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Film Review: Beyond Dream’s Door (1989)

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SYNOPSIS:

A university student suffers lethal nightmares and must learn the secrets beyond dream’s door to survive.

REVIEW:

Director and Writer: Jay Woelfel
Stars: Nick Baldasare, Jorge Aguirre, Dianna Ashton

Uni student Ben Dobbs is having horrific dreams involving a giant foam monster, a dude with hooks for hands and a lady who likes to show her breasts every chance she can. Ben writes his weird nightmares down and shares them with his psych professor who notices similarities between them and that of a past student, whose dreams ended up killing him. Conveniently, this student wrote a book about said dreams and when Ben and the professor locate and read the book, shit gets real. The dream monster begins killing people in the real world, and very quickly the line between the dreamscape and reality blurs. Ben learns from the dead book writer that the dream monster kind of does a Freddy Krueger deal, moving from victim to victim but without any real rhyme or reason and if the victim asks for help, then those dumb enough to do so will succumb to the dreamtastic horrors also.

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Ben magically figures out that the monster doesn’t want people to know of its existence (even though this will allow it to kill even more people), so it tries to destroy the book, well, tear the pages out referencing itself, instead of like, you know, eating the whole thing. It misses one page, well not miss, actually I don’t know because at first it’s shown that ALL the pages have been removed, but then a single page is actually found by Ben—Scratch that, it’s presented to Ben by the monster for the explicit reason of him finding it… yep…

So, here we have a monster who DOESN’T want people to know of its existence, even though it needs people to know for it to have more victims. It finds the only book in print(?? Really) that references itself, successfully rips the incriminating pages out then for some unknown reason presents a single page to the only person who can stop it…. Okay then…

Knowing that anybody he enlists to help will be targeted and killed, Ben selfishly enlists the help of the professor’s TAs to stop the monster and surprisingly they too start to have living nightmares.

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Ben magically (again) figures out that the monster came from within the trapdoors at his university, and the only way to stop this dream monster is to send it back to the depths below the trap door… Because a monster that can traverse dreams won’t be able to physically escape a couple of concrete trap doors… Yep…

Wow. I’m all for experimental stories and visions, but that’s no excuse for a shoddy script. This story had so many plot holes and conveniences, it was laughable. People just do things because the script told them to, not because it flowed organically from the story. For example, in one scene Ben shows one of the TAs the trapdoor location. The TA, not knowing anything about the monster or the dangers at this point, finds some animal teeth on the ground, picks them up and then hides them from Ben and takes them home to put in a jar. WHY?! WHY DID HE DO THIS? There is no rhyme or reason for him to do this at that point of the film. It’s nonsensical.

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Another scene had Ben chasing that single book page down a gravelly hill. He manages to find the page and picks it up, then, for no apparent reason, he decides to walk into a nearby tunnel. Why? Why did he want to do that? The only reason is to allow the next scene to happen. This sort of thing occurred numerous times during the film. People just did stuff so the next scene could eventuate, not because it was organic to the story.

The worst of them all was that one of the TAs was even attacked at all. The dead book writer stated that only if Ben asks for help, will those helpers then become victims. One of the TAs wasn’t asked for help, yet she became privy to the horrors of the nightmare foam monster.

The acting was horrendous. Everybody delivered dialog without emotion and in almost one tone of voice. Reactions to the horrors where inconsistent and nonsensical. At one scene Ben sees his parent’s decapitated head roll off the bed and he barely registers any emotion, yet in another scene a naked women speaks to him and he screams in complete and utter horror. WTF?!

Cinematography and score were serviceable. Lighting was a bit over the top at times, but for the most part it was all done reasonably well.

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The only salvageable thing to the film was some of the gore. Though this was an insanely low budget film (it was actually a uni student project film of sorts from what I read), the practical effects were pretty damn good. The monster was crappy foam, but still, I was impressed considering the budget.

Knowing this was a very low budget student project of sorts, you can forgive the bad acting, bad props, cinematography, lighting, sound and score. It’s pretty much a given when watching these sorts of films. What is unforgivable in any film regardless of budget is a bad script. And for me, Beyond Dream’s Door had a horrendously bad script.

Would I recommend this film to anybody? If you’re one of those who think they can see deep, thought provoking themes and messages within films then this will probably be right up your alley and you’ll come up with all sorts of wonderful interpretations. For those who want to be entertained by a good script, horror and actual acting, look elsewhere.

1 out of 5 foam monsters

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