Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rifftrax: Welcome To Dennis Quaid's Nightmare

Aside from creating the San Francisco Sketchfest event that makes some room for severe movie criticism, Cole Stratton and Janet Varney have been part of Rifftrax in its early years. Their first target was The Lost Boys in 2010, followed by Jaws 3-D and Flatliners.

They returned recently for their first VOD title, Dreamscape, with Dennis Quaid as a psychic being "persuaded" to be part of an experiment in dream manipulation. Of course, there's a dark side to this project as it slowly morphs into an attempt to kill the President in his dreams. While critics liked this movie back in 1984, it looks a lot cheesier after all these years.

It features Christopher Plummer in one of his "evil in a suit" roles that he had during the 80's (remember Firehead?), Max Von Sydow as the head of the project, Eddie Albert as the president who dreams of nuclear explosions. and Kate Capshaw as the dream scientist/mandatory love interest just after people blamed her for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Oh, and there's George Wendt (NORM!) as an author who thinks Plummer is up to no good.

What's interesting about how Cole and Janet take on this movie is that they pack a ton of movie and music references in less than two hours. They especially make remarks about Quaid's movie career and even throw in a riff about an Alec Baldwin movie everyone has forgotten about...even Alec. TV's Frank would be so proud.

The plot:  Quaid plays Alex, a psychic who uses his powers to pick longshots at the race track. He's not a favorite with the bookies, Anyway, Von Sydow's character wants Alex to be part of the dream manipulation program, or Alex may see some tax problems thanks to his winnings. Alex leaps into the dreams of a construction worker, a guy who's convinced his wife will cheat on him, and a kid named Buddy who's being attacked by a snake man. He even gets into Capshaw's dream where she's riding in a train. It leads to a lame sex scene that will remind no one of his sex scenes with Ellen Barkin in The Big Easy two years later.

Plummer plays Blair, a CIA type who is worried the President will agree to nuclear disarmament because of his nightmares. Blair wants America to be secure with all the nuclear bombs it wants. He also wants to find a way to kill enemies by sending assassins into their dreams. Sure, sounds dumb, but at least he has a psycho psychic who can do the job. It helps that he's played by the same guy who said "Warriors, come out and play".

Now some of the riffs:

A woman tries to outrun a nuclear a dream
Cole:  Run, Mia Farrow, run!

Buddy has a nightmare
Janet:  Happy Meal....has no toy!!

The President has one of his nightmares
Cole: Phoenix in the summer is just awful

Jane (Capshaw) is upset Alex isn't predicting flash cards as he should
"Why can't you take this more seriously?"
Cole:  Is she talking to us right now?

And the perfect description of Alex and Jane making out on the dream train?
Janet:  All the chemistry of Teri Hatcher and Howie Long from those Radio Shack

There's also riffs on REM, a defunct department store, Atari, Ghostbusters, Snowpiercer, Animal House and Saturday Night Live. Also, if you listen carefully as Alex tries to get away on a motorcycle from Blair's goons, you'll get a really obscure reference that only true TV comedy fans will understand.

The movie is available at Rifftrax's website.

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