Monday, October 10, 2016

Nightmare Weekend (1986) - Part 2 of 3

This is Part 2 of our discussion of Nightmare Weekend. You can read Part 1 here(Nightmare Weekend is available on Vinegar Syndrome Blu-Ray and streaming on Amazon Prime.) Last time, we saw how Jessica's father Edward's Apache program can translate things from the digital world to the real world. The sinister Julie Clingstone planned to test the invention on humans, so she recruited three college girls--including Jessica's friend Annie--to stay in a mansion for the weekend.

At Edward's Victorian-style house, Jessica plays ColecoVision Turbo again. It takes control of Julie's now-empty car, crashing it into a tree. Julie and Edward immediately realize what has happened. "Oh God, I forgot to turn off Apache," Edward says. Jessica was still connected to the main frame, which, the audience must infer, is capable of making digital representations affect the real world.

Edward and Julie then program an oscilloscope to transform a plastic bowl into a small silver sphere. "It's alive," Edward says. The sphere leaps into the air and flies into the Doberman's cage, where the dog eats it. All is going according to the experimental protocols. The sphere should erase all psychoses and neuroses from the subject animal. In milliseconds, synthetic neurons will "short out" and replace the dog's natural neurons.

But Edward is concerned about something else: the long-term effects of this procedure. Julie asks, "Do you still think the loss of inhibitions and suppression of fear is dangerous?' Edward doesn't know.

Jessica, tired of crashing cars by remote control, roller skates down to the Stage Stop, where she flirts with Dale Midkiff by falling down repeatedly and stealing his blue paisley bandana. For several minutes, they exchange meaningful glances while another couple makes out on a pinball machine. This fascinating scene transcends cinematic narrative and becomes an abstract zen masterpiece. After the scene has ended, Jessica leaves the bar and ties her monogrammed scarf to Dale Midkiff's motorcycle, then roller skates back home.

Julie's sinister plans, meanwhile, become more apparent. She speaks on the phone to a shadowy man who says she only has this weekend to get him what he wants. She assures him she has the Guinea pigs and she won't fail for the amount of money he has promised her.

Back in her bedroom, a giddy Jessica needs help from her hand puppet. She doesn't know what's wrong with her. She feels like laughing and crying. "It's like a hole in my stomach. My heart too."

There can only be one diagnosis. George gives her the news--she is in love.

At the Mediterranean-style house, the girls swim in the pool. Julie orders Dale Midkiff to find a personal item from each of the girls. He retrieves random items from the girls' rooms.

The girls are getting restless. One of them has the chauffeur bring the barfly from the Stage Stop back to the house. She seduces him while Julie watches through a closed-circuit video monitor.

Julie activates Apache, despite hand puppet George's attempt to deactivate the program. The girl's lipstick tube turns into a silver ball. The girl--much later we find out her name is Pamela--locks the barfly out of the bathroom, where she takes a shower, oblivious to the silver sphere rocketing its way from one part of the house to another. It slams into her mouth, knocking her unconscious in the bathtub, where the water covers her head.

While waiting for Pamela to come out of the shower, the barfly fantasizes about earlier in the day, when they made love in the limousine. He is thrown out of his reverie when she emerges from the bathroom and attacks him, trying to bite him and saying, "rawr" a lot. We infer from this that her personality has reversed and her inhibitions are gone. She is now aggressive and animalistic and wants to have sex with him on the bed, clearly a reversal of personality because before she only wanted to have sex with him in a car.

The next morning, Jessica is still enamored with Dale Midkiff. Sipping out of a juice box, she uses all the technology at her disposal to learn how to catch his eye. George enumerates the probabilities of meeting him somewhere outside the house.

Jessica, demonstrating a weak grasp on the meaning of probability, chooses hitchhiking, the option with the lowest probability of success.

Julie Clingstone puts her plan into action. She gives Dale Midkiff an 8-track tape and tells him to get it to San Jose as soon as possible. He sticks it down his polo shirt and rides off on his motorcycle.

Jessica is out on the road, hitchhiking. She is excited to see a motorcycle stop for her, but it turns out to be the sleazy man from the bar who was making out with his girlfriend on the pinball table. He chases him on his motorcycle through a park, but she easily outpaces him until she develops acute stomach pains. Then he tries to rape her, an event whose probability George, unfortunately, did not calculate.

On the other hand, she is fortunate that Dale Midkiff happens by to rescue her from the would-be rapist.

She is doubly fortunate that George is able to detect that she is in trouble. He activates Apache to transform the rapist's wristwatch into a silver ball, which flies into his throat.

While our limited understanding of Apache would lead us to believe the rapist would then become a well adjusted citizen, in fact the ball causes him to stumble into a pond and explode violently, a result that makes George clap happily.


While Jessica and Dale Midkiff get better acquainted by filling his motorcycle's tank with gas (not, in this case, a euphemism), her father and Julie Clingstone make an alarming discovery: the Doberman has died of internal hemorrhaging. Could it be the effect of Apache one day later? They stuff the dog's body in the trunk and Edward drives it to the vet.

When Dale Midkiff drops Jessica off at her father's house, they run into Julie. She reveals she and Dale Midkiff are lovers, breaking Jessica's heart. She runs away but Dale Midkiff follows her on his motorcycle. When he catches her, he tells her, "I'm in love with you. You know?"

Back at the Stage Stop, more of the barflies try to get the chauffeur to take them to the mansion where the college girls are supposedly undergoing some kind of psychological test. The chauffeur, who is imbibing his special sandwich--two slices of white bread with a beer bottle between them--says he can't do that. He only follows orders.

Gary and Tony ignore the chauffeur and go to the house anyway to meet the girls, whose psychological test so far consists of relaxing. Only Julie Clingstone and the audience know the experiment is her way of testing Apache on humans.

Now we see that Julie is setting her plan in motion--the true purpose behind the nightmare weekend. How will the girls be affected by Apache and the biometer? Will they survive? What about Gary and Tony? And what about Jessica and Dale Midkiff? Will they ever be able to run away together? Find out in Part 3.