Question: I'm wondering if you can help me out with the title of a movie I saw as a kid, probably 20 or 25 years ago, on Elvira's Mistress of the Dark horror show program. I don't remember much of the plot or any of the actors, but it dealt with a young man who enlisted, went off to fight in a war and started acting strangely when he returned home. Basically, I think he came home dead and was rotting away slowly, and at the end he begins digging his own grave in the local cemetery so he can rest in peace.


Answer: That can only have been Deathdream (1974), though you may have seen it under another title; it's been called Dead of Night (not to be confused with the 1945 omnibus film Dead of Night, which includes the ultimate scary ventriloquist's dummy story), Night Walk, The Veteran, The Night Andy Came Home and probably other things I haven't run across. Directed by Bob Clark of Porky's (1982) fame, it's a Vietnam-era variation on the classic W.W. Jacobs short story The Monkey's Paw, in which a mother wishes on a talisman for the return of her son, who had died in a grisly industrial accident. In the tradition of such tales, she gets what she wishes for and then wishes she hadn't: Her boy returns from the grave, but returns as he died. In Deathdream, a mother get word that her son died in Vietnam and she wishes he'd come home. He does, with the results you describe. Oliver Hudson (son of actress Goldie Hawn and brother of Kate Hudson) and Cabin Fever (2002) director Eli Roth recently optioned remake rights to Deathdream, which could easily be updated to pertain to the current war in Iraq.