NIGHTMARE BEACH (a.k.a. Welcome To Spring Break) *** Italy 1989 Dir: Umberto Lenzi. 90 mins
Michael Parks is typically engaging as a hard-drinking Florida doctor in Lenzi’s Fort Laudedale-shot slasher, referring accurately to Spring Break as “the annual migration of the idiot”. It’s a standard 80’s American dead teenager movie at heart, though his character – combined with other portrayals of sleazy authority figures and vacuous hot girls / horny guys – suggest a satirical attitude toward American culture from the Italian filmmaker.
Stern Sheriff John Saxon, who collects kinky shit and murder scene photos at home, executed Diablo, the infamous leader of biker gang “The Demons”, and months later, a mystery killer on a pimped-out bike goes on the rampage just as Spring Break unleashes “Beaver Patrol” hi-jinks, wet T-shirt contests, massive late 80’s “mobile” phones and Robert Smith fans. Red herrings abound (note the obligatory Peeping Tom!) in this slickly produced, sleek-looking flick, with a marvellous synth score by Claudio Simonetti. The eye candy is top-notch (notably Sarah Buxton as the barmaid with a tragic backstory) and the guessable killer gets a standard slasher movie speech lamenting the immorality of the modern age: “She was a lustful sinner, like these heathen invaders!”. The murders (mostly electrocutions) are largely bloodless, though you do get a couple of delightfully hokey blazing fake heads. Never dull and often hilarious, this also gives John Saxon a career best line : “You sorry assed jock strap!”
Review by Steven West