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Film / Bad Dreams

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Bad Dreams is a 1988 American horror film.

In 1975, a cult called Unity Fields commits mass suicide. Only one young woman, Cynthia, a child at the time of the fire, survives, though she lies in a coma for thirteen years. After she wakes, Cynthia is plagued by horrific flashbacks of her childhood at Unity Fields, and is forced to attend experimental group therapy sessions for borderline personality disorder at a hospital.

Cynthia's visions become more vivid, and include the cult leader, Harris. When patients start to appear brutally killed, she believes that Harris has come back from his death to kill those around her. But there seems to be more going on than it appears...


This film features examples of:

  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Gilda drinks a bottle of formaldehyde when she thinks Harris is about to mutilate her.
  • Cult Defector: The heroine refused to take part in a cult suicide pact as a teenager and is stalked by the cult leader's ghost years later.
  • Dead All Along: Harris and his cult perish in the fire. The burnt Harris seen by Cynthia, is a hallucination induced by Berrisford.
  • Final Girl: Cynthia
  • Inspector Javert: Detective Wasserman is depressingly quick to publicly accuse Cynthia of being more deeply involved in the cult suicide than she claims and later suspects her of getting her fellow patients to kill themselves. He's wrong on both counts.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Unity Fields cult committed mass suicide by setting themselves on fire.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Berrisford turns out to be the one responsible for the patients' deaths, having intentionally laced the therapy group's drugs with psychogenic substances to make them kill themselves.
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  • Nightmare Sequence: After going into a coma and barely surviving a cult's mass suicide, Cynthia is tormented by images of the dead cult leader, Harris.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Dr. Berrisford intentionally laced the therapy group's drugs with psychogenic substances in the hope that it will effectively make the patients suicidal, all to thus corroborate his research.
  • Self-Harm: One of the characters.
    I just make a little hole, and it all goes away.