steamy sexual relationship, but Cynthia becomes bored and Anna begins to have nightmares...at night. Yes, this movie runs in circles like the title. Her nightmares are very bizarre and usually involve murder and blood.
Cynthia hires a doctor (Paul Muller) to talk with and examine Anna, while two people take up resident next door to Cynthia to keep a close eye on Anna. There are flashbacks that showcase a naked Anna and her long dance routine, lots of sex, and some doctor/patient discussions about the emotional health of Anna. This all comes to a halting twist when Anna has another nightmare and brings things full circle from the first nightmare.
This film tends to raise the question, "What the hell am I watching?" more than have you thinking, "This is one solid film." That's the case with just about every film in Franco's career. Most of them are slow moving, involve trippy dream sequences, and tons of nudity and sex with some monsters from time to time. If this if your cup of tea, then Jesus 'Jess' Franco's 'Nightmares Come At Night' should make a good addition to your sleaze Blu-ray collection.
'Nightmares Come At Night' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Oddly enough, there is an extra on this disc that talks about the video transfer. Kino Blu-ray guru Brett Wood talks about this high-def transfer and why some of the blemishes are still here. Basically, this is a up-converted transfer from the DVD version from a decade ago from the original 35mm negative. This may be the best this film has ever looked, but that's not saying much. The detail is cleaned up quite a bit, giving the picture some depth, and giving the costumes and makeup some decent detail and shine.
However, the image looks mostly soft and pale. The colors look good for the most part, but seem to have some unnatural saturation levels at times. Black levels run deep and inky for the most part. There are tons of scratches, specks, hairs, and debris that riddle this print from start to finish, with a good layer of grain to go around. The grain picks up in the flashback sequences for some reason as well. They tried the best they could to clean up this print, but it still has some problems.
This release comes with a French PCM 2.0 mono audio mix as well as an English dubbed version. Much like the video presentation, this audio mix isn't great either. I wouldn't bother with the English dubbed version, unless you want to feel awkward and laugh throughout the picture. The French version is much better to listen to. Dialogue is mostly clear, but comes with some pops, cracks, and some hissing.
The sound effects are mostly soft, but nothing really screeches at the crescendo scary moments, which is nice. The score is probably the better aspect of this audio presentation, as it feels balanced with its chaotic score. Due to the age and low budget of the film, this audio mix suffers.
'Nightmares Come At Night' and Franco himself are definitely an acquired taste. If you enjoy very low budget films that tend to make little sense and feature a good amount of nudity, monsters, and sex, then you most likely will enjoy this film and Franco's other works. The video and audio on this release is sub-par, even though this is the best this has ever looked. The commentary track proves an insight into Franco's world that is much deserved, but the rest of the extras feel like fluff. For fans, this is a must own, for everyone else, rent it first.