The ’80s was an era that is now seen as when crass commercialisation began to dominate the film world. This has some basis in reality, but as always, plenty of good films came out as well as bad ones. It also marked the time that cross-breeding between genres became increasingly commonplace. Dreamscape is a prime example of this, with its mix of sci-fi, conspiracy thriller, horror, and comedy.
Dreamscape is very much like a proto-’80s version of Inception, because it deals with Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid), a psychic who is coerced into joining a dream research project where he is trained to enter and affect others’ dreams. Very soon a shady government official gets involved with the project, and soon the dreams that are being invaded are those of the most powerful people in the world.
The filmmakers got an exceptional cast for the film: Dennis Quaid was just starting to get noticed, and this was one of his first leads after plenty of strong supporting roles in other films, such as The Long Riders. He perfectly gets the smart-ass nature of the role, which is something he is always good at. The cast also includes such heavyweights as Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer, who are great of course—but even in the crappiest films they add an air of respectability. David Patrick Kelly plays a psychotic dream assassin. Kelly is always a fascinating performer, and is of course currently on our screens in the new season of Twin Peaks.
The film plays like a ’70s conspiracy thriller meets ’80s Spielberg, or even a Joe Dante film. It’s far too adult-oriented to be a kids’ film, but is considered just about kid-friendly enough that you could watch it with them and they wouldn’t be scarred for life. It’s the kind of film I’ve always been drawn to, even if these movies are often bashed for exactly the reasons I like them. It’s the ’80s, so nuclear annihilation is a key plot point in the film.
The film, and in turn this Blu-ray release, has one of the most misleading posters ever created for a movie. Dreamscape came out after Raiders of the Lost Ark, so the poster represents one of the dreams, but even then it’s blown out of proportion. It’s awesome but it doesn’t even remotely represent the film. Ironically, one of the film’s stars, Kate Capshaw, would be in Temple of Doom the same year and would be married to Steven Spielberg afterwards (to whom she is still married to this day.)
The disc is absolutely loaded with special features, including an hour-long making-of documentary, an interview with Dennis Quaid, and a conversation with the producer Bruce Cohn Curtis and screenwriter Chuck Russell. Russell, of course, would in turn make the satirical remake of The Blob, which also deals with a government conspiracy. The disc includes more interviews, footage of tests of the much-loved Snakeman, an audio commentary, and much more.