Two worm farmers from Death Valley rescue a beautiful woman (Fate) after accidentally witnessing her live burial. The two men (Ralph and Jason) attend to the unconscious girl at their ranch but get captured by a commune of female cultists whom Fate is a member. After a bizarre initiation and several ordeals the ranchers become the only male members of this fourth-wave womenist group. Jason sees the experience as an adventure and finds romance with some of the members.
Ralph only wants to escape where he is seen as romantically repulsive and threatening. Fate is one of the commune women who had worked with a crime syndicate and came into contact with a fortune in platinum, but the platinum-filled suitcase was confiscated by the syndicate who had buried the girl. The cult leader, Hesperia now turns to revenge for fate’s burial. The women, with their two new members, steal back the valuable suitcase from a desert contraband warehouse where Fate knows the syndicate holds the platinum. After the robbery the angry mob trace the cultists back to the commune where the girls escape by helicopter to the worm ranch, but Ralph is captured while hiding the suitcase. Ralph is imprisoned in the warehouse but sees a time bomb that he had toyed with earlier during the warehouse break-in. Bound, he is still able to time the bomb just as is taken to the syndicate boss. During his interrogation and at the moment he is to die, Ralph drops behind a desk and survives the explosion that he had set five minutes earlier. Ralph phones the bug ranch where Fate answers his call.
Racing to Ralph at the burning warehouse, Fate asks where he had hidden the valise at the commune. Receiving her answers from shell-shocked Ralph, Fate shoots the rancher, leaving him near the desert road. Ralph is saved from death again by his flak-vest that he still wears from the earlier mob attack. Fate finds the suitcase in the commune but discovers that the priceless element is actually plutonium rather than platinum. The lead box from the valise slowly ignites with Fate not able to keep the lid closed as she and the commune disintegrate. Ralph fumbles back to his ranch but finds that the cult leader, Hesperia has left with the helicopter and all valuables while dumping the rest of the helpless members with him. Next day, Ralph has the confused women working as worm wranglers on his ranch. Later he and Jason see two men burying something over the horizon, just as in the beginning when they saw Fate’s burial. The coffin this time is an oil drum filled with nuclear waste from a new nearby nuke plant. The consequences of the contaminated dump and Fate’s plutonium explosion has catastrophic effects on Ralph and the cultists over the next moments.
ORIGINS AND RESURRECTION
Runaway Nightmare began as a three-quarter finished first draft that was rushed into production by a CinemaCarnaval director when a once-in-a-milinium event arrived. With a weekend pre-production and a horrific 3-week shooting schedule that stretched into two years, Mike Cartel labored with it another year in pre-production until it finally arrived as a 8460-foot answer print. Contracted with one distributor that sub-contracted it to another that added unauthorized nudity and released as one of the first straight-to-videos, Runaway Nightmare developed a fiercely loyal cult following. Actor/director/writer/producer/editor/gofer and opportunist Mike (shoot it first and rehearse it later) Cartel, who had worked earlier in the majors as an actor and extensively in low-budget and deferment schools of filmmaking was approached in 2013 for his thoughts on a restoration and new DVD ‘director’s cut’ release of RN. In early July, 2014, the new Runaway Nightmare arrived in DVD, Blu-ray, retro-VHS and even its first ever 35mm film print for national theatrical release.
Thanks to Tyler Babtist of Videonomicon, who was the original impetus (and produced a limited edition VHS of RN), and Joe Rubin of Vinegar Syndrome who created a strikingly beautiful Blu-ray and DVD from the film’s original negative.
Joe also restored the badly faded, red-shifted 35mm answer print into a breathtaking cinematic experience. Mr. Rubin has also tirelessly marketed Runaway Nightmare into the international cult favorite that it has become.