Horror Movie Review: Frightmare (1983)

Also known as Body Snatchers and The Horror Star, Frightmare is a 1983 horror movie notable for being the screen debut of the legendary actor, Jeffery Combs. If you needed a reason to watch it, there is one.

Another is zany wackiness that is the plot, a true 80’s gem if there ever was one. In it we meet Conrad Razkoff (Ferdy Mayne), an elderly horror film star. Or at least he was, reduced to acting in commercials now. He still thinks his star burns brightly and clashes with the director of the commercial. Disgusted by the man’s way of speaking to him, Conrad ends up pushing him off a balcony and somehow gets away with the murder.

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It’s the first clue that Frightmare is going to be a hell of a ride.

Conrad then visits a drama school where he is greeted like a hero by the students. Overcome by adulation, he suffers a heart attack and faints. Later, in bed he tells his director that death is approaching and he wants to go out like a star with one final performance. His director agrees but when Conrad ‘dies’ he vents his true feelings to the man.

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Conrad was faking it though and kills the director and once again, gets away with it.

Finally, Conrad dies (off-screen) and at his funeral he reveals that his cemetery is his final performance for fans to enjoy. Strange? Well, it’s about to get a lot stranger as seven drama students sneak into his tomb late at night and steal his body.

They take him to a mansion for a party but even in death Conrad will not stand for this disrespect. He rises from the dead and sets about killing the students one by one.

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Yes, when it boils down to it, Frightmare is nothing but a slasher. A cheesy and wacky one but a film that has plenty that can be enjoyed. Ferdy Mayne’s Conrad is delightfully over the top and it’s very easy to see him as a classic horror movie star like Christopher Lee. Had he not been a supernatural character, it would have been hard to believe he could get the better of the younger and fitter students. However, he can cause characters to burst into flames without even touching them. Other times, he is happy to just rip tongues out.

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The student group are fodder and there is little in the way of character development. It’s a slasher after all and they’re just there to be victims. Being his first role, Jeffery Combs hardly makes any kind of impression, it’s just nice to see him.

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The biggest flaw in Frightmare isn’t the 80’s effects (they add charm) nor the hammy acting. The biggest flaw is the movie’s length, coming in at 90 minutes it really drags and the plot just isn’t strong enough to sustain interest.

It’s not an 80’s classic by comparison to many films that fall into that bracket but it has plenty for fans of the time-period to enjoy.


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