Dreamscape (1984)


A psychic, Alex Gardner (Dennis Quaid, Breaking Away), reluctantly joins a secret government project about dream manipulation. But Alex soon finds out that the project is part of a devilish plot to assassinate the President of the United States.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Alex, it’s very simple. Either you work for me or you die.”

Part science fiction, part conspiracy thriller, Dreamscape is a dandy mash-up of genres — it has a touch of Indian Jones, a bit of Stephen King, a pinch of Twilight Zone, even a nip of Hitchcock. It’s also stuffed with in-jokes that will amuse movie buffs.

Although the script by David Loughery (Passenger 57), Chuck Russell (The Mask), and director Joseph Ruben (The Stepfather), sometimes resorts to predictable twists and turns, the film’s deliberate cheekiness is hard to resist. Dreamscape winks at the audience to let us know that it’s fully aware of its clichés.

After all is said and done, what I liked most of all is its old-school visual effects. In the 1980s, the film industry was beginning to move away from practical effects, relying more and more on computer-generated images. Dreamscape stubbornly refuses to embrace new technological advances, relying on basic techniques instead.

We get a bit of everything: stop-motion animation, matte paintings, miniatures, blue-screen process, etc. The images might hurt the eyes of younger viewers accustomed to fancy CGIs, but I’m sure older viewers will enjoy the visuals’ retro look.

Dreamscape has a great cast as well. It’s surprising to find so many fine actors in what is essentially an expensive B-movie. Dennis Quaid is appealing as the movie’s reluctant. Kate Capshaw (Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is effective as a dedicated researcher who helps a bewildered Quaid battle the bad guys.

Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) is wonderfully sinister as an evil government official. David Patrick Kelly (The Warriors) is scary as an evil psychic. Max Von Sydow (The Exorcist) plays a scientist. George Wendt (Normie, TV’s Cheers) plays a reporter. Eddie Albert (Roman Holiday) plays The President.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Dreamscape has cool ideas, nice visuals and a solid cast. The plot moves swiftly to a predictable, but satisfactory conclusion. The film also perfectly captures the anxieties of the Reagan-era. In this regard, Dreamscape offers modern viewers a snapshot of the USA in the ’80s. Recommended. Color, 99 minutes, Rated PG-13.


11 responses to “Dreamscape (1984)

  1. I too loved this one as a kid and showed it to my own boys a few years back. Not only were the visuals cool at the time but I think it helped that I knew most of the actors that were involved. Plummer, Quaid, Eddie and of course that creep from The Warriors. lol.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s