Frightmare (1983)

Frightmare begins with a horror movie icon killing a director and then his servant before he is laid to rest. This icon, who has some Christopher Lee qualities to him, then continues to haunt those around him when a group of horror film society students steal his corpse from the mausoleum he is in.

The first ten minutes is well-filmed, good writing and lots of potential for murderous mayhem. But the film drags in the middle (although thankfully not as much as “House of Death”) and never really gets that initial spurt of energy back.

Lots of the deaths are confusing, as they seem to have people just falling over scared when they see a floating coffin or other odd things. Twice we see poisonous gas being used. But the box promises that this horror star will be the embodiment of all the monsters he has played. Boy, is that false advertising, unless he spent his career playing boring old men who take naps and watch “Matlock”.

The general principle of the film is decent: horror society kids stealing a corpse of a dead icon. A modern equivalent (digging up Vincent Price or Peter Cushing) would make a great film. Maybe a remake is in order if that wouldn’t be too disrespectful. Sometimes theory doesn’t come across as well in application, and this film offers that example.

The only redeeming quality of this film (besides the beginning) is the brief appearance of a very young Jeffrey Combs. I saw him and thought “that’s Jeffrey Combs” but felt I was mistaken as the box never mentioned him. But sure enough, Combs was present. (A note to this movie’s film-makers: mention Combs on the cover of the DVD, you’ll sell more copies if if you would be deceiving customers.) If you’re a Jeffrey Combs die-hard, check out this early role. Otherwise, I cannot offer this as a great selection for a horror movie marathon. Let me suggest “Intruder” or “Popcorn”, as those are both pretty decent and will stand the test of time.