Deathdream (1974) 4K Review
Blue Underground

While Bob Clark’s career was tragically cut short, his impact on genre cinema is undeniable. Black Christmas (1974), Porky’s (1981), and A Christmas Story (1983) have grown into beloved classics that have withstood the test of time. Other films like Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972) and Turk 182 (1985) have amassed solid cult followings over the years. The same can be said for the 1974 horror film Deathdream aka Dead of Night. Blue Underground has released a wonderful 4K edition that’s loaded with special features and a presentation that rivals all previous releases.

Grief-stricken parents, Charles (John Marley) and Christine (Lynn Carlin) Brooks, have trouble dealing after their son Andy (Richard Backus) is killed in Vietnam. Shortly after they get the tragic news, Andy returns home, to the family’s surprise. They, along with his sister Cathy (Anya Ormsby), are overcome with joy and excitement to see he’s alive.

However, Andy isn’t who he used to be. After a string of local murders, they begin to question whether or not he’s who they all want him to be. They’re torn apart in their decisiveness as the bodies quickly pile up, and the truth is hiding just around the corner.

I got sucked into the human element of the story. Something is obviously not right with Andy, and each member of the family sees him differently, which tears them all apart. It’s the reality of what they’re living, and the performances by Marley and Carlin are fantastic. Richard Backus gives a terrifying and complicated performance that continues to haunt audiences five decades later.

It’s a family drama with a horrifying supernatural element that works way better than expected. The ending is satisfying in an unexpected way that leaves one heartbroken.

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This disc delivers a beautiful, brand-new 4K restoration from the 35mm negative that gives it new life. The picture is cleaned up and tweaked just enough to give it a crisp new perspective while preserving the natural grain that allows it to breathe.

The two-disc set is loaded with special features like previously released commentary tracks with Clark and one with writer Alan Ormsby. There’s also a third commentary, which is new, featuring film historians Tony Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. Other features include interviews with various members of the cast and crew, including Alan Ormsby, Anya Liffey, Carl Zittrer, and John Cardos. There’s a feature on Tom Savini’s early years, as well as a screen test and interview with Gary Swanson, who was the original Andy. There are also trailers and a still gallery rounding out the set.

It’s wonderfully balanced overall and a set worthy of Bob Clark’s legacy.

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