Dreamaniac (1986)

Starring Thomas Bern, Ashlyn Gere (as Kim McKamy), Sylvia Summers, Brent Black, Cynthia Crass, Lisa Emery, Brad Laughlin, Linda Denise Martin, Bob Pelham, Lauren Peterson, Matthew Phelps, Michael Warren

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low. I have a bad feeling about this one.

On the general scale:
nostar (NO STARS)

On the B-Movie scale:
halfstar


Now this is what I’m talking about when I talk about a piece-of-shit movie. Dreamaniac makes Troll 2 look like a Lawrence of Arabia style epic in comparison. Where Troll 2 backs up its poor execution with tons of fun, Dreamanic is an absolute chore to sit through whilst retaining your sanity. One of the worst knocks against a low-level horror movie is boredom and let me tell you, Snoremaniac would be a more apt title. Having to recall and write about this film may end up being more painful than actually viewing it.

A young lyricist for a heavy metal band decides it would be fun to light some candles, smoke some pot and recite an ancient summoning poem. He brings forth a succubus from the depths and unleashes her on a house full of horny college students. That’s it, that’s all you get. Don’t expect this to follow classic slasher conventions though, or even standard filmmaking conventions for that matter. The entire film just does whatever the fuck it likes. For instance, you might think that dreams play some role in the story in a film called Dreamanic. Nope, not really. I’m willing to forgive logic lapses like this, as it’s obvious they’re just trying to entice fans of A Nightmare on Elm Street to give this one a rental. In addition to its Elm Street allusions, the VHS box proudly touts Dreamanic as “An original made-for-video feature film” back when this apparently didn’t have the negative stigma that it carries nowadays. I have to wonder if it was these kinds of made-for-video features that caused the backlash. Anyway, distributor Wizard Video (founded by Charles Band) released this under their “Too Gory for the Silver Screen” series, but that, like many VHS box claims, is of a dubious nature.

This is because at its heart, Dreamanic isn’t much of a gore film. It’s actually more of a softcore porn than anything else. There’s literally about twelve different sex scenes in the film, but even with such a high number, there’s surprisingly little nudity overall. The lead actress, Kim McKamy, later changed her name to Ashlyn Gere and went on to set the world of actual porn ablaze. Who knew she got her start with cult-favorite director David DeCoteau as a softcore horror queen? She’s probably the best actor in the movie, but not really because of anything she does right, only because she happens to be the one holding the drill at the end of the movie that first puts a gnarly hole in her boyfriend’s hand and then ultimately ends up decapitating him. The decapitation by drill is absolutely the best part of this movie, and while it doesn’t redeem the shit prior to it, at least I was able to leave with a moderately good taste in my mouth. In fact the last ten or fifteen minutes aren’t that bad and elevate the film a bit, but not nearly enough to overcome the crushing weight of the horseshit heap I found myself smack in the middle of.

The film did feature one huge laugh, this time around in the form of a choice dialogue exchange.

“Why do you want to join a sorority?”
“The same reason you have a taco tattooed on your ass.”

This is one of those ultimate WTF moments in cinema and unfortunately, as it comes rather early in the film, it incorrectly set me up for similarly classic exchanges. Oh well.

Being “An original made-for-video feature film” from 1986, this is actually a full-on, giant VHS camcorder movie. With that in mind, some respect must be given to the filmmakers for achieving what they did. In terms of camcorder movies, it is moderately well-shot and edited together but the absolute nonsensical nature of the script kills any goodwill these points may have built up.

This was DeCoteau’s first film, and if this is any indication of his future output, the horizon looks pretty dark. He went on to direct a number of Full Moon films, including a handful of entries in the Puppet Master series, so I will definitely be encountering him again in the future.

Honestly, I just want to stop thinking about this fucking awful movie. This film is shit. Real shit, not the fun kind of shit. I challenge anyone who holds Troll 2 up as the Worst Movie Ever Made to brave Dreamanic and not change their minds. The decapitation by drill is a must watch for gore fans and amateur FX artists, but just about everything else could be discarded and no one would bat an eye. The plague has a new name, and it is Dreamanic.

Come back tomorrow for my next Dario Argento review when I skip a couple of films and take a look at his classic, Deep Red!

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