Adam is an occult fanatic with dreams of being a successful heavy metal musician. But he’s also the type of guy who wants quick success without having to put in any of the work. So he finds a demonic spell-book, says a quick prayer to the dark lord, and from that somehow miraculously manages to summon himself a succubus. The demon promises him fame in exchange for a chance to feed, and for his servitude. Adam agrees, and as luck would have it, her arrival couldn’t have been timed any better. Adam’s girlfriend and her sister are busy setting up a party downstairs for some of the local frat and sorority members, so she’s practically got a smorgasbord of easily sub-doable drunkards to fill up on.
Here’s one now! And he ain’t even drunk yet!
You know, it’s not often where you can tell a movie’s not going to be very good before it even starts, but Dreamaniac is one of those rare exceptions. How can you tell? Because before the movie even begins you have to sit through over two and a half minutes of bleak, desolate, opening credits set over a plain, black background and crappy synth-metal music. Sadly, the slow slog of the credits sets the glacial pace for the rest of the sluggishly dull movie. But on the bright side it does also give you time to silently curse all the names related to the lousy film you’re about to witness. Chief among those names being director David DeCouteau. Dreamanic would be the first time DeCouteau would work with producer Charles Band at his production company Empire Pictures, and he would eventually join Band again at both Empire and then later when he moved to Full Moon Entertainment, where he directed more than 30 movies for Band, including things like Witchouse and some of the Puppetmaster films. He has also directed a slew of other crap-tastically cheesy horror films over the years under a variety of pseudonyms. But before Dreamaniac, DeCouteau’s only directing work had been on gay porn films with titles like Fleshtones, Making it Huge, and Boys Just Want to Have Sex. So it perhaps shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there happens to be quite a bit of nudity in this particular film, but for a lot of skin fans it likely won’t be the kind of nudity that they were hoping for.
The film’s opening is a promising begining for all the gore and flesh fans, starting out with a naked dude walking down a hallway in a hazy dreamscape and then making out with an equally naked (and blood drenched) lady who slithers her way out of a bloody bathtub. But that one lady is going to be all of the eye candy the heterosexual males are going to get out of this film. The movie initially had a lot more nudity planned for it, but after filming had already started most of the women outright rejected the nudity requirement. Most of the men, however, didn’t seem to have a problem with it, and since they’d already started filming, the director just decided to roll with it. So as a result, the movie is filled with an unusually large number of naked male backsides, and has a lot of guys walking around with their tighty-whities on full display. There’s so many instances of man-butt in your face that after one of Band’s colleagues at Empire Pictures first watched the film he outright called DeCouteau to ask him if he was gay. Which he is, but that’s also a rude AF thing to do, and I’m just going to take the reports at their word that this was supposed to an equal-opportunity exploitative horror, and file this one under “Unintentionally Intentional Gay Horror Films” along with it’s buddy Nightmare on Elm Street 2.
But much like that second Nightmare outing, that one questionable visual quirk is really the only thing of note that Dreamaniac has going for it. Because really, the rest of the film is just…. well, rather inept, honestly. The movie initially cons the viewer into thinking they’re going to have some fun with a sexy, human eating succubus. And while the premise of a demon in and of itself isn’t all that unique, the idea of an evil succubus on the loose is still enticing enough to keep you intrigued, even if the film quality and framing are so bad that it often looks like the filmmakers are trying to trick you into watching an honest to god snuff film. But then the movie quickly switches gears and turns into a lame excuse for a horror movie to have a lot of kids throw a party. Yes, less than twenty minutes in and your promise of a demon movie has suddenly turned into yet another low-key party movie featuring a bunch of backstabbing yuppies. So you get to spend the next twenty minutes or so watching all these boring and annoying characters, most of them with irredeemable personalities, sit around and try to out-snark each other. Oh, and gross you out by drinking straight out of punch bowls. Cause they do that too. That was actually the one death I thought the demon was justified in taking. The point is though, that your demon film suddenly turns into an uneventful party slasher, and a slow-moving mundane one to boot. And if that wasn’t enough to piss you off, at the end it switches gears yet again just so it can force you to watch one of the lamest, cringiest endings I think I’ve ever been subjected to. The movie tries for not just one, not two, but THREE ending twists in quick succession, and they’re all so increasingly bad that by the end you’ll be on the floor trying to tap out and begging for mercy.
No! No more stupidity! Please! I beg you!
That said, the film isn’t all bad if you have a sense of humor about odd films like this, and there are actually a couple of genuinely entertaining bits. For instance, as irritating as it is to realize you’ve been conned into watching yet another party slasher, listening to some of the bitchy-er characters try to out-sass one another is rather amusing, so at least they got some parts of the dialogue right, even if most of the acting needed a whole bunch of work. And a lot of the character’s deaths are wildly entertaining, even if some of them are entertaining for the wrong reasons. Sure, the movie’s packed with a whole lot of blood and one guy literally gets his head drilled off in a blaze of bloody glory (cool), but then you also have deaths where a guy is wrapped up in an electrical cord and dies once the demon plugs it in, and the film expects you to accept this outcome without question, despite the fact that that’s not how coated electrical cords actually function. Or how about the time the one gal gets stabbed in the head…at least I think it’s the head? Well, she’s bleeding from the head even though you can’t see a knife in it, so I guess it’s the head. But the film’s editing is so bad that you can’t tell exactly what happened, and then the movie immediately cuts away to Adam’s girlfriend saying “What happened to that girl?” No idea, toots. I’m about as lost concerning this movie’s plot as you are, and you’re actually in it.
Oh, and one gal just up and throws up on her cheating boyfriend and the queen bee bitch when she finds them both in bed together. Let it not be said that this film doesn’t have a sense of humor about itself.
I do question why they had a power drill that big in the kitchen though…
Look, I’m not going to say this film is good, because it’s not. Even the film’s director called it a “piece of crap” and who am I to try to contradict him? But I will say that Dreamaniac is an entertaining film to watch, especially if you need something quirky to make fun of. The acting isn’t any good, the camera work, framing and cinematography are downright awful, and the story gets less and less coherent the longer it goes on. And then the ending rears it’s ugly head and just outright insults you with its ineptitude. This is basically a movie begging to be mocked. But it also managed to have some fun parts, even if most of them were likely unintentional. So if you need something stupid to make fun of while you get drunk during movie night, then Dreamaniac could be a good contender. But if you’re looking for a horror movie that isn’t going to insult your intelligence, or the intelligence of your dog, then look elsewhere.
Dreamaniac is available on a variety of streaming services.
Dreamaniac is also available on DVD.
2 thoughts on “Dreamaniac (1986)”
Great post as always! The poster confuses me. At first glance I thought it was baby but, it’s not right? It’s a bald, angry lady coming through the wall, holding a knife? This movie sounds terrible but I would like to be on the same page here about the poster.
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Oh gods yes. The poster is awful and ridiculously confusing. From the looks of it I initially thought it was going to be some kind of Nightmare on Elm Street rip-off, so you can just imagine my disappointment there. And to make it worse, not only is there is no angry bald lady in the movie, but there’s also no busting through walls with a kitchen knife either. So it’s just filled with lies all around. There is a couple in bed I will concede, so at least that’s accurate. I assume that image was inspired by the cheating pair right before the drunk girlfriend comes in, stares at them blankly for a moment, and then hurls all over them.
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