20 December 2014

Dreamaniac (1986)
83 min.
Directed by David DeCoteau.
With Thomas Bern, Kim McKamy, Sylvia Summers, Lauren Peterson, Bob Pelham, Cynthia Crass, Brad Laughlin, Linda Denise Martin.
Heather Smith
David DeCoteau got his start as a production assistant for Roger Cormanís New World Pictures in 1980. Shortly after, he began directing and producing his own work, building up quite an impressive resume of well loved horror and cult films that includes such genre favorites as Nightmare Sisters (1988) and Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988).

Unfortunately, Dreamaniac remains largely forgettable.

Adam (Thomas Bern) is a typical loner who loves playing heavy metal music and dabbling in the occult. He's had some trouble sleeping lately, due to nightmares of a blood-soaked woman who's trying to seduce him. His girlfriend Pat (Kim McKamy) thinks Adam just needs social interaction. She convinces him to let her sister Jodi (Lauren Peterson) throw a party at his place so that she can impress the sorority she is trying to get into.

Meanwhile, Adam proceeds to perform a black magic ritual in which he attempts to bring his dream girl out of the netherworld and into reality. He hopes she can give him success in his love life and career. But Adam doesnít realize this comes with a price. When his ritual actually works, she materializes as a blood hungry succubus! Thinking it was all a dream, Adam gets ready for the party.

Just when things start to get boring, the succubus appears once again, this time as a fashionable guest named Lily (Sylvia Summers). She proceeds to wreak havoc by feasting on the blood of the partygoers and turning Adam into her helpless accomplice. When the deceased start to come back as zombies, the survivors soon figure out Lily's true identity and prepare to fight. Now it is up to Pat and Jodi to battle Lily for Adamís soul and their very lives.

Right from the beginning, Dreamaniac is a lower-tier slasher which fails to impress. Our main character is hardly believable as an occult-loving, metal musician. He looks and behaves like a complete geek.

McKamy and Peterson (as the sisters) are the only two of the cast who can actually act and their characters prove tolerable. At the party, it's clear that all the guests are simply a group of typical period teens including new wavers, valley girls and rich kids.

The film becomes one bad joke and bitchy line after another. It's painful to watch the actors attempt to play out stereotypes they are so obviously bad at filling. The result is that when they get knocked off, we donít really care. Some of the kills are decent, but we mostly see blood splatters without the actual deaths.

A quality that sticks out about Dreamaniac is its homoeroticism. We see plenty of male nudity, in addition to the general lack of interest the males show in being with the (very willing) girls.

Worth mentioning is that despite the title, the story isnít particularly about dreams (though it does have quite a few maniacs). The cover art -- with the tagline "You don't have to live on Elm Street to have a nightmare" -- obviously tries to hitch a ride onto the coattails of Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). And if it wasnít bad enough to make you sit through 70 minutes of absurdity, weíre then treated to not one - but two - twist endings that render the rest of the film completely pointless.

The cast went on to have little to no career in acting with only a few exceptions. Kim McKamey started a long career in the adult industry under the name Ashlyn Gere. Two of the party guests, Lisa Emery and Micheal Warren, built up a decent resume as well.

Itís all misguided and the performances are mostly terrible, but Dreamaniac is worth a one-time viewing if only for a few laughs.

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