Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Director: Barret J. Leigh & Thom Maurer

Director: Jack Lackner

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Beyond the Wall of SleepThe dvd box as shown above has a wonderful image on it. This image alas has nothing to do with & appears nowhere in the film, which is mostly a boring bad movie, but for us shlockoholics it'll get by.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2006) begins with disturbing nightmare imagery that was not sustained beyond the credits. Very likely a more skillful crew that specializes in opening credits did this brief good part.

When the film proper begins it's a combination of joky bad acting & expressionistic oddity, with a mad scientist experimenting on insane asylum inmates, & a cult of inbred hillbillies striving to conjure up a Lovecraftian god.

Joe Slaader (William Sanderson very much typecast & not trying to do much with it) is an inbred hick with a wendigo living on his spine.

Beyond the Wall of SleepNurse Calloway (Lauren Cornish) is enormously obese. Edward Eischell (Fountain Yount) is an intern doing psycho experiments, as are all the institution's nutty doctors.

The difference between the inmates & the caretakers is one of power, not sanity.

It's hard to say if it's comical on purpose or as a side-effect of a pompous writing style that attempts to be poetic. The writing does sometimes succeeds at poetry, but only after an adolescent fashion.

Bits that might have been interestingly surreal-by-default come off as merely nonsensical because ridiculously acted.

Yet the corny amateurism is periodically delightful, as though the entire film were being recorded live by a bunch of giddy kids at a comic book convention. Ardelia (Rachel Mellendorf), the girl with the pop-top skull, is silly to extreme, & the terrible dialogue is badly delivered, yet it is at times visually interesting & takes a while to get boring.

Beyond the Wall of SleepThe chaos of the film is tiresome after half an hour & the illusion of wit wears out.

The film gets progressively more cluttery & chaotic but doesn't make a lot of sense. It builds in tedium rather than suspense because of insufficient plot cohesion.

"Amducious" is the name of the mind on Joe's spine. It may be an ancient divinity for whom hillbilly inbreeding was intentionally committed for generations specificially to bring Amducious forth in what to a creepy divinity passes as the perfect vessel. Appalachians & Blue Ridge Mountain folk must just hate this inbred hillbilly stuff that cheezoid films adore.

Edward & Joe/Amducious connect brains through holes drilled in their heads. A series of decapitated heads are likewise connected up as batteries to release Amducious from the back of Joe, all colorfully nonsensical.

Beyond the Walls of Sleep, silly as it seems to be, actually does follow pretty well the short-short story of the same title by H. P. Lovecraft.

The resultant film is odd enough that it could come to be regarded as some kind of dippy classic for Lovecraft fandom, if only because it acts out an actual story rather than being vaguely based on one of HPL's tales. That it's done very badly is beside the point. If the junkiest junk from the likes of, oh, let's say, Troma gets treated as meritorious from time to time, why not this.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep In the new millenium's thorough demacrotization of filmmaking, any kid with a digital camera & a youtube account can make a film & get it seen.

When I found Jack Lackner's Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2006), an under five minute short, Lackner was eighteen years old, & had more camera-angle savvy than I'd expect from a kid who still lives with his folks. I saw his sound-boom drop into the frame once, but that just made he think, "Hey, the kid has a sound boom!"

Howard (Jonathan O'Conell) is supposed to look after his sister while she's away to a funeral, as Susan (Shannon Desmond) is sick in bed.

Falling asleep while reading a book, Howard wakes up disoriented in a world gone red. He goes in his sister's bedroom to ask Susan where he's at. She says, "Well basically, you've just entered your world." With that, he wakes up again, with a start, goes in the other room to wake up Susan, who just stares at him.

He awakens again, & as he walks through the house, Susan is behind him then disappears, then reappears; Howard's increasingly disconcerted. When she continues to insist he has "crossed over" into his own world, his terror induces him to strangle her.

This time he wakes up in the madhouse, in a straitjacket, waiting & waiting to wake up again.

Continue to more madhouses:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, 1962, 2005)
Or Continue to more H. P. Lovecraft:
The Shunned House (2002)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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