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Dead of Night Reviews

Scary low-budget horror from the makers of the equally effective CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS and DERANGED. DEATHDREAM opens as Backus and a buddy are killed in battle in Vietnam. Back home, Backus' parents (Marley and Carlin) and his sister (Ormsby) are rocked by the news. Dad grimly accepts their loss, but Mom refuses to believe it and acts as though her boy were still alive. That night the family dog begins to growl, and Mom suspects burglars are nearby. Instead, the family is shocked to find Backus standing at the door in his dress uniform, alive and well. Marley brings some of the neighborhood boys over to entice his son play football (before the war he always loved having the children around). Backus ignores his visitors, who persistently ask questions about the war. Then when the family dog begins snarling at him, he shocks the kids by picking the dog up by the throat and strangling it to death. Marley decides that this is enough and tells Carlin he's taking their son to a doctor. The doctor tries to take Backus' pulse but can't find it. You see, Backus is dead, and he needs a steady supply of blood for reanimation, so he kills the doctor, and some friends, and . . . DEATHDREAM is a powerful, creepy film that reworks the classic tale "The Monkey's Paw," relying on mood and tension to convey the terror. It uses the horror genre quite successfully to explore the difficulty of post-Vietnam adjustment (stretched to a horrible, exaggerated limit) and the disintegration of the American family in the 1960s. Although the boy's father faces reality, the mother refuses to reject her son--and even helps him during the remarkable, unforgettable climax. Both Ormsby and Savini worked on the special makeup. Highly recommended.