The "sucky sucky sucky sucky" succubi of David De Coteau's NIGHTMARE SISTERS hit high definition in Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray/DVD combo.
The hot gals of the Tri Eta Pi sorority are all off for the weekend, leaving behind their three homeliest new members: myopic Marci (Brinke Stevens, HAUNTING FEAR), buck-toothed Melody (Linnea Quigley, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS), and fat Mickey (Michelle Bauer, THE TOMB). Ever optimistic, the trio decided to have a party and invite some guys over. Melody calls up nerdy physics major Kevin (Richard Gabai, BIKINI DRIVE-IN) who recruits fellow fraternity pledges Freddy (Marcus Vaughter, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE) and Duane (William Dristas) who are desperate enough for physical contact with any member of the female sex to go along. The party seems like it's going to be a bust until compulsive flea market shopper Marci busts out a used crystal ball for a séance and they contact its previous owner Omar (Michael Sonye aka musician Dukey Flyswatter, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE) who lost his head while in contact with the spirit of a man murdered by a demon. Omar tricks the girls by offering protection from the threat by touching the ball, whereupon the three are transformed into gorgeous succubi. Given the slip after ordering the three pledges to stay away from the Tri Eta Pi (pronounced "Try Eata Pie") party, senior fraternity members (and future Hitler Youths) Phil (Timothy Kauffman), J.J. (Matthew Phelps, DREAMANIAC), and Bud (C. Jay Cox, FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM) follow to administer cruel and unusual punishment but then decide after spying the girls sharing a bubble bath to take the places of their three pledges (who were already trying to make a run for it after noting the sudden behavior and appearances changes in their dates). While the three frat bros are sucked to death by the demonic seductresses, Kevin, Freddy, and Duane let their fingers do the walking to find an exorcist (Jim Culver, LADY AVENGER) who makes house calls.
A four-day wonder shot from a first draft script thrown together in a week by Kenneth J. Hall (PUPPETMASTER) to take advantage of left over short ends and a house recently vacated by producer John Schouweiler (DR. ALIEN), NIGHTMARE SISTERS is low on ambition but delivers the goods nonetheless. Bauer, Quigley, and Stevens get to show off their comic chops and their bodies (often at the same time), making up for the lame comedy elsewhere (including one-liners by the guys like "She sure made an ash of him" after one victim bursts into flames). Animator Bret Mixon (THE TERMINATOR) gives the film a bit more polish with some optical effects while effects artist John Vulich (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) – who died a couple weeks ago – provides the succubus' vocal effects. The underscore was provided by Del Casher while most of the songs were recorded by Flyswatter's band Haunted Garage.
Released theatrically and on tape by Trans World Entertainment, NIGHTMARE SISTERS also had wide play on the USA Network's "Up All Night" line-up. Somehow, the film did not end up with MGM like other Trans World pickups, and the film made its digital bow through Fred Olen Ray's Retromedia Entertainment in 2003 and then again from De Coteau's Rapid Heart label in 2013 (in a "Linnea Quigley Grindhouse Triple Feature" with DEADLY EMBRACE and MURDER WEAPON). Vinegar Syndrome's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is derived from a 2K scan of the original 35mm camera negative utilized here for the first time on home video. Although shot on nineteen-thousand feet of 35mm short ends left over from SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA – as revealed by De Coteau in the director's introduction (2:07) – the transfer looks quite slick apart from a couple soft night exteriors (presumably shot wide open but not properly focused) with vivid colors and undistorted gel lighting. The LPCM 1.0 track is clean and the dialogue clear, but the music mix seems a bit uneven (or possibly the recording of the songs). Optional English SDH subtitles are included (although "in league with Satan" becomes "at least with Satan" in the transcription of the title song).
Ported over from the Rapid Heart release is the commentary track with De Coteau and Quigley in which the director pays tribute to fellow eighties filmmaker Rick Sloane (VICE ACADEMY) for a model of low budget filmmaking as well as casting and production resources, marvels at how good the film looks and his crew's ability to get so much mileage out of the cramped location while Quigley recalls writing, producing, and recording the song she performs in the film (which had to be reshot for the TV version when her costume slipped several times and revealed her breasts). Sadly not included were the two commentary tracks recorded for the Retromedia release: the first with De Coteau and producer Schouweiler, and the second with actors Stevens, Bauer, and Gabai which would have made this already nice package all the more definitive.
Also included is the aforementioned TV edit (81:34) from a 1" tape source that includes alternate clothed takes with the girls in lingerie, bouncing around on a bed instead of sharing a bath, and intercutting reverse angles of the guys from the film with new covered shots of the actresses (which actually has the effect of giving the scenes more coverage than the lengthy master shots in the original cut). Writer and effects artist Hall appears in a new interview (11:58) in which he reveals that De Coteau approached him with the idea of possessed sorority sisters and his contributions were to have them be plain before (not realizing that he would then be put in charge of the actress' make-up and fat suit), the casting of Flyswatter (who already had his own severed head for his stage act), and borrowing a head cast of Bobbi Breese from EVIL SPAWN for the climax. A blooper reel (8:15) is also included with gaffes by Flyswatter and a crucifix that refused to go up in flames. The back cover states the inclusion of a reversible cover, but the inside is just a panoramic of a still. (Eric Cotenas)
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