By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: Reliving a past life.
College professor Peter Proud (Michael Sarrazin) starts having reoccurring dreams where he sees himself living a past life somewhere in a small New England town and killed by a woman (Margot Kidder) while out on a lake. The dreams become so strong that they interfere with his job and even his relationship with his girlfriend Nora (Cornelia Sharpe). He travels to Massachusetts in search of the place and finally finds it and even starts a relationship with Ann (Jennifer O’Neill) who may be his daughter from the previous incarnation. He also meets her mother Marcia who is the same woman who he sees killing him in a past life during his dreams. As the three get to know each other tensions and dark secrets eventually begin to surface.
The idea has some potential, but director J. Lee Thompson gives the material a very standard treatment making it seem almost like a pedestrian drama. The dialogue is dull and corny, the characters cardboard and the storyline is predictable and formulaic. For what is supposed to be a horror movie/mystery it is not very compelling or intense. The visions that Peter sees in his dream are quite ordinary and generic and eventually become redundant. In fact the film’s only twisted moment, which is when Peter makes love to Ann, who is technically his daughter from a past life, gets treated like a sweet romantic scene instead of the underlying perverse act that it really is.
The story also gets farfetched including having Peter drives through every town in Massachusetts until he finds the one he is looking for. The character of the dream researcher, which is played by actor Paul Hecht, gets overly enthusiastic about Peter’s statements regarding experiencing reincarnation and becomes almost wide-eyed at the idea of writing a book about it and making millions even though a true researcher would be much more reserved about what Peter was saying and realize it would entail much more years of study before it could even be termed a reality. I also thought it was strange that when they put Peter into a sleep study the machine is unable to read the dreams that Peter is having about his past life. Supposedly this is because they are not dreams, but ‘visions’ of some sort, but wouldn’t that still create brain activity in order for Peter to see them and thus still get recorded on the machine?
Jennifer O’Neill is always great to watch simply because of her beautiful face and Cornelia Sharpe has a few choice nude scenes as Peter’s sarcastic girlfriend, but Margot Kidder is miscast as O’Neill’s mother. For one thing she is the same age as O’Neill and although they try to make her look older by putting some gray streaks in her hair her skin is still quite smooth and in need of some age lines in order to look more authentic. However, the scene where she masturbates while naked in a tub isn’t bad.
The ending is terrible and makes having to sit through this thing a complete waste of time.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: April 25, 1975
Runtime: 1Hour 45Minutes
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Studio: American International Pictures (AIP)