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  • Excellent spooky variation on "Monkey's Paw" really plays on deep emotions in a crude (but effective) manner.

    Low-budget, but fast-moving and scary. This is one of my favorites.

    A distraught mother "wishes" her deceased Vietnam soldier-boy son home only to discover he isn't quite who he was when he left.

    Many different horror archetypes (zombies, vampirism, cannibalism) are touched on without being confirmed, which makes the film that much more effective.

    The film is also a sharp and dark commentary on the state of the returning GI. Andy sits for hours in his dazed "zombie-like" state and stares at the walls. He becomes violent and acts irrational. Many symptoms of post-traumatic shock syndrome.

    Written by Alan Ormsby, who also collaborated with Clark on "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" and would later go on to pen Paul Schrader's remake of "Cat People".

    If you're looking for another solid Bob Clark spook-fest, check out "Black Christmas" (which bears an eerie similarity to the original "Halloween", though it predates it by several years!!) before "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things".

    Many have commented on the *shocker* ending. If you are expecting something along the lines of the original "Carrie" - something to make you jump out of your seat - you will be disappointed.

    The ending is more dour and stunning. I didn't see it coming, but it made perfect sense in line with everything that had happened. It's the kind of ending that a film would never have now. It's simply too honest. One of the better horror endings I've seen, actually.
  • So many horror films, both then and now, exist solely to provide cheap titillation to gore hounds and casual thrill-seekers. 'Dead of Night' (aka "Deathdream"), however, is serious business, and seriously scary. Comparable to 'The Exorcist' in its exploration of the parent-child dynamic when the child is given over to something sinister, I personally liked this more than I liked 'The Exorcist.' It's leaner, more suspenseful, and less pretentious.

    Richard Backus is Andy, a soldier who returns from the war (presumably Vietnam) the very night his parents and sister are informed of his death in combat. The homecoming is not a happy one, however. Andy just isn't quite himself. Laconic, humorless and irritable, he doesn't want to go out and isn't interested in seeing visitors. Worse, there could be a link between him and the gruesome murder of a truck driver that occurred the night of his return.

    Like 'The Exorcist,' 'Dead of Night' - a reworking of "The Monkey's Paw" -- aspires to be more than simply a horror film. It aspires to be a Vietnam allegory, and it aspires to be a family drama. Remarkably, it succeeds as all three. It makes a compelling statement about returning soldiers, is a truly frightening horror film, and also a harrowing family drama. John Marley, as a Andy's father, conveys torment and confusion effectively, and Lynn Carlin is especially good as Andy's mother, a woman who has disappeared completely inside of her denial. The suspense is unbearable, and there's skillful use of both sound and space in creating it. The chills are never cheap and are consistently hair-raising. The movie marches headlong into its inevitable conclusion and is utterly uncompromising throughout. That it was rated PG at the time is a shocker.

    The movie has some flaws and lacks visual polish, but this is almost irrelevant given how brilliantly everything works. The director is Bob Clark, who would go on to direct the first two 'Porky's' films, 'A Christmas Story,' and 'Baby Geniuses,' and he has made a rare horror film, one that is intelligent, thoughtful, and damn scary.
  • This is a horror film that expands the boundaries of the genre.

    Put simply, it is a film about a dead man walking, but this dead man "died" in Vietnam before he returned home and his unexpected arrival opens many wounds within his family and amongst old flames and acquaintances.

    Director Bob Clark is not satisfied depicting returned vet "Andy" as a zombie. Although he does crave human flesh and speaks infrequently, part of the film's charm is the reaction of people to the dead man's less-than-chipper mood.

    Shots of Andy rocking like an autistic child are priceless, as is a "conversation" Andy has with the mailman who laments the returned boys "we should have lost". The family pet is not exactly Andy's best friend anymore, either.

    John Marley as Charles Brooks, Andy's dad, is really great here. Although he tries hard to accept the new Andy, we really experience his gradual realization and disappointment that Andy is not the same Andy anymore.

    Jim Backus is brilliant as the undead vet. He uses his voice to convey Andy's apparent indifference to life back home and adopts a strange, somnambulistic gait.

    Technically adequate for a low budgeter, the film's richness of character and situation never shifts our attention to any production deficits.

    One of the best horror films ever.

    Truly creepy and, ultimately, very sad.
  • I've heard about this movie for years and read the praise heaped on it, and I knew it couldn't be as good as all that. I could never get my hands on it anyway, so I figured I'd never know. But I just watched it yesterday, and it is as good as all that.

    Though filmed in the early 1970s, Deathdream doesn't come off as hopelessly dated. Its themes resonate strongly even today.

    As an allegory, the film makes its anti-war points bluntly. This war (thought it is never named it's obviously Vietnam) is killing too many of our boys and making zombies out of the ones that make it home. But the movie is not generally anti-war -- it manages to contrast Vietnam with WWII, represented as a good war (in the person and words of the mailman), where there was little doubt what we were doing was right and that our military forces were being led authoritatively to absolute victory. The same couldn't be said for Vietnam, and by 1972, no one really remembered what we were fighting for anymore. Deathdream was filmed before Vietnam ended and released after, making its timing perfect.

    There are a few criticisms, hardly worth noting -- some scenes are poorly staged and lighted, and Clark doesn't always get the best out of his actors (and has little to work with in some cases). Early scenes are a bit stilted (Was the movie shot in sequence with the story? That might explain it), but the movie finds its groove at about the 30 minute mark.

    Don't expect a slick production. It's a small, claustrophobic, personal movie with rough edges to spare. Some scenes of violence are cartoonish and others are brutal. Also, the effects and makeup are much better than we have any right to expect. Poor, rotting Andy is a heck of a sight, and a sad sight in the scene where he is led down the stairs by his mother.

    Deathdream is an amazing accomplishment all things considered.

    "Everything's fine, Bob."
  • I saw this movie on Chiller Theater sometime in the late 70's, and

    it stuck with me for a long while. I never knew the title, however,

    until I re-discovered it a few years ago. My memories of seeing it as a young kid mostly focused on the

    weirdness of the film itself. Richard Backus does an amazingly

    creepy performance as "Andy," a soldier in Vietnam who returns

    home after being supposedly killed in action. His mom, overjoyed

    to see him, refuses to believe anything is wrong, while his sister

    and father begin to suspect all is not quite right given his behavior,

    pale, vampiric appearance and the many strange incidents which

    begin to occur around him. Mom continues to stay in denial until

    the very end. The scene with the double date in the drive-in particularly stuck

    with me after all those years. Honestly scared the bejezus out of

    me as a kid! But re-watching as an adult, I saw the movie more for what it was

    meant to be, a social commentary about the Vietnam war. It still

    holds up very well today. I am glad to know it has been re-released on DVD with additions,

    though I haven't seen this yet. For years it was difficult to even find

    a video copy. Plus it was released under several different names. I

    think I originally saw it as "The Night Andy Came Home." Definitely recommended.
  • Bob Clark was such a fantastic and visionary filmmaker during the early 70's and directed no less than three very important and hugely influential horror movies in a row. Unfortunately, he reverted to making lame & mainstream comedies during the 80's and 90's and - even more unfortunate of course - was his untimely death earlier this year 2007 as a result of a car accident. But back then he definitely was the man, because he was single-handedly responsible for one genre-defining slasher ("Black Christmas"), one playful yet creepy zombie classic ("Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things") and then this one: a unique and genuinely intriguing horror-sleeper. "Deathdream" is primarily an unsettling shocker, but it definitely also qualifies as a subtly powerful anti-war protest and even as a depressing middle-class family drama. Right from the excruciatingly sober opening credits, showing the frozen image of a soldier dying in agony after taking a bullet in the chest, you immediately realize this won't become just another outrageous splatter flick with zombie-soldiers and gratuitous massacres. Rightly so, because the story then cuts to the dinner table of a seemingly random American family who are very busy making plans for when their son Andy returns home from Vietnam, and you literally sense tragic news is about to knock them down. Andy is indeed reported killed in action shortly after, and the drama affects both the parents differently. Especially the mother refuses to accept her beloved son's departure and stays up entire nights, praying & wishing for Andy to come home. And then suddenly he DOES come home … but not as his family and friends remember him. Andy doesn't talk or eat, he spends the whole day in a rocking-chair whilst staring in the distance and his body rapidly starts decomposing if not regularly supplied with fresh doses of human blood!

    Andy Brooks isn't just a pitiable character in a 70's horror gem. No, he presumably represents every young soldier who reluctantly enlisted to serve in Vietnam, only because their fathers and the small-town communities they lived in expected them to. Rather than to feast on the blood of innocent bystanders, Andy returns to raise feelings of guilt and anguish among his former friends and particularly his dad. "Deathdream" clearly features some harsh social undertones, and they're magnificently supported by the realistic characters (and, respectively, the terrific acting performances). The relationships between Andy's mother, Andy's father and Andy himself are perhaps the best achievement of the entire film. The pacing is quite slow, but it works efficiently, and the overall ambiance of "Deathdream" is very creepy. The images of Andy in his rocking-chair (complete with screeching sound) and his grimaces when chocking the family dog in front of several young children are unforgettable. Considering the main themes and, undeniably, the budgets Bob Clark disposed of, you shouldn't expect a lot of gore, but still there are some nasty and convincingly unsettling make-up effects to enjoy. If they weren't interested just yet, all horror fans will unquestionably want to see the film because it marked Tom Savini's debut as a SFX-guru. In my humble personal opinion the ending could have been a bit better and less abrupt, but that's just a small detail. This film ranks high amongst the best genre achievements of the 1970's and it's fundamental viewing for all fans.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The opening scene of "Deathdream" is set at night in the midst of the Vietnam War. The viewer witnesses a young soldier get shot. Next we see an American family having dinner. They haven't heard from Andy, their son in Vietnam, and are trying to cope with this. In the middle of their dinner, they get the news that he has been killed in battle. The grieving process begins. But Andy comes home in the middle of the night! They assume that the messenger was mistaken and celebrate their son's return. However, Andy is very different to them--he is ostensibly emotionless and doesn't say much. And he's a little pale. And more than a little violent.

    ***slight plot spoilers ahead, though not anything you don't know from reading the plot summary or the back of the DVD***

    This has to be one of the most depressing horror movies I've seen. I suppose it could be classified as a zombie movie (even though there is only one "zombie"), and in the tradition of NOTLD, this one has a message. Everyone knows someone who returned from war a different person. Not only is Andy emotionally numb, he also needs to kill in order to "survive," just as he did while he was at war. The family, which was fragile before his return, is now completely torn apart. The dad drinks, mom is in denial, sis insists on making things like "the good ole days," and they all fight about Andy, who has nothing much to say at all.

    ***slight plot spoilers over***

    This low-budge production has a made-for-TV feel, but it isn't by any means a bad movie. The performances are mostly great. There are some amusing events and dialogue that seem somewhat out of place, but I was thankful for the comic relief. There are also some cheesy and overdone elements, but they don't affect the movie too much. There is also the "killer's viewpoint" camera-work (which Bob Clark also uses in Black Christmas), that became staples of 80s slashers. The climax seems absurd, but that is only because with all the melodrama, it is easy to forget that this is a horror movie! The final sequence is heartbreaking. I highly recommend Deathdream to anyone who thinks that horror movies are only for escapism and have no other value, and everyone who already knows that this isn't true. My rating: 8/10
  • Nightman8510 November 2007
    Between the time that he made his delightfully campy debut film Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972) and his horror masterpiece Black Christmas (1974), Bob Clark made this under-mentioned little horror gem.

    Vietnam soldier dies during battle, but then inexplicably returns home to his family who soon enough discover that there's something very wrong with their now-ghoulish loved one.

    Known under numerous titles (Deathdream, The Night Andy Came Home, The Veteran, The Night Walk) Dead of Night is one effectively haunting low-budget horror film. The story serves up not only scenes of shocking violence, suspense, and scares, but actually manages to strike some strong emotional notes as well. Aside from it's unsettling storyline, director Clark creates an atmosphere of eerie dread that energizes this smart horror film. The unnerving music score by Carl Zittrer (who also created the warped music score for Black Christmas) strongly adds to the tense atmosphere. Also great are the makeup FX of a young Tom Savini. Dead of Night marked his cinematic debut as a makeup artist.

    The cast is quite good. Richard Backus delivers a creepy performance as the haunted young soldier. John Marley is strong as Backus' understandably troubled father and Lynn Carlin is sympathetic as his unstable mother.

    Dead of Night is another of those low-budget horror gems of the 70's that got lost after the death of the drive in. But horror fans owe it to themselves to resurrect this forgotten film from the late-great Clark.

    *** 1/2 out of ****
  • I attended the world premier of "Dead of Night" which was held in 1974 at the Britton Theatre in Tampa. John Marley was in attendance and spoke for several minutes preceeding the showing about the making of the film and how happy he was with how it turned out. After the showing he stood at the rear of the auditorium as the audience filed past. Several people stopped to complement him saying they had really enjoyed the film and it was really scary. But the best compliment he received came from two teenage girls who proclaimed much to his delight that it was "scarier than The Excorcist!"

    The film was shot in and around the small community of Brooksville just north of Tampa. The drive-in theatre that was utilized for several scenes was the U.S. 41 Drive-In in Brooksville which is now long gone. John Marley was a great character actor. You'll probably remember him as the studio head who awakens to find the bloodied head of his prized horse in bed with him in "The Godfather." He also played Ali McGraw's father in "Love Story" in addition to many other film roles.

    "Dead of Night" is one heck of a sleeper that slowly creeps up on you, and its small town look and feel make it all the more frightening. Despite the limited budget Bob Clark has managed to create a quiet little film that builds mounting dread. I've looked for many years for a copy but figured it had slipped into obscurity forever. I just found out its finally on DVD. I highly recommended this one!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **Some Spoilers** I heard about this movie many years ago when looking up the cast and crew of "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things", and never thought about it until seeing the DVD for sale. I looked at the cover and the plot intrigued me, so i thought what the heck. I watched it and it has become one of my favorite movies. It is very unique in its using a horror movie to tackle a controversial subject: the effects of the Vietnam war on both the soldiers and their families. As a veteran of Iraqi Freedom, experiencing emotional trauma in a war can have an effect on somebody, turning them into a shell of their former selves (a wonderful metaphor of portraying Andy as a zombie), and change the family structure as well. All said, I felt sorry for Andy in the end, not scared of him (though I'm not condoning his actions,he was one of the undead who injected blood to keep from decomposing, another metaphor of the supposed drug use in Vietnam). But experiencing the horrors of war and the effects it has on a family made me almost want to cry in the end because it hits so close to home. Kudos to the cast and crew of "Deathdream" aka "Dead of Night" amongst numerous titles for crafting a unique blend of zombie horror and family drama into one of the most unforgettable films to ever come out in the 70's (despite some plot holes eg. How did Andy get home?, but they're forgivable). I'm glad that I discovered this film and it comes highly recommended for those looking for a horror film with substance, instead of gore (which this film has very little of).
  • A '70s drive-in fright flick that enjoys an almost legendary reputation, "Deathdream" (aka "Dead of Night" and "The Night Andy Came Home") is W.W. Jacobs's classic short story 'The Monkey's Paw' set against the backdrop of an America coming to grips with the nightmarish reality of the Vietnam War. It could have been one of the most potent horror films ever made, but suffers from such poor pacing and awkward performances that all the glowing reviews left me genuinely baffled.

    What went wrong? One critic called the dialogue "sophomoric," and he was right, but there's more to it than that: the entire production is handled with an almost inexplicable gracelessness. The script *is* shaky (a problem acknowledged by screenwriter Alan Ormsby on the DVD commentary track), filled not just with cringeworthy dialogue but also minor characters who were tired, outdated stereotypes (e.g., the goofy mailman, the goofy bartender and the goofy short-order cook) even when the film was made. However, it's the performances themselves which constitute the most glaring oddity; the...actors...recite...their...lines...very...slowly, and it's maddening. My best guess is that this was an attempt to compensate for a short screenplay. At any rate, the pacing is absolutely glacial, neutralizing any suspense that director Bob Clark might otherwise have been able to build. John Marley and Lynn Carlin are painfully miscast as Andy's parents. Richard Backus's performance is slightly better, but contains little subtlety and no pathos; it's impossible to believe that his staring, blank-eyed Andy was ever a living, breathing human being, and of course this damages the believability of the entire story.

    Tom Savini's monster makeup is effective, and in the final twenty minutes, "Deathdream" fully embraces its status as a horror film. Unfortunately, that's not enough. The movie's reputation is such that you'll probably want to see it for yourself, but prepare to be disappointed.
  • dbdumonteil27 October 2007
    A very interesting movie by Bob Clark who has just passed away.Gore and special effects are kept to the minimum,the director and the screenplay focusing more on the family than on the dead man walking.

    Bob Clark renewed a theme which French Abel "Napoleon" Gance had broached in the silent era (and remade as a talkie): "J'accuse" .Gance showed the dead soldiers rise from the grave and attack the profiteers of war .Too bad Clark did not follow suit and show the veteran attack those who sent him to war...but after all,it was this over possessive mother who made him join the army (that'll make him a man).The parents 'responsiblity is obvious here.The love the mother feels for her dearest son verges on monstrous -and becomes really monstrous in the final scenes,in every sense of the term.

    An unusually inventive use of music creates a disturbing eerie atmosphere,a "something is not normal" feeling,some black humor (the drive in),and the hero swinging in his chair like a robot.All that makes "Dead of Night" a movie worth watching.

    NB:Should not be mistaken for "Dead of night" (1946) a scary film made up of sketches.

    Like this?Try these....

    "Jacob's ladder" Adrian Lyne 1993

    "The war at home" Emilio Estevez 1996
  • When the twenty-one year-old soldier Andrew "Andy" Brooks (Richard Backus) is murdered in Vietnam, his mother Christine (Lynn Carlin) is summoning him asking him to come back home. Andy is the pride and joy of Christine that has eyes only for him. When the Brooks family is having dinner, they receive an Army´s letter telling that Andy died in the war. However a couple of days later, Andy arrives at home late night surprising his father Charles (John Marley), his sister Cathy (Anya Ormsby) and Christine. In the same night, a truck driver that is giving a rider to a hitchhiker is murdered in his truck. Soon Charles suspects that Andy is the killer and he has a conversation with his friend Doctor Allman (Henderson Forsythe) that agrees with him. Does Andy really come back home?

    "Dead of Night" is a creepy and depressing horror movie directed by Bob Clark. The story is sad, with family, friends and girlfriend missing a twenty-one year-old missing in Vietnam. His return as an undead killer is depressing and bringing tragedy for those who loves him. Richard Backus is creepy in the role of Andy. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Sonho de Morte" ("Deathdream")
  • Warning: Spoilers
    My rating may seem harsh as the movie isn't bad for what it is but in the end it felt quite empty. Not asking all my questions should be answered in the ending, I actually enjoy movies that leave something of the mystery untouched, but here were just too many which resulted for me in an unsatisfying experience. So this young man died in the war but returns home any way because his mother send prayers, so her son would not die. So he is a zombie even though he still looks like a normal human being. He changed being distant to anyone but his mother and he doesn't seem to have any need for food or drink, no heart beating. He does a bit of killing, assuming he needs the victims' blood to stay alive? It doesn't help in the end as his body starts to rot anyway. Clearly the director wanted to make some kind of statement or tell some message but that must have gone over my head. Yeah war does change people but if that was the message the director wanted to tell the viewer this was not a convincing way to do so. What was very clear to me is that the mother had seriously an obsession with her son. She loved him more than she did love her daughter or husband. Not too bad but too many flaws for me to give it a pass.
  • After returning home from the war, a young man's sudden change of behavior alarms his parents who slowly realize the monster he's becoming and try to stop his insatiable blood-lust causing him to run wild throughout town.

    This one was quite a disappointing effort as there's really not a whole lot right here. What this one really does well is the rather innovative use of dealing with the subject matter at hand, detailing the condition afflicted here without really over-exposing it all that much. By going with the symptoms here for PTSD as a lynch-pin for the change in behavior here, this manages a pretty remarkable feat of giving the film a realistic-based back-story motivation for the horrific behavior but also a thoroughly unique and creative one that doesn't seem all that far-fetched here to possibly happen. Unfortunately, the only other working part here is the film's two horror scenes, where he traps and stalks a doctor in his office after realizing the truth, and the finale where a thrilling encounter at a drive-in leads to a frantic car-chase through the streets of town with a flaming car and a nice crash-stunt that makes this one all the more enjoyable as it's really the main part of this that works. Despite the originality of going with the back-story explanation for the film, the biggest problem is that nothing of interest is done with it. The film tries to make it seem like being cold, distant and completely devoid of interest in interacting with family or friends is cause for being the creepiest tactics imaginable, and yet all they do is drag the film out with scene-after-scene of the same behavioral tendencies and nothing is done about it, either his parents or anyone around him. Nothing about these are scary, and when combined with the majority of time spent here detailing the family life where the dad becomes convinced something's wrong and the mother is in absolute denial about everything doesn't help matters by focusing on drama rather than horror because what's shown isn't that scary which makes her behavior seem overblown and needless while his just drags the film along lifelessly. This is furthered by the fact that the supposed mystery about the mysterious soldier being responsible for the early off-screen death here is so clumsily done that it's impossible to come to any other conclusion here other than he did it as the evidence is so clear-cut and delivered in such a clumsy manner that the police look like incompetent fools for not seeing it, making these go on for what seems like forever. The last big problem is that the film really only deals with horror elements in two scenes which are completely unscary that their effectiveness is really questionable, especially the finale with the laughable make-up effects used here. These here are what really hurt this one overall.

    Rated PG: Violence and Language.
  • After reading other reviews that compared elements of the film to John Carpenter's 'Halloween' and the mention that the film had deeper connotations regarding Vietnam veterans returning home from the war, my curiosity got the better of me.

    From the very beginning of the film it is abundantly clear that the production is very low budget and the film looks dated. The war scene looks like it has been filmed in the local woods and there are glaring inaccuracies to their uniforms. However, what the film does well is to create a very creepy atmosphere from the moment he is shot and you hear Andy's mother reminding him of his promise to return home.

    The acting is often wooden and sometimes quite strange which actually adds to the film's creepiness. The sound and camera work is lacking at times but occasionally it excels with a number of unconventional shots that are surprisingly effective. There is also some interesting use of sound used to convey Andy's confused and primal state that reminded me of 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' (1974).

    I felt the film started to drag a little in the middle but picks up again as it draws to a close. There are some memorable scenes with Andy that appear to be metaphors for PTSD in war veterans. It also touches on other issues such as alienation, depression and the Oedipus complex. The violence itself is not particularly gory or emphasized by today's standards and the film tends to focus rather on Andy's disposition and the effect it has on his family.

    The film's conclusion is disturbing and unsettling. It left me feeling depressed but with a greater understanding of the loss experienced by victims of the war and their families. I was initially concerned that the film might reinforce prejudice towards war veterans that struggle to readjust to civilian life but the anti-war sentiment is so strong that I think the film is worthy of merit, even if it makes for difficult viewing.
  • Andy (Richard Backus) is reported killed in Vietnam to his parents (John Marley, Lynn Carlin). His mother refuses to believe he's dead and prays for him to come back. He does--but he's not the same. He's unemotional and has a craving for blood...

    Good movie but not the cult classic it's called. It's also not exactly a horror film--it's about a family being torn apart about something that happened to their son over in Vietnam. The film isn't really political as some people say. The script is good and the acting superb--Marley and Carlin are right on target and Backus is incredible--he shows no emotion but you see his rage through his eyes--some shots really scared the hell out of me!

    It's a quiet, somber film. There's next to no blood and gore--in fact, the film originally had a PG rating! (The R it has now is ridiculous). The low budget shows (even in Blue Underground's DVD) and I found the film a little too slow. But it does work on you--and there are some VERY unsettling moments that sort of creep up on you. The ending packs a punch.

    It's good--but no classic. I give it a 7.
  • This is a very good film for what it is. If you don't expect Shakespeare or a film from the Criterion Collection, then you may also find that it's an amiable little film.

    A family is at home when they receive a visit from a friend in the military. The man came by to personally inform them that their son was killed in Vietnam. However, the mother insists that a mistake has been made and she spends the night praying for her son's return--and she get's her wish. But, like the Garth Brooks son "Unanswered Prayers", the family ultimately realizes that sometimes it's best when you DON'T get what you want. Why? Because the young man is undead and has a frightful habit of killing people and taking their blood! And, he even kills the family's poor doggy just because that's the sort of thing zombie-vampires do! As I said, this is not a fancy schmancy film but a horror film. Campy, silly but fun. The film won't change your life, but you also won't be disappointed if you are looking for a good chill! Well worth seeing.

    By the way, you may recognize the father but aren't sure where you saw him. That's John Marley--the guy who was the recipient of a horse's head in "The Godfather".
  • An imponderably dull, slow moving, and inept "shocker", this movie has very little going for it other than it has an ending.

    At 1 1/2 hours, it's rather long, and punctuated by outstretched moments of mundane dialog by incapable and tedious actors. Not much is said, nor even shown on the film. The texture is mediocre at best, resembling an unvaried, drudging, low-budget horror piece from the 1970's, complete with too many close-ups and bad lighting.

    The make-up is atrocious, it looks like caked-on powder in some scenes. I can not understand how it is rated so highly other than the fact that most people are gullible.

    One can surely understand the undercurrents and metaphors for the Nixon-era crony scandals and the Vietnam war, but that is hardly enough to regulate it to horror masterpiece.

    Avoid this unless you want to be bored.
  • Thom-P14 September 1999
    Sadly, Bob Clark's creepy, low budget masterpiece never gained the recognition it deserved. Oozing with atmosphere, this is the type of horror film that leaves you with cold chills and makes the hairs bristle on the back of your neck. Also notable as a preview of things to come at the hands of makeup FX master, Tom Savini, who proved he could do more on a shoestring than lesser talents with mega-bucks at their disposal. Out of print for years, this is a difficult film to find, but your efforts will be well rewarded.
  • destroyedcelluloid4 September 2003
    Warning: Spoilers
    I had high expectations for this film since I'd read a lot about it, and love 'Deranged'(written by Ormsby, produced by Clark). Sounds great on paper, especially after reading The Monkeys Paw. But it lost something in the conversion to film. Some of the directing is awful, lots of zooms, which never look good. On the other hand, I do love the low budget, grainy film, badly lit look as it makes it seem so much more real and creepy and unlike any mainstream film. Probably why I love early Romero films too. This is ultimately let down by the writing though. **spoilers ahead**. Andy has been brought back from the dead, by his praying mother (unbeknown to her). He starts to rot unless he has regular intake of blood. The end was almost good but could have been so much better had it made sense, Andy and his mother are on the run from the cops, he makes her drive him to a graveyard, where he proceeds to drag himself into a shallow grave he previously dug, and try to bury himself 'alive'. It was ruined by the fact the whole movie through Andy had shown no emotion. Had it been clear from the start he wanted to be dead like he was supposed to be, and resented his mother for bringing him back to life, it would have made so much more sense. Instead there is no reason for him suddenly wanting to die when he has been happily killing random people previously. That said, the last 20 mins are enjoyable, and Andy is very creepy in the drive-in scene. But it does take a long time to get there. The gore is minimal, there's a total of 3 deaths (not including the dog), the first we don't see, the second is death by syringe, the third is a strangulation, oh, there is one more, a guy gets run over, but it's a bit odd because he appears from nowhere. Bit disappointing there. Andy's make-up is great. If you like cheap, creepy films then it is worth a watch, though Deranged is better, as is Maniac, and Romero's Crazies, Martin, NOTLD and DOTD.
  • I know this better as "Deathdream" - also so titled on the DVD cover. It's a creepy take on 'The Monkey's Paw' story, somewhat copied by Stephen King in his later "Pet Semetary." A young man named Andy (Backus)is killed in Vietnam. But his mother (Carlin) can't accept this so next thing we see is someone, a soldier, hitchhiking back to Andy's hometown; he or it looks like Andy, but we sense all is not right as, in strange p.o.v., demonic noises play on the soundtrack. The father (leathery Marley, who looks more like a grandfather) quickly catches on as the mild yet taciturn Andy displays homicidal tendencies. We gradually realize that nothing more than a walking corpse has returned home, with a need for blood to avoid decomposition. Director Clark's follow up to his "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" is far more sinister and unsettling, becoming genuinely horrific by the end.

    The picture plays on the concept of refusing to let go of the dead. It's something most viewers can relate to. When we lose someone we've known for a long time and the love is so fierce, the thought of going on without the deceased may be unbearable. Most of us get through that early period, painful as it is, but there are the exceptions. The pain here springs from the mother, a feeling that gives way to a kind of madness; Carlin is quite good in the role and is uncomfortable to watch. Marley always brings an edge to his characters and his father figure combines an uneasy mixture of strength and helplessness. This is a low budget feature, of course, and some of the scenes have a crude flow, but the make-up FX are very good. Overall, it's a very eerie exploration of an almost taboo theme, offering no explanations, just hinting at how some thoughts should not be let loose.
  • Andy Brooks (John Marley) dies in Vietnam, while back home his mother is desperately praying for his arrival back home. The family gets a telegram saying that Andy has been killed, but shortly thereafter, he inexplicably returns home. But this isn't the same boy who left for the war, becoming cold, distant, and murderous. While the film lacks polish, somewhat cheesy in places, and the casting of the writer's sister, Anya, as Andy's sister is further proof that synergy almost never works, the acting by the others is good (specificly by John Marley from "The Godfather", as Andy's father) and it still remains a suitably spooky Vietnam-era variant on the old "Monkey's Paw" story. Director Bob Clark would go on to make such classic as "Black Christmas", "Porky's", and "A Christmas Story", before apparently losing his mojo in 1984 with "Rhinestone" and his subsequent outings being atrociously bad. Writer Alan Ormsbry would fare a bit better (in longevity, if not in creativity) with "My Bodyguard", "Cat People", and "the Substitute"

    My Grade: B

    DVD Extras: Commentary by director Bob Clark; Second commentary by screenwriter Alan Ormsby; "Tom Savini: The Early Years" Special FX featurette; Richard Backus interview; alternate "Deathdream" title sequence; extended ending sequence; 4 stills galleries; and Theatrical Trailer

    1 Easter Egg: In the Extras menu, to the left of the word 'Commentaries' is a hidden 'Deathdream' word; Highlight it for Alan Ormsby showing some prosthetics
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a great chiller based on the old story of the monkey's paw. It's creepy atmosphere lends itself to some chilling moments and shows that a love for a child can blind you to who they really are. The ending was kind strange (cause I don't know why the zombie boy did it) and the father's suicide didn't make much sense but the rest of it was a interesting look of how the Vietnam changed people. Of course most of them weren't undead. Be warned though this movie is depressing.
  • This was a film that I really didn't know a lot about, but did hear about it on a couple of horror movie podcasts I listen to. I didn't realize either that this was directed by Bob Clark, who has such an interesting filmography with things like A Christmas Story and Black Christmas. This film is much different from them as well. The synopsis is a young soldier killed in Vietnam inexplicably shows up to his family home one night.

    We start this off in a forest. I'm not going to lie, at first I don't think this really looks like Vietnam, but that is where it is supposed to be. There are some explosions and Andy Brooks (Richard Backus) is shot.We see him die.

    It then shifts to Florida. We meet Andy's father, Charles (John Marley) along with his wife Christine (Lynn Carlin) and their daughter Cathy (Anya Ormsby). Christine is still clinging that their son is alive and even told a lie about getting a letter from him. Cathy reveals as well that Joanne (Jane Daly), Andy's girlfriend, constantly asks as well.

    We then shift to a truck driver. He pulls over and picks up a hitchhiker. We don't get to see who it is, just a POV shot. He then goes to a local diner to get a couple cups of coffee. Soon after he is killed by someone and the hitchhiker moves toward a house. Cathy wakes her father stating she heard something downstairs. He checks it out and his family comes down as well. They find the door open and when they go to close it, they find Andy.

    He isn't how they remember though. He doesn't want to tell anyone that he is home. He doesn't want to do anything; he doesn't eat and just kind of sits there. Charles is worried about him while Christine is happy he's home. There is a rift that starts and it gets worse when on the news about the death of the truck driver. Charles and Andy get into it and the father goes to the bar. It is there he reveals to Doc Allman (Henderson Forsythe) about his son and he starts to wonder if Andy committed the crime. We also see there's something just not quite right about him.

    I wanted to come in a bit vague with my recap to not reveal too much. You can get the idea of who did this murder and the others that happen in the film, but there is really an interesting angle to it. It is revealed that the first kill has a prick on his arm like where a needle would have gone in. The police think this is possibly to use dope, but it is much darker when we learn the truth of the matter.

    This film really doesn't give us too much information for why Andy comes back or what he has become. I don't mind this to an extent, but I really would have liked a little bit more than what we get. I don't think that is what really matters to the filmmaker though. This really seems to be an allegory for PTSD. I can see that Andy is shell-shocked to what happened to him in Vietnam and he can't cope with it. This is very socially relevant with soldiers that come home today. Going even farther, Charles was in World War II. He is upset that Andy can't cope with it, which is really the sentiment from those who didn't serve or just the older generation in general. I feel this film is stating that Andy doesn't have anyone he can connect with and is an outsider.

    Another interesting aspect to the film is Christine. She really actually reminds me of my mother. Not that I would go on a killing spree, but my mother would defend me to her dying breath. There's an interesting argument between her and Charles that she reveals Andy is her favorite. I don't necessarily know if that's the case, but more that she thought she lost him once.

    Going from there, I want to move the pacing of the film. I think that it is pretty solid. It builds tension and the film doesn't really out stay its welcome. I never found myself bored and really wanted to see how things end. My only issue is with the ending though, as I don't think the film really establishes what Andy has become. I think by not knowing, the ending kind of just happens. I do think that it does send a powerful message about our veterans though.

    Acting for the film is a bit amateurish, but it doesn't bother me. I think it kind of adds a bit of charm. The only actor I recognize was Marley, as he was in The Godfather. I think he was solid in this film and his performance was believable. I like that he loves his son, but wants him to be a man and handle the responsibilities of an adult. The problem is that he doesn't understand what his son is going through and is not supportive. On the other side though, Carlin is too supportive. There really should be a happy medium between the two. I think her performance was fine. Backus did a really good job at being someone as stoic as Andy is. It is really eerie and his stare is why he got the role. The rest of the cast definitely rounded out the film for what was needed as well.

    To the effects of the film, they were pretty solid overall. It was crazy to see that Tom Savini, who was still unknown at the time, did them. I don't think he had a lot to work with, but for the time period, I think there is a bit of charm to them. The blood actually looks good. Some of the wounds don't really hold up though. The look of Andy when we see what he has become I did really enjoy. I do think that the film is shot well.

    Now with that said, this film was definitely an interesting allegory. I do like the concept of a soldier dying and then coming home to his family. Even more that it is a kind of adaptation of The Monkey's Paw. I would have liked to know what he is as I think that would have tightened up the ending for me. The acting isn't great, but I think it works. The film does a pretty solid job at building tension for me. These weren't the best effects by Savini, but they are still pretty solid. The soundtrack of the film really didn't stand out to me, but it also didn't hurt the film. I actually think this is a good movie despite its budget and recommend giving it a viewing, especially if you are a veteran or dealt with PTSD.
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