The program has been hijacked by shady government guy Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer) and it eventually turns into a plot to kill the president (Eddie Albert) who has been having horrific nightmares about the end of the world.
The two main things that make the film work are the clever screenplay (co-written by genre fave Chuck Russell) and the outstanding cast. The story is a wonderfully constructed bit of business with likable leads, some truly scary dream sequences (love the snakeman and zombie designs by Craig Reardon and David Miller) and a decently put together conspiracy that has the advantage of having David Patrick Kelly as a psychotic dream assassin.
Performances are all pretty solid. Dennis Quaid is an actor I've always enjoyed and he brings a cocky charm that makes Alex instantly likable. Kate Capshaw and Max von Sydow are good as the scientists and Plummer and Kelly make for agreeably slimy villains. Eddie Albert is also good as the president.
The real highlights of the film are the dream sequences. Vividly out together, they range from a scary house with a monster inside to a train going through an apocalyptic wasteland with irradiated zombies to something as simple as a skyscraper. All are wonderfully realized with some pretty good (though admittedly dated) f/x.
Overall, Dreamscape is a highly enjoyable little thriller from director Joseph Ruben (who also did the first Stepfather movie) with good acting, nice f/x and some real good scares here and there. It's a real gem that is worth owning.