Beyond Dream’s Door, Death Line, and Scream Baby Scream

Beyond Dream’s Door – 1989, US, 80m. Director: Jay Woelfel. Streaming: Shudder, Tubi

Death Line – 1972, UK, 87m. Director: Gary Sherman. Streaming: Prime

Scream Baby Scream – 1969, US, 82m. Director: Jospeh Adler. Streaming: Prime

BEYOND DREAM’S DOOR (1989) This spirited zero-budget effort was apparently made by film students from Ohio State University. A clever concept, but unfortunately the results do not make the grade—an unfocused pastiche of Lovecraftian surrealism and Freddy Krueger gore. Psych student Ben (Nick Baldasare) begins having reoccurring dreams about a sinewy creature and partakes in a school sleep study in the hopes of understanding his nightmares. This proves useless, especially when Ben’s gun-carrying professor (Norm Singer) begins seeing the creature in reality in the form of a small boy. The monster can also look like a seductress who enjoys baring her breasts whenever its convenient. She, along with the child character, are eventually dropped. Other elements start to seep out of Ben’s dreams and effect whomever they come into contact with, including a man who’s face is shredded into a bloody pulp by the monster. None of this makes any sense, with a majority of the story seemingly borrowed from A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Slayer, and other Dream vs. Reality horror movies of the eighties. By the end, Beyond Dream’s Door is nothing more than an interesting idea wrapped in lackluster execution. C

DEATH LINE (1972) (AKA Raw Meat) The disappearance of a government official within London’s underground train system sparks an inquiry at Scotland Yard. Headed by Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasance), the investigation leads to other missing persons last seen in or around the same train station. Calhoun’s colleague mentions a legend surrounding the old Victorian rail line, in which an explosion during construction in the late 1800s left people trapped underground—over time the survivors formed a society of diseased, cannibalistic madmen. This urban tale is half right in the form of a sole underground, cannibalistic madman (Hugh Armstrong) who goes on a killing spree after his pockmarked “wife” expires from a form of septicemia in their subterranean lair. Death Line has all of the hallmarks of an early British splatter film, but it’s also intelligently written and superbly directed by Gary Sherman (Dead & Buried), with an almost overwhelming atmosphere of dread. It predates The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with its “meat movie” elements and its sequences of violence are still quite shocking. Christopher Lee’s cameo as an arrogant MI-5 agent is amusing. This is not to be missed. B+

SCREAM BABY SCREAM (1969) Several students studying the works of notorious artist Charles Butler become victim to a ghoulish killer who enjoys surgically disfiguring the faces of his “models” for inspiration for his paintings. Could there be a connection between the mysterious Butler (Larry Swanson) and the murders? The art students are the usual late sixties hippies—there’s even one of those drawn out sequences where our protagonists walk around in a drug-induced state after dropping acid—with no redeeming values aside from producing insipid chit-chat. One of the students—a jerk named Jason (Ross Harris) who’s more talented at having sex without removing his pants than he is using a paint brush—thinks his girlfriend is the latest victim of the model slasher, but the police suspect Jason for her disappearance for specious reasons typically found in these dumb movies. In the end the slasher’s artistic imperative is overcome and his own face is rearranged. The surprise ending rips-off Freaks. Watch that, skip this. D

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