Dreamscape is an early ’80s movies I thought I didn’t catch first time round, even on VHS – although I realised I did see it on DVD in 2001, where it had a bit of a crappy print. However, it takes Dennis Quaid in an early lead role as Alex, a smart-ass man gambler and hustler, good at telekinesis and winning bets at the horse racing track, as well as wooing the ladies.
He’s sort-of kidnapped and invited to take part in a new project about dreams, where he’ll be the No.2 to Tommy (David Patrick Kelly in a superb support about which I can’t go into great detail), when it comes to using his powers to step into the minds of sleeping individuals, find out what’s causing their nightmares and resolve them by becoming an active participant within the dreams. These include The President (Eddie Albert) – worried that his actions will cause nuclear oblivion, and a young lad called Buddy (Cory ‘Bumper’ Yothers) who, like Indiana Jones, has a fear of snakes.
For a lot of the time, he’s working with old friend Novotny (Max Von Sydow), but Christopher Plummer appears as a man who may or may not be on the level – it’s Plummer, so in every character he portrays, you really never know until he reveals his hand, but then again, his surname in this movie is Blair. And look how the UK suffered last time.
There’s frequent sprinklings of humour, especially from Quaid, and often directed towards potential squeeze Dr DrVries (Kate Capshaw, just off the back of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – and it doesn’t go unnoticed that the Blu-ray cover, which mirrors the original theatrical poster, really does copy that one!… I mean, it pays homage), such as when she states they’re testing the body during sleep and working out whether impotency is physical or psychological… so as to whether male subjects still get the usual three or four erections during the night.
Alex quips: “So, what you relly do here is count boners, right(?)”
Dreamscape is not quite Inception (any film can rarely compare in those stakes), but it’s more like 1990’s Flatliners for dreams – rather than past-life experiences, while discovering the contents of someone’s dreams would be much quicker if the dreamer was actually honest about what’s in them. But then that would cancel the necessity of the project.
In addition, there’s lots of cloak and dagger stuff, an awesome Maurice Jarre soundtrack and it all comes together superbly, especially with great acting heavyweights Plummer and Von Sydow.
Oh, and when I saw George Wendt for the first time, I shouted “NORM!” 🙂
In the US, the film originally received an ‘R’ rating, but was later reduced to a PG-13, which is usually a 12 in the UK. The film received a 15-certificate over here, and given how it’s a bit too scary and violent for young kids at times, that’s probably about right, although if parents wanted to show their younger children, it’d be worth them having a watch of it first.
One other thing I learned after watching this is that there IS a scene which has been cut, as per the PG-13 version. I’ll put a spoiler heading around it in case you want to avoid spoilers….
The film is presented in 1.85:1 and in 1080p high definition, and it does look great most of the time – especially in the dream sequences, but there’s also a level of grain that I normally see in remastered releases from Arrow.
The audio is in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, and in each of those dreams, everything goes all around the speakers and it’s fantastic!
The extensive extras are as follows:
- The Actor’s Journey: Interview with Dennis Quaid (14:50): A new interview with Mr Quaid, who talks about his movie heroes, including Jack Nicholson who worked with his brother, Randy Quaid, on the brilliant movie, The Last Detail.He wasn’t sure, at the time of making this film, whether or not this was his first lead (wasn’t that Jaws 3D, or didn’t he want to mention that? 😉 )
He also recalls great times working with all the other key cast members, and how the skyscraper scene WAS partly done for real, with the hope that nets would save them!
- Dreamscapes and Dreammakers (61:50): A very in-depth behind-the-scenes featuew with many crew members, but… no chapters. Why?!?!
- Nightmares and Dreamsnakes (23:23): An extension of the last piece, but focusing on the evil Snakeman character!
- In Conversation: Bruce Cohn Curtis and Chuck Russell (23:31): The producer and co-writer, respectively, go into detail about various aspects of making the film plus the positive press reaction and continuously positive public reaction. This is like watching two great friends having a chinwag.
- Snakeman test footage (2:16): I love archive footage like this which would otherwise have never been seen again. Kudos to the production team for keeping this.
- Stills Gallery (2:32): A fair number of production stills set to Acidxox by Andrea Careddu.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:13): Presented in near-4:3, it does get rather too spoilery. The film’s ace. Just watch that first!
- Audio commentary: with producer Bruce Cohn Curtis, screenwriter David Loughery and special effects supremo Craig Reardon
The main menu features a short piece of the classic theme set against clips from the film, and there’s a decent number of chapters with 16. Subtitles are in English.
Dreamscape Special Edition is out on Monday on Blu-ray, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 99 mins
Distributor: Second Sight
Released: August 7th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Joseph Ruben
Producer: Bruce Cohn Curtis
Screenplay: David Loughery, Chuck Russell and Joseph Ruben
Music: Maurice Jarre
Alex Gardner: Dennis Quaid
Doctor Paul Novotny: Max von Sydow
Bob Blair: Christopher Plummer
Jane DeVries: Kate Capshaw
The President: Eddie Albert
Tommy Ray Glatman: David Patrick Kelly
Charlie Prince: George Wendt
Mr. Webber: Larry Gelman
Buddy: Cory ‘Bumper’ Yothers
Snead: Redmond Gleeson
Babcock: Peter Jason
Finch: Chris Mulkey
Mrs. Webber: Jana Taylor
Fred Schoenstein: Madison Mason
Mrs. Matusik: Kendall Carly Browne
President’s Daughter: Kate Charleson
Tommy Ray’s Father: Eric Gold
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.