PIC of the Week – Deathdream
Article series by Ray Schillaci
Horror hounds rejoice and start baying at the moon in celebration! First the (George) Romero collection, and now this?! Bless Blue Underground for their Blu release of Bob Clark’s 1974 cult classic, Deathdream. That’s right, the same Bob Clark that gave us the outrageous redneck comedy Porky’s and the holiday classic A Christmas Story. Let’s not forget that he also dug up the nifty little gravedigger tale Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. Can you come up with a more tawdry title?
Deathdream (aka Dead of Night, The Night Andy Came Home, and The Night Walk) was producer/director/actor Bob Clark’s fourth film, with the subject matter breaking new ground, being one of the first movies to tackle the severe effects of returning from the Vietnam War to the Norman Rockwell life depicted in America. The story was cannily written as a thinly disguised political statement dressed up as a horror film by writer Alan Ormsby (My Bodyguard, Paul Schrader’s Cat People). The biggest caveat was getting John Marley (The Godfather, Love Story) as the distraught father of a zombie veteran. That’s right! Talk about controversial.
The story was a return to the classic 1902 spine-tingling tale The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs. The story involved a monkey’s paw that granted three wishes, but at a very high price. Clark and Ormsby’s story concerns a father and mother who have just been informed that their son, Andy, has been killed in action while on his tour of duty. The very possessive mom immediately starts calling out for her son to come back at all costs. She insists that he promised to come back. Sure enough, he does, but it ain’t pretty.
Andy displays odd behavior that worries his father, but mom does not care what she has summoned up through the sheer power of her deep maternal instinct, even if it results in rising up the dead. Talk about family drama.
Clark and Ormsby’s film is a stark piece of subtle horror that may not have the blood and guts budget of other zombie flicks, but they more than make up for it in atmosphere and the strong subliminal messages delivered with a sure hand. One cannot help but appreciate all the different subjects the filmmakers tackle in this small independent, and John Marley as the father is always a strong presence.
Blue Underground has supplied us Deathdream with a new 2K restoration from the 35mm negative in its most complete version with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono soundtrack. This is very exciting for anybody that has missed out over the years. BU has also provided a bevy of special features that include:
¥ Audio commentary with Co-producer/director Bob Clark
¥ A separate audio commentary by writer and make-up artist (uncredited), Alan Ormsby
¥ Tom Savini (make-up efx wizard Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow): The Early Years
¥ Alternate opening titles
¥ Alan Ormsby’s student film
¥ Still galleries
¥ A collectable booklet + so much more
Best price – Amazon – $24.99 (free shipping with Prime membership)