Deathdream (1974)

body horroryes
violence toward animalsyes
Bechdel-Wallace testfailed
Mako Morifailed
X was the real YIt turns out awkwardness was the real terror

This movie vacillated between being really goofy and genuinely frightening.

IMDB's description of this movie is "A young man killed in Vietnam inexplicably returns home as a zombie." That sounds kind of dumb. And the melodramatic opening doesn't do it any favours.

Most any scene in this movie, in isolation, would give someone the impression that this is just a terrible horror movie. But its sustained awkwardness succeeds in building a real tension. There's a scene early on where Andy, the returning soldier, response bizarrely to a question. There's a moment of silence where his family is confused and concerned, then they burst into a forced and sustained laughter. The shot of the laughter is too long. At first it seems like poor editing but as it continues you really begin to feel as unsettled as the family themselves.

The movie hinges on the portrayal of Andy. Andy is played as silent, overly rigid, and with an awkward forced grin. Andy's inhumanness is genuinely disturbing. The rigidness of the character also helps sell his moments of violence.

By the end of film, the movie collapses into being merely goofy, but its fun and succeeds in being horrifying.