Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 17th, 2017
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1985 (Murderlust), USA, 1987 (Project Nightmare)
Director: Donald M. Jones (Both Films)
Writers: James C. Lane (Murderlust), Donald M. Jones, James C. Lane (Project Nightmare)
Cast: Eli Rich, Rochelle Taylor, Dennis Gannon, Bonnie Sikowitz, Lisa Nichols, Burton Leary, Bill Walsh (Murderlust), Charles Miller, Seth Foster, Elly Koslo, Harry Melching, LeRoy Hughes, Jeff Braun, Lance Dickson, Kathleen Lane, David Constantine (Project Nightmare)
DVD released: January 10th, 2017
Approximate running times: 98 Minutes (Murderlust), 74 Minutes (Project Nightmare)
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame Academy Ratio (Both Films)
Rating: NR (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (Both Films)
DVD Release: InterVision Picture Corp.
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
This release from InterVision Picture Corp. brings together two directed by Donald M. Jones Murderlust and Project Nightmare. Other notable films also directed by Donald M. Jones include, Schoolgirls in Chains, The Love Butcher and The Forest.
Murderlust: A handsome Sunday school teacher leads a double life as a serial killer.
This film came out during the VHS boom of the 1980’s and one things that you could count on from this era when it came to thriller / horror films was that the majority had salacious covers that grabbed your attention. The unfortunate other side too these eye-catching covers was that they oversold the goods and far too often the films were terrible. Fortunately for me this was not my first Donald M. Jones and because of this I had a good idea of what to expect going in.
This film’s premise retreads familiar territory and the narrative is not much more by murder by numbers scenario. And when it comes to the characters, outside of this film’s protagonist the rest of the cast are blank slates. And yet despite these short comings I found this film oddly entertaining.
Areas where this film is at its best include, the kill scenes which are all well executed and in some instances, they even offer up some unintentional humorous lines of dialog. It should be pointed out for those expecting their carnage to be gory that this film is virulently bloodless in this regard. With this film’s most infamous moment being a scene where the killer forces one of his victims at gunpoint to give him head. What makes this scene all the more disturbing is that the majority of this scene takes place off camera. The most surprising area of this film are the performances of the cast who all manage to deliver engaging performances.
Project Nightmare: Two men find themselves trapped in a deserted area where the government has been doing secret experiments.
Out of the half dozen Donald M. Jones films that I have seen, this film is easily the most bizarre of the lot. It is overly ambitious premise that clearly did not have the resources to achieve all the things they had planned for this film. And when the film’s moment of the truth arrives, it leaves you more confused then you were when started watching this film.
Fortunately, all is not lost and there are some areas where this film delivers. Most notably in its ability to create and sustain and eerie mood. And when it comes to the special effects / animation both of these things are very effective despite their primitiveness. And not to be overlooked are the cast whose performances all far exceed expectations.
Both films are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Though both of these transfers are more than serviceable presentations. The weaker of these two transfers is Murderlust which comes from a tape based (since no film elements are known to exist) and Project Nightmare comes from a stronger source that is in a better condition than its counterpart.
Each film comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Both audio mixes sound balanced and dialog is easy to follow. Though both films have issues with background hiss, it is never intrusive.
Extras include an audio commentary for Muderlust and a partial audio commentary for Project Nightmare. Both audio commentaries include comments from screenwriter / producer James C. Lane.
Topics discussed in the Murderlust audio commentary include, the cast, serial killers, locations featured in the film, what his role as the film’s producer entailed, how they got the most out of actors with limited experience, the score, on set memories and other production related topics.
Topics discussed in the Project Nightmare audio commentary include, its original title was Touchstone, how he met Donald M. Jones, Forbidden Planet’s influence on this film, locations featured in the film, how Project Nightmare was shot on film and the budget was $30,000, this film was intended for a theatrical release and its original aspect ratio is 1.85:1, how this film was his first collaboration with Donald M. Jones and that is actually predates Deadly Sunday their first released collaboration, the score and other production related topics. This audio commentary clocks in at 52 minutes and 28 seconds.
Overall InterVision Picture Corp. give two VHS-Era shockers their best home video releases to date.