Director: Jerry Smith
Writer: James Houghton
Cast: Abe Vigoda, David Chandler, Ralph Monaco, David Glen, Tracy Kolis, Dominic Chianese, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Donald Rubinstein
Air Date: 5/4/1986
Jake Corelli (Abe Vigoda), a vile mob boss with tremendous power over others, is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Thereafter, Corelli is approached by Michaelson (David Chandler)—an enigmatic scientist whose invention, Afterlife, allows the user to dream for all eternity; but at a harrowing price.
For effectively coupling science fiction devices with a mafia theme, “A Choice of Dreams” should be commended. Edward F. Shaver’s unique premise is, however, limited in scope by obvious budgetary constraints.
Though unintentionally humorous at times, “A Choice of Dreams” may appeal to fans of classic gangster movies. Especially worth praising is the performance of Abe Vigoda (known for his portrayal of Tessio in The Godfather), whose sinister acting makes credible the fear, hatred, and pseudo-respect that Jake Corelli elicits from his victims. Audiences will immediately feel contempt for Corelli, who vows to ruin the career of a physician bold enough to speak his mind. Nevertheless, there are moments when Corelli, a man with a deeply troubled past, comes across as sympathetic—an aspect that allows the antagonist to appear human, layered, and three-dimensional despite being remarkably evil.
Played on a 1980s synthesizer, Donald Rubinstein’s cheap imitation of The Godfather score may elicit groaning from viewers.
“A Choice of Dreams” is an original, captivating, and underrated episode of Tales from the Darkside. That being said, the twist ending (clever though it may be) suffers from a campy execution.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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