Nightmares & Dreamscapes

Starring: William Hurt, Claire Forlani, William H Macy, Tom Berenger, Richard Thomas and Marsha Mason
Warner Home Video
RRP: 30.99
Certificate: 15
Available 16 April 2007

Nightmares & Dreamscapes
is an anthology of eight fifty-minute stand alone episodes (spread over three discs) based on the stories of prolific horror writer Stephen King.

In Battleground, a hired assassin kills a gifted toymaker and is later surprised to receive a box of toy soldiers at his apartment, which then proceed to come to life and attack him. There are also gunship helicopters and the surprise bonus of a Rambo-like special operations soldier complete with mini-nuclear weapon. This is quite amusing but leaves a lot of unanswered questions: Who was the assassin working for? Who send the box of soldiers? And how did they know where he lived? Aside from the obvious question of how did the soldiers come to life?

In Crouch End, an American couple on honeymoon in London are invited to dinner in Crouch End, a place where dimensions meet and bleed into each other. This one is agonisingly long, and steals blatantly from the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft's ancient ones.

In Umney's Last Case, a just too perfect 1930s private eye learns he is a fictional character. His creator forces them to change places, but both are left like a fish out of water. This is probably the best of the bunch, but is badly let down by the ending which fizzles out rather than reaching any dramatic conclusion.

In The End of the Whole Mess, a man presents a video diary telling how his gifted younger brother developed a way to stop all violence in the world, and what the startling unforeseen circumstances were. This one drags its heels too, and a long backstory is told in order to needlessly flesh it out.

In The Road Virus Heads North, a famous horror writer, who might have cancer, buys a strange painting of a figure in a car. The painting changes regularly as the vehicle passes through various locations heading in his direction, and all attempts to destroy it fail. This is pretty good, but once you realise that the figure in the car heading towards him is symbolic of the writer's own death approaching, the conclusion is inevitable.

In The Fifth Quarter, an ex-convict and his wife attempt to capitalise on a dead friend's potentially lucrative criminal exploits. This one is so slow and uneventful that you can actually nod-off for minutes at a time and miss nothing of the so-called plot.

In Autopsy Room Four, the voice-over thoughts of a man thought to be dead are heard as he realises he can't move and is about to undergo an autopsy (or post-mortem to us Brits). No comment.

In You Know They Got a Hell of a Band, a couple get lost on the road and find themselves in an unmapped town called Rock And Roll Heaven, where all the dead greats appear to reside. People are being changed and it's all down to the free nightly concert. Oh, Please!

Did the great guy actually get paid for these shorts? He ought to be made to watch these as recompense! Whether it's down to the writing or direction (probably both), none of these adaptations induce any tension. In fact, you just don't care, and only three are even worth putting yourself out to watch. For Stephen King completists only.

Extras include: Behind the Drama (ahem!) of the Show; Page to Picture; The Inside Look Featurettes; Interviews With the Series Stars; Battleground Special Effects Featurette.

Ty Power

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