Bad Dreams (1988)


Directed by: Andrew Fleming

Written by: Andrew Fleming & Steven A. De Souza

Story by: Andrew Fleming, Michael Dick, P.J. Pettiette & Yuri Zeltser


Jennifer Rubin .... Cynthia
Bruce Abbott .... Dr. Alex Karmen
Richard Lynch .... Harris
Dean Cameron .... Ralph
Harris Yulin .... Dr. Berrisford
Susan Barnes .... Connie
John Scott Clough .... Victor
Elizabeth Daily .... Lana
Damita Jo Freeman .... Gilda
Louis Giambalvo .... Ed
Susan Ruttan .... Miriam
Sy Richardson .... Detective Wasserman

Release Date: Theatrical: April 8, 1988




In the 70's a cult ceremony called Unity Field committed suicide by burning themselves up led by an evil man named Harris (Richard Lynch) but one of them survived by the name of Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) and ended up in a coma for 13 years.
She awakens in a psyche ward not remembering what had happened to her but ends up dreaming the terrifying moment when a psychiatrist named Dr. Alex Karmen tries to make her remember what had happened.

This scares her but suddenly the patients there end up dying by what people thought were suicides or accidents.
However, Cynthia spots Harris now as a spirittual killer causing these deaths and tries to talk to Karmen that it will keep happening if she's in the ward but Karmen doesn't believe her at first until he sees her point after the gruesome deaths on more of these patients.


There's neat shots surrounding the evil character Harris staring near a house which gives you a creepy impression as well as him doing some sort of a cult gathering with a group of people in the house as well as him lighting it on fire which leaves the film off to a nice start to the story and well put in too making you wonder as to why he was doing this. Then there's close up shots on the character Cynthia in a coma at a hospital with a brief close up shot on people doing small surgery stuff as this makes you shiver a bit here.
Then we spot the story taking place 13 years later with reporters trying to talk to her in which adds more flavor to the story here making you wonder on what will happen next and so fourth.
Then we spot a real effective and bizarre moment at a group therapy which involves Cynthia as a newcomer in which we who seems to fool us as a counsellor named Ralph just getting a little creepy towards the patients and acting a bit obnoxious until we spot the actual counsellor coming in who happens to be Dr. Alex Karmen as it reminds us of being fooled by someone that we don't know and thinking that this dude has a ton of nerve trying to play tricks on us. There's also great close up shots on the clients saying nasty and crazy remarks towards the newcomer Cynthia in which looked very realistic on mental patients plus making it look unwelcoming too as this was perfectly put in.
There's also a flashback sequence with Cynthia sitting near where Harris is splashing gasoline on himself in the house where he does his cult ceremony but yet we spot the therapy room too which psychs you out and looked well done along with him lighting himself on fire and causing things to burn as this keeps you watching to find out by what happens next.
Nice interesting near surprising moments when Cynthia is in an elevator with Alex Karmen and then there's the odd stalling with the lights flickering which is a nice sign that something creepy will happen and it just does when we spot a creepy burned up Harris speaking to her in which looked well done and close to shocking but not quite.
We have a nice touching moment in a change room near a swimming pool with Lana trying to talk to Cynthia and being friendly which looked good and dramatic along with a nice hissing reaction on Cynthia which looked truly disturbing and upsetting to see her get short with her.
A nice shot on Lana sitting next to a swimming pool and then we suddenly spot a good dark scene with Harris in a lake with his cult and yanking Cynthia's head in the water and then later we spot Lana's face drowned in the water as this adds a nice twist to what is going on here.
There's a nice uplifting situation when we spot another mental patient Miriam trying to talk to Cynthia and them having a discussion on gaining happiness and confidence which was really brought to life here and well written in too.
Later on in the story we have a crazy couple making out when no one is around to keep an eye out on them since this is often used in a psych ward especially in a horror flick as we know that they will be the next victim's to die. We spot them going to the basement area of the ward and are in front of a rolling turbine and then it shows the turbine spinning around and around as if you could get hypnotised by it. This looks pretty deadly and having a bad feeling that they will have the most gruesome death scene.
What really looks shocking apart from what someone finds the remains of these couples is that we spot Cynthia looking up a vent in a hallway then spotting Harris inside speaking creepily and suddenly blood spraying down on everyone in the hallway as this was a nice shocking horror moment in the story indeed and darkly done too.
Later on we have Ralph kidnapping Cynthia and then going up in the attic of the ward going nuts as this leaves an impression here with him revealing some dark secrets along with a shocking moment which seems almost like suicide when the employees come up to try and catch him in the act. Another great pointer in the story here.
There's a moment with Harris approaching another mental patient and she drinks up a bottle of poison in order to kill herself before he pushes her to her death which looked truly disturbing to spot this all happening.
Also what works and looks truly deadly is that we spot Alex losing his sanity and constantly running over one of the staff against a wall in which this makes you wonder as to why he went off the deep end by doing all of this along with good shots on the staff member as well as imagining his body being broken up from the hits against the car. There's some black comedy that enters this situation too which works in well.
There's a situation that looked really terrifying is when Cynthia is in a trance and tries to fall off the building at the ward and Alex is holding onto her hand to save her from falling but trying to call out to her to snap out of her trance which makes you watching this very carefully wondering if he will be successful as well as someone trying to stab his hand with a needle which seems more terrifying and extremely struggling to spot all of this.
Bottom line is that this is an interesting type of film that offers alot of creepy twists and supernatural elements.
It's almost like a cross between A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 3 and Friday the 13th Part 5 but it's not really a slasher film. Clever and well done with good effects and a nice ending but the story does get tiresome at times and is very slow too.

The acting is very well done with lots of natural talent. It's nice to watch a lead performance by Jennifer Rubin (Cynthia) after her fame in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 but this time playing a cult survivor instead of a junkie at a treatment center as she perfomrs very powerfully with her role and shows many different emotions to her part in it. She does a nice job showing a perfect calmness and quiet self centered type of attitude during the beginning of her performance along with breaking that silence whenever she screams out in terror which looked highly energetic alot as well as showing her losing control with her freaked and hysteric actions which shines off well here. She does well in a certain scene getting blunt and firm which really shows off nicely. Also does a good job by acting full of life in certain spots and trying to act cheerful showing perfect energy here. Plus really gets into her character when she is in a trance or seemingly drugged out showing off this superbly.
Bruce Abbot
(Dr. Alex Karmen) was another great part of the movie as an aggressive shrink at the centre and really packs a punch with his part in the film. He shows off a perfect seriousness and clearness in his speaking while doing therapy which was impressively done. He also does a nice job losing control during another moment in the story. Does an impressive job with his struggling emotions as well as trying to call out in a good suspenseful fashion close to the end of his performance here. Plus shows nice aggressions with his argumentive attitude. Basically he shows off some decent characteristics here.
Richard Lynch
(Harris) is fairly descent in his part as the evil cult leader and plays off well with his looks in the film. He shows a nice expressionless presence too alot of the times as well as having a good hissing like speaking with his seriousness here. Plus shows off alot of nice blocking when he is forceful at times here really rolling in with his strong and abusive attitude. He also was impressive with his devilish speaking and expressions adding this as a perfect plus to his role.
Dean Cameron
(Ralph) is one of the best actors in this film as a disturbed patient and can really behave believeably intense too. He shows it off nicely as someone who likes to play tricks as well as coming across way too strong and behaving perfectly weird. He knew his blocking very well whenever he behaves violently too. During the near end of his performance he really brought out his hystericas and insane behavior perfectly in a scene up in the attic if the institution just putting in everything that he got here. He was impressive at the end of his performance with his expressionless behavior acting as if he's possessed which looked cool to watch as well in which he knew on how to act like a horror character here.
Harris Yulin
(Dr. Berrisford) certainly shows off a perfect expressionless and seriousness to his role as he came across beliveably mysterious into his role and had the right looks for this type of person too. He was great by acting obnoxious or abusive too. He certainly displays a nice evilness to his part in the film as well as knowing on how to act in intense pain while being hit by a car during a dream sequence too.
Elizabeth Daily
(Lana) was a natural talent as another disturbed patient and does extremely well with her stuttering. She does a good job when she acts upset or stern in certain moment really acting energetic here. She also is impressive during a situation when she tries to talk to someone and acting reasonable, comforting and friendly which seemed very realistic here making you feel sorry for this poor distubed girl. You can tell that she studied this part in perfectly.
Louis Giambalvo
(Ed) has the right looks to come across as someone level headed but does an impressive job by his strange laughter along with acting obnoxious and disturbed on certain topics in which he comes across nicely by doing all of this. He also does a good job acting overly eager on stuff which adds to his myterious attitude in a good way. All in all he does all of this nicely.
Susan Ruttan
(Miriam) was another great example as a patient with a mutiple personality trying to be level headed and proves her point with her role. She does a great job acting very snappy and aggressive making you not want to be around her. Also she really shows it off nicely when she gets firm with someone in which she makes a nice impression here. Plus she does well acting sympathetic as well as trying to act cheerful and full of life which is another great pointer for her. She certainly knew on how to act like a mental patient without a doubt.
Sy Richardson (Detective Wasserman) has a nice effective supporting role in which he comes across as aggressive and very unpleasant along with his perfect mean looks to his part in it. He draws in nicely with his tough as nails personality and gruffness too. I found that he was a nice key to the story with whatever he does here.

The cult leaders face is burned and scarred during many hallucination sequences
Gobs of blood drops from a roof door in the turbine room including a chopped off hand
A patient puts his hand through a sharp knife and much later cuts his stomach with two dissecting knifes.

We have perfect spooky playing by Jay Ferguson which is very Elm Street sequel like with his music as there's alot of good hissing sounds along with deep music. Also many nice chiming sounds too. Plus neat metal clanging, scraping and loud booming sounds collaborating well within the story here. Basically it has that 80's horror feel to everything which works out perfectly in each scene that we spot watching especially the mysterious and creepy moments too.
Plus there's a bitchin soundtrack by many classic rock groups like "Time Has Come Today" by the Chambers Brothers during a dream sequence of the old cult house in which there's the echoey ticking sound in the song which works in well with the twisted moments here.
A nice punk rock type track with the song "My Way" performed by Mamby Pamby & The Smooth Putters in which there's aggressive vocalising and guitar riffs during a creepy sequence in the hallways of a sanitarium involving the character Ralph doing something crazy.
We have a peaceful classical song of "La Donna è Mobile" performed by Ferruccio Tagliavini during an insane deadly incident with Dr. Alex Karmen driving in his car trying to run someone over as this adds a nice touch to what is going on here since there's often a peaceful playing of a song during a murderous situation.
A great closing credit song by Guns N Roses with their memorable hit "Sweet Child O' Mine" in which there's perfect vocalising and guitar playing making it suitable for an ending song indeed.