Steeped in ‘80s youth culture, David DeCoteau's début feature film, Dreamaniac, takes bits and pieces of all that was popular at the time, particularly heavy metal and the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. With a tagline such as "You don't have to live on Elm Street to have a Nightmare," it is clear that the target audience the film was aiming for was the Freddy crowd. In the same vein, this was a time when heavy metal was at its most popular (and most controversial), so the mixture was a no brainer for any cheap horror film looking to turn a few bucks. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you.
Despite the film's brilliant hybrid title and the promise of a female version of Freddy Krueger, Dreamaniac has very little-to-nothing to do with the dream world. In fact, the only time there is any actual dream sequence would be within the first five minutes where the audience is introduced to Adam (and his ass) and Lilly (re: The Succubus!), the women who Adam has been having sexually driven dreams about. After Lilly puts a kink in Adam's hose by killing him within this opening dream sequence, he wakes up, and this would be about the point where the dream portion of Dreamaniac ends. Maybe it should have been called Awakeiac.
Soon after the opening dream sequence, it is learned that Adam is a professional heavy metal lyrics writer (wait…what?) who is living on his own in a secluded area so he can focus on his work. Oh, and so he can privately focus on his satanic rituals, which he actually uses to bring Lilly out from his dreams and into the real world. To be honest, I'm really not sure why he does this. First off, Adam has a gorgeous girlfriend named Pat (Kim McKamyshe aka Ashlyn Gere!), which is actually a total surprise considering Adam’s style consists of a sleeveless Def leppard t-shirt, gold rimmed glasses, ripped jeans, and short (for a metal guy), blonde feathered hair. You know, the outfit of choice for most any kid who plays Dungeons & Dragons and kills small animals to feed their sexual urges.
Much of the film (well, all) is set in Adam's home, which is being used by Pat's sister to throw a party as a way to get into the good graces of a sorority she is trying to join. The partygoers consist of the usual hipster dweeb, the snotty - but oh-so entertaining - bitch, the lame-o jock, a valley girl, and every other stereotype you can imagine. These would all become the cattle for Dreamaniac's killer, Lilly (Sylvia Summers), as she works her way around the house using her powers of seduction to slay all of its inhabitants. This leads to what is a slew of sexually driven scenes filled with enough male tighty whiteys (and the butts behind them) to have granted a sponsorship from Fruit of the Loom. And with DeCoteau at the helm, it's not a surprise.
While Dreamaniac is filled with some hysterical dialogue (and I mean HYSTERICAL!), terrible music and bad acting, it is a film that tried to be more than just any old cheap ‘80s Slasher film. I've never seen or read anything to support this, but there seems to be a clear Italian influence as far as the film’s style goes. With liberal use of fog, colored gels and stilted camera angles to portray atmosphere, I couldn't help but think that people like Argento, Fulci and possibly Soavi were aesthetically very influential for DeCoteau. Granted, it's not anything to be impressed with, but I commend the attempt at creating a sense of style instead of simply mailing it in.
Released in 1986 by the long defunct and pre-Full Moon distribution company, Wizard Video (which fell under the Empire Pictures umbrella), Dreamaniac is one hell of a good time. Even if it doesn't deliver anything that it promises to, it's worth a watch for any fan of bad cinema looking for a quick chuckle. Furthermore, anyone who is interested in taking a deep look into the inner workings of a heavy metal songwriter will certainly be pleased with this one. Before I sign off, however, I feel I should mention that the VHS box art is simply wonderful, but what really shines most is the pure fact that the crazed looking Clint Howard look-alike is absolutely nowhere to be found in this film whatsoever. Like, not at all. That kind of tells you everything you need to know about Dreamaniac right there.
Who needs the trailer when you can watch the entire film?!