All posts by Arnold T. Blumberg

Deathdream (1974)

THE PATIENTS

Director: Bob Clark
Writer: Alan Ormsby
Starring: Richard Backus, John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Anya Ormsby, Jane Daly, Mal Jones, Henderson Forsythe

THE PATHOLOGY

Can a mother’s love surmount the barrier between life and death? Christine Brooks (Lynn carlin) wishes her son Andy (Richard Backus), a soldier in Vietnam, would return home, and lo and behold he does. But Andy isn’t the pleasant, gregarious soul he was before the war. He stays alone in his room; he doesn’t eat or drink. He has an accelerating skin condition that he only just manages to hide from the others. Oh, and he has a thirst for human blood, the only thing that can arrest the decay that seems to be consuming him. The war has done something to Andy, something that can’t be undone. A mother’s love may not be enough to keep him from an overdue date with destiny and the cold, dark embrace of an overdue grave…

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THE PROGNOSIS

In the old days of late-night viewings and VHS rental shops, you may have encountered this film as any of the following: DEAD OF NIGHT, THE NIGHT ANDY CAME HOME, NIGHT WALK, and so on. These days, we’ve all settled on DEATHDREAM, and with this latest stunning release by the good folks at Blue Underground, the film – no matter what its title – should enjoy its rightful place in the annals of zombie and horror cinema as a watershed moment in the development of practical makeup effects as well as a deeply meaningful commentary on America’s problematic relationship with its own combat-scarred veterans.

Basically an extended riff on W.W. Jacobs’ classic 1902 short story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” DEATHDREAM is a far more effective chiller than its simple origins suggest. Not only is it a none-too-subtle commentary on the punishing psychological damage of war and the empty life that many Vietnam vets faced when returning home, but it’s also a very well-acted, eerie horror movie regardless of its strong socio-political statements. Andy (a tour de force performance by Backus) spends most of the film in a near-catatonic state, sleepwalking through a parody of his former life, presumably sustained in his present form only by the fervent wishes of his mother. When he does emerge long enough to exhibit any emotion, it’s a highlight of the film, from his slow burn as the mailman natters on (a delightfully annoying turn by Arthur Anderson), forcing him to explode in anger, to his delightfully sardonic repartee when responding to Bob (Michael Mazes) during the double date.

Everyone changes eventually.

There’s a barren quality to the film that echoes Andy’s own state of mind, as well as a great score by Carl Zittrer enhanced by a seething, goblin-like voice that whispers Andy’s name and a motif that sounds like a piano string being scraped, all of which add to the overwhelming sense of tension in the film. You can’t help but feel your skin crawl as the poor guy succumbs to his vampiric (yes, I admit that) Bathory- and MARTIN-esque hunger for blood. While Andy struggles with what he has become, only revealing the true depth of his turmoil in a few choice moments, like his brief conversation with the doomed Dr. Allman (Henderson Forsythe), his family barely holds their own fear and anger in check, and there are obviously plenty of issues that were there long before a re-animated Andy came home, especially between Andy and his father (John Marley, who will always be remembered as the foolish Hollywood producer, Jack Woltz, who dared to stand up to Don Vito Corleone at the beginning of the first GODFATHER and had the head of his prized horse put in his bed to teach him a lesson. Fun story: Marley thought this movie was about his character and not Andy!).

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For students of the zombie genre’s history that haven’t yet experienced DEATHDREAM, the film has some eye-opening connections to past and future horrors, such as POV shots of a house that look quite similar to those in John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN; you know, the movie that bore the familiar tagline, “The Night He Came Home?” Hmm. As Andy begins to exhibit more overt physical signs of decay, the film takes a drastic turn into the truly macabre, with a final undead look that rivals PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES for “Eeriest Zombie Face Ever.” While script writer Alan Ormsby (CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, SHOCK WAVES) also oversaw the makeup effects, he did bring in a young man named Tom Savini to assist, thus launching Savini on a legendary career in horror that would also shape the success of several other films we all know very well indeed. And if you want an amusing non-horror link, Andy’s mailman says “I’ll just be double dog damned,” a phrase we all know well from annual marathon of director Bob Clark’s holiday classic, A CHRISTMAS STORY.

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Clark’s untimely death in 2007 put at least a temporary end to then-developing plans for a remake, but perhaps one day we’ll see a 21st century take on this story. In the meantime, the original is itself timeless in its scathing treatment of the ways in which we callously discard those that gave everything to safeguard our freedom, including an obvious drug addiction metaphor complete with “tripping” sequence. Keep your eyes peeled for Clark and Ormsby in cameos as a cop and a bystander, while CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS co-star (and A CHRISTMAS STORY Santa) Jeff Gillen pops up as a bartender.

Everything’s fine, Bob!

If the film’s final moments don’t creep you out completely and fill you with an overwhelming sense of pathos, then you’re one of the walking dead yourself. And whether living, dead, undead, or anything in between, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this definitive release of DEATHDREAM from Blue Underground, which improves dramatically on their already great previous release, and includes so many satisfying commentaries, interviews, and behind-the-scenes extras that offer a complete retrospective on this too-long-overlooked film.

RATING

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HELP US BY ORDERING THE MOVIE VIA THIS LINK!

102: The Resident Evil Film Franchise, or “The Hive and Back Again: An Alice’s Tale” Plus: Syfy’s Channel Zero

Arnold and Natalie finally get around to RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER and tear into that film and its five predecessors like a pack of rabid T-Virus zombies seeking the soft flesh and viscera of the living. Following their rapidly-edited, shaky-cam takedown of that film franchise, they explain why they won’t be watching the rest of Syfy’s CHANNEL ZERO: THE NO-END HOUSE after the second episode. It’s our first new DOCTOR OF THE DEAD podcast of 2018 – Happy New Year!

Show Music: “Rage” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto.

Write to the Doctor at doctorofthedead@yahoo.com or leave a comment on the G2V Facebook page!

Subscribe to the show (and rate and review it too)!

On Twitter, find the Doctor at @DoctoroftheDead and Natalie at @nblitofsky!

SHOW LINKS:

THE DOCTOR OF THE DEAD’S JOURNEY OF THE LIVING DEAD AMAZON WISHLIST
(Help out the project and you’ll be acknowledged in the book!)

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – Arnold’s Epic Review of the RESIDENT EVIL Film Series (Soon to be updated!)

101: Z Nation The Final Five Episodes of Season 4 Plus: A Round-Up of Xmas Horror Movies

Arnold and Natalie see out 2017 with a look at the final five episodes of Z NATION Season 4 (as well as an important shout-out to the strange shift in the show’s social media presence), and then sit through a marathon of Xmas-themed horror movies (affiliate links below if you want to help out the podcast) as well as something Arnold defines as the “Second Coming of Horror!” Happy holidays to everyone listening, and we hope you’ll join us next year for many more zombie-laden episodes of the DOCTOR OF THE DEAD podcast!

Show Music: “Rage” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto.

Write to the Doctor at doctorofthedead@yahoo.com or leave a comment on the G2V Facebook page!

Subscribe to the show (and rate and review it too)!

On Twitter, find the Doctor at @DoctoroftheDead and Natalie at @nblitofsky!

XMAS HORROR MOVIES COVERED IN THIS EPISODE:

100: The 100 Zombie Movies You Need to See

100! This epic-length landmark episode provides the list that YOU and many other listeners demanded! Listen as Arnold and Natalie take on the Herculean task of talking about 100 zombie movies you need to see, covering the entire history of the genre with sections covering everything from all-out gorefests to Voodoo-themed chillers to romantic romps. There’s something for every kind of zombie fan, and maybe a few things that you’ll want to seek out and see for yourself, as we celebrate 100 episodes of the DOCTOR OF THE DEAD podcast!

…And see below for two lists: All the previous episodes of the show that delved more into some of the films we only mention briefly here as well as three feature-length audio commentaries, and an EPIC list of Amazon affiliate links to as many of the 100 films as we could find that are readily available. If you click through to get any of them, you’re helping to support this podcast too!

Show Music: “Rage” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto.

Write to the Doctor at doctorofthedead@yahoo.com or leave a comment on the G2V Facebook page!

Subscribe to the show (and rate and review it too)!

On Twitter, find the Doctor at @DoctoroftheDead and Natalie at @nblitofsky!

SHOW LINKS (SEE FURTHER BELOW FOR OUR AMAZON AFFILIATE LINKS AFTER THE LINKS TO PAST EPISODES!):

Past DOCTOR OF THE DEAD and G2V episodes covering films in our list of 100 zombie movies:

THE G2V PODCAST EPISODE 1: EVIL DEAD PART 1 (the entire franchise plus the remake)

THE G2V PODCAST EPISODE 2: EVIL DEAD PART 2

EPISODE 8: ITALIAN ZOMBI MOVIES (LAST MAN ON EARTH, ZOMBI 2, BURIAL GROUND, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE BEYOND, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, and NIGHTMARE CITY)

EPISODE 47: [REC] 3

EPISODE 68: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

EPISODE 70: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES

EPISODE 78: DAWN OF THE DEAD

EPISODE 80: ZOMBIE (ZOMBI 2)

EPISODE 85: DAY OF THE DEAD PLUS 1985 “YEAR OF THE ZOMBIE” FILMS (RE-ANIMATOR, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, more)

EPISODE 89: THE OMEGA MAN

EPISODE 90: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 1990

EPISODE 93: ZOMBIELAND and COOTIES

EPISODE 94: 28 DAYS LATER and LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE

EPISODE 96: NIGHTMARE CITY

EPISODE 97: JUAN OF THE DEAD and SHAUN OF THE DEAD

EPISODE 98: WARM BODIES and DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004

Feature-length audio commentaries:

VOICES IN THE DARK: Last Man on Earth (1964) Audio Commentary Track

VOICES IN THE DARK: The Evil Dead (1981) Audio Commentary Track

VOICES IN THE DARK: Burial Ground – The Nights of Terror (1981) Audio Commentary Track

AMAZON AFFILIATE LINKS TO MANY (NOT ALL) OF THE 100 MOVIES – GET THEM VIA THIS LIST AND SUPPORT OUR SHOW!

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Criterion)

DAY OF THE DEAD (Scream Factory)

LAND OF THE DEAD (Scream Factory)

DIARY OF THE DEAD (Dimension Extreme)

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (Magnolia)

FLESH EATER (Shriek Show)

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (Scream Factory)

ZOMBI 2 (Shriek Show)

CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (VCI)

DEAD & BURIED (Blue Underground)

DEATHDREAM (Blue Underground)

I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (Amazon Video Streaming)

ISLE OF THE SNAKE PEOPLE (Retromedia)

KING OF THE ZOMBIES (Sinister Cinema)

THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (Scream Factory)

WHITE ZOMBIE (VCI)

ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY (Warner Brothers)

CABIN IN THE WOODS (Lionsgate)

CREEPSHOW (Warner Brothers)

FREAKS OF NATURE (Sony)

HELL’S GROUND (TLA Releasing)

PHANTASM (Remastered; Well Go)

TRICK ‘R TREAT (Warner Brothers)

28 DAYS LATER (Fox Searchlight)

DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004 (Universal)

EVIL DEAD 2013 (Sony)

KILL ZOMBIE! (Well Go)

LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONSTERS (Indican)

NIGHT OF THE COMET (Scream Factory)

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 1990 (Imports)

PRIDE + PREJUDICE + ZOMBIES (Sony)

[•REC 3] (Sony)

RESIDENT EVIL (Sony)

UNDEAD (Lionsgate)

WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD (Scream Factory)

ZOMBIELAND (Sony)

THE BEYOND (Grindhouse Releasing)

BURIAL GROUND (Severin)

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (Blue Underground)

HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (Blue Underground)

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (Blue Underground)

NIGHTMARE CITY (Kino Lorber)

ZOMBI 3 (Shriek Show)

ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (Severin)

CEMETERY MAN (Anchor Bay)

GRAPES OF DEATH (Redemption)

THE LIVING DEAD GIRL (Kino Lorber)

OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (Redemption)

ZOMBIE LAKE (Redemption)

JUAN OF THE DEAD (Entertainment One)

LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (Blue Underground)

[•REC] (Sony)

TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (Blue Underground)

BIO ZOMBIE (Tokyo Shock)

STACY (Synapse)

TRAIN TO BUSAN (Well Go)
SEOUL STATION (FilmRise)

VERSUS (Tokyo Shock)

WILD ZERO (Synapse)

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (Legend Films)

THE OMEGA MAN (Warner Brothers)

I AM LEGEND (Warner Brothers)

28 WEEKS LATER (20th Century Fox)

COOTIES (Lionsgate)

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (Lionsgate)

WICKED LITTLE THINGS (Lionsgate)

THE FOG (Scream Factory)

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL (Disney)

ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU (Sony)

INVISIBLE INVADERS (Kino Lorber)

PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (Legend Films)

DEAD SNOW (MPI)

SHOCK WAVES (Blue Underground)

ARMY OF DARKNESS (Universal)

EVIL DEAD 1 and 2 (Lionsgate)

BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (Arrow)

LIFE AFTER BETH (Lionsgate)

PONTYPOOL (MPI)

RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD (The Collective)

THE RETURNED (Amazon Video Streaming)

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 (Lionsgate)

SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (Paramount)

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (Universal)

WARM BODIES (Summit)

BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (Lionsgate)

DEAD ALIVE or BRAINDEAD (Lionsgate)

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 6: JASON LIVES (Paramount)

RE-ANIMATOR (Image)

ZOMBIE STRIPPERS (Sony)

APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD (Naedomi Media)

GERM Z (Naedomi Media)

HOUSE OF THE DEAD (Lionsgate)

THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES (Guilty Pleasures)

THE REZORT (Amazon Video Streaming)

RISE OF THE ZOMBIES (Asylum)

VIRAL (Anchor Bay)

2012: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (Asylum)

WORLD WAR Z (Paramount)

TH-TH-THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!

99: Z Nation S04E07 and S04E08 Plus: Silent Hill

Arnold and Natalie catch up with the Z NATION team and talk about two episodes of the show’s fourth season, “Warren’s Wedding” and “Crisis of Faith.” But after some time spent with Zuggalos and zombie nuns, things get really weird as they wander into the otherworldly town of… SILENT HILL (2006)! The air raid siren is blaring, which means it’s time to get to the church and huddle together to listen to the latest episode of the DOCTOR OF THE DEAD podcast!

Show Music: “Rage” (feat. Vosmoy) by Still Pluto.

Write to the Doctor at doctorofthedead@yahoo.com or leave a comment on the G2V Facebook page!

Subscribe to the show (and rate and review it too)!

On Twitter, find the Doctor at @DoctoroftheDead and Natalie at @nblitofsky!