THE GUEST: A Look At Bob Clark's Deathdream

If you've read the synopsis for The Guest, you already know what it's about. But if not, here it is:
Shortly after soldier Caleb Peterson dies in Afghanistan, his army buddy David arrives in New Mexico to deliver a farewell message to Caleb's family. The Petersons have never previously heard of the mysterious and devastatingly charming David, but they quickly warm to him - all, that is, except Caleb's sister Anna. Of course, it wouldn't be a Midnight Madness film if David were exactly who he appeared to be.
That got us thinking about another movie about war and a soldier who returns home: Canadian director Bob Clark's Deathdream!

Loosely based on W.W. Jacobs's 1902 short story "The Monkey's Paw," Deathdream is also known as Dead of Night. This 1972 creeper stars Richard Backus as Andy Brooks, a soldier who is killed in Vietnam. At least that's what his parents are led to believe when they receive a telegram stating as much.

It's a little strange then, when Andy shows up at their doorstep in full uniform. Only he's not exactly the Andy they remember. He spends an awful lot of time in a rocking chair staring at the wall. He essentially refuses all human contact and when he is finally persuaded to go on a drive-in date with his girlfriend things don't end well. Then there's that whole "killing the dog" thing and breaking into medical facilities to steal blood and inject himself with it. With his mother in denial and his father terrified of his own son, things don't go very well for the Brooks family.

One of the earliest movies to comment on the horrors of the Vietnam War and even PTSD, Deathdream is genuinely eerie and unsettling, with an ambiguous, yet tragic ending.

Is David from The Guest a reanimated, blood-ingesting, dog-killer like Andy? Well, you'll have to go see the movie to find out.

For more on Deathdream, check out the article on the film from the Canuxploitation blog.

THE GUEST screening times:
Sat., Sept. 13th, 11:59 PM, RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 14th, 6:45 PM, SCOTIABANK 3

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