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DREAM NO EVIL (1973) **

If you thought Coleman Francis put a lot of gratuitous narration in his movies, you should check out this flick by director John (Hollywood After Dark) Hayes.  It features more scenes dubbed over by a half asleep narrator than The Atomic Brain. 

 

A disturbed orphan named Grace grows up to be an unbalanced Brooke (Legacy of Blood) Mills who works as high diver for a fake faith healer (the always great Michael Pataki) and is engaged to his boring brother (Paul Prokop).  When the father she never knew (D.O.A.’s Edmond O’Brien) dies, it leaves Grace devastated.  Lucky for her, it doesn’t take long for him to mysteriously come back to life on the embalming table and kill the mortician/pimp (!?!) played by genre favorite Marc (The Man with the Golden Gun) Lawrence.  Grace is so glad that daddy’s alive that she immediately forgives him for that little murder and takes him home with her.  Once there, he snaps out of his zombie-like state and reverts to his original self, which means he plays the squeezebox at all hours of the day.  Grace then starts up an affair with the preacher man, but daddy doesn’t like his daughter’s virginity being tainted so he kills him too.  Grace covers up papa’s murders by burying the bodies at the town dump, where the corpses start piling up.  In the end, we learn that Grace is the REAL killer when she tries to chop up her hubby with an axe.  After she’s locked up, a psychiatrist (Arthur Franz from Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man) gives a Psycho-like explanation of what the audience already figured out an hour ago.   

 

While Dream No Evil has lots of interesting ideas and a handful of memorable images, it’s pretty much a mess.  The flick had a lot of potential and Hayes does what he can to hold everything together, but the film reeks of post production meddling by the producers.  Not only did those jackasses blur out the boobies to get a PG rating, they hired an inbred toddler to edit it and slapped a bunch of inexplicable narration (“Grace’s own phantom father image convinced her that fantasy is reality.”) on top of it to make things even worse. 

 

The murders are a tad on the bloodless side (again, the infernal PG rating), but there is at least one great death-by-scythe scene.  Despite moments of genuine atmosphere (like the scene where O’Brien returns to life), this is just another tame 70’s psychological horror flick.  

 

The acting is a mixed bag.  Old pros like O’Brien, Lawrence, and Franz do what they do best, and Pataki particularly shines, but Mills isn’t very convincing at playing either a sympathetic romantic lead or a deranged schizo.  And the least said about Prokop’s performance, the better.  Luckily, Pataki re-teamed with Hayes for the much better Grave of the Vampire the next year. 

 

AKA:  Now I Lay Me Down to Die.  AKA:  The Faith Healer. 

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