Director: Rob Bowman, Mark Haber, Brian Henson, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Mike Rober, Mikael Salomon
Genre: Thriller/ Horror/ Fantasy/ Drama
Runtime: 378 minutes
Starring: William Hurt, William H. Macy, Eion Bailey, Ron Livingston, Claire Forlani, Jeremy Sisto, Henry Thomas, Kim Delaney, Steven Weber, Jacqueline McKenzie, Samantha Mathis, Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason, Andy Anderson, Bill Barretta, Jude Beaumont, Portia Bradley, Mitchell Butel, Richard Cawthorne, Michelle Cele, Jennifer Congram, Tyler Coppin, Paul Gleeson, Sara Gleeson, Christopher Kirby, William McNamara, Joe Sagal, Mia Sara, Greta Scacchi, Kristian Schmid
Description: A series of short films, an adaptation of Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Stephen King's collection of short horror stories.
Review: “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” is a series of eight independent stories, by Stephen King. The stories have very diverse themes, which make it a fun experience.
1. Battleground: Jason Renshaw is a cold blooded hitman, who can live in wealth because of that job. The hit on an important toymaker looks like a routine job. This thought changes when he receives a package, right after the kill. The package contains a box with toy soldiers. “Battleground” is a very original story and is adapted to the screen very well. William Hurt is convincing as the very silent hitman and the toy soldiers that come to life look pretty good. Even though the viewer understands what is going on in the movie, it does keep your attention. It’s one of the best stories of this collection.
2. Crouch End: Lonnie Freeman has, together with his wife, an important business meeting in the London neighborhood Crouch End. When a taxi driver tells them it’s not a good idea to visit it, the decide to ignore it. Weird things start to happen as soon as they arrive at Crouch End. “Crouch End” is definitely a story with potential, but the makes of this film don’t succeed completely. The first 25 minutes are pretty exciting. Mysterious messages and weird appearances create a spooky atmosphere and stimulate your curiosity. What follows is not a good and lacks logic and incredibility. With that the special effects are pretty bad.
3. Umney’s Last Case: Clyde Umney is a semi successful detective in 1930s Los Angeles. One day it looks like everything in his life has changed. The blind paperboy is rich all of a sudden and his favorite bar is closed. In his office is a mysterious man that claims he has created the world that Clyde is living in. “Umney’s Last Case” looks like an ode to the classic film-noir. The traditional whiskey drinking and cynical detective, the femme fatale and lots of smoking are all elements that are typical for the genre. But King wouldn’t be King if a story with a traditional character didn’t have a supernatural twist. Sometimes the story is a bit slow, but William H. Macy’s acting and the originality of the story make up for this.
4. The End of the Whole Mess: In this film we get to hear a remarkable story, told by Howard Fornoy. It’s about his brother Robert, who is a genius. From a young age it’s very clear that Robert has a gift. But, as he grows older, Robert never manages to finish school of get a job. He is also tortured by the misery and cruelty of the world. He decides to find a remedy for those problems. Robert succeed to find a cure against aggression, but it has some ugly side effects. “The End of the Whole Mess” is not a ghost story or anything of the supernatural. It’s more about themes like innocence, childhood memories and human nature. The movie is somewhat slow, but the dialogues are solid and has depth.
5. The Road Virus Heads North: Author Richard Kinnell finds a second hand painting, while traveling. The painting has a strange attraction. It was made by a tortured artist, who eventually committed suicide. Richard decided to buy the painting, but soon sees that the image keeps changing. “The Road Virus Heads North” is the scariest story from this collection. A desolate atmosphere, great build-up of tension and some blood spilling may induce the fans of horror or thriller.
6. The Fifth Quarter: Willie Evans has just left prison and is determined to live an honest life. His former cellmate Barney is not successful and has been part of a robbery. When his partners betray him, Barney seeks Willie. Willie has a dilemma: help his friend or keep the promise to his wife? “The Fifth Quarter” is one of my least favorite stories in this collection. It’s nothing more than a simple crime thriller and can be called mediocre. The acting is okay, but the characters don’t have enough depth to make you care about them. Surprising twists and memorable scenes are not present. Not very memorable.
7. Autopsy Room Four: “Autopsy Room Four” depicts one of our greatest fears, without any supernatural elements or gore. The movie follows who has been bitten by a venomous snake and ends up in the hospital. There is a problem: the doctors think he is dead and he isn’t in the hospital but on an autopsy table. He can’t move, but sees and feels everything. All he can do is watch how the coroner’s are preparing for his autopsy. “Autopsy Room Four” is not as threatening as the original story, mainly because of the cynical and funny remarks of the lead character. The computer animated snake is also not a success. I read the story and it’s much better than this adaptation. It’s not a bad film, but with a bit more darkness it could have been better.
8. You Know They Got a Hell of a Band: After taking a wrong turn, Clark and Mary Rivingham end up in a mysterious village called Rock and Roll Heaven. The come to the conclusion that many of the citizens look like dead rock stars. It looks like an homage to the rock heroes we used to love, like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix. Like many times before Stephen King manages to add a supernatural twist. It’s a fun film, but not very special.
Because of the diversity and the many differences between the stories, not all the movies are successful. “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” is a fun series of films.
Rating: 3/ 5