Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Dreamscape' (1984)
A Nightmare On Elm Street 'Lite'
Dreamscape was the k-mart A Nightmare on Elm Street (ANOES) that was rushed to the theaters a couple moth before. So TECHNICALLY it predates ANOES, but in the same way Leviathan predates The Abyss. Back in the days, little studios would catch wind of what the big boys were doing and try to head them off at the pass with quicker productions and cheaper budgeting.
But here's the thing. Leviathan was actually pretty good for what it was and even had some solid acting. Even the bargain bin ripoff of Leviathan, by which I mean Deep Star Six, was pretty solid.
This studio clearly didn't get the idea of nightmare horror that would be revolutionized by ANOES. It was just a hamfisted attempt to string a couple nightmare horror concepts together. There's hints of H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and of course Wes Craven himself. More of which I'll get into in the spoilers. The worst part is, they had their own personal version of a Freddy Kruger archetype, and they blew their chance to really showcase it.
They had an amazing cast, so there's no blaming it on the acting. Max Von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, David Patrick Kelly, Denis fucking Quaid. Jesus fuck, they even had George Wendt. They basically blew a whole fucking all-star cast on this 'Bandwagon Film.' No amount of good acting could save this shit writing.
And it's not a bad premise, they just went nowhere with it. A black government conspiracy is trying to create dream assassins to kill the president. That's pretty fucking cool, right? And it could have been, especially with their own nightmare killer front and center. If they'd done this movie right, we'd be comparing it to ANOES for the rest of our lives.
I can't even recommend this movie to Riffers. There's nothing funny about it. It's just painful and boring. I remember fucking loving it as a kid, but I hate it now, and I think I know why...
The Snakeman is literally all I remember about this movie. I think I watched it with my parents when I was 5 or 6. I remember being glued to the screen for every moment Snakeman walks on camera. But there was hardly any Snakeman in the whole movie. Here's the thing, I don't really remember the rest of this movie. I think I literally only watched it when the Snakeman was on screen, and my ADHD idled brain was busy playing with my monster toys during the rest of the movie. Yes I had monster toys.
And that's where this movie fucked up. It wasn't just my ADHD idled brain. This movie needed a LOT more Snakeman and a lot less of 95% of the rest of the movie. It should have been Quaid's character fights off the Snakeman in the boys dream. Kelly's character latches onto the idea of the Snakeman. And literally the rest of the movie should have been Quaid fighting the Snakeman in other people's dreams until he figured out the Snakeman is Kelly.
The worst part of the movie is when Kelly's character kills a dream character with—no fucking shit—a metal clawed right hand... Wes could have fucking sued. Not that he needed to. This movie was largely forgotten and for good fucking reason. If Wes sued them, it would have been like beating up a cripple.
But there's one more fucking thing, and no I won't just let it good. There's a blatant rape scene in this movie, masquerading as a romantic coupling. Quaid's character, uninvited, forces his way into the female lead's dream, and tricks her into thinking she's just having an erotic dream. He blatantly betrays her trust, enters her mind without permission, and uses her subconscious mind to have sex with her. In a science fiction sense, if you don't believe that's rape, you're the same kind of person that makes excuses for guys raping passed out drunk girls. Because it's the same fucking thing.
Because this movie blew such a fantastic opportunity to be a horror legend, it should be forgotten. Maybe someone will remake this and do it fucking right and with less rape.