Dreamscape (1984)

DailyView: Day 61, Movie 105

Covering another movie that is leaving HBO Max at the end of the month, I watched the Dennis Quaid 1980s film, Dreamscape for the DailyView this morning.

I had not heard of this one before I saw it on the HBO Max site and I thought it would be an interesting film to give a try. I have always been fascinated with dreams and the theories behind dreams and I was looking forward to seeing what this movie was all about.

Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid) was a young psychic who was using his gift to win at the horse races was approached by Dr. Paul Novotny (Max Van Sydow) about joining in a program dealing with dreams. Specifically, having psychics enter a person’s dreams and helping them through whatever difficulties they may be facing.

Alex was not anxious to be involved, despite his attraction to Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw), a scientist involved in the program. However, he was slowly convinced when he discovered what he could do.

However, Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer), the head of the project, had another plan for it. He knew that the President of the United States (Eddie Albert) was having powerful nightmares and that, because of those, he planned on making an arms agreement with the Russians. Blair did not want this so he planned on sending in another psychic, the vicious killer Tommy Ray (David Patrick Kelly) into the President’s dreams to make it look as if the President had died in his sleep.

Dreamscape was an interesting film with a intriguing sci-fi story to it. The ‘psychic’ aspect of these people were kept pretty vague. It had been mentioned that Alex was once in a trail where he displayed telekinesis, but he does not show that at any time in the movie. In fact, most of his psychic abilities are ill defined. I guess he can absolutely see into the future for horse races, but after that, his psychic abilities are questionable.

The film sets up the story with Alex and then jumps immediately into the plot. I might have liked a bit more development. There was a decent scene where Alex helps a young boy face (Cory Yothers) his nightmares and kill the monster within, which I liked. However, that was dropped as quickly as it was brought up.

Alex is a likeable rogue and you enjoy spending time with him. He has heroic tendencies too, as we saw with the kid. The relationship with Jane felt a tad forced, but it was understandable. I’m not sure there would be more there after the physical attraction, but some times that is enough.

The dreams are well done and present as dreamlike. The special effects do make this feel as if you are inside someone’s dreams and are very effective at keeping you on your guard.

The cast is a strong point to Dreamscsape. Even when presenting these unlikely to far fetched circumstances, when you can provide a solid performance, it helps elevate the material, and that is certainly happening here. Dennis Quaid is excellent as our lead protagonist and Max Von Sydow does a great job. Christopher Plummer is menacing and makes an effective antagonist. George Wendt stepped outside his Norm persona from Cheers to play a writer investigating the dream concept (although he does buy Quaid a beer…something that Norm would never have done).

One major drawback for me was the score. I hated this score. It was that 1980s synth/techno garbage that made it feel like nails on a chalkboard. Every time that the score would play, not only did I know we were smack dab in the middle of an 80s B-movie, I would cringe and hope for it to end as soon as it could.

Nowhere near a perfect movie, but it is one that had a solid sci-fi premise and engaging actors in the roles. The story worked most of the time and the flaws did not prevent me from enjoying the film.

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