Deathdream film poster in release as Dead of Night
|Directed by||Bob Clark|
|Produced by||Bob Clark|
|Written by||Alan Ormsby|
|Music by||Carl Zittrer|
|Edited by||Ronald Sinclair|
|Distributed by||Quadrant Films|
In Vietnam, US soldier Andy Brooks is shot by a sniper and falls to the ground. As he dies, he hears his mother's voice calling out, "Andy, you'll come back. You've got to. You promised." The voice becomes sinister and muffled as Andy's eyes close. Sometime later, his family receives notice of his death in combat.
Back home, Andy's father, Charles, and sister, Cathy, begin to grieve, but his mother, Christine, becomes irate and refuses to believe that Andy has died. Hours later, in the middle of the night, Andy arrives at the front door in full uniform and apparently unharmed; the family accepts the notice of his death as a clerical error and welcomes him back with joy.
Over the next few days, Andy displays strange and erratic behavior, dressing in an unusually concealing manner and spending his days sitting around the house listless and anemic. Meanwhile, local police investigate the murder of a local trucker, who was found with his throat slashed and his body drained of blood after telling diner patrons that he'd picked up a hitchhiking soldier.
Charles attempts to confront Christine about Andy's erratic behavior, which causes tension between the couple. Christine insists that Charles was too withdrawn and authoritarian toward Andy; Charles counters that Christine made Andy too sensitive by smothering him. Andy continues to display unusual behavior: he attacks a neighborhood boy who attempts to demonstrate his karate skills, then attacks the family dog when it tries to protect the child. At night, Andy becomes inexplicably lively and animated, wandering the town and spending time in the local cemetery. It ultimately becomes apparent that Andy has returned as some kind of vampire or zombie, and as a result, has been using syringes to inject the blood of others into his decaying body to reinvigorate himself.
On a double date at the drive-in with his high school sweetheart, Joanne, his sister and his best friend, Andy begins to decay due to lack of blood. He attacks and kills Joanne and his friend. The other drive-in patrons witness the attack and panic. Andy flees before he can inject his victims' blood. The police pursue Andy, and the chase ends at the graveyard where Andy had been spending his free time. They discover Andy's decayed corpse in a shallow grave beneath a crudely fashioned tombstone. Christine, looking at her son's body, tells the police, "Andy's home. Some boys never come home."
- Richard Backus as Andy Brooks
- John Marley as Charles Brooks
- Lynn Carlin as Christine Brooks
- Anya Ormsby as Cathy Brooks
- Jane Daly as Joanne
- Mal Jones as Sheriff
- Henderson Forsythe as Dr. Philip Allman
- Norman William Beauchamp as Cop
Deathdream was shown in Tampa, Florida on August 30, 1974.
Blue Underground DVD released a special edition of Deathdream in 2004. Special features include an audio commentary by Bob Clark, an audio commentary by Alan Ormsby, the featurette Tom Savini: The Early Years, the featurette Deathdreaming: Interview with star Richard Backus, alternate opening titles, extended ending sequence, trailers, and a poster & still gallery.
Glenn Erickson of DVD Talk wrote, "The reason Deathdream works is its superior dramatic staging. The actors are excellent, especially John Marley and Lynn Carlin, both honored for their roles in John Cassavetes' Faces. Clark stages the domestic scenes with a fine simplicity and what we remember the most is the looks of bewilderment on nicely-framed faces."
Paul Corupe of DVD Verdict wrote, "Deathdream, the second collaboration by director Bob Clark and screenwriter Alan Ormsby, is a marked artistic and technical leap forward from the pair's overrated debut feature, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things. A modern spin on the classic "be careful what you wish for" theme, Ormsby's screenplay balances a pointed Vietnam War allegory with pulpier aspects—a "shock" ending, distinct moments of morbid comic relief and beyond-the-grave retribution ripped from the pages of a 1950s horror comic."
In The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle wrote, "Though not very lively and ultimately anti-climactic, the movie sustains a calculated mood of off-centered awkwardness from to finish, and is buttressed by strong acting and plausible dialogue."
Glenn Kay wrote in Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide that Deathdream is "one of [Clark's] creepiest and most thought-provoking works".
- Kay, Glenn (2008). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 77–78. ISBN 9781569766835.
- "Deathdream". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- Smilianich (August 31, 1974). "'Dead of Night' Gets the Message Across". Tampa Bay Times. p. 5-B.
- "Dead of Night". Collections Canada. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
- Glenn Erickson. "Deathdream". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- Paul Corupe. "Deathdream". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. p. 53–54. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.