Directed by: David A. Prior
Starring: Dan Haggerty, Brian O'Connor, Cameron Smith, Jill Foors, and Chet Hood
Jim Lowery (Smith) and Trent Matthews (O’Connor) are ‘Nam buddies who,
nine years after the war, are both haunted by the specter of their
compatriot Jhonny O‘Connor (that’s how they spell his first name, it’s
not a typo) (Hood). Jim and Trent must feel guilty for Jhonny’s becoming
a POW. But when their dreams are so vivid, their injuries and cuts
appear in their waking lives, they know there’s a serious problem. The
torment of rogue mercenary McGregor (Horton) and his torture tactics
have gotten to Jim and Trent so badly, Trent’s concerned wife Susanne
(Foors) calls in psychologist Dr. Mike Campbell (Haggerty) for help. But
the boys must “sleep together” in their fatigues to defeat the enemies
in their dreams. When dreams and real life blur, who knows what the
truth really is?
Night Wars is a good attempt at seriousness from
AIP, but, once again, comes off as silly most of the time. That might
be because of the constant, uncanny casting of goofy-looking sweaty
people in almost every role. But there are some cool ideas and effects
mixed in with the standard machine-gun firefights. This movie asks the
question: what if the emotional trauma of returning Vietnam vets mutated
into an actual, physical horror after the war? Try to imagine Jungle Assault (1989) crossed with A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984).
What if Freddy Krueger was a Vietnam vet?
The role of Jim Lowery should have been played by Wings Hauser, and he and Trent surely are the Bill and Ted of AIP movies, but mention (not necessarily honorable) must go to Dan Haggerty as the “cool” psychologist with the necklace and the pared-down beard. He’s really showing his range here. He’s not Grizzly Adams or the guy from Elves (1989). He’s a doctor. It’s really one of his best sweaters, er, performances.
the prerequisite torture sequences, but this time, they are really
heaped on. There’s also the typical jungle/war cliches, but this time
they are mixed with a dash of spookiness. Also it must be noted that
this film has the most amount of people bellowing “NOOOOooooo!!!!!” that
we’ve seen to date - it occurs four times during the movie.
While the ideas in Night Wars can’t exactly be described as original (many are lifted wholesale from Elm Street), the attempt to marry the Vietnam war film
with the phantasmagoric dream film gives this AIP outing an interesting
and noteworthy edge above some of the others. It really gives new
meaning to the term “Dream Warriors”. Dokken take note.
For a war/horror hybrid film served up AIP style, look no further than Night Wars.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett