NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN (1981). Review by Steve Kirkham



4 Stars
Severin Films. Special Edition 4K UHD/Blu Ray. 26th February

Me and NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN have history – during the whole video nasties debacle, of which this a ‘prime’ title, I was working in a video store – so saw first hand what was occurring at the time. Fast forward a few years and the title had been rehabilitated enough to be released on DVD. I was involved in that disc, creating the sleeve artwork (based on the classic World of Video 2000 cover) and also did the DVD authoring on it, if memory serves! Since then it has been previously released on Blu-ray in the U.K. by 88 Films and now we have this new iteration from Severin in a UHD/Blu combo of this gore extravaganza.

Sleazy and blood-soaked from the beginning, this takes no prisoners, with plentiful nudity and lashings of the red stuff (and no I don’t mean tomato sauce). I expect most readers are familiar with the story about a patient, George Tatum (Baird Stafford), who has undergone an experimental treatment which has supposedly cured him of his violent tendencies – he is released from the asylum, and rather than becoming a model citizen is soon on the rampage, brutally slashing several victims.

This is actually one of the better of the so-called nasties – though whether it would be remembered today if it hadn’t been caught up in that furore we will never know. Certainly David Hamilton-Grant, the original distributor on VHS in the UK didn’t hurt its reputation, as he released it uncut despite submitting it the BBFC who demanded edits to the film. He also ran a “guess the weight of the brain”competition to promote it! All this found him sent to prison for several months!

The film itself is presented with it’s original onscreen title of NIGHTMARE and, whilst I didn’t have the pleasure of viewing the 4K, I suspect this grungy film is difficult to scrub up too much. Much of your decision to buy will be based on the extras on offer – and as usual Severin come through.

Extras 4 stars

You have two commentaries – one with Baird Stafford, Cleve Hall, Lee Christian and David DeCoteau and a solo one with William Paul; an interview with director Romano Scavolini; Cast and crew interviews – both new and vintage cut together like a documentary to tell how the film was made; Interview with erroneously credited Tom Savini.

The jewel in the crown is a 71 minute documentary from the talented writer/director Sarah Appleton called Damaged: the Very British Obscenity of David Hamilton-Grant. This is a fascinating journey through the life and work of the enigmatic Grant which also encompasses the history of evading censorship, pornography in the UK, sex education movies, x-rated cartoons, sex comedies, hardcore versions of films for foreign markets, the coming of home video, Electric Blue (who remembers those) and the World of Video 2000 label – and, of course, video nasties. This paints a picture of Grant’s involvement in various escapades and his murky life, but he remains something of an enigma. Talking heads include Fiona Richmond, David McGillivray, Vic Pratt, Françoise Pascal and many others. Worth the price of admission.

Steve Kirkham