Do you ever have a dream so awesome you don’t want to wake up from it, but after you do, the warm glow of that dream makes you happy for the rest of the day? Has that dream ever been a nightmare?
I don't tend to have a lot of full-on nightmares. Usually my bad dreams are just sort of unpleasant, but last night's was horror movie-scary, and I flippin' loved it.
As with any dream, the beginning was hazy and irretrievable, but the first thing I remember is being in a dirty, dilapidated apartment building with extraordinarily long, steep, and narrow staircases. A sloppy, overweight, old man met me there and took me up to his apartment to give me something (I'm not sure what). Several trashy-looking people occupied the apartment, and while I was waiting for the old man to return, one of them became this weird zombie/demon hybrid with huge, sharp teeth and distorted features. He started attacking people, and as in any good zombie movie, those he bit became infected and went on the attack, while the rest of us escaped, banded together, and tried to get to safety.
I’m notorious for yelling at horror movies. You know, giving the characters some helpful suggestions for the proper course of action. My initial advice is always the same: once the immediate danger has passed, for God's sake find a weapon. I’m proud to say that in my dream, I heeded my own advice and grabbed the first length of metal I could find, a piece from some kind of industrial shelving. When the zombie-demons came back, however, every swing of my bludgeon was slow and powerless, and I kept missing by a mile. At this point, I must have been making some gnarly noises in my sleep, because my wife gently shook me and asked if I was alright. I remember answering “Yes,” and eagerly getting back to my nightmare.
I have no idea how long my dream was, but it seemed feature length to me. The other survivors and I fended off multiple zombie attacks while navigating our way through a labyrinthian industrial landscape. The freakiest scenes took place in those narrow stairwells, where my companions were picked off one by one until I was left as the Final Dude. Eventually, I found my way out of the maze of buildings and staggered out into the street, expecting at any moment to be overtaken by legions of zombies. To my surprise, the hoardes awaiting me were shoppers and business people on their way to work. Then my zombified companions reappeared, smiling and removing their fake teeth. In that moment, I had two realizations: A) the attack was actually a Zombie Holocaust Preparedness Drill, and B) I was not actually experiencing this firsthand, but was watching a really good zombie movie with a twist ending I never expected.
From there, the dream shifted perspective, and I was watching this movie when my wife walked in and I started raving about how good the movie was. Then I restarted the movie and made her watch it with me from the beginning. This time the movie was slightly different and started with my wife and I watching the very movie we were simultaneously living. We were in that creepy apartment building, and for some reason I needed I change of clothes. The movie had scared me so much that I didn’t want to be anywhere near the staircases, so instead of heading home for my own clothes, I started searching around in the old man’s dresser for some clothes I could borrow. While I was riffling through the drawers, the zombie attack began anew, and played out pretty much the same way as the first time.
For some reason, I was under the impression that I was watching the 2009 French film, Mutants. I haven’t actually seen Mutants yet, so I was stoked that it was so good that I watched it twice in a row (just yesterday I wrote that Dead Alive is the only movie I’ve done that with). But as soon as I thought about this fact, I realized I wasn’t watching a movie at all, but dreaming one. I was really disappointed because I knew that the real Mutants could never be as good as the one in my dream. Shortly after this realization, my alarm went off. I hit snooze automatically and went right back into the dream.
This time the story had started over, back at the sleazy apartment. My wife said, “Let’s try something different this time,” and before the zombie attack started, she led me to a well-hidden corner of the industrial complex, where we would try to wait out the drill in relative peace. It seemed like an okay hiding place, until a bum showed up and wanted to know why we were in his favorite drinking spot. We left promptly and found an identical hiding place around another corner. This time, however, the spot was crowded with other people who had the same idea. We squished in anyway, with me right next to the only entrance. And sure enough, a zombie popped her head in, practically in my lap. But instead of attacking, she said, “Is it cool if I hang out in here? I don’t have the energy to do this again.” Punchline delivered, I woke up with a big smile on my face.
Groggy as I was, I briefly thought, hell, maybe I’ll adapt my dream into a screenplay. Of course, as I went through the details of the dream in the shower, I realized its ridiculous dream logic would never work as a film. But in a way, it was better than a movie. It was a vicarious experience that delivered all the fear and violence in a way a movie never could. Who cares if it made no damn sense? Besides, I got to watch zombie movies all night long, and still got a full night's sleep.