Monday, April 2, 2012

"Dreams Are My Speciality" Memorable Dream Sequences On Film (Part II)

Do you enjoy dream sequences on film? They get pretty outlandish, surreal and just plain freaky dont they? I know you guys enjoyed part I of this article, but just in case you missed it, heres a link for it: Dream A Little Dream: Memorable Dream Sequences On Film (Part I) So, just like I promised, here's a couple more Memorable Dream Sequences for your reading enjoyment! Let me know what you think of them, and throw a couple of your favorite dream sequences in as well! Thanks for reading! 

Title: Bad Dreams (1988)

Director: Andrew Fleming

Synopsis: In this film, a young girl is the only survivor of a crazy religious cult called ‘Unity’. The religious leader of this cult teaches his followers that death is but a door, that emptiness is good and other such psychobabble. Well, one day he decides that he is going to burn himself alive and that he is taking all of his followers with him. He tells them they will reunite in the proverbial ‘other side’. Cynthia decides she wants nothing to do with this; she manages to escape just in time to escape the burning flames that engulf the entire congregation! Unfortunately she also ends up in a comma for thirteen years. But now she’s woken up. Is the nightmare over? Or can Harris, the religious leader still exert some sort of power over Cynthia’s subconscious? This one is a bit similar to the Nightmare on Elm Street series (even going as far as starring Jennifer Rubin from Dream Warriors) with a burnt up villain revisiting his victims in their dreams, but it’s got enough original elements to set it apart, and thematically speaking, it’s a bit more serious.

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Cynthia is riding an elevator when suddenly all the lights start flickering, and the elevator starts to go crazy! Suddenly, amongst the people in the elevator Cynthia sees Harris the crazy religious nut, all burnt up and scarred!

Dream Talk: “Our love will never die!”

Title: Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Director: Tim Burton

Synopsis: Some one has stolen Pee Wee’s bicycle and in Pee Wee’s life this is a major disaster. You see, this isnt just any old bike. This bike has many tricks up its sleeve! So naturally, Pee Wee decides to go on a road trip to try and find his special bike. Along the way he makes many new friends and acquaintances, he even gets a girlfriend! Will he ever find his bike? Is it hidden deep within the basement of the Alamo as Madame Ruby the crazy fortune teller suggested? Does the Alamo even have a basement???

Stand Out Dream Sequence: There’s this disturbing dream sequence in which Pee Wee takes his bike to these bicycle doctors who are apparently going to perform major surgery on Pee Wee’s bike, to fix it. Problem is that suddenly the surgeons turn into these evil looking clowns that work for the devil! And they dip Pee Wee’s bike in a cauldron of fire!

Dream Talk:  Simone: “Do you have any dreams Pee Wee?” Pee Wee: “Yeah, I’m all alone, I’m rolling a big donut, and this snake wearing a vest…”

 Title: The Kid (1921)

Director: Charles Chaplin

Synopsis: Charlie Chaplin as ‘The Tramp’ suddenly stumbles upon this abandoned baby whom nobody seems to want, and so he takes him in. The Tramp doesn’t have much, he is poor beyond belief, making a living fixing glass windows, but he takes the baby in anyways. It’s really endearing the way Chaplin cares for the baby even though it isn’t his! The baby soon grows up into a kid, and in order to survive in this cruel world together they work up a scam: the kid breaks the windows, and then The Tramp miraculously shows up to fix them. How long before the police catches on to their scam? How long before the police realizes that The Tramp isn’t really the kids father?

Stand Out Dream Sequence: The Tramp and the kid are living through harsh times, they are really poor, but they are really happy. Still, The Tramp wishes he could give more to the kid, so he dreams up this sequence in which every one is an angel (even the cops!) and The Tramp and the kid fly around town happily, not a tear in sight!

Title: Akira Kurosawa’s Dream’s (1990)

Directors: Akira Kurosawa and Ishiro Honda

Synopsis: This film is made up of various short films, each story is different, they are not interconnected by anything except for the fact that they are all dreams. Some dreams are beautiful, others are scary and horrifying, but all are amazing. All the dreams depicted in the film where written by Kurosawa, but some segments of the film where directed by Ishiro Honda, a director who is better known for having directed Gojira (1954) and many more films in the Godzilla franchise.  

Stand Out Dream Sequence: One dream sequence has a military captain meeting the ghosts of all the soldiers that died under his command. One moment he is walking in front of a tunnel, and suddenly, from inside the darkness of the tunnel all the ghost soldiers come out marching in unison!

Title: Pans Labyrinth (2006)

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Synopsis: Ofelia is a little girl who lives among fascists. Her new step father is a military leader in Franco’s fascist army, during the fascist regime of the 1940’s in Spain! She hates her family life so she escapes into a dream world of her own creation filled with monsters, labyrinths and fairies. In this fantasy world she also meets the Faun, a mythical creature who guides her through her dream world and gives her tasks and instructions she must carry out. This fantasy world helps her deal with the situations that pop up back in the real world where Ofelia has decided to side with the rebels and help their cause. How will this affect her relationship with her fascist step father?

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Ofelia dreams of a table filled with tons of food and delicious dishes but is instructed by the Faun not to eat a thing. At the end of the table, a hideous eye less monster sits, petrified, like a statue. Ofelia sees no danger, so she decides to take some of the food on the table. Unfortunately, as soon as she picks up some food, the eye less monster awakens and quickly snatches up a fairy that was flying around and eats its head! The monsters hunger grows so it now begins to follow Ofelia; presumably to eat her!   

Dream Talk:  “A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamed of the human world. She dreamed of blue skies, soft breeze and sunshine”

Title: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Director: David Lynch

Synopsis: This is a difficult movie to summarize because the story is all sorts of crazy. But basically, this is the story of Laura Palmer, a really messed up girl who loves to do all sorts of crazy things. She snorts coke like a madman; she likes to hang out in the darkest, seediest kinds of pubs with the strangest most sadomasochistic bastards! Why does she have such self destructive behavior? Is she hiding some sort of deep dark secret?

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Laura stares blankly at a picture of a horse in her bed room wall, before we know it, as the camera zooms in on the picture, we enter Laura’s dream land. Laura dreams of this weird long haired dude called ‘Bob’ who sneaks into her room at night and tries to rape her.

Dream Talk: “It was a dream! We live inside a dream!”

Title: Mirrormask (2005)

Director: Dave McKean

Synopsis: Helena can’t take the fact that her mother might soon die from a terminal illness, so she escapes into a dream world of her own creation to deal with this matter. In this dream world there are alternate versions of everything she knows from the real world: her boyfriend, her mother, her father, even her pets. Will she ever learn to accept death as a part of life?

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Like The Wizard of Oz, Pans Labyrinth or Alice in Wonderland, the whole film is one big dream sequence. Various scenes stand out, but my favorite is the one where Helena gets turned into ‘Dark Helena’ by a series of robots that come out of clocks. They dress her up in black garments and make up as they sing a haunting alternate version of Burt Bacharach’s “Close To You” 

Title: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1992)

Director: James Cameron

Synopsis: In the future, the computers became self conscious and decided to blow humanity away with nuclear weapons. But a group of surviving human rebels remain and continue to fight against the machines! One human leads them: John Connor, the leader of the resistance! The robots have devised a way to eliminate John Connor: by traveling back in time and killing him in his childhood. They tried it in the first film and failed, so they try it in the sequel just in case. Various elements make this the best in the franchise: James Cameron was a seasoned veteran by the time he made this one, he had a bigger budget for action and fx, and Arnold was at the peak of his career. Stan Winston and Dennis Muren collaborated in bringing the terminators to life with amazing, ground breaking results. The outcome of this convergence of talent? One of the biggest blockbusters of all time.

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Sarah Connor can only thinks about the dreaded Doomsday; the day when humanity is going to be blown to smithereens by a nuclear holocaust. It’s not easy living with the knowledge of the exact day in which humanity is going to be eradicated. Her nightmares are a thing of horror! One of her nightmares begins with children playing in a park on the out skirts of the city when suddenly, the sky lights up and a nuclear blast turns them into ashes! We see how the blast burns Sarahs flesh clean off and turns her into a skeleton.  

Dream Talk: “You’re the one living in a fucking dream Silberman, because I know when it happens! It happens! ”

 Title: Donnie Darko (2001)

Director: Richard Kelly

Synopsis: Donnie is one messed up teenager. He has existential issues at a very young age. He questions the existence of god. He sleepwalks at night and dreams of a man dressed in a green bunny suit that warns him of the day when the world is going to end. Hell, I’d be messed up having these kinds of dreams as well. Will Donnie ever find out what the bunny is trying to tell him?

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Again, this is one of those films where we can argue that the whole film is one long dream sequence (or not?) but one of my favorite scenes is the one where Donnie falls asleep in a movie theater while watching The Evil Dead and he ends up having a conversation with Frank, the man wearing the bunny suit. Donnie asks the man: “Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?” and the man asks Donnie: “Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?” Then, a black hole forms on the screen of the movie theater! 

Dream Talk: “28 Days, 6 Hours, 42 Minutes, 12 Seconds…that is when the world will end.”

Title: Aliens (1986)

Director: James Cameron

Synopsis: Fifty years after the events of the first film Ripley’s escape vessel has been found wondering aimlessly through space. Ripley’s been sleeping in cryogenic sleep all that time! Now the company wants her to go back to LV-426, a colony that’s stationed on the planet where Ripley first encountered the aliens; apparently they’ve lost contact with the colony. What could probably have gone wrong? Maybe the aliens ate everybody? This time Ripley is ready for these ‘acid for blood’ bastards! She’s got the corps with her and some serious firepower! 

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Just before Ripley awakens from her fifty year old slumber, she has a dreadful dream in which something is pushing out of her stomach! It stretches and stretches her skin, apparently an alien is about to burst out! We soon discover it’s not an alien, its Ripley’s cat!

Dream Talk: “Are we going to sleep all the way home? Can I dream?”

Title: Total Recall (1990)

Director: Paul Veerhoven

Synopsis: Quaid lives a pretty normal life as a construction worker, he has a nice place, a beautiful wife, but he can only think about one thing, going to mars! Since his wife doesn’t want to take the trip he goes to a company called Rekall. Supposedly, the company can sell you fake memories and implant them on to your brain, which you won’t be able to differentiate from real life! Unfortunately, the company has a reputation for messing with peoples minds and giving them brain embolisms! But Quaid is so desperate to see mars that he doesn’t care, so he buys the ticket and takes the ride. But something goes wrong, apparently Quaid isnt Quaid, he’s some douche bag called Houser! The process of messing with Quaid’s brain in order to implant the fake memories has awakened his real persona! And Houser wants his life back! This multi million dollar sci-fi adventure was directed by Robocop (1987) director Paul Veerhoven.   

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Since Quaid only thinks about going to Mars, when he sleeps, he dreams of walking on the surface of Mars with his wife. On this dream, he walks peacefully on Mars’s rocky surface, but he has a misstep and begins to tumble down a mountain of red rock! When he reaches the bottom of the mountain he breaks his helmet with a rock and his face begins to swell up, his eyes bulge and it seems as if his whole head is about to burst!  

Dream Talk: “Your dream began in the middle of the implant procedure and everything that followed, the chases, the trip to mars, the suite at the Hilton was all part of your holiday and ego trip, you paid to be a secret agent”

Title: Labyrinth (1986)

Director: Jim Henson

Synopsis: Sarah is a young girl that takes most things in life for granted. She hates her stepmother, she hates her baby step brother Toby, basically she hates her life. She wishes everything could be like in the fantasy books she’s always reading. One day, when her baby brother was being particularly cruel to her, she says the right magic words that make Jareth, The Goblin King and his goblins appear. They’ve come to take the baby away just like she asked. Of course, she really didn’t mean it, she was just venting steam. But as Jareth tells her “what’s said is said”. Thankfullly, not everything is bad news, The Goblin King gives Sarah a chance! All she has to do is reach the castle at the center of the labyrinth before the clock strikes 13, or her baby brother becomes a gobbling forever! Such a pity… 

Stand Out Dream Sequence: The Goblin King is really secretly in love with Sarah, so he gives her an apple that makes her fall asleep, so that they can meet in her dreams. Sarah ends up dreaming that she’s in a masquerade ball, amongst the dancers is Jareth who whisks her away and dances with her to the tune of David Bowies “As the World Falls Down”.

Dream Talk: “I’ve brought you a gift. It’s a crystal, nothing more. But if you turn it this way, it will show you your dreams”

Title: Invaders from Mars (1986)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Synopsis: Aliens have landed in David Gardner’s own backyard, but no one believes him! Slowly but surely the aliens are taking over his town! Can David convince the army to help him enter the alien spaceship and destroy the invaders? This movie is really fun because it has that feeling of paranoia about it, I’m sure the original 1953 film was made to reflect America’s fear of being wiped out by a nuclear holocaust during the 50’s. Tobe Hooper’s 1986 remake has the same feeling of paranoia, that feeling that you just can’t trust anyone because they’ve all turned into something else. Maybe it’s communism that’s taken over their minds? I kid, I kid. But seriously, this remake is pretty fun stuff. It has awesome make up and monster effects from the one and only Stan Winston. It has a fun vibe going for it and retains that old school sci-fi feel to it. It’s only draw back is the annoying kid they chose as the lead actor, but if you can ignore that, you should have yourself a pretty good time. 

Stand Out Dream Sequence: David Gardener manages to enter the Martians spaceship and encounters the Martians leader who looks like an exposed brain with a face!

Title: Altered States (1980)

Director: Ken Russell

Synopsis: Dr. Eddie Jessup is doing experiments that explore our genetic memory. His theory says that supposedly we have memories of our ancestors in our DNA and that all we need to explore those memories (which can go as far back as the cavemen days!) is the help of mind altering drugs. Basically he takes a heavy dose of hallucinogenic drugs and locks himself inside of a sensory depravation chamber where his body floats on water in the dark. While in the sense depravation chamber, he tries to reconnect with his previous lives. Is Dr. Jessup simply going nuts? Is he tripping on the drugs? Or is there any validity to his research? I love this film because it gets really existential. It explores those big questions and asks even bigger ones! A film that explores such deep themes doesn’t surprise me coming from Paddy Chayevsky, one of my favorite screenwriters. Chayevsky was never afraid to ask big scary questions in his films, a true thinker!  

Stand Out Dream Sequence: This being a Ken Russell film, what else can you expect but crazy messed up dream sequences? I can’t even start to explain the dream sequences on this film because they are surreal to the extreme, but I’ll leave it at this: you’ll see Jesus Christ with a goat head that has six eyes! How’s that for a whacked out dream sequence?

Dream Talk: “You saved me; you redeemed me from the pit. I was in it Emily. I was in that ultimate moment of terror that is the beginning of life. It is nothing, simple, hideous nothing. The final truth of all things is that there is no truth. Truth is transitory; it’s human life that is real”

Title: City of Lost Children (1995)

Director: Jean Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro

Synopsis: Krank is a scientist who cannot dream, so what does he do? He steals dreams! From children no less! He gets a hold of these children through a religious cult composed entirely of Cyclops! In order to belong to this cult, you have to loose your own eye sight so that you can see the way the Cyclops see. Now the Cyclops have kidnapped Dunree, One’s baby brother. One, the hero of this film, must begin a journey with his new friend Miette to rescue Dunree from the clutches of the Cyclops and ultimately Krank himself. Krank wants Dunree and all of the children of the city for himself, so he can steal their dreams!

Stand Out Dream Sequence: The film opens with a child in a play pen, it’s Christmas time and so the house is decorated with all sorts of Christmas ornaments. Suddenly, from the chimney Santa Claus appears! But this isn’t the merry old fat man, this Santa Claus is skinny and scary looking! Suddenly, the whole room is inundated with many more scary looking Santa Clauses! Even Santa’s Reindeer show up to take a dump on the floor as the little baby in the play pen cries in horror!

Dream Talk: “Who stole the child’s dreams? Krank, in his evil schemes”

 Title: Phantasm (1979)

Director: Don Coscarelli

Synopsis: A young boy named Mike looses his parents in an accident and is having a hard time coping with death. He now lives with his older brother, whom he worships. At the same time, Mike notices that the undertaker at the local cemetery is one mysterious dude. He can lift coffins on his own! At the same time, corpses are disappearing from their graves! Did the old man just swipe Mike’s parent’s bodies to use them for some ulterior motive? Just what the hell is going on in Morning Side Cemetery?  

Stand Out Dream Sequence: Mike is sleeping on his bed, slowly, the camera pans back and we see Mikes bed is actually in the middle of a dark forest. Behind the bed, the mysterious ‘Tall Man’ watches over Mike as he sleeps. Suddenly, without a warning two zombies come out of the ground and grab Mike as he screams uncontrollably! 


Jack Thursby said...

If you're feeling philosophical you could say that almost all of the Phantasm movies are one long dream.

Franco Macabro said...

They certainly feel that way Jack! Coscarelli apparently wanted that vibe for the whole series, and I think we could safely say he achieved it! Still, I think you could deferentiate when Mike is dreaming, and when things are really happening.

For example, the first films ending, with the Tall Man breaking out of the mirror, that had to be a dream because Mike later re-appears in part II.

I think what the films do is play a game of ping-pong between dreams and reality, I love these films for precisely that, you're never really quite sure what the hell is going on.

Part IV is good too, Phans of the series really finally get some answers!

Jack Thursby said...

Yeah, I watched them all back to back a year ago so my memory is a bit hazy. But I remember Part 4 ended on a very cool scene Mike and Reggie driving in the ice cream talking and it finishes on the line - "Nothing, it was just the wind".

I took that to mean that the scene wasn't a flashback but rather the point where Mike wakes up from his day dream. The whole series was one long bizarre day dream by a 10 year old kid trying to get over his brother's death. The Tall Man was nothing more than the Mike's imagination trying to process the concept of death. Rather than accept the truth he retreated into this fantastic fiction.

What I love about the series is that Coscarelli paints everything so elliptically that you can probably draw any theory you want out of the films. That's mine but others are equally valid too.

Franco Macabro said...

Agree with you man, I love how part four includes all those deleted scenes from the first Phantasm that Coscarelli unearthed from the vaults, it was a great ending to the whole thing.

I like your take on the movie, that certainly is one way of looking at it. Coscarelli gives you little things that you could interpret in your own way, really it could go either way. It could be a dream, or it could also be that the Tall Man really is an alien being coming to earth to steal our dead and conquer our planet, town by town, cemetary by cemetary.

I love that scene in part four where Mike travels to an alternate future in which The Tall Man walks through tempty city streets as a news paper flies by with a headline that says something about a Plague taking over the earth; which apparently is what The Tall Man was going to use to erradicate the human race.

A part V was going to have Reggie and Mike enter the tall mans kingdom after his destroyed all of humanity...but that film never came to be sadly.

Jack Thursby said...

Absolutely, considering part 4 was mostly outtakes from the original and had a budget of half a million it made a pleasing (and fitting) ending to the series.

That said I would love to see a part 5 - Coscarelli created such a rich and vivid world with the Phantasm series.

Hoping his latest "John Dies at the End" does well. I'm half way through reading the book. There's a lot of similarities with characters slipping in and out of imagined scenarios.

Franco Macabro said...

I admire Coscarelli a lot, specially when we consider how he makes most of his films with such low budgets! The highest he ever went was Phantasm II, and it shows, to me its the best in the series. It has the most polished look and the best effects.

I'm looking forward to seeing John Dies at the End, Coscarelli is one of my favorite horror directors.

SFF said...

You are indeed prolific my friend and this one is exceptional as always.

Franco Macabro said...

Glad you enjoyed SFF!


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