11 May 2012 | Bloodwank
Decent though sadly flawed science fiction thriller.
As my experience of the era grows I find that early 70's made for TV genre fare mostly tends to follow the same pattern, a modish premise well wrought at a youth friendly yet still often scary level, with tight, self contained storytelling reminiscent of classic pulp short writing. Deadly Dream is a bit of an anomaly in that while its basic story is slim and contained, the underlying concepts are enough to power a serious minded science fiction feature if the right hands took hold of them. Mind manipulation, conservative versus utilitarian approaches to the future, concepts of pre-crime prevention and the strange and chilling permeability of the walls between sleep and our reality, there's a whole lot going on in Deadly Dream, so much that for all its basic thrills (and it does contain one genuinely shocking and intense sequence towards the end), one is left wondering that it might have been a lasting classic rather than the obscurity that it is today. This disappointment aside, there's plenty to like about Deadly Dream. It moves like a bullet, with intriguing incidents mounting a sense of paranoia with grace as well as speed. Though predictable, there's a cold, unnerving vibe to it that works well and the general lack of compromise to the tale does the vibe justice. The main players do very well with Lloyd Bridges as the lead, a scientist hopeful and determined but buckling steadily as his drive comes up against that which he cannot understand. Janet Leigh is equally fine as his wife, confusion curdling into fear, slowly harrowed yet never without an underlying sympathetic support. Then there's effective menace from Don Stroud and Richard Jaeckel, and more sympathy from Lief Erickson as an older scientist, cautioning but helpful and kind. So with the general actorly commitment and solid direction this is a decent little thriller, but the gap between what is and what might have been is so great its a difficult film to fully like. Worth a watch then, but don't set your expectations too high.