Through this movie I discovered the concept of “lucid dreaming.” In case you don’t know what that is, it’s when you dream and you become aware you’re dreaming. Throughout my life I have only dreamed lucidly three times, with the first time ever being the most memorable. And I didn’t even go to bed with the intent to lucid dream, it just happened.
I was suddenly standing in the driveway, early morning, but instantly I became aware I was dreaming and the instant I understood that everything became crisp and clear. It was almost like being in an alternate reality. I felt I knew then what the characters of The Matrix (1999) and Existenz (1999) must have felt like. It was the most amazing thing.
I have dabbled in karate off and on for most of my life and the instant I knew I was in a dream. I started throwing these kicks, but kicks where I could hover in the air for a moment, and since this wasn’t real life I didn’t bother to land on my feet. I simply threw a spectacular kick and landed on the pavement the way my legs were kicking. There was no pain involved at all. After that I got up and just started staring at everything and marveling at how vivid it all was to the “real world.” But, sadly, the dream took control soon after that.
They never call what they do in the movie as “lucid dreaming,” I only learned of what that was months or years later when I was reading a book on dreams, but the real life equivalent of the movie’s concept is pretty much that. In the movie Dr. Paul Novotny (Max Von Sydow) has been experimenting with dreams, specifically if it’s possible to have a person enter another’s and control, or alter, it. The prime candidates for this are people with psychic abilities. The program does have a “dark side,” which is probably obvious on the surface, but not so obvious where a Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer), Head Of Covert Intelligence, is concerned. He backs the whole thing, because he sees it as a perfect way to assassinate people without it looking like an obvious assassination. Of course, Novotny knows nothing of this, he’s just concerned with proving the whole thing can be done, and it can!
The program’s current star is Tommy Ray Glatman (David Patrick Kelly), but as we eventually learn, he’s a psychopath who’s spent time in an asylum for killing his father. Kind of strange Novotny would be using such an individual for his experiments, but he must know of Glatman’s past for there’s a file on it that’s discovered. The next star of this program is Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) who worked with Novotny when he was a kid. Gardner is a hell of a psychic but pisses his talents away making money betting on horses. Novotny confides in Blair that Gardner would be an incredible asset to the program so Blair has his government goons go get him. In the beginning Blair doesn’t come off as “evil,” nor does his two main goons, Roy Babcock (Peter Jason) and Gary Finch (Chris Mulkey). It’s not until Gardner is blackmailed into participating that the darkside of this government program comes out and most of that is through horror novelist, Charlie Prince (George Wendt), who informs Gardner who Blair is and what he really wants to do. As expected Blair has Prince killed.
Eddie Albert plays the President and he’s been having terrible nightmares since his wife died of the earth being destroyed by nuclear weapons, this motivates him to pursue a disarmament deal. Keep in mind this movie was made during the Cold War, the first Cold War I should say, since we’ve gone back to that thanks to Putin, but Blair thinks making peace would be a bad idea, so to rectify that he plans to assassinate the President with his new weapon, dream killer, Tommy Ray Glatman.
Kate Capshaw plays fellow scientist, Jane DeVries, who helps train Gardner, and becomes the movie’s love interest.
The dreams portrayed in the movie, especially the nightmares are very well executed, and I found them very creepy. The highlight is the Snake Man Gardner tackles first in a little kid’s nightmares and then again when he battles Glatman in the President’s dream at the end. That Snake Man terrified Gardner so Glatman uses it against him by transforming into it. The creature is a combination of practical and stop-motion effects.
The one below is seen only for a moment in the movie’s “twist” where Gardner deals with Blair in his dream, effectively killing him by scaring him to death as he tears his head in half to reveal this creature.
Image Entertainment released Dreamscape back in 2000 on DVD, and then on blu in 2010. Scream Factory (Shout! Factory’s genre sub-label) now releases it on blu-ray in a new 2K scan this coming December 13th!
(Reverse Cover Art)
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.85:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English subs only
I did own Image’s DVD, but never acquired their blu, so I have no idea how it compares, but Scream Factory has done a fantastic job remastering this movie from what I remember the DVD being! Colors pop now!
Extras included . . .
- The Actor’s Journey – Interview With Dennis Quaid (14.49) NEW
- Dreamscapes And Dreammakers (1:01:50) NEW
- Nightmares And Dreamsnakes (23:22) NEW
- In-Depth Conversation Between Bruce Cohn Curtis And Co-Writer/Producer Chuck Russell (23:30) NEW
- Audio Commentary With Bruce Cohn Curtis, David Loughery And Craig Reardon
- Snake Man Test Footage (2:15)
- Still Gallery (2:31)
- Theatrical Trailer