Sometimes I wonder about the people I went to high school with oh so long ago. Friends, classmates, the girl that everybody said diddled herself with a hot dog...I wonder where they are now and what they're doing. Every once in a while, I spend a little time Googling their names to see what I can come up with...often, it's not much. Every once in a while, these people contact ME- I get an email from someone I haven't spoken to in 10 years asking the usual sorts of questions. There's a flurry of catch-up emails over a day or two, then the person disappears into cyberspace and into their new life for another decade. A little curiosity satisfied is good enough to last years.
The 1988 slasher Bad Dreams is like one of those old friends- I liked it well enough in high school to find out how it's doing now. When I found out it was being released on DVD this month, I even said to myself "Bad Dreams on DVD? I haven't seen that in years! Wicked sweet!". The man next to me at the store said "Sorry, what was that?" to which I replied "Mind your own damn beeswax, you nosy bastard!" and went about the rest of my day.
So, how does my long-lost pal stack up after all this time? Well, there was a flurry of activity, and a little curiosity satisfied is good enough to last years.
As a young girl in the 1970s, Cynthia (beautiful...and bad Jennifer Rubin) was a member of the Unity Fields commune/cult/house of dirty, stinky people. One day, Harris (the leader of Unity Fields) decided that an awesome way for them all to come together- man, woman, and child alike- and feel some Universal Love would be to douse themselves with gasoline and light themselves on fire. Death is just another state of being, man...can you dig it? No? Well, neither could Cynthia. As people burned around her, Cynthia had a nagging feeling...a feeling that this was wrong! Cynthia am smart hippy girl! She ends up knocked into a coma...but she survives.
She wakes up 13 years later in a mental hospital. She's forced to join group sessions for people with "borderline personality disorder"- a nice, general umbrella term for suicidal and/or crazy patient types. With that vague description, the group is made up of people like Lana (EG Daily, whom I'm always- always happy to see in a movie, for some reason), who doesn't talk much...Ralph (Dean Cameron), who talks alot and has eyebrows so large it's hard to focus on anything else when he's on-screen... the burnt-out, chain-smoking, triple divorcee Miriam, Gilda the nerd who talks about the "other world", the couple who has weird hang-ups about sex and touching, and so on.
Eventually, Harris begins appearing (sometimes all normal and original recipe, sometimes all gross and extra crispy recipe) in visions Cynthia has, beckoning her to join the rest of her dead hippy friends. She's preventing their souls from the big afterlife orgy or something- they can't rest until she does herself in and moves on up to the dee-luxe commune in the sky. Once again, Cynthia plays it smart and says NO! To punish her, the leader begins picking off the members of her support group in terribly grody ways- people end up in the giant turbine, defenestrated...one dude hacks himself up with a scalpel. The deaths aren't simply cut and dried, however. Is Harris really killing them all? Is Cynthia a homicidal fish out of water out of time? Are these suicidal wackos just killing themselves? Well? Watch it yourself and find out! I'm not gonna walk you through everything, people.
I was a little sad that Bad Dreams turned out to be much more dull than I remember it being. It wasn't a bad way to spend 90 minutes...I mean, there's EG Daily as well as 80s horror mainstays Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator) and Jennifer Rubin. The deaths are actually pretty gruesome and there's alot of gore thrown about. It just...I just didn't really care. Frankly, sad as it make me say, I was a little bored. We got along really well back in the day, but now it seems that Bad Dreams and I have simply grown apart. It happens, man. Eventually I'll forget that fact and I'll get back in touch with the flick in a few years.
Yo Bad Dreams,
Have a nice summer.
Stay sweet and take a chill pill!
Stacie Ponder #1