Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Bad Dreams on Elm Street

“Let me take you down cause I’m going to… Unity Fields… nothing is real”
Take a cult leaders and throw him a bunch of impressionable individuals in a post-60’s peace and love fest, add gasoline, some transcendence of being and you have a bunch of crispy cult worshippers ready for your summer barbeque. Richard Lynch plays the cult leader of your nightmares in this “man of your dreams” kill by number picture. Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) plays the sole survivor of Harris’s attempt at freeing his cult from their respective bodies by Weber Grill. She is interned at a psych ward where her dreams control her almost as much as Harris (Richard Lynch) did in real life. When the nightmares start to manifest into reality the morgue begins to fill like an unwatched bathtub with a hair clog.

Couple of points I want to make about the actors in this 1988 gem.

1. Richard Lynch is naturally creepy. He looks like someone stapled his skin behind his head pulling his face taught, his smile wide and his eyes into reptilian slits. He makes me feel dirty. This is of course a good thing so before ya’ll start running to him to exact revenge upon yours truly, I think he’s a fine actor who gets the creep done. Seriously looks like someone is “scruffing” him… ya know… like mama dog grabs a baby puppy? Only the puppy’s proud mother is Zule.

2. Jennifer Rubin = Taryn White. This is hot. Never underestimate the drawing power of former Nightmare on Elm St. kids. I’ll follow them around if I catch their scent. She’s beautiful (and bad). In fact this movie turns out to be a who’s who of 80’s slasher/horror/sex comedies. We’ve got Dean Cameron who played Chainsaw in Summer School (well worth the watch horror fans). Also, Dan Cain of Re-animator. Harris Yulin of pretty much everything but we’ll site Ghostbusters 2 fame. Even Dottie from Pee Wee shows up (that’s Elizabeth Daily in laymen’s terms). I’m not going to list the entire cast (IMDB people).

Overall we’ve got a film that plays out like any number of 80’s pictures. Real life trauma yields supernatural issues and nobody believes the protagonist until their dead. Story goes from kill to kill and creatively I might add. I don’t think this one won any Academy Awards and it’s not even the best from a special effects perspective. What you have is fun for the 80’s fan. You have a picture that reminds you of all the pictures before it and why we needed to leave 80’s horror behind (and probably why movies like Scream came along shortly thereafter).

Best scene in the picture is the blood air vent scene. I won’t spoil it. I want t it to surprise you because most of this picture will feel really old hat. It’s one of the shocking moments in the film (beyond the shear presence of Richard Lynch which in itself is horrifying). Just remember, blood comes out of a vent like that… probably means you need to hire someone to clean the vent. Oh, and somebody suffered an untimely death at the hands of an ex-cult leader, burned alive turned nightmare stalking dead man. Wait… Freddy Kruger? Afraid not, but the plot starts to smell like one of our favorite Wes Craven movies for certain.

I just finished reading the first and only issue of Famous Monster Underground which focused on 1980’s horror, splatter and big blood/big fun antics (big hair too). This one will fit in nicely as a transitional piece into the early 90’s focus on copycat films starring a recycled cast and eventually just high action for action-sake. Oh and by the way… the burn make up that’s being done now is 100% superior to what this movie put together. I think I’ve seen burn unit Halloween costumes that take a better stab at this type of effect than what we were looking at in 1988. Low budget ($4,000,000 and you can’t do a good burn job?). The movie David had a better melted skin look and that was basically a Lifetime movie before Lifetime was the tear sucking channel of estrogen it has become. Yea we have a couple good zombie style burn head shots, but the effects will date this picture.

-Dr. Terror (serve this picture with hot dogs on the grill).

By the by… Andrew Flemming also directed The Craft and Nancy Drew. Also Hamlet 2. What the fuck?


  1. Dean Cameron should have been huge.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Dean Cameron had a loveable comedic presence. A good portion of who I am today is owed to his character Chainsaw.