Lets not beat about the bush here, Lucio Fulci was a great horror film maker and should always be remembered for the fantastic contribution he made to the genre scene. Sure, not every film was a classic but in their own quirky way most of his output had a certain amount of gutsy charm that has endeared him forever with the horror fan community.
In the latter stages of his career before his sad departure from this realm he delivered a film that would split his fan base into two firm camps, that film was 'Nightmare Concert'.
'Nightmare Concert' is often viewed in two perspectives - one being that the film is a cut and paste botch job of earlier produced works padded out with some low brow black humour to patch it all together. On the other hand, the film has been considered as a witty and darkly humorous personal insight into the lighter and more personal side of the great film makers psyche. Me, I like to think that it's a touch of both (with a stronger leaning towards Fulci's humorous personality and as an exercise in him exorcising some demons along the way).
The film (for those that haven't discovered its oddball delights yet) follows Fulci as he becomes convinced that he is losing the plot mentally when he starts to feel the pressure of filming graphic gore flicks. Hallucinatory flashbacks from years of filming gory eye candy soon has him convinced that he is killing folk during blackouts and he visits a psychiatrist neighbour to help him overcome his (what he believes) apparent problem. Whilst reviewing Fulci's casework (well watching his back catalogue of films, lucky guy!) his psychiatrist sees this as the ideal opportunity to do some killing himself and placing the guilt firmly on poor Lucio's shoulders. Will Fulci go completely insane?
'Nightmare Concert' is (no matter what you way you choose to look at it) a thoroughly enjoyable and fun slice of Fulci insanity that only the most anally retentive could not find some quirky pleasure from. Sure it's not 'The Beyond' but it's a whole load of fun! Fulci obviously had a great deal of fun making this film and it shows. Don't' expect any sort of heavy insight to the mind of Fulci, that is apart from his hysterical rantings during moments of inspired blood thirsty insanity (burned alive, buried alive, tortured, scolded, stabbed...and so on) Priceless stuff and funny as hell! The scenes used from other productions are well placed and act nicely as feeder for these particular films (Touch of Death, Ghosts of Sodom) that like this flick are generally met with often at best tepid reception by some misguided and less forgiving critics (but what do they know?!)
Chainsaw mayhem, cannibalism, lusty Nazis, steak tartar, blood and gore - all rounded off with some highly amusing offbeat antics by the great man himself. What more could a horror fan ask for? Not much to be honest, well apart from a decent DVD transfer! This disc from Astro in Germany is a mixed bag of pleasures all round.
On one hand I'm absolutely thrilled that this gem of a movie has seen the light of a much deserved DVD release (more so that Astro have been kind enough to include an English language audio track). On the other hand, the print mastering of the film itself really does deserve better and the lacklustre presentation leaves you wanting more. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. The latter half of the film really does look alright (well for what looks like a straight NTSC to Pal transfer) but the first section doesn't fare so well with a somewhat unstable image that to be honest doesn't rate that well in comparison alongside my bootleg tape of the old laserdisc presentation. The audio though is solid enough throughout so if you can live with the less than perfect master on show then like me you'll just be pleased to see the film on DVD at least. A curious bonus that was of great interest too is what seems to be a longer version of the closing scenes (before the closing credits) that wraps up things slightly differently to any other version I had viewed before (though I'm sure someone will clarify this for me?)
Another pleasant surprise for me was the uncredited inclusion on the disc for a music video. On playing this I was thrilled to see that it was the main theme track from Shaky Gonzales' excellent vampire flick 'Angel of the Night' (which I can highly recommend for those that haven't yet checked it out!) Also on the disc is a full Fulci bio section which will be of interest to our German readers.
'Nightmare Concert' is a great film. Ignore what the films knockers have been saying, if you fancy a fun slice of lighthearted relief from the more po-faced horror movies then this is just the ticket. The more patient among you may want to wait for Grindhouse to put together their definitive release, but the impatient may (like me) will find this a lacking but substantial purchase in the meantime. Chill out and enjoy an underrated gory classic!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Astro Filmworks|
|Directed by Lucio Fulci|
|Region 2 PAL DVD|
|Running time: approx 89 mins|
|Optional English & German dialogue, bio pages, music video for 'Angel of the Night'.|