BEYOND DREAM'S DOOR (SE)
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
Poor, poor Ben (Baldasare). He's been having bad dreams, everybody around him keeps dying gruesome deaths, and he's being stalked by a creepy little kid, a dude with hooks for hands and a giant freaking blood-red puppet demon with wiggly fingers in it's jaws! With the help of a psychology TA (what the huh?) and a mystical library book (okay?), can Ben stop the decades old cycle of nightmares and death that is following him around? I'm not quite sure, but the result is one of the most twisted indie flicks you'll ever see!
Is it good movie?
I liked it. I can say it without shame. Sure it was cheap and cheesy. Okay, the acting was terrible and the directing very random and jumpy. Maybe I have a soft sopt for puppets who dismember people and shapeshift into creepy bug-eyed kids? Or maybe I can Just appreciate that this flick (the first ever to come out of Ohio State University's film program in 1988 and director Jay Woelfel's debut feature) is a fun, entertaining indie romp that showcases some interesting technical touches, a couple of choice gore scenes, and a whole lot of bad taste!
Now, parts of this movie had me scratching my gorilla-like head in confusion. It was like I'd eaten some moldy nachos and slipped into a fever dream of meat sweats and puppet halucinations. A big warning...this is some seriously twisted shite! But seriously, this first feature was an impressive feat of atmosphere and effects. Based on a couple of short films produced by the same group (which are included on the DVD...sweet!), this flick is a trippy ride into the realm of demons that prey on our nightmares and rack up an impressive bodycount (hmmm...sounds vaguely familiar...oh well).
Sure the movie is flawed, despite the obvious artistry seen in the visual style, the camera work and the practical effects. The acting is on a level with No-Name brand Cheez Whiz, and the small glimpses we get of the puppet demon are laughably bad. Woelfel displays some artistic style on the visual side, but his writing seems thin and chunky. In my opinion, the short fims that are on this disc were more interesting than the actual feature. However, some of the gore was top notch for an indie flick (that professor with the flayed face and the headless girlfriend are two fine examples). But even these bloody treats fail to raise the film above just being mildly entertaining, especially considering the much higher caliber of horror films being produced during that time.
So let's see: gore? Check. Campy acting? Check. Dismembering demon muppet? Check. Trippy dream sequences? Check. A fun, bad movie? Definately.
But a horror classic? Almost, but not quite.
Video / Audio
Video: Full Screen - 1.33:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Isolated Music Track.
Aside from the usuals such as a Director's commentary, cast commentary, 3 Trailers, 2 deleted scenes and both Production and Effects Photo Galleries, we get a bunch of features:
3 Short Films including At the Door of Darkness (7:45) and the short version of Beyond Dream's Door (21:00) which are both the basis for the feature, and the haunting and very effective 35mm short Come To Me Softly (8:00), with another puppet monster!
Next we have Behind The Scenes Featurettes for both the short (7:48) and feature (34:00) versions of the film, as well as some Raw Footage (4:27) from the short and a Chapter Comparison between both versions of the film.
Capping off this impressive list of extras are 3 News Spots which are informative and funky in an 80's clothing and hair kind of way, some Unused Footage (11:00) cut together in a montage to tell the whole story, a six minute Blooper Reel, Getting Monstered which is a great look at actor Rick Kesler death scene at the hands of the demon puppet, and finally a about six minutes of Unused Effects Footage, which gives us a better look at said puppet in both it's wet and dry versions (yep...wet is better!). Slap some Filmographies and an Isolated Musical Score and you've got a giant sized trip of a disc.
Beyond Dream's Door is a flawed but entertaining movie, and a fine first effort. It's easy to see how it can achieve cult status over the past decade, but as for the claim that it is one of the more noteworthy horror films of the 80's, I doubt that. While fun and innovative in small ways, it is not remarkable enough when compared to the sheer body of horror work done in that greatest of genre dominated decades. It's worth the watch, if only for the footnote it provides to the genre and the lore that has been built up around it. Also, the short films are a great watch. Recommended to all you blokes who love trippy dream demon B-movies. Myself included.