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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 7.69%
Average: 15.38%
Pretty Bad61.54%
Total Crap: 15.38%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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Bad Dreams
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by Scott Weinberg

"Grim, gory, and cribbed from better flicks."
2 stars

I distinctly remember me and my horror-geek movie-addict pals going to see Andrew Fleming's "Bad Dreams" in the early part of 1988; based only on the trailers and TV ads, the thing looked to be a fairly promising combination of "Jonestown cult" fictionalization and outright Freddy Krueger plagiarism. And that's precisely what the thing still looks like today. Only sillier.

Combining the always-topical (and inevitably alluring) story of suicidal cult activities and the stalk & slash blueprint of Elm Street (most specifically the third Elm Street chapter), Bad Dreams starts out as seriously unoriginal and more than a little dry. And things get only marginally better before the end credits make their appearance.

The always-creepy Richard Lynch (The Sword and the Sorcerer) plays cult leader "Harris," and as the flick opens, Harris is busy pouring kerosene all over his doe-eyed young followers. One lit match leads to a sweltering variety of carnage, and the only survivor is a gal called Cynthia ... and she promptly drops into a coma for the next 13 years.

When Cindy awakens, she finds herself haunted by visions of that horrible night -- and persistently visited by the spirit of nasty ol' Harris. When Cynthia refuses to "join" Harry and his dead minions, the semi-demised villain decides to snip the lifelines on a bunch of group-therapy misfits. The murders are consistently mistaken for suicides, and Cynthia is consistently mistaken for a raving nutcase.

That's pretty much the long and the short of Bad Dreams, a fairly limp (but not terrible) little hunk of semi-forgotten late-80's slasher material. The screenplay, credited to then-first-time Andrew Fleming and then-seasoned veteran Stephen de Souza, absolutely reeks of "Hey, let's do Freddy Krueger mixed with Charles Manson!" -- and the flick never once deviates from this rather simplistic concept. (Mr. Fleming would eventually move on to much better films, like the sadly underrated Threesome and the smartly satirical Dick; De Souza would go on the pen tons of action flicks, from the first two Die Hards and Ricochet to Judge Dredd and Tomb Raider 2.)

Fleming's surprisingly fluid direction and a handful of familiar faces keep Bad Dreams just watchable enough throughout its (numerous) dry spots. As our heroine, genre fave Jennifer Rubin does some solid work, while veteran character actor Harris Yulin creates a an officious head head-shrinker you'll love to hate. If you get bored, keep an eye out for other 80s staples like Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator), Dean Cameron (Summer School), and E.G. Daily (One Dark Night). (And yes, that's Charles "Roger Rabbit" Fleischer as a goofy pharmacist.)

Upon its theatrical release, the esteemed Roger Ebert (never a huge fan of bleak and aggressive horror flicks) gave Bad Dreams a half-star rating -- while using words like "sick," "poison," and "vomitorium." By today's hard-R-horror standards, Bad Dreams isn't all that upsetting. In an effort to out-Krueger good ol' Freddy, Fleming allows his "Harris" to deliver all sorts of nasty punishment to a cast of semi-suicidal characters, but there's nothing in Bad Dreams that the horror freaks haven't seen before ... and done a whole lot better.

(© Review reprinted from DVDTalk, with permission from the author (me) and the DVDT management. For the full DVD specs on this particular movie, please visit and get friendly with the search bar.)

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originally posted: 05/12/06 08:10:28
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User Comments

1/08/17 Stefan Halka It was okay. An okay way to waste an hour and twenty minutes. 3 stars
7/19/09 mr.mike OK (watched it on Cinemax). Ending comes close to being camp. 3 stars
5/22/06 Jeff Anderson 80's horror that hasn't aged well & dull. Rubin, Lynch & Cameron are the lone standouts. 2 stars
5/14/06 Sugarfoot Very bad and boring horror flick. Lynch was good though but still can't save the movie. 1 stars
5/13/06 tatum Unbearably bad slasher flick 1 stars
5/01/06 starfire Jennifer Rubin is great. good gore. pretty cool film.great cast.great music! 4 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby A couple of scary, gruesome moments, but the story jumps all over the place. 2 stars
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  02-Apr-1988 (R)
  DVD: 18-Apr-2006



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