Nightmare Sisters (1988)


One thing a director often learned when working with Roger Corman was how to make a film quickly, within budget and turn a profit.  Corman famously filmed The Terror in four days, with leftover film stock from one of his Poe films, and to take advantage of sets that were already built.  So, it only stands that David DeCoteau, who got his start with Corman, might try to do the same thing. 

It was actually a challenge made to him to do a film in such a short time, and Brinke Stevens thought that a four-day shooting schedule meant she would be making a cameo rather than co-starring.  In the end DeCoteau pulled it off, working 12-hour days over a long weekend, and partially was able to do so because his leading ladies, including Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, were able to get many of their line readings done in one take.  Though that is impressive, it must be noted that Nightmare Sisters is obviously not filled with Tarantinoesque dialogue; quite a bit of it is moaning and giggling and porn-level sexual conversations.  Still, he pulled it off, but how successfully remains the question.

Three nerdy sorority sisters - Mickey (Bauer), Marci (Stevens) and Melody (Quigley) - are alone for the weekend and decide to invite some guys over for a party.  Those guys happen to be the equally nerdy Kevin (Richard Gabai), Freddy (Marcus Vaughter) and Duane (William Dristas).  Kevin has a crush on Melody, while the other guys are not exactly happy with their dates.  Things change, however, when they use a crystal ball Marci got a flea market.

The ball is inhabited by the spirit of its former owner (Dukey Flyswatter), and possesses the girls with the spirit of a succubus.  Suddenly they are half-naked, wanting to rub food on their bodies and take a bubble bath.  The boys are reluctant, particularly since Kevin thinks something bad has happened, but the girls find willing victims in the form of the boys' frat brothers.  Wanting to put an end to the possession, but not wanting to hurt the girls, the boys call on the expertise of a cut-rate exorcist named Perrin (Jeffrey Culver).

While both The Terror and Nightmare Sisters had abbreviated shooting schedules, it must be noted that, while the main plot of The Terror was filmed in that four days, it was refined by a bunch of secondary footage shot by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Hill and star Jack Nicholson, among others.  It looks like a regular movie, albeit a bit on the cheap side and one of Corman's more minor efforts.  Nightmare Sisters, on the other hand, is filmed largely with static cameras, particularly when we first meet the girls and, later, their dates.  Understandably the locations are not too varied, to keep within budget, but in almost every case there is little to no camera movement. 

The one major exception is Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer and Linnea Quigley taking a bath together, which takes up a large part of the middle of the movie.  That's not much of a complaint, given that a whole lot of nothing happens up to the point where they get possessed, and in 1988 no one was going to balk at watching those three in a tub.  Despite the full-frontal nudity it is pretty tame - barely soft-core level - but the fact that this is where most of the camera work was done betrays DeCoteau's porno roots.  Though the nudity gets less after this when the movie becomes a silly exorcist parody it still feels like it is just this side of an adult film.

The movie plays as a comedy with some horror elements, including a succubus puppet at the end which wasn't too bad for the time given the budget, although it does look like something that these days one could find in a Spirit Halloween store.  Jeffrey Culver, as the befuddled exorcist, adds at least a little bit of fun to the proceedings.  Eventually this would be what the movie would be known more for, as DeCoteau had to reshoot a number of scenes a few years later to remove the nudity so the film could be shown on U.S.A. Up All Night.  

I may have seen it back then on Rhonda Shear's show, but if so it was about as unmemorable as it is now.  It was made using leftover film stock from Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, but honestly that's the more fun of the two.  It's still cheap, silly and sleazy in parts, but at least it feels like a real movie rather than an amateur film stretched out with T&A.  

Nightmare Sisters (1988)
Time: 83 minutes
Starring: Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens, Richard Gabai
Director: David DeCoteau

 

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