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Dreamscape

In episode seven of THE LAST OF US, Ellie had a poster for the movie INNERSCAPE on her bedroom wall. I’ve not played the games, so please tell me if there’s some connection I’m not aware of, but I thought that was a strange choice. If you don’t know INNERSPACE, it was director JOE DANTE‘s 1987 riff on that great 1966 B-movie, FANTASTIC VOYAGE. Anyway, I’m digressing wildly here… INNERSPACE starred DENNIS QUAID, who starred in another couple of genre movies around the same time which I absolutely adored – ENEMY MINE in 1985, and, just before that classic, DREAMSCAPE.

I loved DREAMSCAPE at the time, so when it popped up on AMAZON PRIME the other day, I thought I’d give it a re-watch and mention it here. As usual, here’s a synopsis and a trailer to whet your appetite.

A man who can enter and manipulate people’s dreams is recruited by a government agency to help cure the President of the United States of his nightmares about nuclear war but stumbles upon an assassination plot.

Read more: Dreamscape

What a cast, and what a hotchpotch concept. Alongside Quaid you’ve got KATE CAPSHAW (flying high after INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM), alongside MAX VON SYDOW, CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, DAVID PATRICK KELLY, GEORGE WENDT, and EDDIE ALBERT. The mid-eighties truly was a great time for genre movies like this, and DREAMSCAPE appeared to have all the elements necessary to make it a huge success. Looking back, it seems the film dropped off the radar – overshadowed, perhaps, by other releases from around the same time: NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, NIGHT OF THE COMET… we truly were spoilt for choice back then.

Dreamscape

I have to say, I really enjoyed re-watching DREAMSCAPE after so long, but I think that was due more to the 1980’s nostalgia than the quality of the film itself. On paper it seems like a surefire hit, but on screen it comes across as a victim of its own concept – often too many competing ideas seem to rob the story of any impact. For example, for a time we’re following Quaid’s character (and Kelly’s slimy villain) through people’s dreams. When a young boy is hounded by a snake-like monster through an abstract-looking set-piece, there are definite hints of FREDDY KRUEGER, but because we know the cause and who the perpetrator is, the sequence is robbed of any emotional heft. Then, we’re into wildly different territory inside the head of Albert’s US president and his recurring nightmares about the nuclear apocalypse. It’s all very entertaining, but it feels uneven and disjointed. We lurch from schmaltzy comedy into Armageddon, and it doesn’t quite work. The film was even marketed with a beautiful DREW STRUZAN poster which sits comfortably alongside his STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES designs and further adds to the genre confusion. Quaid is depicted in an Indiana-esque outfit and pose with a burning torch, as if he’s about to explore some long-lost temple…

I guess the real reason I’m recommending DREAMSCAPE is for the visuals and the sheer amount of imagination on show. The downside, as I’ve just said, is that the tone of the film feels confused, but you’ll not get bored watching it. If you’ve not come across the film before, I think it’s well worth a couple of hours of your time. For those of you in the UK, it’s currently streaming on AMAZON PRIME, and it’s also available on blu-ray.


Thanks for reading.

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