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DREAMSCAPE

   

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: A fanciful exploration of our dream state, which predates ‘Inception’ by some 33 years but contains some similar elements, this sci-fi thriller is another film that has fallen through the cracks, only to be rescued by the Shout! Factory with a new remastered Blu-ray release. Here’s my review, published in the Deseret News on Aug. 23, 1984.

The initial premise is far from original, with a little bit of “Scanners” and a bit more perhaps of “Brainstorm” giving “Dreamscape” its early ideas. And, unfortunately, like many films of this type, “Dreamscape” starts out imaginatively only to sink into a government-paranoia thriller.

Still, the film is, on the whole, enjoyable science fiction fare.

Dennis Quaid stars as a talented psychic, currently wasting his time with petty gambling schemes, and he is soon blackmailed by the government into participating in dream-research experiments. Scientist Max Von Sydow has developed a means of projecting those with psychic abilities into someone else’s dreams, with that second party becoming a participant.

   

        David Patrick Kelly, 'Dreamscape'

Perhaps not particularly original but a fascinating idea nonetheless, and it is developed quite well in its early stages, as we are shown the dreams of troubled people, with Quaid entering them to help solve their difficulties.

The first hints of problems in the film however, come early, with a giant snake monster that looks like something Sinbad might have battled in his “7th Voyage,” with the main plot being revealed as President Eddie Albert has nuclear-holocaust nightmares, which may lead to his calling for an all-out freeze. That causes high-ranking government official Christopher Plummer no end of dismay, so he plots to do away with the president.

Needless to say, Quaid, Von Sydow and fellow scientist Kate Capshaw (“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”) try to foil the plot.

   

'Dreamscape' poster, looking like an 'Indiana Jones' sequel

The special effects are pretty good, particularly those of Albert’s dreams, and there is a pretty funny comic sequence involving a mismatched married couple. Quaid is a charming lead player, Von Sydow, Plummer and Albert are their professional selves, but David Patrick Kelly (“The Warriors”) steals the picture as a wonderfully menacing rival psychic.

The newspaper ads make this film look like another “Indiana Jones,” though nothing could be less accurate, despite a scene in which a living man has his heart ripped out (albeit less graphically than in “Jones”).

“Dreamscape” is rated PG-13 for graphic violence, brief nudity and sex in a dream sequence, and profanity. This one would no doubt have received a PG under the old rules, but the more strict rating is certainly earned.