Shaun vs. Frightmare aka The Horror Star (1983)

fright1Directed by Norman Thaddeus Vane

Starring Ferdinand Mayne, Jennifer Starrett and Jeffrey Combs

A group of horror film students kidnap the body of a recently deceased horror film star to give him a proper send off though the party is pooped when the body reanimates and delivers a final performance.

There is no escape, not even death.

Conrad Radzoff (Mayne)is a world renown classical actor who has primarily made his living in the horror genre, much like Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.  In real life, Radzoff is a vain, arrogant, narcissistic douchenozzle as evidenced by the opening scene where he’s being yelled at by a director of a commercial he’s in.  During a break, Radzoff grabs his cane and gently nudges the director over the building’s second story balcony to his death.  Radzoff don’t fuck around.  Years later, a few members of a university film class (one of the students is a pre-Re-Animator Jeffrey Combs) who especially love horror films invite Radzoff to a screening of one of his films and aQ&A which he happily accepts just to hear the adoration from his fans.  That feeling is short lived when he keels over dead from a heart attack.  Well that’s a career.


But wait!  The film class decides to pay their respects to their departed hero by throwing a party in his honor and figure Radzoff should go out in style so they break into his mausoleum, kidnap his corpse and coffin and bring it to the party, “Weekend at Bernie’s” style!  Not like anyone would notice a freshly deceased body missing from a mausoleum.  Except for his wife who gets a psychic (Nita Talbot, who also played a medium in the recently featured Puppet Master II) to channel his spirit and find out where the body went.  The kids put the body back in the coffin but it’s not long before Radzoff wakes up and wants to pay the kids back for their transgressions.  It seems coming back from the dead has imbued the former horror star with powers which he uses to move objects with his mind or even make someone spontaneously combust.


Despite the wacky “Hey, let’s steal a corpse!” plot that gets the story going, I was starting to dig the idea of a Vincent Price-like figure coming back from the dead.  The film has more in common with the slasher genre than a zombie film, though the fact that Radzoff has powers after death to use for his revenge make the film that much more unique.  And silly at times, but I’ll get to that in a bit.  The main complaint is that the film tries so hard to contain all of the action to the few buildings that are used in the film.  I’m sure it was budgetary reasons but it makes no sense for the students to stay in the building with their killer when they could just run away.  Their excuse of not wanting to get in trouble for stealing a body shouldn’t get in the way of wanting to stay alive above all else.


As mentioned before, Radzoff mostly employs psychic powers to get his revenge.  While not overly gory, the film can be shocking at times when someone is killed or will incite laughter depending on the scene.  Radzoff makes one student just burst into flames and gets medieval on Combs by using a sword to decap the future Dr. West but later on he makes his coffin float down stairs until it smashes a poor girl’s face into the wall a few times which made me giggle because it’s a funny scene to watch.  Just like the story, the effects are a mixed bag.

The movie starts off well but peters out towards the end.  It’s a supernatural film with a revenge plot thrown in but trapped in a slasher mould and it should have gotten a little more freedom to work its own style, it seems like so much more could’ve been done.  Not bad but a little disappointing.


Story: 7 – Horror legend kicks off but his “fans” kidnap his corpse and party with it only to fall prey to his revenge beyond the grave.

Blood: 5 – Nothing crazy but there is a nice decapitation later on.

Nudity: 5 – A brief sex scene with some boobage thrown in.

Overall: 5 – The first half of the film had me entertained but the fact it was “trapped” in a genre it didn’t seem fit for made Frightmare a bit of a let down.  Where’s the remake for this?


-Jeffrey Combs was hired because he closely resembled the prop brunette head used in the decapitation scene.

-Christopher Lee was considered for the role of Radzoff.  Interestingly enough, footage from some of Lee’s earlier films were used in the film to portray a younger Radzoff.

-Actress Nita Talbot demanded she get a tetanus shot to avoid possible infection from having a wad of bills stuffed in her mouth during her death scene.


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