FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Apr 24, 2006

C-Ya! Wouldn't wanna b-ya!

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

18 comments:

Heather Santrous said...

I just skimmed over your post about Bad Dreams. I picked up Visiting Hours through Amazon and they had a package deal with Bad Dreams so I went ahead and got it as well. I just got them today so haven't had a chance to watch either one yet.

Josh said...

I just finshed Visiting Hours....

you sure know how to pick 'em.

Bry said...

I remember this one from back in the day...There have been a lot of better days...

I agree it's not horrible horror, and you summed it up perfectly...
I just didn't care...

Even a "slash and splatter" movie needs... feeling.

Still looking for Visiting Hours...I know I saw it but can't for the life of me remember anything about it...

Stacie Ponder said...

Josh, say it ain't so.

The Film Club is gonna mutiny!


I was bummed Bad Dreams wasn't as good as I remembered.

The Retropolitan said...

I didn't know Pee-Wee's Dottie was in Bad Dreams!

Craig Moorhead said...

While I haven't yet watched 'Visiting Hours' yet, I have it in my posession, and if the movie actually blows, at least the art on the disc itself is sweet.

For that art alone, it's been worth the rental.

Josh said...

I'll save most film club comments for the film club, but Visiting Hours is at least 35 minutes too long.
I'm sending it back to Netflix today, so someone else in the club should be able to see it soon.

Stacie Ponder said...

Retro- I think that's where my love of EG started. Don't even get me started on Pee-Wee, or I'll go on forever!

Craig- I know exactly what you're talking about with the disc art- I was totally planning on scanning it in. Best. Disc. Ever.

If anything, Visiting Hours will bring us all closer together...just like dousing ourselves with gasoline and setting ourselves on fire. Like in that movie Bad Dreams. The movie I posted about. :P

Josh said...

The disc art for Visiting Hours is pretty cool, if misleading.

Chadwick H. Saxelid said...

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!"

That was you? ;)

I wasn't too impressed with this even back in the day, although any movie with Richard Lynch and Sy Richardson could not be a complete wash. It just struck me as a rather pedestrian rehash of the far superior A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, though it did have a better end title Guns n' Roses song than Terminator 2 did.

Visiting Hours should be arriving the week. I hope.

babsey wabsey said...

OOOH! you make me laughingly angry, you yearbook quoting fool! By the by, I went to Blockbuster (which I do not usually do, but it is so close to home!), and they , of course, did not have Visiting Hours. However, this guy that works there is a huge horror geek, and said that he had it on order for himself on DVD, and that he would bring me his VHS copy from home! Never met the guy, but he restored my faith in nice people, at least for a day! NO, he was no Dong-O from the old CT Blocky B's (come ON, DOng-O, hurry up and put away the movies!), but who is? So, we have the movie, in fabulous VHS format, and will be viewing it this weekend.

Hope I see you over the summer at EPB,
Never change!
Babsey #1

theron said...

I've seen this on cable on 3 times lately and, I must admit, it is a bit on the slow side. I loves me some Jennifer Rubin ("Wasp Woman," anybody?), but this one is best overlooked, I think...

Mistah Wade said...

The fact that it was advertised on Visiting Hours should have told me (after watching Visiting Hours) it will be bad. However, I have fond memories of this nightmare on elm street - esque rip off and I still want to watch it.

Stacie Ponder said...

I LOVE Jennifer Rubin and I have no idea why she wasn't a bigger genre star, or why people fail to mention her.

What a cutie.

Bill said...

I always loved Bad Dreams. I grew up watching it and still enjoy it. However I find myself drawn to about anything with Jennifer Rubin in it. What a beautiful girl. I know she went on to be in some really cheesy movies, but I always have warm thoughts of her. She should have become famous, but for some reason never did. She wasn't the "bad rocker" girl she played in Nightmare on Elm Street 3 in Bad Dreams, but it's interesting to note that she was in a mental hospital in both films.

The characters in Bad Dreams are a nice assortment of odd balls and misfits. My favorite being Ralph, the self mutilator played by the always enjoyable Dean Cameron, another actor who should have done better.

Yes this movie rips off the story of The Manson Family with a little bit of Jonestown thrown in, but it's good fun for the most part.
The ending will leave you muttering "Wha...", but don't let the (not so) surprise ending kill you mood for seeing it again.

theron said...

C'mon, "The Wasp Woman," anybody? IMDb says that, as of August 2002,
Jennifer Rubin was a hostess at Grace Restaurant in TriBeca, NYC. What's up with that?

Stacie Ponder said...

Bill: if you've got the newly released DVD, have you watched the alternate ending yet? Sweet zombie Moses it's terrible! Terrible, I tells ya! Bad Dreams certainly isn't a BAD movie, it's just not as good as my fond memories led me to believe. I've seen much much worse.

Theron: I haven't seen the Wasp Woman remake yet, though perhaps now I shall. And...maybe...Ms Rubin played "hostess" in a movie? Maybe? I hope? Had I known she worked there when I lived in NYC I would've gone, even though it would've made me sad.

Anonymous said...

If I had to pick a horror movie which used the idea of a cult, I'd pick Popcorn. Jill Schoelen is my FAVORITE scream queen.

Bad Dreams is 'ite for what it is, but I don't watch it often nor do I feel the need to. Not like I do with The Mutilator at any rate!

Richard Lynch actually set himself on fire to protest the Viet Nam war. I have to give him kudos for that. I always wondered why I thought he looked like Rutger Hauer (sp?) and Christopher Walken had a love child that they set on fire!

Amanda By Night