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JULY 28 SOMETHING SPECIAL : NIGHTMARE THE VHS BOARD GAME
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Nightmare is a video board game released in 1991 by A Couple 'A Cowboys and J. W. Spear & Sons as part of the Atmosfear series.

The game is set in a place known as "The Other Side". This place has six Harbingers, each of whom has authority over a Province. To play the game, each player adopts the persona of one of the Harbingers: Gevaudan the werewolf; Hellin the poltergeist; Khufu the mummy; Baron Samedi the zombie; Anne de Chantraine the witch, and Elizabeth Bathory the vampire. The final character in the game is the Gatekeeper, whose job is to ensure that the other characters do not escape from The Other Side.

Following the release of Nightmare, four game expansions were announced but only three were released. These include Nightmare II in 1992, Nightmare III in 1993 and Nightmare IV in 1994. The game's fourth expansion was going to be released in 1995, but faced with declining sales of the series, it was cancelled and replaced by The Harbingers.

GAMEPLAY: The game required 2–6 players to attempt to collect keys while trying to beat the clock included on the video. At random intervals the game would stop and The Gatekeeper would appear to either taunt, reward, or punish the players in a variety of ways. Prior to beginning the game the players are required to write their "greatest fear" on individual slips of paper. The game is won by collecting six special keys before making it to the center of the game board where the player would draw a 'fear'. If that player draws someone else's fear, the tape was stopped and that player declared the winner. If no one is able to accomplish this within 60 minutes, the Gatekeeper is declared the winner.

CHARACTERS: The six Harbingers in the game are: Gevaudan the werewolf; Hellin the poltergeist; Khufu the mummy; Baron Samedi the zombie; Anne de Chantraine the witch; and Elizabeth Bathory, the vampire. Each of the Harbingers is based on either a real person or a myth, except for Hellin. Hellin, "in hell" reversed, is the only Harbinger entirely created by Brett Clements. Hellin is also the only character with barely any background information, because Brett wanted players to use their own imagination for this character. Baron Samedi got his name from the ancient Arawak Indian God of the Dead. Anne de Chantraine is based on the first "official" witch who was burned at the stake. Elizabeth Bathory is based on a serial killer who is believed to have murdered and drunk the blood of about six hundred and fifty virgin girls. Khufu is based on an Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh. Gevaudan is based around a man who was hunted by armies of people for supposedly carrying the sickness of lycanthropy.

The final character in the game is the Gatekeeper (played by Wenanty Nosul), whose job is to make sure the other characters cannot escape from The Other Side to the real world. The Gatekeeper's character is based on the old cemetery gatekeepers, whose job was to guard cemeteries from grave robbers.

DEVELOPMENT AND RECEPTION: Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements met in 1982 and a year later, they both set up their own television production company, A Couple 'A Cowboys. They developed a pilot and took it to Village Roadshow, who within 24 hours signed a marketing and distribution agreement. Nightmare was released in September 1991. In Europe, the game was renamed to Atmosfear to avoid legal issues with the name Nightmare, which was already taken. On the game's release, a marketing campaign was launched with advertising appearing on television and in cinemas. Clements and Tanner sold the two millionth board game during the 1993 Christmas period. The game was popular in Australia, leading to sold out "dance parties" and a number of advertising deals, including one with Pepsi. A song and a music video were also created for the game.

EXPANSIONS: Following the release of Nightmare, four game expansions was announced but only three was released. Each expansion comes with a new tape and new time and fate cards, with a different character hosting each new tape. Nightmare II is hosted by Baron Samedi released in 1992. Nightmare III is hosted by Anne de Chantraine released in 1993. Nightmare IV is hosted by Elizabeth Bathory released in 1994. The game's fourth expansion was going to be released in 1995, but faced with declining sales of the series, it was cancelled and replaced by The Harbingers.

NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


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NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


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NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


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NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


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NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


NIGHTMARE THE VIDEO BOARD GAME


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JULY 28 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : RITUALS
From classic-horror.com

It's rare, but you'd better believe it exists: a blatant rip-off that's actually better than its source material. The film in this case is Rituals, and the source is Deliverance. Shot on location in the Northern Ontario bush, Rituals follows five vacationing doctors on an extended wilderness hike. They're targeted by an unseen madman who begins by pulling a few nasty pranks, then ups the ante to murder. As the atrocities pile up, the victims slowly begin to figure out their assailant's bizarre motive.

The film is considerably more violent than Deliverance, which is appropriate since Deliverance is basically an action film (albeit a pretty dark one) whereas Rituals is straight-up horror. Despite the gruesome violence, however, this is a heavily character-driven horror film (something we never seem to get enough of), and all the performances are superb. Holbrook in particular is (typically) impressive as Harry, a bitter cynic who's fighting desperately to survive while fighting even harder against being degraded.

I can't help but wonder if Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez didn't watch this one before embarking on The Blair Witch Project; besides the obvious city-folk-lost-in-the-woods motif, much of the tension in Rituals derives from conflicts between the characters. These are old friends with a lot of old scars and resentments that get closer to the surface as their situation becomes more dire.

Rituals was relased with little fanfare in 1981, played largely at the bottom of the bill at drive-ins and released on vid with even less fanfare a short while later. It couldn't be described as a genuine rarity, but it's not that easy to find, either. The VHS copy I tracked down last year looks and sounds like a bootleg, although the boxcover looks legit. This is precisely the kind of overlooked gem that needs to be remastered and re-released to find the audience it deserves. Are you listening, Anchor Bay?

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