Director – Bob Clark (Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, Black Christmas)
Starring – John Marley (Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Godfather), Lynn Carlin (The Incredible Hulk, Superstition), and Richard Backus (The First Deadly Sin, Law & Order)
Release Date – 1974
Rating – 4/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Director Bob Clark is one of the most underrated directors in film history. This late genius has released classic horror films and a Christmas story that has played on EVERY television at least once but not many people know his name. Bob Clark is responsible for the coming of age sex comedy Porky’s, the Christmas classic A Christmas Story, and essential horror films Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, Black Christmas, and Deathdream. I’ve seen several of his films and all of them are fantastic.
About 10 years ago a friend of mine got Deathdream on DVD and we checked it out. I was absolutely in love with the film and tried everything I could to trade for the film and he refused. A few years later I found a copy in FYE fairly cheap and had to have it. I was ecstatic to add this to my collection. Sometime ago Blue Underground announced the film would be making its blu premier and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way. Thanks guys!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows the Brooks family whose son Andy is away in Vietnam fighting in the war. One day they receive a letter that he has passed away and the family is filled with remorse. One night the family hears a strange noise downstairs and goes to investigate only to find Andy alive. However, Andy is not his old self. Has the war really changed him that much or has something evil came home?**Spoiler Alert**
Deathdream, just like Clark’s other horror films, is shot beautifully and has great atmosphere. The cinematography is always great even if the film’s budget is not the best. Clark has a great eye and his films show it. If you don’t believe me just toss in Black Christmas and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. You can pause those films almost at anytime and have a beautiful shot. Deathdream looks great but the story is what draws you in.
The acting in this one is great. John Marley is fantastic in his role and really showed the world what all those years of experience can do in front of the camera. His character is very emotional without feeling weak. He is a father and husband who is dealing with a loved one that is committing heinous crimes. His performance is superb. I also enjoyed Richard Backus as Andy. His emotionless performance and facial expressions make this film.
The story for this one is a product of its time. In 1974 we were winding down in Vietnam but it was still a hot topic for most Americans who lost friends or family in the war. Not many horror films tackled the topic but Deathdream makes it a backdrop to the story which works very well for the type of story we do get. The film has a steady pacing and a great tone with just the right amount of suspense. The undead angle was a unique take on which makes it blend between the living dead and vampires. I really liked that take on the story and really enjoyed where Clark went with it.
Finally, the film does have several deaths. The effects we do get are solid but nothing that you will remember tomorrow. This is one horror films where the deaths are the least entertaining aspects. Overall, Deathdream is a classic. If you don’t have this in your collection are you really a fan of horror in the first place?
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