There have been many skeptics through the years: Sextus, who postulated the ten modes used to suspend judgment on belief; Descartes, whose "Cogito, ergo sum" proved that only a thinking thing existed; and David Hume, who believed that nothing which exists is certain. It is no wonder, then, that writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe wished to discover where reality ended and unreality -- for lack of a better term -- began. From these fascinating premises, writer and director Jay Woelful sets the stage for a rollercoaster ride not soon forgotten.
Nick Baldasare plays Ben Dobbs, a Randolf Carter figure who can no longer discern between reality and nightmare. In an almost catatonic state, Ben dreams in chains; he has a dream, awakens into another dream, awakens in yet another dream, then finally awakens. The force of the dream begins to override his capacity to think. He talks to several students about his dilemma, then decides to consult his psychology professor. None offer more than sympathy -- after all, a nightmare stops when the eyes open. But for Ben, the nightmare has outgrown the world of dreams. Slowly, the nightmare enters into phases of reality, interfering with Ben’s waking moments. He can no longer distinguish between reality and illusion.
The nightmare is a demon spawned long ago by extraordinary dreamer. The demon, located in a necropolis of past victims, wishes only to torture each soul -- it feeds on fear, pain, and worst of all, doubt. Far worse than the demon is the fact that Ben’s affliction is contagious. Soon all of his friends and the professor begin to experience the dream, each falling prey to the monster. Ben, realizing this, attempts to destroy the demon with the help of a friend (Rick Kesler). The end is truly chilling.
If Stuart Gordon or Wes Craven could make movies like this, we would never grow back our fingernails. The movie suffers a bit due to poor acting, a droning musical score that lacks tension, and low budget effects (special effects coordinator Scott Simonson did do a great job with what little money he was given, however), but BEYOND DREAM'S DOOR goes way beyond all current horror and boldly attempts to terrify us. Give Jay Woelful some cash, a music director, and some actors, and I guarantee he will scare the hell out of you.
(Originally published in Temple of Schlock #19, August 1989)