It Happened at Nightmare Inn
What ghastly deeds terrorized a quiet lodge and panicked all... except the dead?
Year of Release: 1973
Also Known As: A Candle for the Devil, Nightmare Hotel, Nightmare Inn
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Eugenio Martin
Aurora Bautista ... Marta
Esperanza Roy ... Veronica
Judy Geeson ... Laura Barkley
Victor Barrera ... Eduardo
Carlos Pineiro ... Luis
Lone Fleming ... Helen Miller
Blanca Estrada ... Norma
Laura Barkley travels to a sleepy Spanish town to visit her sister, who is staying at an inn run by two religious sisters. But when Laura arrives, she discovers that her sister has mysteriously disappeared. The two sisters, Marta and Veronica, tell Laura that her sister left suddenly, but no one saw her leave the village. Laura decides to stay at the inn whilst searching for her sister, but soon discovers that the self-righteous sisters cannot bear the nakedness and promiscuity of young English holiday-makers. One by one, these pleasure seekers begin to disappear. Meanwhile, the sisters' evening meals begin to take on an unusual flavor...
It Happened at Nightmare Inn, remindin' us that when it comes to bitter, resentful women with frost-bitten britches, the only thing necessary to avoid a substantial loss of life an limb is the humble dildo. An don't be lookin' at me like I'm some kinda sexist pig either, cause I saw the way Aurora Bautista was lookin' at those beanpole skinny dippers. Even with shrinky dink those guys were givin' 'er the biggest thrill she's had since 'er teenage horseback ridin' days.
An speakin' of people who could stand a good electrical shock at one of Mike Pence's pervert therapy centers, my hope for future generations pretty much died at the Grime Time Friday night, but I'ma need a minute to work up to tellin' ya exactly what happened, cause it's too horrifyin' to throw out there right outta the chute. The night started out like any other Friday at the drive-in; Apollo was roamin' the aisles beggin' for junk food, Rusty Dockweiler came up to the projection booth deck an made a buncha vulgar shadow puppets while I was grabbin' a grease-burger at the concession stand before Tetnis got ahold of 'im an pitched 'im off the deck an into the bed of Mark Skidman's International (thankfully it was too cold for him an Fannie Ogglesby to be rootin' around in there, cause I don't think either one of 'em'd be down for a threesome), an Juanita was at the deep fryer tryin' to perfect 'er new prototype nacho cheese sticks. I guess she fills 'em up with a syringe or somethin', but so far she's not havin' much luck findin' a temperature that'll brown the sticks without burnin' up the cheese. She's a persistent old broad though, an I'll bet she gets the best of that fryer eventually.
It was all very reassurin' an deceiving now that I think about it, cause nothin' coulda prepared me for what happened when Skunky Hernandez started makin' his nightly rounds to head off any behavior that might result in us bein' thrown in jail. It was the most disgustin' thing I'd heard since Silas Tankersley suggested I buy a fake Christmas tree last year... see, when Skunky passed between the two cars belongin' to the Pogues an the Skinners... oh man, hold on... gimmie a second here. Okay, see, Rocky an Peggy (the Pogues) an Lenny an Astrid (the Skinners) were all down at the pond fishin' while their kids (Debbie an Tanner) stayed in the rigs watchin' the flicks. Now, anybody who's ever been in Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks on one of Peggy's shifts knows these two kids've been sweet on each other a coupla years now, an normally they'da just taken Tanner's truck to the show, cept for Tanner got hauled in for his third DUI on his 17th birthday an Judge Wrathis ended up pullin' his license... sorry, I'm stallin' here. Anyway, none of that's important, the point is they were sittin' in separate cars... SEXTING AT THE DRIVE-IN. I purt'near lost my grease-burger when Skunky came runnin' up the steps to tell me what he'd seen, an a cursory look through my field glasses at the very least confirmed the lights from the two phones side by side in the cars. I wasn't about to go down there an knock on the windows, so I had no choice but to take Skunky's word for it.
"So what we do?!" Skunky demanded, but I could barely hear 'im cause by that time I had my head in my hands starin' down at an old pile of Billy Hilliard's sunflower seed shells, until finally I responded, "nothin."
"Whatchu mean no-ting?! Thees ees sacreeleege!" he bellowed, not the least bit untruthfully.
"Skunky," I says; "The Pogues an Skinners are good people. Do you have any idea what'd happen to 'em if the town found out about this?"
Apparently he hadn't really had time to process that part, so after about 30 seconds he eventually replied: "I gayss you right... but why they no jus' hump een car like God eentend? Ees right of passage..."
"I know Skunky," but alls I could do was shake my head at the thought of it. "I guess times're just changin'."
"Eef times change much more Juanita an I go bake to Mayhico, thees ees not America my madre an padre sneak into 40 years ago," he replied despondently.
"Nope... if it gets much worse maybe I'll come with. Prolly never hurts to have a white guy around when you're tryin' to secure a loan," I joked, but my heart just wasn't in it.
"I go now. Too depressed to watch movie thees bade," an with that Skunky sauntered down the steps an across the pasture to his pad, while I stared silently an dead-eyed at the screen til the flick was over. I'ma hafta ask you guys to keep this under your hats, alright? Nobody, an I mean NOBODY can ever know about this. EVER. Okay?
Last night was the first time I was able to sleep without a bucket next to the bed, so I guess I'm finally startin' to adjust. Good thing too, cause that first night when I tried goin' to sleep Shankles thought the bucket'd be a comfortable place to sleep an... actually, you prolly don't wanna hear about that. Fortunately, It Happened at Nightmare Inn ain't as bad as Skunky says it is, so don't pay him no mind. Seriously - if you like watchin' middle-aged Spanish babes test out their cock absorbers with guys in their 20s when they're not murderin' trashy bimbos in the name of Jesus, it's practically a must-see. An if you still don't believe me, just take a look at these fascinatin' facts that I dredged up for ya. They may not convince ya either, but at least you'll know how sick ya are if you find yourself unaffected. First, if you can shatter a stained-glass window with your bare tits, you may wanna find out what was in that budget implant solution the doctor shot ya up with. Second, if you're gonna poondoggle the muscular young servant boy an try to keep it secret from your fanatical zealot sister, maybe don't go sneakin' away from your grill durin' the lunch rush. An third, when you're truly one with Jesus, tourist booty belongs in the cash drawer, not the faces of your holy rollin' dinner regulars.
Normally I don't get offended by movies, but I've gotta ask this question: what's the deal with Esperanza Roy tryin' to give Carlos Pineiro money every time he pops her dopoulous? He tells 'er each time that he don't want it, so seriously, what's goin' on here? Is it low self esteem? Some kinda weird hooker fetish? I haven't been able to figure it out, but lemme tell ya somethin': guys have feelins too. Just cause we normally only express 'em after hittin' our thumbs with a hammer or spendin' the night on the bathroom floor returnin' the 17 cans of Pole Cat beer back to the Earth from whence it came, doesn't mean we're made of stone. I mean, okay, so she's a little older'n he is, but she's still a looker, an that's in addition to havin' a rack that, for 'er age, challenges the legitimacy of Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. An if anything, he seems to *like* this arrangement, yet here she is insinuatin' that his affection's for sale. Maybe her upbringin' was so strict that she thinks sex is like gettin' 'er hair done an that she's obligated to tip or somethin', I dunno, but I do know that it makes a man feel CHEAP. You just try leavin' cash on a gal's nightstand the mornin' after sometime an see where it gets ya. I'm thinkin' the E.R. to have the half dozen fake fingernails removed from your face. Bottom line: I got nothin' against prostitution if that's the choice somebody's made for themselves, but that kinda stuff really oughta be sorted out beforehand, alright? So listen up ladies; if we want money in exchange for flushin' your fluids, we'll put out a tip jar or somethin', are we clear on this? Good. An don't make me hafta tell ya again, cause next time I won't be near as polite.
The movie begins with a coupla frosty-crotched Spanish innkeepers (Marta an Veronica) choppin' up Shari Lewis' co-star into mutton, an gripin' about how the new museum down the street's brought in all kinda curiosity seekin' sinners an generally hatin' on everybody to the left of Mother Teresa. Only about that time there's a commotion from up on the roof, an when they get their pious pantyhose up there they find this gal sunbathin' with 'er maracas hangin' out an gettin' cat-calls from the roof next door where the neighborhood's entire male population's participatin' in the annual rubbing of the balls. Marta's so P.O.'d by this display that she grabs the girl by the arm an pitches 'er into the stairwell where 'er bullet boobs shatter a stained-glass window an she's immediately struck dead by God in a textbook case of tit for tat. I really dunno exactly what happened there, but apparently her blood runs cold for shakin' 'er jugs like a centerfold. Veronica wants to call the cops, but Marta tells 'er the Whore of Flabbyloins got what she deserved an that if Jesus were here he'd totally want 'em to just hide the body. Unfortunately, that's about when the dead girl's British sister (Laura) shows up to meet 'er, an so they hafta tell her 'er sister ran off with some matador who'd been wavin' his red speedos at 'er for the last few days. Laura figures 'er sister'll prolly come back after awhile, so she checks into the hotel an goes out to see the sights while the twisted sisters stuff the corpse in the oven an slow roast 'er til the bacony scent starts waftin' all over town an the Rabbi down the street calls up an keeps yellin' the word "schlemiel" into the phone. Then another bus fulla tourists pulls up an this skanky Mila Kunis lookin' bimbo with pig tails (Helen) gets out an starts splashin' around in the fountain an drops 'er bags off in the lobby an splits before Marta can tell 'er to take 'er twat rot over to France where it belongs. You can't hardly talk to Marta when she goes into el Jihad de la Broad mode like this, so Veronica sneaks out an goes to play Lady of Spain on the bedsprings with the houseboy (Luis). Cept it don't take long for Marta to realize that both she an Luis've gone missin' durin' the lunch rush an when she goes lookin' for 'em she just barely misses catchin' 'em doin' the horizontal Flamenco.
Instead, she ends up followin' the sound of young men frolickin' in the river to see if Luis is down there an she ends up seein' a few cuts of meat she's not used to seein' in the butcher's window an gets so excited that she hasta walk home through a bramble patch an get 'er arms an legs all torn up to repent... or finish up maybe, it's hard to tell. Prolly that second thing, cause when she gets back to the hotel she puts on 'er whorepaint like she's about to head out an show off 'er poontang paella until Veronica comes home an Marta starts quotin' scripture an tellin' 'er how she's gonna burn in Hell if she keeps playin' with the rod of thine staff. Then things really start goin' sideways when Helen comes home the next night after suckin' down a little too much Spanish guy, an when Marta tells 'er to get 'er harlotous hinder outta there Helen gets all indignant about it an starts tearin' off Marta's clothes an exposin' 'er Little Spanish Teats to find out why she's so hung up on the dress code, only Marta eventually snaps an knifes 'er in the gut bucket while Veronica parts 'er hair with the vegetable cleaver. Course, now Marta wants to go chop Laura into Kibbles & Tits too while she's still temporarily insane, but Veronica manages to get a handle on 'er an explain that they've already filled their hussy tag an that walkin' around bloody, mumblin', an with your 48-year-old honkers hangin' out is no way to run a business. So they stuff Helen's corpse into the ole tourista toaster like a brick oven pizza, only when mornin' rolls around an Laura wants to know what happened to 'er, Marta basically tells 'er that she attached 'er tramp stamp to some U.S. male an that she don't care where she is an Laura gets so P.O.'d that she decides to check out an find someplace that's less hostile towards young women, like maybe a Baptist church, or Iran. Unfortunately while Laura's checkin' out, this other gal (Norma) with a baby's checkin' in, an she lets slip that she's a single mother to a coupla sour old bitties who immediately run tell dat to Marta so she won't get caught unawares with that trollop in 'er establishment if God drops by for coffee.
Trouble is, by this point Laura's gotten more paranoid than a doughnut at a Weight Watchers seminar an tries to warn Norma about the Cleavangelical Christians, but by the time Norma goes back to the hotel to get 'er kid the sisters've already convicted 'er of heresy in the court of pubic opinion, an when she tries to take 'er baby back they have no choice but to jam a corkscrew into 'er back so the kid won't grow up to be anything unsavory; like a pimp or an interior decorator. Then Marta strips Norma's body down an prepares to shove 'er buns in the oven an Veronica finds a letter in Norma's purse from 'er husband talkin' about how he understands now that it wasn't especially chivalrous to change his identity an flee to the swamps of Arkansas when she told 'im she was pregnant but that he'd really like another chance to make things right, an Marta hasta do some heavy duty mental gymnastics to rationalize that they'd done the right thing. She's pretty convincing too, matter of fact, I think even the East German judge'd prolly give 'er a 9.7 for execution on that particular routine. Needless to say, when Laura gets a rain check on 'er third acquaintance in as many days, she goes full Robert Mueller an sneaks into the hotel in the middle of the night like an undercover cop on a prostitution sting an just barely avoids bein' spotted by Marta an gettin' turned into key Limey pie. This doesn't really get 'er any closer to proof, so she nags Eduardo (who as far as I can tell was hired by the Spanish tourism board to romance every single foreign broad who comes to town to perpetuate the Don Juan stereotype throughout the rest of Europe) into pretendin' to be her husband so they can check back into the Hotel Cantaffordya an go snoopin' around some more. Goin' any further'n this'd be wadin' a little too deep into the conclusion, so I'm gonna cut it off here to avoid spoilin' it when the flick turns into La Tomatina in a coupla minutes. Flick's technically in the public domain, but unfortunately all the versions you'll find on Youtube have been mercilessly hacked to bits.
Alrighty, well, I guess we've all seen this story before, cause at the end of the day it's basically Psycho, right? Only difference is the two split personalities are actually separate people and the killers don't hafta wear wigs. Seriously though, that's a gross simplification that doesn't give the flick its due, and the reason I say that is because there're two massive technical differences of such significance that, even with the same general storyline, the two movies are likely to be very different in terms of tone and aesthetic. The first is, of course, that Psycho was a big budget title, produced by a major studio, and directed by a well known director best known for producing Thriller and Horror flicks. And the second is the thirteen years that elapsed between 1960 and 1973. So Psycho cost at least a million bucks, where this flick comes in at well under 10% of that, and was produced three years before Herschell Gordon Lewis invented the gore movie. This is significant because as we all know, if you don't have the cash necessary to create a slick production, you're gonna need sleaze, and you're gonna need a gimmick, which is honestly why I've always felt a greater sense of intrigue when it comes to the cheapies, because it's interesting to see what path the director/writers take in their attempt to overcome the lack of funding. I know it sounds weird, but in my estimation, it's the low budget flicks that always have the greatest potential, because if they're going to succeed, they've got to achieve a level of imagination and originality that a big budget movie doesn't, since most people'll be floored by the special effects or revel in the performances of a blockbuster's big name actors. I'd rather watch Basket Case 10 times in a row than watch I Know What You Did Last Summer even once, and it sure as hell ain't because Basket Case is a technical marvel; rather, it's because it has one of the most imaginative plots ever dreamed up in the history of cinema, and that's something that even a 100 million dollar budget *cannot* buy.
Anyway, the point I was tryin' to make is that between the budgetary differences and the social changes that swept the nation in the 1960s, It Happened at Nightmare Inn has the *potential* to be something completely different from its big budget papa, and I think that to some degree it succeeds. It's got a much grittier feel about it, it's pretty liberal in its use of nudity for both genders (including one of the female leads who's pushin' 50), and best of all; it suffers from none of the "moral" hangups present in decades past when it comes to the gore factor. I'm not saying it's super violent or anything, but you do see people being stabbed with some regularity, and sometimes those people happen to be nekkid, which was a huge no-no in previous years in American movies. It's kinda strange when you think about it, but a big part of why the '70s and '80s produced many of the best Horror titles is not because they had big budgets or even good ideas necessarily, but rather, because the cultural shift regarding what was acceptable was so strong (and sudden) that you could easily recycle old ideas and present them in a way that people'd never seen before. Unfortunately, that's probably also why there'll never be another Horror renaissance, because nowadays, for a guy like me, the major studios don't care about originality, and the indie guys have an ever shrinking pool of ideas upon which to draw. On the other hand, when you consider how much schlock came outta those two decades, who even cares if the latest titles can muster any gumption? After all, we've got a lifetime's worth of sleaze crud as it is.
Anywho, what say we pop this thing in the oven awhile and see which one of us ends up gettin' burnt by the proceedins. The plot, like I mentioned earlier, draws heavily from Psycho, but that's not to say that it doesn't have a few themes of its own, the best of which is the religious zealotry that drives the primary villain. I like this angle personally, and so will anybody who enjoyed Carrie, because the lunatics in both movies are operatin' on the same wavelength. Really, the flick with which it shares the most commonalities is probably Funeral Home, but I've always liked religious fanaticism as a motivator for the killer in most movies because it's usually more interesting when the villain doesn't view themselves as being such. The acting is surprisingly decent, with dubbing that not only comes close to matching the cast's lip movements (evidently Spanish and English aren't that different in appearance), but that also features appropriate accents for the different characters' nationalities. It even seems as though the director realized how good the villains were, because for the most part, the movie focuses primarily on them, and relegates the protagonist to second banana status. Esperanza Roy, and particularly Aurora Bautista, are the reasons why this flick is as good as it is, because they can both go from zero to psycho in about half a second. Judy Geeson's not bad as Laura, and strangely enough it was she who went on to have the biggest career of the three, but she's pretty subdued throughout most of the flick, and honestly, comes across as slightly green even though she'd been acting for over 10 years by that point.
Here's who matters and why: Judy Geeson (The Lords of Salem, 31, Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion, Horror Planet, Fear in the Night, Doomwatch, Berserk), Esperanza Roy (The Return of the Evil Dead), Victor Barrera (Horror Rises from the Tomb, Hunchback of the Morgue, Vengeance of the Zombies, El espectra del Terror, Count Dracula's Great Love, In the Folds of the Flesh), Lone Fleming (The Possessed, Evil Eye, Tombs of the Blind Dead, Return of the Evil Dead, Death at the Deep End of the Swimming Pool), Blanca Estrada (Horror of the Zombies, Mystery of Monster Island, I Hate My Body), Loreta Tovar (The Return of the Evil Dead, The Night of the Sorcerers, The Loreley's Grasp, The Legend of Blood Castle, Count Dracula's Great Love, The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, La llamada del vampiro, The House that Screamed), Monserrat Julio (The Blood Spattered Bride, Vengeance of the Zombies, Horror Rises from the Tomb, Doctor Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo), Fernando Villena (Blood of the Vampires, Night of the Seagulls, Devil's Possessed, The Dracula Saga, Horror Express. Judy Geeson is the only cast member to be reduced to accepting mainstream work, and she's likely to be best known for playing either Pamela Dare in To Sir With Love, or Maggie Conway on Mad About You. Probably that second thing.
The special effects generally consist of blood and little else, although to the filmmakers' credit, they aren't stingy with it. Unfortunately, the year was 1973, so we're talkin' ketchup consistency much of the time, although there're a coupla scenes where it almost starts to look like it came out of a Chef Boyardee can. The kills are fairly repetitive, but I'm not gonna nitpick that kinda thing because the idea of a weapons arsenal didn't really exist until the slasher movie boom of the 1980s. So yeah, just stabbins for the most part, which, unfortunately, may well mean that the special effects are actually the weakest aspect of the flick. The shooting locations are excellent if you don't happen to live in Madrid and see this type of architecture every day. The bulk of the movie takes place inside a single building, which, given its layout, looks to have genuinely been a bed and breakfast type establishment. At least if we're assuming all the separate rooms were part of the same building, and honestly I don't know that I was paying close enough attention to make that determination or not. The dining area may have been another building, but either way it's a pretty nifty setup, and the long shots of the village not only capture the local flavor spectacularly, but also remind us that all of our would-be victims are foreign to the area, which adds a small element of baseline fear. The soundtrack is a little different, and opens with a score whose two primary instruments are the flute and the tambourine, while the later tracks tend to focus more on the organ. Geographically and logically these two styles make complete sense, particularly the organ, which is a major fixture in pretty much all Western religious institutions, and while none of the music is particularly catchy (though the opening track has its moments), it's very appropriate. Overall, I'd be inclined to pass it on a technical level, but it's not quite good enough to pass on the whole. I'm actually giving it the exact same rating I gave Funeral Home, because even though this flick has better production values, I like Funeral Home better. Still, for a public domain title (whatever you do, if you plan to buy it, be sure to pick up the Scorpion release as the others are all heavily cut) it's not bad at all, and I recommend it to fans of the "maniacal innkeeper" subgenre, as well as anyone who just enjoys low budget '70s fare in general.