HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Dreamscape: Collector's Edition
HTS Overall Score:73
The 80’s really were some of the best times to be alive. Film making back then was completely different than it is now, and most of the movies that I watch over and over and over again come from that decade. Stallone, Arnold, Van Damme, Jason Vorhees, Michael Meyer, Freddy, the list goes on and on and on. “Dreamscape” was an oddity even back then, being an independently financed B-film that somehow has made it into cult classic category along with movies like “Krull” and the like. It played into the cold war political scenario with people’s paranoia about nuclear disaster and foreign espionage, but it also acts as the ground work for what Christopher Nolan would one day turn into “Inception”. Dream walking was an unknown concept back then and “Dreamscape” dips heavily into the science fiction genre while also delving into horror a bit too. Perfectly cheesy and a blast to watch, it’s a great title for Scream Factory to get their mitts on and an easy replacement for the incredibly poor Image Entertainment release of the film a few years back.
“Dreamscape” feels like a piece out of “Sci-fi” magazine, reaching back into the 90’s and 80s (of which I spent way too much of my youth reading like a starving nerd that I was) and pulls from pulp science fiction elements to create a grungy film that focuses on the terrors of the mind and what it can accomplish. Alex Gardner is a young psychic who ran away from his collegiate aspirations when he got tired of his gift being exploited. Now he’s a hustler and ladies’ man who gets by using his psychic powers to predict bets at the horse races. That is until a former mentor named Doctor Paul Novotny entices him to come back to work with him with promises of helping the human race. Dr. Novotny wants to use Alex’s (and other psychics) powers to go into the dreaming mind and help these people conquer their fears and inner demons.
Reluctantly agreeing to work with his old mentor, Alex and another psychic by the name of Tommy (David Patrick Kelly, “The Crow”) are sent into subjects sleeping mind with great results using a set of machines. However, just because there is great potential for good in something doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to use it for nefarious deeds. Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer), a shadowy government agent, is out to use Dr. Novotny’s revolutionary experiments for something much more sinister. If you can get into someone’s mind and help them, you most certainly can go in there and extract information and do harm as well. Something many governments would kill to be able to do in the anonymity of a dream. Soon Alex is fighting for his life as Blair’s intentions for the program soon draw the psychic into a plot to take out the president of the United States.
“Dreamscape” was definitely a low budget sci-fi picture, even by 1984 standards. Clocking in at $6 million dollars it was barely able to make it to production. However, the eager, enthusiastic tone of the movie makes for a fun little endeavor. Dennis Quaid is charming as a baby faced kid who’s just trying to get by as a con man and man about town, and David Patrick Kelly is deliciously fun as the devilish Tommy (he has a knack for playing bad guys with that craggy face of his and thuggish way of talking). The real stars of the movie are really Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer. Both who just glide through the movie with a slick style that denotes their excellent acting roots. I had to have a chuckle as I almost didn’t recognize Christopher Plummer without his mustache. I’ve always seen him as a baby faced young man in “Sound of Music” or else older and more wizened with his ever present mustache during his later career.
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86714[/img]“Dreamscape” was shot on 35 mm film and the given a brand new scan by Scream Factory shortly before this edition came out. “Dreamscape” was already released on Blu-ray a few years back by Image entertainment, but that release was plagued by quite a few problems that hampered the image. The world of them being that it was sourced from a 1080i interlaced master and had some contrast and consistency problems that made it one of the more disappointing Blu-rays in my collection. This new 2K scan is actually quite nice and there is a BIG increase in picture quality between the two discs (and especially the old DVD if you want to go back even further). Colors are fairly warm and the detail is usually quite pleasing to the eye. There’s some speckles and a few vertical lines that show up here and there, but overall the new scan is a HEAPS better than what we’ve seen before. The main problem with this one is consistency between scenes. Some scenes like the opening shot with Alex at the race track show a lot of detail and pop, while others can be overshadowed by softness and a bit too much grain. This will literally vary from scene to scene as the film goes on and it can be a bit distracting. Still, as I mentioned, this special edition is the best the film has looked on any home video market and a bit leap up from the old Image Blu-ray. A Blu-ray I don’t have anymore because of how disappointing it was.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86722[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that is the main mix for the film is the same mix as that was on the Image release, and it’s a solid track to be sure. The 5.1 experience is more than a bit front heavy, but it the front sound stage is fairly active with Alex coming in and out of dream experiences and the synthesized 80s score running throughout there’s some surround activity during some of the action sequences, such as Alex running from Blair’s men at the horse track, or while the pep rally runs on by, but other than that the 3 main speakers are the focus of the film. LFE is fairly nonexistent except for a little bit here and there with the score, and I did notice a little bit of a hiss and harshness on the top end. Especially when voices were raised to shouting levels.
• "The Actor's Journey" - Interview with Dennis Quaid
• "Dreamscapes and Dreammakers" Retrospective including Brand-new interviews with Director Joseph Ruben, Co-Writer David Loughery, Actor David Patrick Kelly and other members of the special effects team
• "Nightmares and Dreamsnakes" – Looking Back at the Snakeman with Craig Reardon, David Patrick Kelley and others.
• In-Depth Conversation Between Bruce Cohn Curtis And Co-Writer/Producer Chuck Russell
• Audio Commentary With Bruce Cohn Curtis, David Loughery And Craig Reardon
• Snake Man Test Footage
• Still Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer
• Original slipcover
I don’t think that “Dreamscape” holds up to the complexity and intricate detailings of dream walking like “Inception” did, but the comparisons are very obvious and you can tell that it certainly influenced Nolan in many ways. It’s more of a 80s cult classic than an actual bona fide public classic, but “Dreamscape” is a fun little sci-fi/thriller that really pushed the limits of PG-13 back in the day (I’m still shocked it wasn’t rated R). Quaid is always a blast to watch and having two legends like Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer in there made it all the sweeter. Scream Factory has given us a very solid collector’s edition here, with my ONLY complaint being that the extras on the disc aren’t as crammed as we’re used to from their collector’s editions. That’s not to say that the extras are bad, but that Scream/Shout has been knocking it out of the park with 5/5 for extras for the last dozen or so special editions that it seems out of place to only have a “healthy” lineup instead of being awe inspiring. Definitely worth checking out as a blast from the past.
Starring: Denis Quaid, Max Von Sydow, Christopher Plummer
Directed by: Joseph Ruben
Written by: David Loughery
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 99 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 13th, 2016
Buy Dreamscape: Collector's Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Blast from the Past
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