The Horror Honeys: Keep telling yourself, it's only a dream

Keep telling yourself, it's only a dream

A Supernatural Honey Review by Suzanne

Bad Dreams (1988)

I'm fascinated by cults. This most likely started as a result of spending the better part of my senior year writing a research paper on Jonestown. The idea that one person could influence so many to follow them, even to the grave, is remarkable.

Bad Dreams came out during the height of 80s horror, but I think it's often overlooked. Hell, I even forgot about so when looking for something "new" to watch, this popped up and I decided to give it another shot.

Unity Field is a group in the mid 70s, led by a man named Harris (Richard Lynch). Harris leads them to believe the only way to achieve true love and peace is through death. After "baptizing" them with gasoline, he set them on fire. Only one young girl survives, Cynthia, and she remains in a coma for thirteen years. When she awakens in a psychiatric hospital, Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) can't remember much. As her therapy progresses, she begins to remember her past and also starts to see the ghost of her former leader. Members of her group start to die off by apparent suicides as Harris' influence spreads from beyond the grave.


The cast is great, starting with Rubin, who did several horror films in the 80s, including NOES 3, which came out the year before Bad Dreams. She's stunning and does a fantastic job of portraying the naivety of someone who woke up as an adult after falling asleep a child, without it being corny. 

Richard Lynch is always creepy, no matter the role and he makes a believable cult leader. The supporting cast of Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator), Dean Cameron (Summer School), Susan Ruttan (L.A. Law) and E.G. Daily (Pee Wee's Big Adventure) far above average. It's a shame most of the actors involved in this film don't act anymore.

As for the gore factor, there is a fair amount of blood and body parts, and the burn makeup on Lynch is really terrifying. The deaths follow a certain 80s formula, but are, for the most part, original. 

There is a twist at the end which turns this into more of an acid trip than a supernatural one, but it's a satisfying one. The moments of intentional humor work to this films advantage, rather than against it.

This isn't exactly the most original or inspired film. It feels vaguely familiar as it borrows aspects from other films of this period, but it's executed so well, you don't necessarily feel like you've already seen it. Bad Dreams is not a nightmare and I totally drank the Kool-Aid.


Supernatural Honey Verdict: 3 psychotropic drugs out of 5