Director - Armand Weston
Cast - Robin Groves, Christopher Loomis
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - $29.98
Distributor - Blue Underground
Reviewer - Sean Smithson
The Film (3/5)
By it's title, and the year it was made (1981) you'd think THE NESTING was going to be some kind of crazy mutant bug/nature runs amok movie, but it's nothing of the sort. Surprisingly, THE NESTING is a relatively subtle ghost story, having more in common with loftier, more obscure fare like LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, or the old telehorror film, CROWHAVEN FARM.
Lauren Cochran (Robin Groves), is a mystery novelist from the Big City, suffering from agoraphobia and writers block. Needing a break from the metropolitan hub-bub, the stymied author decides "What better place to hold up than some huge, creepy, countryside Victorian manor?" to try to work through the problem, and search for a creative breakthrough?
Before you can say Rod Serling's THE NIGHT GALLERY, we have all kinds of ghostly flashbacks, hallucinatory dream sequences, and supernatural occurrences going down, all shot in Vaseline and fish eye lensed old-school glory.
It turns out that the sprawling house Lauren has retreated to, was in fact, a brothel years before. The establishment's history ended tragically, after a grisly multiple-murder. As the truth unravels, Lauren finds herself embroiled in a mystery far deeper that that in any of her books. Can she keep her sanity as the truth begins to unravel?
Throw in a love triangle, cameos from John Carradine (if he needs an introduction you probably shouldn't be here) and Gloria Grahame (IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, OKLAHOMA! annnnd MANSIONS OF THE DOOMED!), a stripped down score, and you have, like I said, something for more similar to the classic television horror films of the 70's/early 80's than a tawdry, exploitative, theatrical release that 80's horror is known for. This is for fans of more atmospheric American horror, with almost a Southern Gothic slant. This film could also have taken place in the same "universe" as something like Jeff Lieberman's SQUIRM.
Director Armand Weston is one of those "exploitation" directors who seems to be better than he has a right to be. His prior efforts, like THE TAKING OF CHRISTINA (1976) display a style somewhere between Dan Curtis, John Carpenter, Brian DePalma, and Alex DeRenzy. With THE NESTING, Weston moves into classic M.R. James territory, with a ghost story that plays on all the classics that have come before it. Part old dark house creeper, part tale of premonition and past-life memory, and far more a Gothic tale than a gorefest, Weston does a solid job building tension through atmosphere and pacing.
Some of the scenes of terror in THE NESTING also border on the surreal, my favorite being the demise of the Handyman. I don't think I am giving anything away in the regard of him biting the proverbial dust, when you are The Handyman in a scary haunted house movie? You might as well be wearing a red shirt. The dream like quality of some of the scenes indeed reminds me of Lucio Fulci, and in particular, THE BEYOND. This plays in some instances, like a cleaner American counterpart to maestro Fulci'st mind-bending megaclassic. THE NESTING, in it's own right, is a bit under-appreciated, and deserves attention. If anything, pick this up next time instead of the redundant Asian/Spanish ghost stories being pumped out.
Sadly, the extras are spars on the blu ray. Weston died in 1988, so no Director's commentary, which would have been wonderful. The transfer is really nice though, and again after years of VHS mattes and bootlegs, it's just great seeing it in the proper aspect ratio. The extras include the obligatory trailer, a couple of deleted scenes, TV spots, and a posters/stills gallery.