Released under several names, including Dead of Night, The Night Andy Came Home, and The Night Walk, Bob Clark's spooky post-war horror/drama is a rarely seen genre classic that has been unearthed by Blue Underground.
Andy (Backus) is killed in action during the Vietnam War. His mother and father (Carlin and The Godfather's Marley) haven't heard from him in months, and, when they finally get the news that their son has died, it's time to move on.
Or is it?
It seems Andy's mother is not prepared to let her boy go, just yet, and her nightly vigils have somehow called the Andy's spirit home. The family is thrilled to have Andy back, even if he is a bit "off". He spends most of his day in a rocking chair in his room, staring intently at nothing in particular. He speaks, but mostly repeating what others say, or in short, succinct sentences. Andy's father soon grows weary of his son's behaviour, but his wife condemns the man for feeling anything but joy that their son his home, safe and sound. Meanwhile, the undead Andy is prowling the streets, feeding off of those who come to close to revealing his secrets, their blood fueling his charade and keeping his flesh whole.
Deathdream is one spooky little film. Bob Clark (who's early masterpiece, Black Christmas, is amongst the most cherished horror films of all time) imbues Deathdream with a sense of sadness and loss. We care about Andy and his family because their tragedy is one that's all too real. However, the price of their happiness is the lives of others, and, soon they too, realise that it just can't be.
Richard Backus is marvelous as the quietly intense Andy; his placid face barely masking a rage and desire that's all-consuming. He alternates between the boy-next-door and a bulging eyed psycho with such ease it's nearly as frightening as the transformation's grim consequences. John Marley is also quite convincing as the grieving father who, at first, tries to accept the "new" Andy, if only to appease his wife's shattered psyche, but, soon, understands that this "thing" in Andy's room can't possibly be his son.
The DVD from Blue Underground features a solid widescreen transfer, and studio soundtrack, as well as a commentary track with Bob Clark, and a commentary track from writer/effects artist Alan Ormsby( whose make-up effects in the film's final act are downright disturbing stuff!). The DVD also features a brief interview with Tom Savini, as he served as an assistant to Ormsby in his first film job ever. An interview with Backus, extended and alternate sequences, trailers, and a poster and stills gallery round out the impressive list of special features on this loaded disc.
Deathdream is a long lost classic that has been given a fantastic DVD treatment, and is deserving of a spot in every horror fans collection. Highly recommended!