As it goes though, Bad Dreams is a better Elm Street bandwagoner than it could have been. Andrew Fleming directs with some style and the film holds a number of effective shock images like the dream sequence where Bruce Abbott drives into Harris Yulin, crushing him into a wall then calmly turns on the windscreen wipers to clear the blood off the windscreen, before a flame hits the expanding pool of petrol and the car explodes. A vertiginous climax hanging from a roof edge and one of the killings shot in flickering light amid a forest of legs in an elevator is material that showed Fleming, in his debut, as a director of some promise.
However, the single most irritating aspect about Bad Dreams is that the Elm Street steals are only a cheat. [PLOT SPOILERS] In a preposterously contrived twist ending, all the dream intrusions are proven to have only been a scam of mundane origin run by a psychotic psychiatrist who has been feeding the heroine psychotropic drugs. Equally irritatingly, there is no motivation offered as to the doctors actions. It is a frustrating ending that completely ruins an otherwise worthwhile film.
Jennifer Rubin, in her first lead role, is of little substance. (She would demonstrate more maturity in thrillers like Delusion (1991) and Playmaker (1994) and has subsequently settled down to a steady series of B-movie leads). Instead of Rubin, one remembers Bruce Abbott as the psychologist hero who has a rather witty line parodying contemporary psychological double-talk and Susan Ruttan, who then had fame as the secretary on tvs LA Law (1986-94), as a mealy-mouthed reporter patient.
Director Andrew Fleming would go on to better things with the excellent Threesome (1994) then returned to the horror genre with the teen witch drama The Craft (1996), followed by subsequent non-genre films like Nancy Drew (2007) and Hamlet 2 (2008). Bad Dreams was the first solo film produced by Gale Ann Hurd, who had previously had huge success as producer of her then husband James Camerons The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986).