BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER (1981) aka NIGHT WARNING

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Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker

BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER (1981)
aka NIGHT WARNING
Available on dual format 4K UHD & Blu-Ray, and standard Blu-Ray from Severin Films

After his parents die in a terrible accident, three year old Billy Lynch is brought up by his aunt Cheryl Roberts. Fast-forward 14 years later, and a 17 year old Billy is looking forward to his future, especially when an opportunity of a basketball scholarship at Denver University is within touching distance. Unfortunately, Aunt Cheryl isn’t as thrilled about this news. More concerned that the nephew she adores so much will soon seek to fly the nest and leave her home alone, Cheryl decides that desperate times require desperate measures.

Helmed by William Asher, director of beloved sitcoms I Love Lucy and Bewitched, DPP39 video nasty psychosexual shocker BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER, also known under the lacklustre moniker of NIGHT WARNING, receives a new lease of life on 4K UHD from Severin Films with a dual format 4K UHD/Blu-Ray release and a standalone Blu-Ray release in the UK.

Having never set eyes on the film before, I expected some weak schlock horror to titillate the exploitation tastebuds, but BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER is a cut above – a disturbing psychological horror thriller that should proudly sit on the film shelf of any genre film fan’s.

The movie starts off innocently enough but things quickly turn sour and set the tone for the rest of the movie. In a move that invites the viewer to be privy to a secret or two from the moment we first meet the characters, we discover that Aunt Cheryl isn’t the darling sister she first appears to be. The camera freezing on her maniacal grin, whilst clutching her nephew Billy as a toddler, as her sister and her husband, Billy’s parents, set out on a roadtrip to see grandma, says everything we need to know.

What follows is a scene that was clearly the inspiration for that infamous logging truck scene in Final Destination 2, or, if not, perhaps just a weird coincidence, with BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER proving it has the chops to shock the viewer, and does so time and time again in so many different ways.

As the timeline fast-forwards 14 years, we get to see Cheryl’s interactions with her nephew, who’s come of age, and it’s hard not to get some sort of weird sexual vibe off of Cheryl as she purrs into her sleeping nephew’s ear. It’s unsettling to watch purely from her behaviour around him. Her obsession with her nephew seems a bit more than the worries you’d expect to see of a parent ‘losing’ their child to adulthood. She sees Billy as hers, both as a child and even as the man in her life. Her reaction and retaliation to the threats she perceives will destroy this relationship and control she has over Billy only heighten as the film progresses.

Susan Tyrell plays the part of Cheryl to perfection with the energy and crazed menace that makes her stand out as one of the most memorable villains put to film. Her face says everything you need to know and she can go full deranged when she needs to and throws herself completely and wholeheartedly into the character, stealing every scene she’s in. She’s genuinely quite terrifying and you feel for Billy (a charming and relatable Jimmy McNichol) who, for the most part, is oblivious to the fact his Aunt is infatuated with him.

Cheryl isn’t the only villain of BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER though. The film, in a move quite ahead of its time, has a gay storyline associated with it. Whilst it has a positive representation in the movie, there’s a corrupt, bigoted character in it too, in a place of power who lets his own prejudices get in the way of law, order and justice. There’s plenty being said in this subplot to the main storyline, showing that evil exists in many different forms.

A superb supporting cast, that includes Julia Duffy, Marcia Lewis, Steve Eastin, Bo Svenson, Britt Leach, and the late, great Bill Paxton, helps to elevate this movie to great heights, whilst the plot pertaining to Cheryl’s crazed behaviour cements itself into truly terrifying territory as the action and performance ramps up to epic B-movie proportions.

80’s horror fans will not be disappointed with what BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER has to offer.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Butcher, Bake, Nightmare Maker

Severin Films’ 4K UHD and Blu-Ray release of BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER is packed full of extras, including new audio commentaries and a fantastic selection of interviews with the cast, crew and producer which only give you a greater appreciation for the movie. Having never seen the film before, I can’t compare the quality to any prior releases, but the 4k scan from the negative looks terrific on the Blu-Ray edition which I’ve reviewed.

  • Audio Commentary with Star Jimmy McNichol
  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Producer Steve Breimer And Co-Writer Alan Jay Glueckman, Moderated By Mondo Digital’s Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary with Co-Producer and Unit Production Manager Eugene Mazzola
  • Extreme Prejudice – Interview with actor Bo Svenson – discusses  his experience working on the film, how he approached his character and how he interacted with others on set.
  • Point and Shoot – Interview with Director of Photography Robbie Greenberg
  • Family Dynamics – Interview with Editor Ted Nicolaou
  • Five Individual Cast and Crew Interviews:
    • Actor Jimmy McNichol (talks about working with the rest of the cast)
    • Actress Susan Tyrrell (watches the film for the first time and gives snippets of her thoughts in an eccentric manner
    • Actor Steve Eastin (discusses working on the film and highlights the gay storyline he was involved in)
    • Make-Up Artist Allan A. Apone (talks about the opening car accident scene and the gun shot blast involving actor Bo Svenson)
    • Producer Steve Breimer (discusses the movie, the casting, and various aspects. Clearly has a lot of love for it, even now.)
  • Trailer
  • TV Spot
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About Bat 4417 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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