Movie Review: DEATHDREAM (Collector’s Edition) Blu-ray Combo Pack

DEATHDREAM (aka Dead of Night) was directed by Bob Clark from a screenplay by Alan Ormsby and stars Richard Backus, John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Anya Ormsby, Michael Mazes, Jane Daly and Henderson Forsythe.

In this shattering variation on “The Monkey’s Paw,” grief-stricken suburban parents (Academy Award® nominees John Marley of THE GODFATHER and Lynn Carlin of FACES) refuse to accept the news that their son Andy (Richard Backus) has been killed in Vietnam. But when Andy returns home soon after, something may be horribly wrong: Andy is alive and well… or is he? Produced and directed by Bob Clark (BLACK CHRISTMAS) and written by Alan Ormsby (DERANGED), DEATHDREAM was one of the very first films to confront the domestic ravages of the Vietnam War. More than forty years later, it remains one of the most chilling horror films of all time. DEATHDREAM was released under several different titles, including DEAD OF NIGHT, THE NIGHT WALK and THE NIGHT ANDY CAME HOME, and marked the grisly debut of gore effects legend Tom Savini (DAWN OF THE DEAD).

Andy’s parents receive the tragic news that their son Andy has been killed in action during the Vietnam War and then he somehow returns home – but he’s a changed man. Needless to say his parents and sister are in shock at first but they’re all so happy that he’s home instead of questioning why or how this can actually be. His family can tell that something isn’t quite right with Andy but they play it off in the beginning but his sinister actions and motives end up surfacing and it becomes a terrifying nightmare for his family, friends and anyone else he comes in contact with. The young soldier has somehow returned from the dead with a thirst for blood and unfortunately everybody finds out first hand what Andy has ultimately become.

Okay, there was so much cool stuff to like about this 1974 horror movie. First of all, Bob Clark directed it and that was enough to get my attention and I can’t believe that I’d never seen it before. The story was interesting and all of the actors did a great job with their characters. There were some really powerful performances by a few of the actors. The suspense built up as the movie played out as the viewer gets to witness what this young man has actually become and it’s not a pretty sight. Is Deathdream a zombie movie? Well, I guess it could be classified as one but there’s also a supernatural element to it as well. If you’re familiar with “The Momkey’s Paw” you’ll know what I’m talking about. Here this young man returns from the dead to his parents delight but his return comes with some terrifying  consequences.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features some alternate artwork and movie credits so you have your choice of which side you’d like to use for the front cover. Each disc also features some artwork that matches the front covers. Inside is a booklet from Blue Underground that includes more images and artwork from the movie along with some liner notes. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Deathdream has received a brand-new 2K restoration from the 35mm negative. The picture and sound quality for this home video release were really good considering the obscurity of this movie. There was a little grain in some of the darker scenes but it wasn’t anything bad at all. The audio was extremely clear. All in all I’d still say this is a fantastic upgrade for Deathdream.

Bottom line is, Deathdream was another first time watch for me and it ended up being a fantastic horror outing from beginning to end. The story was well crafted because it mashes up the horror genre with casualties of war and Bob Clark did a fantastic job bringing it all to life on screen. One thing is for sure and that’s the fact that Clark was a great storyteller no matter what genre he tackled. There were some intense performances in the movie but what Richard Backus did for his character Andy was down right creepy and unsettling at times. There’s this raw eeriness about this character because he hardly says a word and stays in the shadows a lot of the time but his powerful presence is always felt. This movie also marked the debut of gore effects legend Tom Savini who did a great job with the practical effects (blood, gore and makeup) for this awesome horror movie. Deathdream is now available on a really nice 2-disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set courtesy of Blue Underground. Go get it!

Distributor: Blue Underground

Run Time: 88 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

DVD Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) / Region Free

DVD Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

Special Features: Good Stuff! The extras include two audio commentary tracks, two featurettes, three trailers, an image gallery and more.

  • Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director Bob Clark
  • Audio Commentary #2 with Writer/Make-Up Artist (Uncredited) Alan Ormsby
  • A Recollection With Star Anya Liffey and Writer/Make-Up Artist Alan Ormsby (29:29)
  • Notes For A Homecoming Interview with Composer Carl Zittrer (19:08)
  • Flying Down To Brooksville Interview with Production Manager John Bud Cardos (05:21)
  • Tom Savini: The Early Years (10:00)
  • Deathdreaming Interview with Star Richard Backus (11:43)
  • Alternate Opening Titles (03:28)
  • Theatrical Trailer (03:48)
  • Still Galleries (03:16)
  • Screen Test with Original Andy, Gary Swanson (12:31)
  • Alan Ormsby Student Film (10:12)
  • BONUS Collectable Booklet with new essay by critic Travis Crawford


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One Comment

  1. Rod Coxswell says:

    In watching this film since I DVRed it fromTCM, but after seeing ak the extras, this is a must buy. The movie is excellent, scary, and interesting, and knowing you can get so much more in the extras, I can’t imagine not owning it.

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