Plot: Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) has been in a coma for over thirteen years, but she has just woken up, to a much different world. Before the coma, she was a member of Unity Fields, an infamous cult and while she survived, the rest of her cult associates were killed in a mass suicide event. As she is the sole link to that strange cult, her memories could hold a lot of answers and interest in those memories is high, but Cynthia is unable to recall much at all about those final hours. As she works through therapy sessions, she begins to see visions of Unity Fields’ leader and strange, horrific events start to unfold around her…
Entertainment Value: This one was obviously inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, but given the horror movie genre in the 80s, it is hard to be critical of Bad Dreams just because it happens to be derivative. I like the narrative here, as the mass suicide survivor haunted by visions of a cult leader is an interesting premise, even if it isn’t explored as much as it could have been. Much like Dream Warriors, this movie takes place in a hospital and the setting is used to good ends, to take what should be a haven and turn it into a tense, nightmarish locale. This helps bolster the film’s atmosphere and enhance the suspense, which is then dialed up with some jump scares and bursts of colorful violence. I also think Bad Dreams has some fun, stylish visuals, not to mention a cast with a lot of familiar faces. Jennifer Rubin has the lead and is fun to watch, while Bruce Abbott, Elizabeth Daily, Richard Lynch, and even 80s favorite Dean Camerson are also on deck. The similarities to Dream Warriors are unmistakable, but to me, Bad Dreams never feels like a knock off, just a fun horror flick that happens to borrow from other slasher movies. So don’t let the comparisons scare you off, Bad Dreams is a lot of fun and a nice slice of 80s slasher cinema.
No nakedness. This one keeps the sleaze to a minimum, with just some sexual jokes here and there. Bad Dreams packs a potent punch in the gore department however, including scenes where characters are showered in blood and of course, these showers sometimes include flesh chunks and entire body parts. This doesn’t look realistic, but it is quite awesome and who doesn’t love seeing hunks of severed flesh rained down upon poor, hapless victims? There’s also double scalpel trauma, coffee pot mayhem, some nice burn effects, a couple of long falls, and a fantastic hit & run scenario. A good amount of blood and violence in this one, without question. With Dean Cameron on the cast, you know there’s some fun dialogue and his turn as Ralph produces the best lines, with one liners and lame pick up attempts. As for craziness, there’s some light wackiness at times, but nothing too over the top or outlandish.
Overall Insanity: 2/10
The Disc: 88 Films has released Bad Dreams in a rock solid HD presentation, with a clean print and bright, well detailed overall visual presence. The image yields natural colors and consistent contrast, so combined with the better than expected fine detail, this offers a nice upgrade over previous DVD editions. On the extras front, there’s audio commentary track with genre experts Nathaniel Thompson and Tim Greer, which has some bits of trivia, but doesn’t go in depth and could have been summarized in liner notes. A substantial interview with Jennifer Rubin is the highlight of the supplements, but there’s also interviews with director Andrew Fleming and academic/curator Spencer Murphy, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer. A limited edition booklet by Calum Waddell examines thirty of the most influential American slasher movies, which makes an excellent inclusion.