In 1984, just a couple years after his breakout role in "The Right Stuff", a very young Dennis Quaid proved he could carry a fun little thriller called DREAMSCAPE.
Gifted with strong psychic powers, Alex Gardner (Quaid) prefers to waste his talents on the horse track and an endless series of female conquests. Quaid is hilariously charming in the opening scenes, looking more like a skinny version of his brother Randy than I recall.
Soon, Alex is dragged back to University to work with a former friend and Doctor, Paul Novotny, well played by Max Von Sydow (The Exorcist, Minority Report).
Novotny has developed new technology that allows psychics to enter the dreams of others.
Built to cure people's fears or sleep abnormalities, it's not long before shady government contractors come calling, led by Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) as Bob Blair.
Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is Jane, Novotny's right hand person and Eddie Albert is a long way from Green Acres as the President of the United States.
The President is having a lot of nightmares about nuclear war, Blair seems to have a way to enter the President's dreams...what could go wrong?
Quaid has a blast as Alex and the film really hits its stride when it starts popping the viewer into dreams and nightmares right alongside Alex.
Part "Brainstorm" and part "Inception", the movie is a lot better when it focuses on fantasy and sci-fi then when it slips into vain attempts at political intrigue.
David Patrick Kelly (Twin Peaks, The Crow) tears it up as a fellow psychic with a much darker heart than Alex.
The special effects were state of the art in 1984, but look like a Saturday morning cartoon to today's eyes. Still, its a lot of fun in a Ray Harryhausen creature style and the set design holds up.
Co-screenwriter Chuck Russell went on to write "Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" plagiarizing himself to the letter.
It's a really clever concept and Quaid is having so much fun being surrounded by legendary actors Von Sydow & Plummer that its hard not to smile through the quick 99 minute running time.
This seems ripe for a modern take with better special effects!
As it is, DREAMSCAPE is an 80's treat with mild scares, plenty of action, a star turn by Quaid and some nostalgic visuals that come together to earn a B.
How about that snake man!? How was that thing so scary 35 years ago?