Starring: Dennis Quaid, Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Kate Capshaw, Eddie Albert, David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt
Written by: David Loughery (story), David Loughery (screenplay)
Directed by: Joseph Ruben
Rated: PG-13 (second film ever to receive this rating)
Run Time: 1 hour and 39 minutes
Dreamscape (1984) was not a film I saw in the theatre. If you grew up in the eighties, Dreamscape was the type of film that cable channels ran over and over again. More often than not, you saw the middle and the end before you were properly introduced to the characters. The hook here, for me, was that Gordo Cooper (Dennis Quaid), from The Right Stuff (1983), battling a giant and terrifying Snake Man. What was this movie? Was that Indy’s latest girlfriend, Kate Capshaw, in the film as well? I had to know.
Dreamscape is a different film kind of film from the eighties. It deals with the possibility of being able to enter into someone’s dreams and help them for the better. Quaid plays Alex Gardner, a man with highly developed mental capabilities. After years of being poked and prodded as a guinea pig, Alex has become a con man who is as loose with the ladies as he is with his money. Doctor Paul Novotny (Max von Sydow) recruits Alex for the Dreamscape project. If Alex is ready to contribute to society, in a positive way, he can help Doctor Novotny and Jane DeVries (Capshaw) help those suffering from serious nightmares.
With any movie made during the eighties, there has to be something involving the Cold War and the Communists. The subplot to the film is that the US Government is secretly funding Doctor Novotny’s project. Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer) is trying to help the President of United States (Eddie Albert) with his nightmares of a nuclear holocaust. There is more, of course, to Blair wanting to cure the President’s nightmares and thus enters Alex’s antithesis, Tommy Ray Glatman (David Patrick Kelly). Glatman, secretly, has been tasked by Blair to take the President out in a shared dream.
The film is a slow build allowing us to accept the “reality” of the dreamscape. We aren’t thrown directly into a horrific nightmare but are gradually taken into two simple nightmares. As Alex sees the benefits of being able to help people, he quickly learns that Glatman is more than just a colleague in the project, he is a soulless and unfeeling self-centered killer. Eventually they will square off, but in which reality and who will have the upper hand?
Dreamscape has aged very well. I think my biggest worry, upon watching Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition release was the special effects. High resolutions of the original source can often be damaging to a special effect laden film. Having all the special effect sequences take place in the dreamscape allows the viewer to dismiss how old they may look. Personally, I found the use of miniatures and stop-motion photography (mainly with the Snake Man) to be refreshing since today all we get are CGI effects. What does date the film is Maurice Jarre’s score. Jarre decided to give the film an electronic score over using a full orchestra. His score, though fitting for the film, does date it to a time and place, the eighties.
For what has become the norm, Shout! Factory has supplied a plethora of special features that take you further into Dreamscape than ever before. “Dreamscapes And Dreammakers” is over an hour of interviews from the cast and crew regaling us with pre-production and on-set stories. All those involved have nothing but the highest praise for both Max von Sydow and Christopher Plummer. Those interviewed here each have a fond memory or small moment they share about these two actors.
“The Actor’s Journey” (14:50) is a sit-down interview with Dennis Quaid about the film. Though not present in “Dreamscapes And Dreammakers”, Quaid shares stories about Sydow and Plummer, but it is his Green Acres fascination with co-star Eddie Albert that gets the most smiles from him. Quaid laters informs us that Albert was close personal friends with then President, Ronald Reagan. Quaid leaves no one out and mentions his long time relationship with Peter Jason, who has a small part at the beginning of the picture. According to Quaid, he has known Jason longer than his own brother. Sadly, Kate Capshaw did not supply any interviews for this Blu-ray.
Lastly, I have to mention the inclusion of the Snake Man Test Footage. What a great treat for film aficionados who love to see the foundation of how such creatures are brought to life. It is a mere two minutes, but to see lighting tests and puppetry at work remind us all how the craft should really return to movies.
Dreamscape [Collector’s Edition] arrives December 10th from Shout! Factory. Order it here.
NEW 2K Scan Of The Film
NEW “The Actor’s Journey” – Interview With Dennis Quaid
NEW “Dreamscapes And Dreammakers” Retrospective Including Brand-New Interviews With Director Joseph Ruben, Co-Writer David Loughery, Actor David Patrick Kelly And Other Members Of The Special Effects Team
NEW “Nightmares And Dreamsnakes” – Looking Back At The Snakeman With Craig Reardon, David Patrick Kelley And Others
NEW In-Depth Conversation Between Bruce Cohn Curtis And Co-Writer/Producer Chuck Russell
Audio Commentary With Bruce Cohn Curtis, David Loughery And Craig Reardon
Snake Man Test Footage