Director: Robert Florey
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Cast: Richard Conte, John Larch, and Suzanne Lloyd
Composer: Van Cleave
Air Date: 11/27/1959
Production Code: 173-3616
An emotionally disturbed psychiatric patient named Edward Hall (Richard Conte) relays the source of his anxiety to Dr. Elliot Rathmann (John Larch). According to his own testimony, Edward cannot fall asleep lest a mysterious woman known as Maya (Suzanne Lloyd) frighten him to death.
Similar in premise to A Nightmare on Elm Street, “Perchance to Dream” benefits from a surreal atmosphere to complement the nightmarish reality stemming from Edward’s troubled psyche. That being said, a disjointed execution coupled with a general lack of narrative depth may fail to captivate Twilight Zone enthusiasts who prefer substance over style.
A series of ghoulish props, bizarre camera angles/effects, and haunting visual aspects work to accentuate the unease felt by Edward while traveling through a carnival of horrors with Maya at his side. Also commendable is Richard Conte’s performance, which embodied the distraught qualities of a man unable to break free from the living hell imposed upon him.
The concept of a dream-inhabiting demon attempting to unravel the mind of her intended victim is an interesting one, especially given the alluring but deadly sense of feminine subtlety that Suzanne Lloyd brought to the role; however, as indicated earlier, “Perchance to Dream” never explores such a premise to its full potential (Wes Craven’s aforementioned horror classic, on the other hand, pushes the boundaries of subconscious terror to its cinematic limits while featuring a more menacing antagonist than Maya could ever hope to be). As a result, this episode should be viewed as a mere piece of experimental television without the profundity that one would expect of a typical Charles Beaumont offering.
At its core, “Perchance to Dream” is a commentary on the devastation that can ensue if people allow their fears to go unconquered for too great a period of time. By staying awake indefinitely and thereby prolonging the inevitable, the protagonist ultimately fails to muster the inner strength required to defeat his personal demons; in contrast, a less cowardly approach might have enabled Edward to realize that he alone had the power to govern his thoughts and emotions, in which case Maya would have no doubt lost her hold over him.
“Perchance to Dream” combines an ominous tone with the remarkable acting of Conte and Lloyd, thus compensating for any underdeveloped plot elements. Fans of The Twilight Zone are therefore advised to view this entry, even though an absence of insight concerning the human condition may disappoint audiences of an intellectual disposition.
Overall Quality: 6/10
If you enjoyed this post, please click the follow button or enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.