Severin Films and Intervision Picture Corp. have dug up some truly stunning VHS artifacts in the past—the $250 Canadian public access sci-fi movie Phobe among them—but it’s truly outdone itself with its new release, Dream Stalker. Opening with an extended scene of awkwardly staged early-’90s jacuzzi lovemaking that star Mark Dias tells The A.V. Club was originally supposed to be a quick montage, the film dares to ask the question: What if Freddy Krueger rode a dirt bike?
That’s the basic idea behind this no-budget riff on A Nightmare On Elm Street, starring post-collegiate motorcycle racer Dias as Ricky, a dirt bike racer who dies early on in the film and proceeds to stalk his model girlfriend Brittany in her dreams. Brittany tries to move on by retreating to a “remote cabin” that actually looks like it was filmed in a subdivision, located next to a camp for troubled teens hanging out in what looks like someone’s backyard. A few impressively gory murders, butt shots, and inexplicable jumps forward later, and Ricky comes back for a final reckoning.
The final version of Dream Stalker turned out to be not only utterly divorced from continuity, but quite different from the original script, a difference Dias attributes to technical problems on the set. (Even the final cut has some very noticeable sound issues.) He describes a climactic scene where Ricky strings up two people by their ankles, spouting “Terminator-style one-liners,” that never made it into the movie thanks to a generator loudly humming in the background.
One scene that did make it, however, is a stunt where a guy jumps off of a second-floor balcony, breaking his leg in real life in the process. “He put a queen sized mattress on the ground, it was just dirt and pine leaves in this forest, and then goes ‘okay, I’m good!’ and looks over his shoulder, and he jumps off,” Dias recalls. “He hit the mattress, but he hit it so hard that he bounced off the ground and you could hear the crack of his leg breaking. They had to bring the ambulance out and take him away, our brave stunt man.” He adds, “I think we probably should have had two mattresses instead of one.”
The shoot does sound like a lot of fun, with the mostly amateur cast and crew—Dias, a theater major, was the most experienced actor on the set—living together in the house where Dream Stalker was shot and eating “bowls of cereal and peanut butter sandwiches.” The movie is a lot of fun too, especially for fans of ‘80s slashers and direct-to-video cheese; SOV review site Bleeding Skull describes it as “guaranteed to make you feel like you’re trapped in a lo-fi psychedelic abyss of fun!” Dias wouldn’t know, though. He only has the movie on VHS, and no longer owns a VCR, so he hasn’t seen it in ages.
You and the star of Dream Stalker can both see the movie with new eyes when Intervision releases it on DVD on a double disc with the equally obscure Texan psycho-thriller Death By Love on April 11.