Ok, this is a fun, creepy movie! Let’s just start there as we settle into this joyfully atmospheric anthology which brings back plenty of old school chills. This is one of those movies that conjures up feelings and emotions from many great horror films of the past but with enough interesting storylines and other technical goodies to make for a spookily entertaining ride.
One thing I would like to mention right off is the excellent cinematography and sound. These things can make a scene, or entire movie as well as doom one. A key thing is having the right tone, lighting and ‘feel’ and the directors did a superb job here.
As with most anthologies, the short stories revolve around a central theme that not only ties the other stories together, but also has its own surprises. In Nightmare Radio, we get to spend an evening with a trendy female DJ serving up her late night talk radio duties. The casting for the role of DJ Candy Blue (Paula Brasca) works incredibly well in this dim, dark, metal radio station. Candy is a tough girl, but also has some vulnerabilities while dealing with a very creepy caller, named Jack throughout the night.
Candy starts the night on Nightmare Radio by inviting callers to reveal their own stories of the wildest thing they ever experienced. As you can imagine, there is a mix of things thrown at Candy from the callers. We have brief encounters with Candy at the radio station between story segments as her own wild story begins to unfold.
The first story centers on a young couple dealing with seemingly normal problems. Money, lack of photography work for the wife and just a faltering relationship in general. The wife’s attention seems to be drifting under life’s pressures as she is feeling more like a failure all the time, no help from her husband. When she accidentally knocks over a drink on her laptop, seemingly ruining it, her husband begrudgingly dries it out. You can feel the tension between these two as he keeps reeling out his disappointment without directly blaming her.
Awakened one night by foxes in the trash bin outside, she becomes fascinated with the beautiful, playful creatures. Plenty of eye contact leads to her somewhat befriending the pack and even making them the subject of her camera’s lens. There is a connection here, something primal that leads to a surprising ending, even if somewhat expected.
One thing that works particularly well for this segment, as well as others, is the masterful sound – or lack there of. There is ample dialog to keep the viewer on course, but the atmospheric soundscape lulls you into following along this dreamlike episode.
Of course, we have a brief interlude with Candy at the radio station here, as with all the segment breaks. For the sake of minimizing spoilers, let’s just say that we see tensions rising for our dear DJ. As it turns out, she has her own wild tale unfolding and seemingly out of her control.
The next segment is a bit less involved, but give the feel of one of those rapid-fire-fleeting nightmares that make you wake up pouring sweat with heart racing. In this tale, we begin with a young man, apparently just moving into his new apartment. The building is one of those old, cold, ‘keep to yourself’ sorts of places. Flicking through channels on his TV, he comes across what appears to be security cam footage. What he sees happen in the next couple of moments is frightening enough but then – he realizes the view was almost outside his front door.
He races to the spot where the incident he (thought?) he saw take place, only to find himself smack in the middle of his own worst nightmare. This story is pretty short but it has a great pace and leaves you with an almost predictable yet satisfying twist at the end.
The third story struck so many chords for me personally, that I had to give it a couple watches. It combines a combination of an old, abandoned creepy hospital – and oh, how I love those old abandoned sanatorium/hospital settings! Then, one of the two main characters is a filmmaker, scouting locations (I’m a filmmaker too, so that really was calling out). And three, it takes place in West Virginia, my home state! The Mountain State has been getting its fair share of attention over the years as a mysterious and scary place to get lost. Movies such as Silent Hill (2006) have shed a bit of darkness on them, there hills.
Our somewhat overzealous and cocky filmmaker arrives at Wayville Hills Sanatorium with a young female property manager from Tucker County, West Virginia, Sarah Davis (Shannon Lahaie) to have a look around one dark night. Because of course, a spooky, dark night is the best time to scout such a location! We get to follow the duo along the hallways and rooms of this enormously creepy environment with our filmmaker being simply giddy about some of the leftover articles. He is delighted to see old medical instruments, tools and particularly a wheelchair sitting amongst the decay.
We eventually learn about the story of nurse Mary Weaver (Meghan McNicol). Poor Mary had suffered an absolutely horrible experience decades ago but she hasn’t exactly gone away quietly.
The story wraps up with some really great visual effects and a nice surprise ending. This story definitely left me with the dank-dark feels of almost being there in the middle of this nightmare.
After another break to check in on Candy’s, um, ‘situation’, we move on to the next story.
In all honesty, this segment was probably my least favorite, but that doesn’t mean it is bad at all. The story seems to meander around some leaving me, at least, with a ‘what’s going on now?’ Feeling here and there.
Basically, we start off riding along in a car with two young women on a dark and lonely road at night. After stopping at a deserted service station in the middle of the night, they are met by another car pulling in. Not giving anything away, we can say they end up being separated by some pretty crazy goings on.
We then shift gears to ride along for a bit of extended car chase with a tragic, if not somewhat perplexing ending. Interesting, atmospheric and well acted, but this one doesn’t hit like the others.
Back to Candy’s predicament for a moment now… Ooohhh, things are taking some interesting turns now! I think we are about to learn a few things about our favorite DJ!
The last story conjures up feelings of those darn Depression-era broken down farm settings with that underlying evil-wholesome thing going on. Only thing, this story is set in relatively modern times yet it gives off a flavor of both eras.
It’s another lovely day here at Chateau Sauvignon where a father and son run their farmlands and also apparently have quite the reputation for winemaking. This out of the way place must be pretty popular for guests to come so far out of their way for a private tasting of the Chateau’s vin.
You can tell right off, there is massive tension in the air. The pale, sunken-eyed son seems to be at odds with his father most of the time and the mother… well, the mother. I’ll leave you to explore her a little more when you watch.
Things come to a boiling point when two tourists stop by around closing time one day. An obviously wealthy middle aged lady with her 20-something son who has less than zero interest in being there, or tolerating his mother’s doting for another second. This extraordinarily arrogant young man sets new standards for indifferent rudeness and I quickly found myself hoping to see him get some ‘special’ treatment from our hosts.
Things escalate to a pretty wild finale and we end up learning lots of things about the family – and their special winemaking secrets and recipes. Loved this story!
So now, we are back to finish things up with our dear Candy Blue the DJ. It turns out that Candy has a few surprises up her sleeve after all. Wild stories? Bizarre experiences? Twists and turns? You could say she has her own skeletons.
Overall, if you can’t tell by now, I really liked this movie! It’s been a while since I have seen something that makes me feel like I did years ago watching these sort of anthologies that pull you right along. Absolutely gives the Creepshow, Night Gallery, Twilight Zone vibe that I personally love. If you, dear reader, are so inclined to cuddle up on the couch with the lights out and a bowl of popcorn while you journey through this movie, don’t be afraid to give Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker a watch!
Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker is out now to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video, courtesy of Reel2Reel Films.
Terry is founder of Black Dog Filmz based in Florida and creator of the award winning ‘Harlow’s Haunt’ movie. He has been involved with creative filmmaking, movies, music videos and commercial projects for more than 20 years as a tech, drone and specialized small camera systems professional. A lifelong horror fan, Terry combines the behind-the-camera elements with creative and editorial writing to support filmmakers and fans everywhere. Terry has written for such national publications as Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Drone News and hosted the popular Romero Pictures Indie Brigade Drone Cav podcast centered on aerial cinematography and various product and content reviews.