Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Watching Dreamscape

Watched Dreamscape tonight, a movie that scared the crap out of me back in the day (in 1984 - 27 years ago!). The plot is essentially Inception for the 80s: a group of scientists have discovered how to insert psychics into people’s dreams. The main psychic, played by an excellent Dennis Quaid, starts off as that typical Hollywood rogue, a cynic who doesn't want to play by the rules or use his powers for anyone else (when we first meet him, he's raking in the cash at the track). However, he quickly gets entangled with a governmental research project about dreams that initially utilizes the technology for good, but once we discover that the POUSA is having nightmares about a nuclear holocaust and thus wants to start leading nuclear disarmament talks (this, of course, can’t happen), it's just a matter of time before things turn ugly. A very satisfying thriller results from the resulting complications, mainly due to an intelligent script and great acting (Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow are in it as well, although the less said about Kate Capshaw, the better).

Overall, the flick stood up really well to how I remembered it, which is not always the case with older movies. In my opinion, it’s aged pretty well, with the exception of the fashions (pink sweaters are just never acceptable), the ginormous computers, and some really wretched electronic music.  You have to take the special effects with a grain of salt, obviously – FX have come a long way in 27 years! – but some of them are surpisingly effective. One scene in particular, a child’s dream about the boogyman, is well done – they present the kids house with all of the house’s angles askew and crooked staircases leading down into pitch-black cellars. Overall, the scene feels like early Tim Burton, but without the ironic humor. Another positive were the fallout scenes with the rivers of nuclear waste and rabid fallout dogs. Not so effective, was the scary snake-man, although it still freaked me out a bit (probably because it scared me so much when I was a kid!) Overall, I'd say that this movie would be ripe for a remake if Inception hadn't basically just told an extremely similar story.

On a personal note, I enjoyed the fact that not one but two Twin Peaks characters were in the flick: David Patrick Kelly (Jerry Horne) and Chris Mulkey (Hank Jennings). I also got a kick out of the fact that the POUSA in the flick looks a little bit like Boris Yeltsin. Little things like this are what keep me going!

No comments: