|Welcome to the soldier side
Where there's no one here but me
People all grow up to die
There is no one here but me
- "Soldier Side", System Of A Down
"Deathdream" is a terrific Horror film about a young soldier who is killed in Vietnam and mysteriously comes back to terrorize his hometown. Unfortunately "Deathdream" was made in 1972 when Americans really were getting killed in Vietnam and, although none of them were coming back to terrorize their hometowns, they still would have been more welcome than some crazy ass Horror movie about such a thing. So "Deathdream" was only released in Europe - Probably as a comedy on a double bill with Jerry Lewis' "Which Way To The Front?". Euroscumbags!
"Deathdream" is clearly modeled on "The Monkey's Paw", that old story about the parents who wish their son back from the grave and find themselves stuck with one hell of a lame ending. I have a really funny parody of "The Monkey's Paw" called "The Monkey's Nuts" but we don't have enough space for it here. The next issue of Acid Logic will have an article about everything I like about Steven Spielberg's "War Of The Worlds" so we'll have plenty of room for it then.
This film has also been titled "Dead Of Night", "The Veteran", "The Night Andy Came Home" - Nobody can come up with a decent title for this movie! I've given it some thought and the best thing I've been able to come up with is "Andy Got Killed In 'Nam But Then He Popped Up In His Parent's House And He's All Creepy And He Killed His Daddy's Doggy And LAWD HAVE MUSSY!!". That's too long for a theater marquee but there won't be theaters in a year or two, we'll just rent DVDs and half the fun of those is walking around the store reading the covers of all the stupid things, so the more little words all over 'em the better. Hey, maybe I'll be able to earn a living writing, after all.
Poor Andy! You think James Dean had troubles in "Rebel Without A Cause", Andy here got sent to Vietnam and he got KILLED! Not only did he get killed but now he's back home in HIS PARENT'S HOUSE! The very least the government could do for a kid who gets killed in a war is set him up with a Big Scarey Castle, a Snappy Silk Cape, a Coffin, and a Creepy Little Humpbacked Flunky to call him "Master". Shit, the way things are looking for Andy's dead ass it will be just another day or two until his Dad starts talking about how maybe Andy should start thinking about getting a JOB!!! If there was ever a situation where all that crybaby Springsteen stuff would make a little sense it's that. So, if everybody we send to Iraq comes back as zombie vampires Bruce Springsteen can have all the really big hit records he wants. Until then - Forget it!
This Motherfucking Masterpiece was directed by Bob Clark, probably best known for "Porky's" so it's no surprise he has made something as creepy as "Deathdream". Actually, "Porky's" isn't all that bad if you drink a lot of beer, smoke a ton of pot, and watch one of the better Bill Murray movies instead. Howard Stern is doing a remake of "Porky's" even as we speak. Maybe if we shut up and stop speaking he'll come to his senses and do something else - Like go back to his wife and kids. Hey! You know what other comedy movie Bob Clark made? "A Christmas Story", the one where the kid got his tongue stuck to that pole. Did you know Paul Reubens played the pole? It's true! I thought that movie was the funniest thing I ever saw until I saw it so often it felt like the only thing I ever saw. Hey, am I the only one around here who thinks The Mom in that movie is really hot? Huh? Huh? Aw, you faggots! But Clark got his start with Horror movies - Debuting with "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" and then "Deathdream". I saw a commercial for "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" when I was a kid and didn't stop running up and down the street screaming bloody murder outside my parent's house until a few weeks ago. Has anybody seen that thing? All I know is that it's about a bunch of hippies who go to a cemetary ( You'd think after "Easy Rider" they'd know that cemeteries are a bummer, man!), dig up some poor dead guy's grave for laughs, and all the other dead people are so offended they rise up to blah blah blah . . . Of course they're doing a remake of "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" because after they dug up "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" for laughs all the other old horror movies are so offended they're rising up to blah blah blah . . . There were rumors of a "Deathdream" remake in which a soldier gets killed in Iraq and blah blah blah, but that only went about as far as a movie starring Bill Maher as George W Bush hopping around inside a monkey cage throwing his own feces at people (That would have been a remake of a movie Tommy Smothers made about Richard Nixon that was only released in Europe on a double bill with Jerry Lewis' "The Nutty Commander In Chief". Europoopieheads!).
Richard Backus plays Andy and does such a good job it's too bad he never got another one. I don't know how Backus must feel listening to the commentary tracks on the DVD where Clark and script writer Alan Olmsby spend a lot of time wondering whatever happened to him after "Deathdream" - "I don't think he did anything after this!" "I looked it up and found out he still has an agent." "REALLY!?!" All this despite the presence right there on the very same DVD of a ten minute interview with Backus looking fit as a fiddle and doing a really funny impression of his own performance in the film. Although anybody would look good after you've seen em as a Vietnam veteran zombie vampire. They had to cut a scene of Andy plucking maggots out of his face after it had all the adolescents in the audience running into the restrooms to check their complexions in the mirror.
But The Really Big Star Of This Great Big Sack O' Clams is John Marley as Andy's Old Man. Marley is the old geezer who woke to find a decapitated horse head in his bed just a year earlier in "The Godfather". In "Deathdream" Marley has a scene where he is lying alone in bed in the dark with the lights out, wakes up, and moves around as if something doesn't seem quite right. But instead of any bloody dead horsie parts he finds his crazy wife sitting in his Dead Son's room communing with Andy's Dead Spirit! SHIT! Why wouldn't anybody let John Marley get a goddam decent night's sleep? No wonder the poor bastard is so haggard looking. Even when he wasn't working producers would call him up in the middle of the night just to keep him in shape - "Hello? It's four o'clock in the morning! Who the fuck is this?" "I'm sorry, Mister Marley! It's me, Woody Allen - I just want you to look good and tired for the scene we're gonna shoot next week where I fly a zeppelin through your bedroom window in the middle of the night!" "YOU PAIN IN THE ASS BASTARDS!!! I HAVEN'T HAD A DECENT NIGHT'S SLEEP SINCE THE FUCKIN' FORTIES!!!" Yeah, he's dead nowadays, no doubt about that! But he's got a cool, incredible head of hair for an old guy. That's cause hair only grows when you're awake. It's true! Look it up! Hey, if it's true that your hair keeps growing after you die right now John Marley has a better head of hair than even Warren Beatty in "Mickey One"! Jesus Christ! They oughta dig up John Marley so he could play the dead guy they mess around with in the remake of "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things". If he was so good playing an old guy who gets dragged outta bed in the middle of the night as a dead guy who gets dragged out of the grave he'd be SENSATIONAL! Hey! I just put on AMC and here's My Man Marley as Jane Fonda's Dad in "Cat Ballou"! Whoa! If that don't keep you awake at night you've been listening to your stoner son and his buddies talking about how cemetaries are a bummer, man.
Ho' de phone, Kingfish! Ya know what else I found out about "Deathdream"? It's the very first movie that Tom Savini ever worked on! Yeah yeah yeah, I know that in the old Acid Logic article I wrote about Tom Savini it says "Dawn Of The Dead" was the first movie Savini worked on, but that was in the Old Days when Acid Logic was a hand lettered stapled together mimeographed thing Forbis handed out at ACT UP events, so it's cool.
So rent this movie and I guarantee you will be afraid to go outside of the house for at least a week. Don't worry about returning it to the rental place. Even if you break it or lose it the "Daydream" DVD will somehow make it back to the store to creep out all the other DVDs on time.
Oh, okay, okay . . . Here is a little comedy routine for all of you guys who thought "Porky's" was a really funny movie -
I used to know this lil' gal and she'd let me kiss her and squeeze her and kiss her and squeeze her and kiss her and squeeze her and then I'd put my pecker inside her and fuck her and fuck her and fuck her and fuck her - YEEHAW!!
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - email@example.com