A young soldier is killed in Vietnam but surprisingly shows up home alive and well. As the days go by, his family notices that he may not be the same man who left for the war.
Judging a Book by its Cover
-Holy shit, now that’s a poster! It’s so exciting to look at, I can’t wait to see this movie.
-A big, scary house, a killer with sunglasses at night, cleavage, old man with gun, an exploding car. I can’t wait to see this movie!
-This better not be one of those, “It was all a dream!” movies. I’ll let Scrooge get away with that but that’s it.
When Andy came back from the war, he wasn’t the same anymore!
Directed by Bob Clark
Starring John Marley, Lynn Carlin and Richard Backus
The film begins in Vietnam where a pair of young soldiers are lost in a dark forest and come under enemy fire. They manage to dodge mortar shells but are subsequently shot and killed in action. One of the soldiers was Andy (Backus) whose family is home wondering when they’ll see him next. A telegram is delivered with the bad news — Andy won’t be coming home. The family grieves for their loss as Andy’s mother wishes her son weren’t dead.
The family is woken up in the early hours of the morning and find Andy in the living room inexplicably alive and well. Overcome with joy, the family fails to realize that Andy has come home…different. He barely talks. He never eats or drinks. He just sits in a rocking chair in his room only to leave late in the evenings. Andy’s father (Marley) and sister are very worried and try to help him but he resists at every opportunity. Even his overprotective mother (Carlin) makes up stories that she would believe are true just to keep Andy safe; she’ll accept him as he is no matter what so long as he’s home.
Andy also has a violent mean streak in him, starting with the family dog, which he strangles with just one hand. This act sends his father into an alcoholic tailspin as he torments himself regarding what he should do with Andy, knowing that he’s a killer. This puts him at odds with his own wife who will fight to protect Andy from his overbearing father. As Andy goes out into the night, people start disappearing and I think you know where this is going. Not having any himself, Andy takes the blood of others to survive.
He’s not your typical slow-moving, Romero-style ghoul, mind you, Andy is up and about and talking to people. He feeds to sustain himself, of course, but he has to in order to keep from rotting as well. That’s pretty different and a nice twist on the zombie creature. The film isn’t a terribly graphic film, I think the worst part may have been a stabbing scene. We don’t see Andy munching on innards, it’s more psychological to the viewer to imagine it.
I liked the story, a lot, but felt the overall product lacking. Deathdream is more of a slow-moving thriller about the than a straight up horror film; it’s not particularly scary though I will admit to a few tense moments. It starts to drag midway and doesn’t exactly build up to an exciting climax so I can see a lot of people finding the movie dull despite the interesting concept. Here’s another that could do with a remake!
Story: 7 – A soldier killed in action inexplicably finds his way back home but he has to feast on the living. His actions drive his family apart as they don’t know what to do with their boy.
Blood: 4 – Splashes of blood from stabbings are the worst parts, followed by a few already slit necks. The film is more disturbing with it’s content rather than outright graphic.
Nudity: 0 – Nada.
Overall: 5 – I was on board at the beginning but I didn’t realize the film was as melodramatic as it was. Temper your expectations with this one.
-Tom Savini’s first film as a make up artist.
-Christopher Walken was considered for the role of Andy.