Production company: A John Lamond Picture Enterprises Production, copyrighted to Movityme Pty. Ltd. Melbourne
Budget: anywhere between $200- and $500,000, depending on which John Lamond interview is cited.
Locations: Melbourne, including various Melbourne theatres, with four noted on the DVD commentary track, the Princess, the Palais, Her Majestys and the National in St Kilda
Filmed: late 1979 - early 1980, four week shoot (John Lamond). A pick-up slasher killing scene in a lane way was also shot.
Australian distributor: Roadshow
Theatrical release: November 1980 (Murry's Australian Film), listed as in release August-September 1980 (Cinema Papers). It turned up on home video in Australia in April 1983. Producer Lamond attended the Marche International Des Programs de Television in Cannes in April 1980 to sell the show, along with his other show Pacific Banana. Some twenty plus Australian titles were up for sale.
Original video: Roadshow Home Video
Rating: R (October 1980, 2,58.93m)
35 mm Eastmancolor Panavision
Running time: 82 mins (Murray's Australian Film)
USA VHS timing: 1'20"52
USA DVD timing: 1'19"23
Region 4 DVD timing: 1'19"27
Box office: According to the Film Victoria report on Australian box office, the film did A$168,000 at domestic theatres, equivalent to A$596,400 in $A2009.
Given the film's almost complete absence from hardtops, it seems reasonable to guess that most of this generous estimate came from drive-in theatre bookings.
The film was dubbed a flop.
According to producer/director John Lamond, the film subsequently sold to some 30 territories internationally, including the UK, the United States and Japan.
The film would however have a long life as a cult item on VHS and DVD.
That would be optimistic. None known.
The film was only available on US VHS copies until Umbrella released an NSFA restored DVD.
The image of the film was good, and in correct widescreen format (the slick suggests this is 2.35:1, DVD Beaver suggests it's actually 2.52:1).
There were several extras - a rather feeble stills and poster gallery, a compile of John D. Lamond trailers in a reel, fun to watch, and an 8'08" interview Confessions of an R-rated filmmaker, released with other Umbrella John Lamond films. This doesn't have much to do with the film in question, rather it briefly ranges over Lamond's career.
For cultists, Severin release a version in the United States, which used the same source material for the main feature.
It also offered an audio commentary with director Lamond and "Not Quite Hollywood", "Patrick" re-make director Mark Hartley.
The extras contained the same John Lamond trailer reel, and a restored trailer for Nightmares, along with a 15'10" featurette, A Brief History Of Slasher Movies, hosted by Adam Rockoff. This doesn't have much to do with Nightmares - a few scenes are thrown into a consideration of slasher picture movies - but it has its charms for VHS slasher buffs. There's also a few other trailers for Severin releases.
Some who are image and main feature buffs will prefer the Umbrella edition, which has marginally better image quality, while others will prefer the extras on hand on the Severin edition. Unfortunately the Severin edition is inclined to be softer, compounding the focus problems on view, which no doubt arise from the difficulties of the Panavision format in a low light setting. That it is the same original source is shown by a matching bit of negative damage/splicing at the 1'00"16 mark.
DVD Beaver conducts an exhaustive comparison of the two releases here, available at time of writing, and gives the nod to Umbrella for picture quality.
The interview track on the Severin edition is informative and conducted in a genial spirit.
Hartley starts off the commentary by boldly by saying that they will call a spade a spade and saying that they're not going to treat this as a great film masterpiece that came from Australia.
Thereafter Hartley and Lamond spend a good deal of time talking about other matters, perhaps on the basis that Nightmares isn't all that engaging. (Lamond also sounds frailer than his previous DVD commentaries).
So there's some discussion of Lamond's later Sky Pirates, ( a 6 out of 10 when it should have been a 9 out of 10), at the time one of the biggest budget and therefore biggest flops in domestic production (dismissed as a wannabe Raiders of the Lost Ark, though Lamond claims he had the idea long before Raiders was made).
There's also discussion about Lamond's difficulties with the SAFC on Pacific Banana - along with Tony Ginnane and The Survivor, he says he was blamed for losing money for the state government funding body, though Lamond also complains about interference and a watered down product.
There's also an anecdote about meeting Marilyn "Insatiable" Chambers and her partner, now gone to the great screen in the sky ("forgetting sex, they were very moral").
And there are anecdotes about Lamond's time in the distribution game, including upsetting Don Chipp and the Catholic Church and PM Billy McMahon by distributing Dynamite Chicken, as well as his flogging of revival sex films such as Alvin Purple and The Naked Bunyip.
There's also an anecdote about Lamond producing a documentary/mockumentary by Dr George "Mad Max" Miller about the Princess Theatre ghost.
According to Lamond, George was his doctor at the time, and they shot in the Princess in similar circumstances to Nightmares - the show Doctor in the House was on stage, so used to go in twice a week and shoot after stage show had finished. Byron Kennedy shot it, and Frank Thring is mentioned as a man with a taste for an ale, Ben Ean moselle, a bottle of brandy and other forms of ulcer medicine.
There are a number of other references to Melbourne's Princess Theatre and its ghost story, and Lamond claims that Nightmares is now almost a documentary, as the theatre was later remodelled and the stage trap door where the actor met his fate and the ghost story began was then removed.
And it wouldn't be a John Lamond commentary track without a rant about how he found actresses holding sheets up their necks in sex scenes as being unreal, and how he persuaded the actress in his romcom Breakfast in Paris to show her tits, and how he acted as a rear end double in a couple of sexy films, which saw him spend time in bed with a hot actress.
The stills on this site are taken from the Umbrella DVD.
Director John Lamond was inspired by John Carpenter's Halloween, as he revealed in his DVD commentary for Nightmares, and in an extended 2002 interview for Mondo Stumpo, available here:
… you know, John Carpenter’s best film is Halloween, where he did everything himself. He and his wife did the music. They hired Donald Pleasance for three days, scattered him throughout the film. They got Jamie Lee Curtis, who was a non-entity then, went to a location and put a mask on a bloke and used the Steadicam. The one we used. I got the inspiration for Nightmares by looking at it.
But then Lamond was under a lot of pressure at the time to come up with an idea.
As he explains it on the DVD commentary, he ran into a dream situation in relation to the film's financing.
He met a financier in a board room who asked how cheap he could make a film. The financier said he had a half million ready to go (in other tellings of the story it's a couple of hundred thousand), and Lamond said he could make it for that, and then when asked what the script was about …
I did a naughty thing, I made it up on the spot. I thought arh what could it be, arh nightmares, and he said are you ready to go and I said I will be in about a week ... (DVD commentary)
It was a tax-driven package seeking to exploit the end of the financial year (the consequence of this would be that post-production as well as shooting were rushed to ensure the tax break could be delivered).
The issue of the script led to even stranger scenes, according to Lamond on the DVD commentary:
I'd missed out a few times and my wife said to me, be ready this time and I was, so I put together a whole package of info, got a, thank God, a distribution deal from Roadshow, and then it nearly came unstuck because the investors asked for a meeting to make sure I was real … well that part was easy, but they said bring the script. Now I slept on that, bring the script, bring the script.
I managed to find a script of The Exorcist, ripped off the title page and put Nightmares on. Went into the meeting and living in mortal terror that they'd read the script, having seen Linda Blair's head turn around in The Exorcist, and I thought if they see that I'm gone. They said, can we take the script home and read it?', I said 'no, it's a breach of trust, I can't show it to anybody until the writer's finished', so off I went and made the film.
Naughty, isn't it?
According to Lamond in the Mondo Stumpo interview, Colin "Long Weekend" Eggleston wrote the script:
And John Michael Howson had the original idea for setting it in the theatre, and I virtually said to myself, “You have six weeks to get a film together. And a few hundred thousand, and if we don’t do it, someone else is going to get the money.” Looking back on it, I wish I had more time and more money.
In the DVD commentary, Lamond says he spent three to four weeks writing the script and then started shooting the film late 1979 - early 1980, and that he co-wrote it with Eggleston, and that John Michael Howson "contributed some plot ideas early".
And Lamond claims it was his idea to set the murder mystery in a theatre because he thought that it would contained - not cheap - but an inexpensive way to shoot the film on basically one big location.
According to Lamond, it turned out to be three locations because he had to shoot around the stage plays being presented in what were working theatres (in the DVD commentary, much time is spent working out whether, in the end, the film was shot in three or four Melbourne theatres).
The result was a plot that even Lamond admits was confusing.
When DVD commentary host Mark Hartley says it's a confusing film to watch, Lamond responds "funny you should mention that". And when Hartley notes in one scene that he has no idea of what's going on in a scene, Lamond says he did it for the critics, and jokes:
It's a juxtaposition of retinal images with hidden messages which I'm not prepared to divulge.
And when Hartley regularly accuses Lamond of scenes involving padding, Lamond acknowledges that there were a few missing ingredients in the film.
While he considered there was enough gory killing and sex in the film, there wasn't enough plot. He says he thinks he treated the audience badly in that he didn't give them enough plot:
You can actually tell there are a few sequences towards the end of the film, which just don’t really go anywhere. (Mondo Stumpo interview)
Lamond explains that in the end the plot wasn't really a whodunnit so much as a whenshedidit and what she did, and a what the hell was happening dunnit.
By the end, Hartley notes that there's a big reveal for those too moronic to work out the plot, and Lamond responds "who are they both?", though at another point he does note that the ending for his film was later echoed by Paul Verhoeven's 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct, and perhaps he could sue.
Lamond - who routinely waged war with critics - even deprecatingly quotes one critic as being spot on: Mystery's all right, but not obscure vagueness.
Lamond admits that the writing of the script proceeded on the basis of genre requirements - so when the writers reached page twenty they would tote up how many people had been killed to that point (in the end Lamond calculates some eight people are offed in the film).
It was important in a slasher film to deliver what an audience expected to see - a lot of people being bumped off - and in the end they decided to add a killing up the front involving characters the audience hadn't seen or knew anything about, just to keep the sex and violence to a satisfactory level.
The scenes of a play on stage were written for the film by Colin Eggleston. Lamond says he still doesn't know what the play's about.
As for the notion that the theatre critic featured in the film - one Bennett Collingswood - was named after and based on grumpy film critic for The Age, Colin Bennett, Lamond initially plays coy:
What a coincidence That's amazing, isn't it. You don't think somebody could have designed it? Perhaps. We'll never know.
But then he admits he had fun writing the vitriolic stuff coming out of Bennett's mouth:
Well they gave themselves away because even like the later ones like David Stratton nowadays, they don't say 'I don't like horror films, but if I did, this one's good'.
They would just blanket heap shit on anything that was exploitation whereas in America all the very famous film-makers, you know, look at Oliver Stone's first film, he didn't just make Wall Street he also made The Hand and a lot of people Peter Bogdanovich … they made schlock … they worked for Roger Corman and that was considered a virtue there, a learning curve but here in Australia if you did anything impure meaning sex or violence you were a bad person. See in Australia right up to until recently to use any nudity at all in a film was by definition to make it pornographic, whereas if you go into Europe, they were grown up about that, they don't pornography's just not defined by nudity ...
(Ironically in an earlier interview for Cinema Papers in October/November 1978 in relation to Felicity, Lamond deplored violence in films, especially when it was associated with sex, and branded himself as a happy maker of quality soft-core pornography - but then consistency in film-makers isn't a virtue).
Later in the DVD commentary, Lamond returned to the question of Colin Bennett, noting that his brother was Lamond's school teacher and that his father was the famous Australian first world war hero, Sir John Monash (ADB bio here)
Actually Bennett was Monash's grand son, but Lamond then tells an anecdote about how Bennett wrote a rotten review of The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, and Barry Humphries threatened to make his next project the life story of Monash: which would have frightened the hell out of Colin Bennett, he was alright he was just doing his job, but they'd go very, very much for arty films
According to Lamond, Humphries blamed Bennett for the death of his father. He'd read Bennett's review of the Bazza film, and then had heart attack on golf course a couple of days later.
Lamond clearly has some regrets about the scripting, and he ends his DVD commentary with a warning to young film-makers to get it right at script stage.
He would love to have been able to go back and do Nightmares again and remedy its deficiencies, but in lieu of that, he notes it's important to make sure the editing is done in the script, and not during filming.
Lamond says he admires Hitchcock for doing this, and for being so economical in the filming that he'd have very little footage left over after editing was finished.
The film is notable for being the first to feature Gary Sweet, who went on to a long career in feature films and on television.
According to Lamond, Sweet used to be a phys ed teacher in Adelaide. Lamond has a little fun in the DVD commentary, with Sweet's high voice and lack of skill as an actor, perhaps payback for Sweet later trashing the film, as reported by The Australian:
His (Sweet's) first professional job was as the male love interest in a low-budget horror movie in 1980, directed by sexploitation producer John D. Lamond, called Nightmares. It featured lots of nudity and many fairly brutal glass slashings. "Terrible, diabolical," Sweet says, brushing away the memory. "I only got about two grand but I thought acting was, you know, all right." (wiki here, original story Class working man affected by The Australian's paywall))
Lamond had even more difficulty getting an American female lead.
In the DVD commentary, he tells of heading off to the United States to get an actor and doing a big casting session, in which a lot of 'unknowns' turned up, like Michelle Pfeiffer, Daryl Hannah, and Melanie Griffith.
In the end he settled on Debra Feuer, who was then going out with Mickey Rourke. She was also relatively unknown at the time. However, on the way to the airport, Lamond heard that she'd hit a car, and decided not to do the film.
So he had to quickly settle on a replacement, and ended up with Jenny Neumann, whom DVD commentary host Mark Hartley notes had distinguished herself in 1979 by appearing in Mistress of the Apes:
She found fulfilment in the jungle with an ape that walked like a man.
Lamond's opinion of Neumann varied by interview - in the DVD, tongue in cheek, she was okay but the material wasn't up to her standards, while in the Mondo Stumpo interview, she was a last ditch stand.
Neumann came out to Australia in a rush, after a quick approval from Actors' Equity. She got off the plane and drove to location and the film was shot in four weeks.
The film also features an on-going Lamond favourite, John-Michael Howson, who for a long time had been a co-creator, writer and star in the children's show Magic Circle Club (as a bear), and in Adventure Island (as a clown).
Lamond met Howson when he was writing on the Ray Taylor show. Lamond was only seventeen, and he thought the 23 year old was witty and talented and says he had already done five years working in London.
It was probably Howson's longest turn in a feature film, and certainly his best, and there were other advantages which appealed to the distribution publicist in Lamond:
I haven’t seen John Michael for a few years. The last time, we were in LA, because he lives over there. He’s a funny guy. Whenever you put him in a film it was fantastic, because he’d get on all the TV shows and he wouldn’t shut up. A walking publicity machine! Even if he just walked on and smiled for one shot, he’d be a bloody full-boned campaign for you, the Don Lane show, the Bert Newton show, on Derryn Hinch in the morning. (Mondo Stumpo interview)
It was also an early appearance for then Adelaide-based actress Nina Landis (who would later do television work and the lead in Nadia Tass's Rikky and Pete).
According to Lamond, Landis read the script and decided she had to do the film in the line of the duty as the only female character who didn't get killed after screwing.
Landis broke her foot in a shot which appears near the climax of the film, as she runs across a theatre lobby and through a door.
After it happened, Landis's leg was put in plaster, and she was either thereafter doubled, or her crutches were taken away for the shot, or she was put in a wheelchair and filmed in a way that made it look as if she was standing.
For acting enthusiasts, there are a number of other highlights. Briony Behets, who appears as a stage manager, was at the time married to Colin Eggleston.
John Lamond does his usual Hitchcock, by briefly appearing in the film, looking through a car window, while Lamond's daughter plays the child featured at the start of the show.
Byron Williams who appears in a relativley short role, played the university-educated man in John B. Murray's episode of The Husband in the 1973 portmanteau feature Libido.
Angela Menzies-Wills - or at least her naked bottom - also appears. She appeared as one of the journalists in Fantasm Comes Again (reluctant to disrobe as the creative team expected), and could be briefly sighted in a spa sequence in Lamond's Felicity, and was in a nude painting scene in Lamond's sex romp Pacific Banana.
Finally, Michael Hirsh, who acted as production supervisor and accountant on the film, can be briefly sighted 'meddling with my old secretary' (Lamond). Hirsh would later go on to be a leading light in the production company Working Dog, producing films such as The Castle (1997) and The Dish (2000).
Lamond shot the film back to back with his British style sex comedy Pacific Banana, made with the government body the South Australian Film Corporation, which created all sorts of difficulties.
Lamond was branded in the South Australian as a pornographer, and the SAFC became increasingly leery about the sexual frolics, leading Lamond to complain of interference and the film being watered down.
Lamond notes it was his first and only venture into using government bodies for film finance, and it delayed things and distracted him from his work on Nightmares.
With Lamond stretched, it was co-writer Colin Eggleston who directed the pick-up sequence 17 minutes into the film in which the slasher takes out a girl and boy in a lane (Rossana Zuanetti and Gene Van Dam).
According to Lamond, Eggleston shot everything he asked for "which is unusual".
Lamond believed Eggleston, an ex-Crawfords TV cop show veteran, was like himself - a versatile skilful workaholic, who could write a scene, do a rough cut, or shoot an insert, in quick time.
This extra filming arose because after looking at the cut of the film, it was decided that it was too slow, and insufficiently sexy and scary. So Lamond decided to go the whole hog and make it very sexy and scary, and in the additional filming, says they used a whole bucket of fake blood and two naked people going at it. "Nobody complained".
Lamond claims it was the first time Steadicam was used on an Australian feature film, and this too was inspired by Carpenter's Halloween (though other films as different as the Tasmanian Aboriginal film Manganinnie claimed to have used Steadicam around the same time, or perhaps earlier).
Lamond's DOP was Gary Wapshott, who had worked with him on his previous sex films, after being recommended by DOP Robin Copping, and who would work with him on Pacific Banana and the later adventure epic Sky Pirates.
Lamond claims that the Steadicam improved coverage - scenes could be done for real and with no need to lay tracks. But it also made the film quite hard to do, and that on the last day of the shoot, the cameraman fell over with the rig and broke it (though whether this was Wapshott or the operator Lamond doesn't say).
Setting the film in a theatre while seemingly restricting locations did produce difficulties because the unit had to film around stage plays being staged.
As a result, the unit would bump in to either the Princess or Her Majestys or the Palais or the National in St Kilda after the play had finished, and sometimes this might see them start filming at 3 am in the morning and work on into the day.
In the end Lamond says they used four theatres to make one, "as if the script wasn't confusing enough".
The theatre crowds did however help bolster the sense of production values. For interiors in foyers the unit would take along about fifty extras, then tell other patrons they were making a film and they could get out of the way if they liked, or stay in shot, provided they didn't look at the cameras. There's also a scene of a full house watching the play on stage.
Ironically, one of the few times the unit ventured outdoors produced a typically Melbourne problem. The opening sequence was supposed to have involved a rain machine, but when filming started it was "raining like hell". Lamond wryly proposes that if you live in Melbourne, you don't need a rain machine.
Lamond has a few unkind words about American special effects expert Conrad Rothmann, who had originally come out to Australia to work on Richard Franklin's Patrick.
According to Lamond, Rothmann drove a mini-moke and was always late, and broke two windscreens on the way to the location (as opposed to breaking them for camera).
The effects in the film show a distinct lack of interest in this area of film-making - unlike, say Patrick - and in the end they amounted to little more than the use of toffee glass in the killing scenes, and shooting a shard of glass sticking in the floor in reverse.
In the tradition of Patrick's seriously electrically fried actress Julia Blake roaming Collins street alarming passersby, according to Lamond, John Michael Howson wandered out into St Kilda with glass sticking from his neck, telling passersby that he wanted to go to hospital, because he had a bad scratch in the neck.
Lamond claims the film was the first slasher film made in Australia, though some would argue that Terry Bourke's 1972 film Night of Fear had a few decent slashes too.
In the domestic Australian market the result was a resounding flop, though the Film Victoria report on Australian box office says the film did A$168,000 at domestic theatres, equivalent to A$596,400 in $A2009. This would surely be almost all drive-in rather than hard top rentals.
Lamond claims the lack of interest can in part be attributed to Australian audiences not being particularly familiar with slasher pictures (though the success of Carpenter's Halloween surely makes this special pleading, or before that, the success of that grandfather of slasher pics, Hitchcock's Psycho).
According to Lamond's theory, it was all the fault of one time chief censor Mr A. J. Prowse, who either heavily cut or banned outright the whole genre, such as those movies prodcued by the UK's Hammer Films. As a result, according to Lamond, Australian audiences didn't know what horror films were, and had been educated to believe films should support historical or elegiac themes.
A more practical problem was that Lamond himself acknowledges the result was schlock for drive-in theatres. At least it doesn't look cheap. Not like some Australian films, atmosphere, boy, atmosphere.
An even bigger problem was that the film's distributor, Roadshow, decided that people wouldn't go to see the film.
With Nightmares, I was a bit disappointed. It was dumped by the distributor. No-one tried, nobody did anything. But it should have been better. Because it was a real quickie. I had the chance to make a real quickie, they said if you don’t take the money we’ll give it to somebody else. (Mondo Stumpo interview)
As part of the rushed financing of the film, according to Lamond, Roadshow made an instant decision to distribute the film, and then probably made an equally instant decision not to put much money into it on its release.
Lamond didn't complain, noting that Roadshow had been wonderful on his previous film, and that there were some missing ingredients in Nightmares.
He says Roadshow couldn't see any potential, and remembers he'd been on the other side, and had at one point said straight away about Fred Schepisi's The Devil's Playground that it wasn't going to be any good in the drive-ins:
I suppose someone passed equal judgment on mine.
According to Lamond, Roadshow said 'look, no one's going to come and see this', and he concedes that, to a certain extent they were right, yet it did sell everywhere in the world, which was good.
Lamond took the film to the Cannes marketplace in April/May 1980, and claims the film sold to probably some thirty countries, including the US, the UK, and Japan. In the usual way, the film was heavily censored in territories such as the UK and Singapore.
Lamond says that Nuemann's rather small US profile didn't help the film, and film buyers bought the show because they saw a product reel of the slasher scenes.
Lamond thinks he would have done a lot better if he'd have come out with the film a year later, with a few other slasher films helping to trailblaze a way for his film.
In the end, despite Hartley's robust moderation, talk of padding and other shortcomings in the DVD commentary, Lamond defiantly says he still likes the subjective slasher stuff, and other good little moments in the film made with the help of others, with the slaughter of Sue Jones his favourite scene (he only did a couple of takes of her being killed, with another one "done for Kodak", and in the commentary, he has fun perving on the actresses as they go about their duties, a hard nipple here, a dimpled bum there):
The kills are all right, you know when the girl falls off the catwalk. When the girl runs in the rain at the end of the film… I think more attention could have been given to the script. I think the techniques were all right, that walking around the catwalks and the creepy music would have worked had there been a proper script. Had we been more careful on that, it could have been really good. The money was there to do only certain things.
It’s a movie that’s got some great bits in it, but the overall effect is just a little less than that. There’s the whole red flashing light from the police car, that red flashing light proceeding any of the knife attacks. That’s great stuff. Then you chuck Brian May’s music on the top of it, and it really works beautifully.
Those things work better than the story though, that’s the problem. I think we had a technique in search of a story there. I like the killings, and the Steadicam was good stuff for the time. (Mondo Stumpo interview)
In the DVD commentary, Lamond sums it up this way:
No, seriously, had a lot of fun and all those people worked and it was a good learning curve. The investors got a tax deal, a good distributor got another film, we got overseas sales ... Somebody liked it, we moved on, which is what you have to do ...
The film would later find an audience on VHS and DVD, happily arriving at the time when the mix of sex and violence in horror shows began to attract a niche home audience - though the film's various names constantly created confusion, and it is frequently mistaken for Hitchcock's 1950 Stage Fright (the name used for the film's video release in the United States), and with a later 1983 Emilio Estevez slasher film also called Nightmares.
Like much of the rest of the film, the underscore by Brian May is heavily derivative, as Lamond explained in his Mondo Stumpo interview:
I am a Bernard Hermann freak, as was Richard Franklin was. He was even more of a freak than me, even has some of the original recordings from the studio. But I love his stuff too. I played it all for Brian May, and said I want that sort of stuff. At that stage, the only people who knew about Bernard Hermann were film buffs and composers. But I loved that sort of stuff. (Mondo Stumpo interview)
On the DVD commentary, Lamond cites Hermman's last two scores, for Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Brian de Palma's Obsession, and suggests that "we need another Bernard Hermann", especially now that Jerry Goldsmith is dead.
Also in the DVD commentary, Lamond claims he gave composer Brian May many of Hermann's scores on LP - host Mark Hartley notes that Franklin made the same claim.
Lamond said he wanted a Psycho-type score. He played the Hermann LP for Brian and asked what the instruments were that Hermann had used. "It's about fourteen cellos, you know (imitating the sound of Hermann's main theme) … I said, give me that. We got the same thing, but it was a fairly small orchestra".
Lamond told May he wanted a killer theme of the kind that would suit a slasher picture. Hartley suggests to him that May seemed to have delivered only about ten minutes of music, which he just kept on looping over each of the killings.
Lamond naturally defended the score: "well it does seem like that way, but I said I want a Psycho-type thing … and the brief was only that we were doing subjective killer scenes so I suppose it's a killer theme that was used for everything else".
According to Lamond, May was a workaholic who liked to work at night, and he would frequently ring up Lamond in the middle of the night, and tell him to come over to listen to a cue. Lamond would get into his car and drive twenty miles to May's house in outer Melbourne to listen to the cue alongside the film.
May would later score Lamond's romantic comedy Breakfast in Paris and his action adventure romp Sky Pirates.
May's score for Nightmares seems to be one of the rare works of his that didn't make it on to LP or CD.
For more details on the film's music and May, see the pdf of the music credits on this site.