Incestuous Slasher!?

An aunt with an unhealthy attachment to her teenage nephew drives the strange psychosexual dynamics found within the memorably titled Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker. Also known under the less colorful rubric Night Warning, director William Asher is best known for his television work in Bewitched and his marriage to its beloved star Elizabeth Montgomery. Featuring early film appearances by Bill Paxton and Julia Duffy, lead Susan Tyrrell gives it everything she’s got as a demented psycho with inspiring results.

Almost unfairly Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker got lost in the slasher craze of the early 1980s. The b-movie came and went without much of a splash beyond its madcap violence and notable cast, remaining trapped on VHS for many years. That’s a shame as Asher puts together one of the more interesting so-called video nasties of the period, touching upon incest and homophobia in a smart and often quirky screenplay that could have been just another forgettable slasher about an unhinged woman.

Almost unfairly Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker got lost in the slasher craze of the early 1980s

The cast is excellent outside of fresh-faced teenage heartthrob Jimmy McNichol, who was a hot television commodity during this era and minor teen idol. There’s a deranged performance by Bo Svenson (Inglourious Basterds) as a detective, matching wits with Susan Tyrrell’s wild portrayal. Before becoming famous on Newhart, Julia Duffy nearing 30 plays Jimmy’s high school love interest. There’s also a small role for Bill Paxton as a macho high school rival.

Billy (Jimmy McNichol) loses his parents in a horrific accident as a baby, who is then taken in by his doting aunt Cheryl Roberts (Susan Tyrrell of Fat City fame). Now in high school headed towards graduation, Billy’s biggest concerns are a basketball scholarship and his girlfriend Julia (Julia Duffy). That is until he becomes the primary suspect of a violent murder in his aunt’s home. Hot on Billy’s tail, detective Joe Carlson (Bo Svenson) believes the story told by Billy and his aunt doesn’t add up.

Twisted and shockingly violent, the exploitation thriller morphs from high school psychodrama into something much more delirious as Cheryl exposes herself as a full-fledged psycho. Tyrrell gives a career-defining performance, both grotesque and compelling like a car wreck. Cheryl’s dark secrets unspool in disorderly chaos, wreaking havoc in Billy’s life.

The basic plot and character dynamics are crafted well enough to give the underlying subtext found in the screenplay extra juice. Cheryl’s obsessive mothering of Billy has obvious incestuous undertones. Without giving away spoilers, a fairly key element revolves around Joe believing Billy is a closeted homosexual.

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is a potent psychosexual shocker with a fun cast and enough madness for two thrillers. Most slashers from the 1980s aren’t well-made films but this one is an exception. Call it a real knife to the gut.\

Video

Severin Films issues William Asher’s b-movie in a striking 4K presentation, making its UHD debut in HDR with worthy color rendition. The 1.85:1 film has been newly scanned in 4K from the negative, an unfiltered transfer from nice elements. Detail and resolution are on the high side, offering crisp video with transparent grain reproduction. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker doesn’t rank up there with the very best catalog transfers but certainly offers improvement over earlier versions.

The main feature runs an uncut 92 minutes, encoded in the usual HEVC on a triple-layer UHD. The HDR helps boost primary colors with an excellent variety of subtle hues seen in the dated ‘80s outfits and backgrounds. Film elements are steady with no significant damage outside of minor telecine wobble early in the flick.

A lively contrast and adequate black levels keep clarity and definition better than average. There are bouts of softness in the cinematography, sometimes a result of optical effects. Severin Films continues their excellent work bringing forgotten and obscure grindhouse movies from the past into the present with new 4K transfers struck with care and authenticity.

Audio

2.0 DTS-HD MA audio is presented in a tepid mono mix. Dialogue reproduction is fine with no primary issues. The thriller’s dynamics are somewhat ordinary and middling as no real punch is provided on the bottom end. A score by Bruce Langhorne often feels out of place with the mood and action.

All in all, a serviceable but unremarkable soundtrack. Fidelity is adequate with a slightly pinched, thin sound.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Severin Films gives Night Warning its worldwide 4K UHD premiere in a pleasing two-disc (UHD and BD) edition with reversible wrap cover. A cool limited edition slipcover is available from Severin’s webstore.

There are over six hours of both new and archival special features. The first two commentaries are holdovers from the Code Red Blu-ray. Most of the interviews are new to this set.

UHD Bonus Features:

Audio Commentary With Star Jimmy McNichol – An easygoing, unpretentious commentary from McNichol helped along by moderators Jeff McKay and Bill Olson.

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

Trailer (01:29 in HD) – This trailer uses the “Night Warning” title.

Blu-ray Bonus Features:

Audio Commentary With Star Jimmy McNichol – An easygoing, unpretentious commentary from McNichol helped along by moderators Jeff McKay and Bill Olson.

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 (09:49 in HD)

Point And Shoot – Interview With Director Of Photography Robbie Greenberg (15:04 in HD)

Family Dynamics – Interview With Editor Ted Nicolaou (16:51 in HD)

Cast And Crew Interviews –

Jimmy McNichol (08:29 in HD)

Susan Tyrrell (10:55 in HD)

Steve Eastin (09:38 in HD)

Make-Up Artist Allan A. Apone (04:56 in HD)

Producer Steve Breimer (12:22 in HD)

Trailer (01:29 in HD)

TV Spot (00:33 in HD)

Full disclosure: This UHD was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A lurid shocker from the early ’80s with a fantastically deranged performance from star Susan Tyrrell

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User Review
4 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 56 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:


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