It's been a bumper month for my old bones in the vein of independent horror films, and few things warm the cockles of my chilled soul like young mavericks determined to share their twisted visions with those of us out here that are drawn to things that go bump (and perhaps slash) in the night.
"Nightmare Alley" is a small film, done with obviously a tiny budget and a cast that is about as far from quality actors as Charlie Sheen is from morally upright, but it's the little things like that that made this film, to ME as least, an enjoyable ride.
Told in a style that combines anthology elements and an unabashed attempt at the grossout, "Nightmare Alley" is what a young Stephen King might have come up with had he worked for Troma Studios. It's a seven part tale, each segment introduced by a somewhat annoying but nonetheless humorous host (a la, the Cryptkeeper). We run the gamut from zombies to demonic possession to ghostly vengeance to supressed homosexual angst and beyond...it's a smorgasboard of concepts, and whereas the delivery is obviously that of freshmen filmmakers, those of us that can appreciate vision and a desire to let creativity flow can find a good time in the movie.
In fairness, I wouldn't recommend this one to the casual horror fan, as you will most likely be disappointed; I've already mentioned the low-quality acting, and the special effects, while impressive for what they had to work with, will leave the jaded horror fan yawning. For the true aficianado of independent cinema, however, this is one I would suggest to plug in with a group of like-minded friends and enjoy the ride.
One final note: in it's efforts to capture that grindhouse feel, the production team used actual old film stock; the grainy, hazy texture of the film is genuine. Whereas this may appear a small thing, I found that kind of attention to detail when they had so little else to work with a testament to their desire; also, the disc included their own marketing campaign, where they and those they knew drummed up support and funding through local concerts and film festivals...I myself find that kind of determination admirable, and would be greatly interested in seeing this production team continue in their efforts and find a bigger budget with which to showcase their vision....
...the Old One would certainly pony up to see that one!