Mike Sargent, staff
If you research “Sleep. Those little slices of death. How I loathe them. – Edgar Allan Poe” the earliest actual source for that quote is Nightmare On Elm St. 3: Dream Warriors (1987), and for the record, Poe probably never actually said that. Newly back from the dead again, Freddy is suicide-inducing teens with bad jokes, claymation, a giant penis that almost devours Patricia Arquette, and a theme song by Dokken. Hopefully they will kill him harder this time.
Strangely-coiffed Christopher Walken and friends are having nightmares about being kidnapped by iconic aliens, plus “little blue ‘fuckers,’” and forced into interpretive dance sex orgies; funny thing is, I never once saw anyone take Communion (1985). And the terrible 80’s guitar virtuoso soundtrack by Eric Clapton was so bad it was never released. True story.
Scientists awaken foil-wrapped health food store owner Woody Allen, a Sleeper (1973) of 200 years, to a post-nuclear war totalitarian police state. Rebellious slapstick ensues.
Nightmares Come At Night (1972) for an exotic dancer whose reality is becoming undone by her tyrant stripper girlfriend as nightmares become waking bloody hallucinations. There’s softcore sexiness, a half-naked couple watching from across the street, and a killer soundtrack.
Psychic Dennis Quaid plays horrible 80s light jazz saxophone and learns he can enter other people’s dreams, even dream-raping the far-too-forgiving love interest. The U.S. president is having nuclear nightmares, devil dogs roam the psychedelic Dreamscape (1984), and Quaid must stop a dream-assassination plot by giant walking snake monster.
A dystopian future has U.S. corporations damming water supplies into Mexico and militarily forcing their policies against Mexican “aqua-terrorists” on the reality show Drones. A young hacker’s homemade electronic receiver gets his father blown up on live TV, so he escapes to Tijuana to find a coyoteck and get himself physically interfaced, allowing him to find work at a so-called Sleep Dealer (2008) factory, where shifts are long, dangerous, and oftentimes workers are given permanent sleep. They interface with robots in America for cheap labor without the necessary immigration. I guess we won’t need that racist wall.
Early German expressionist horror film The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) features an insane hypnotist who sends a somnambulist (aka sleepwalker) to commit atrocities across the bizarre distorted cityscape, with characters representing violent authority and how the average person can be trained to kill. Though it’s high on art, imager,y and ideas, like most silent era features, it’s slow paced, so get really high with added caffeine before viewing, or you’ll likely fall asleep.
I skipped the post-Joseph McCarthy anti-communist Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) for the less political but still pretty good Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), mostly because the original lacks a certain Leonard Nimoyness. Space jellyfish float to earth and grow into beautiful flowers with pods that create duplicate humans when the original sleeps. Watch for Kevin McCarthy’s brief cameo, reprising his street scene in the original: “They’re already here! You’re next!” Don’t fall asleep watching this one…