Nightmares & Dreamscapes (TNT)

*Please note: these episodes were close to completed, some used temp scores and unfinished visual FX. The sound quality was way off as well.

For details on each episode, head back to the Main Film Page

Battleground (4/5 Skulls)
Starring William Hurt

This episode seemed all to familiar to me, and it probably will to you to – when I was younger, after a nice solid day of playing with my toys, I used to have nightmares about them attacking me, which is probably why I really dug this concept. I haven’t had this much fun watching a made for TV horror film in a long time. I just watched the Trilogy of Terror last week, which was a great lead in for this crazy tale of terror involving miniature army figurines… you know, those little green men? The first 15 minutes are excruciatingly boring, but once you get past the small set up, the war commences! The FX work is fabulous, and the fact that there is pretty much no dialogue whatsoever is pretty impressive. The adaptation is pretty much just 45 minutes of little plastic men attacking a 200-pound assassin. It’s pretty bloody for a Stephen King adaptation and there are some nice surprises like when the plastic helicopters come out launching missiles. I wasn’t expecting much from this massive TNT endeavor, but I think you’ll all get a kick out of this nightmarish tale.

The End of the Whole Mess (2.5/5 Skulls)
Starring Ron Livingston, Henry Thomas

More like a Twilight Zone episode than an actual horror film, this tale is pretty captivating even though it’s not quite scary or that inventive. The idea that there is a cure for mankind’s anger is interesting, but an hour build-up to a quite anticlimactic ending isn’t what I was hoping for. This idea needed a good two-hours to tell and came up very short- it was almost as if King had no clue how to end the tale and just pulls the plug. There’s nothing more annoying than a film’s own suicide brought on by laziness. But if you’re looking for a simple, intriguing and heavily character driven story, you might not find your hour completely wasted.

You Know They Got a Hell of a Band (1/5 Skulls)
Starring Kim Delaney, Steven Weber

I’m a pretty big fan of Steven Webber and was quite excited for this episode, only thus far this was the single worst of the bunch. Boring, slow paced, unrealistic dialogue and a climax that was obvious in the first five minutes, I’d say skip this one for sure. Sure there are appearances by Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and more, but I still didn’t get anything here that I couldn’t get over on Hollywood Blvd in California.

The Fifth Quarter (2.5/5 Skulls)
Starring Jeremy Sisto, Samantha Mathis

Jeremy Sisto, another majorly underrated actor that I love, puts on a fantastic performance in this “average” made for TV revenge-thriller. Although it’s nothing special, it does carry one hell of a one-liner: When asked what Willie (Sisto) will do if he doesn’t give up a piece of the map, Sisto kicks back this amazing line, “Ill shoot you in the kneecaps and make you get down on em and clean up the blood.” And just like the other two I just wrote about above, the end is rushed, trite and less than thrilling. We’re on a slippery slope heading straight downward. Please let the next few be better…

Umney’s Last Case (3.5/5 Skulls)
Starring William H. Macy, Jacqueline McKenzie

This sad tale is very Twilight Zone-esque and truly is one of the only films of the eight that earn the marquee of “Nightmares and Dreamscapes”. More of a “stand alone” piece, Macy is fabulous as usual playing duel roles. Macy plays both a writer and the character he created. He spends a lot of the first half throwing conversations between the writer and the character he created. The idea gets pretty demented and takes quite a bizarre turn. The episode is directed like the viewer is on acid and really is the only episode that feels like it really is a nightmare. The scenes that take place “in” the novel look extraordinary; the set design makes the period piece look authentic, yet timeless at the exact same time – only that could truly happen in a dream… or a nightmare. This is my second favorite of the seven episodes I watched and I’d take the time to sit down and enjoy.

The Road Virus Heads North (3/5 Skulls)
Starring Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason

Berenger is tremendous in his role as a famous writer who goes mad watching a painting he purchased change right in front of him. The story is yet another that feels right out of the ‘Twilight Zone’ and builds tremendously until the unfortunately mundane and obvious climax. This is the most violent of all seven films I saw as a serial killer is stalking Berenger and leaves behind victims… and their heads. This is another one I would recommend checking out even though the finale had to be cut short in order to make it on TV…

Crouch End (3.5/5 Skulls)
Starring Eion Bailey, Claire Forlani

After the negative reaction from the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors I wasn’t expecting too much from this episode, only I was pleasantly surprised! Mostly the film was carried by its ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feel and look. The cinematography was quite stunning for TV, and the way they shadowed out the edges of the frame gave it a ghastly look. The creatures were extremely cool, even though the FX work was just OK (they claim it’s unfinished though). The acting was quite well done and brought the film to a believable level. This almost felt like a short, cheap version of the ‘Silent Hill’ movie, so if you didn’t like that then you’re going to hate this. I personally thought this was better than everyone is saying, but maybe my low expectations made it a little better than it actually was?

Autopsy Room Four (2.5/5)
Starring Richard Thomas, Greta Scacchi

If I hadnt seen this exact same idea on Tales from the Crypt over a decade ago I might have enjoyed it more, but overall it was still quite a disappointment. There’s nothing worse than a happy ending in a show that has ‘Nightmares’ in the title, and the film suffered from way too much dialogue from the “deceased”. At some point you think he’d just accept the fact that he’s going to die and quite trying to scream. In addition, it didnt help that the screenplay was terribly written, I think the best line was “my wiener is lying there like a stunned mole,” seriously!! this is yet another disappointing episode, which is a shame because it had so much potential.

Overall, the show reminded me of old Nintendo games, you would play for hours and hours and then you’d finally win and it would say “The End… or is it?” Duhn duhn duhn!!! There’s a lot going on during the first 45 minutes of each episode/movie, along with a lot of new spins on generic ideas, but they all lead up to a half-assed, thrown together ending. I’ve never been a huge fan of Stephen King adapted made for TV movies, but I will say this was much more entertaining than I thought. During the summer there’s not much on TV, so to have a massive TV event like this gives us a little something to look forward to, if not kill a few hours before a long night of drinking. I say give it a shot, you might dig.


OVERALL RATING (eight scores totaled): 22.5/40 Skulls

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FULL SYNOPSES:

Umney’s Last Case
Starring William H. Macy, Jacqueline McKenzie
Teleplay by April Smith, based on the short story by Stephen King; directed by Rob Bowman
After the death of his son, writer Sam Landry (Macy) is so desperate to lead another life, he writes himself into his own book, forcing his long-time character (also played by Macy) to change places with him and live in the modern day. But things get deadly when Landry realizes Umney is trapped and cannot write himself out of his new reality.

The End of the Whole Mess
Starring Ron Livingston, Henry Thomas
Teleplay by Lawrence D. Cohen, based on the short story by Stephen King, directed by Mikael Salomon
The world had changed. Violence, war and hatred have been replaced with kindness, peace and love. But at what price? Renowned filmmaker Howie Fornoy (Livingston), with just one hour to live, recounts the details of his brother’s (Thomas) worldwide experiment gone terribly wrong.

Crouch End
Starring Eion Bailey, Claire Forlani
Teleplay by Kim LeMasters, based on the Short Story by Stephen King, directed by Mark Haber
A newlywed American couple (Bailey and Forlani) honeymooning in London goes to Crouch End to have dinner with a friend. They soon learn the town is not what it appears to be, and the more they get lost, the more they become trapped in another dimension.

The Fifth Quarter
Starring Jeremy Sisto, Samantha Mathis
Teleplay by Alan Sharp, based on the short story by Stephen King, directed by Rob Bowman
Willie (Sisto), a just-released convict, learns from his dying friend of a map in four parts that reveals the location of several million dollars from a robbery. Seeking revenge for the death of his friend and the money, as well, Willie hunts down the others who hold the remaining three parts to the map, risking his family and his freedom.

Autopsy Room Four
Starring Richard Thomas, Greta Scacchi
Teleplay by April Smith, based on the short story by Stephen King, directed by Mikael Salomon
Businessman Howard Cottrell (Thomas) is on vacation playing one of his many games of golf. Chasing the ball into the undergrowth, he is bitten by a snake and completely paralyzed, showing no signs of life. At the hospital, unable to communicate, he is the key witness to his own autopsy.

You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
Starring Kim Delaney, Steven Weber
Teleplay by Mike Robe, based on the short story by Stephen King, directed by Mike Robe
A wrong turn on a lonely road turns frightening for Clark and Mary Willingham (Weber and Delaney) as they stumble upon a town not on any map – Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon. There is a free concert every night, but the price of admission is high – once the audience enters, it can never leave.

Battleground
Starring William Hurt
Teleplay by Richard Christian Matheson, based on the short story by Stephen King, directed by Brian Henson
Jason Renshaw (Hurt), a professional hit man, successfully murders the CEO of a prestigious toy company, only to face the biggest fight of his life when a package from the toy company is delivered to his house with surprising, deadly contents.

The Road Virus Heads North
Starring Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason
Teleplay by Peter Filardi, based on the short story by Stephen King, directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Richard Kinnell (Berenger) is a famous writer who, at a doctor’s visit, learns he may soon have to deal with his own mortality. On the drive back to his home, he buys a mysterious painting. Each time he looks at it, it changes to become more menacing and sinister. He pieces together that the painting is trying to kill him…but not if he can destroy it first.

Official Score