Another unfortunate misfire from director Hooper, this is a sleazy mixture of sex and the supernatural.
American teen Genie Matteson (Zoe Trilling) travels to Alexandria, Egypt, to visit her archaeologist father, Bob (William Finley). When he's called away to a dig for a few days, Genie goes exploring in the bazaars and nightclubs of Alexandria with her friend Beth (Chandra West). Along the way, she
is romanced by a hunky local named Mahmoud (Juliano Merr) and meets a mysterious young woman named Sabina (Alona Kimhi), who introduces her to the writings of the Marquis de Sade (Robert Englund, seen in flashbacks). Genie begins to have frightening, hallucinatory dreams, and soon meets Sabina's
friend Paul Chevalier (also played by Englund), a descendant of de Sade.
Beth, Bob's housekeeper Fatima (Irit Sheleg), and later Bob himself are murdered by unknown assailants, and Sabina drugs Genie and spirits her to Chevalier's mansion. There it is revealed that both Sabina and Mahmoud are part of Chevalier's de Sade cult, and he plans to make Genie his next victim.
But she convinces Sabina to free her, and the enraged Chevalier stabs Sabina and pursues Genie through the mansion, which has caught on fire. Out in the back alleys of Alexandria, Genie manages to overcome her attacker.
Given its title, the presence of Englund as star, and its surrealistic video box art (an image that appears nowhere in the movie), this film comes on like the latest NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET knockoff (the original title, TOBE HOOPER'S NIGHTMARES, put an even finer point on it). But from its basic
story to the heroine's name, this ineffective shocker actually proves to be a variation on producer Harry Alan Towers' earlier de Sade film EUGENIE...THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION. As the innocent, unknowing Genie (who asks "Isn't that where the word sadist comes from?" when presented
with a book of the Marquis' writings) becomes caught up in Alexandria's underworld of debauchery, her adventures are more unpleasant than scary, and her position as a victim prevents the sex scenes from being legitimately erotic.
Although attractively photographed, NIGHT TERRORS is overly dependent on hallucinations that are silly rather than frightening (with some visuals that do indeed borrow from the ELM STREET films) and never comes up with a convincing dramatic justification for its flashbacks to the real de Sade. In
his dual role, Englund fluctuates between understated menace and hammy theatrics, while Finley (of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE fame) sadly never gets a chance to cut loose.(Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
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