7.3/10
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8 user 4 critic

Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest (1992)

Two young men shoot themselves in a churchyard. Ray Belknap dies; James Vance - severely disfigured - survives. Their parents take heavy-metal icons Judas Priest to court, claiming the band... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
K.K. Downing ...
Himself (Judas Priest guitarist)
...
Himself
Ian Hill ...
Himself (Judas Priest)
...
Himself (Judas Priest guitarist)
Scott Travis ...
Himself (Judas Priest)
James Vance ...
Himself
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Storyline

Two young men shoot themselves in a churchyard. Ray Belknap dies; James Vance - severely disfigured - survives. Their parents take heavy-metal icons Judas Priest to court, claiming the band "mesmerized" their sons. The unprecedented trial is the framework for this one-of-a-kind, Emmy-nominated documentary.

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Documentary | Music

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6 August 1992 (USA)  »

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Dream Deceivers  »

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James Vance: I come to visit this place every so often and I talk to Ray - like a dead person - I don't expect an answer and I do tell him what's on my heart, still. I would like to call certain people murderers. I feel that they murdered Ray. I just wish it never happened.
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Shocking on so many levels
29 October 2006 | by (Austria, Vienna) – See all my reviews

I distinctly remember seeing this documentary as a 10 year old in 1993. I recently discovered it on video google and I have to say that this hasn't lost any of its power.

"Dream Deceivers" tells the story of two teenagers who tried to shoot themselves in 1985. One of them died, the other one, James Vance, survived horribly disfigured. In 1990 Judas Priest, one of the kids' favorite bands, were taken to court and accused of putting subliminal messages into their songs (or more specifically into their version of "Better By You, Better Than Me") that would drive their fans to suicide.

This film is short, heavy and in your face, like a brick through the window or a punch in the stomache. It takes less than an hour to reveal the hyprocrisy of the whole trial. Another reviewer has said that David Van Taylor hasn't been objective in his approach, but I disagree. Every party tells the story from their point of view, it's just really clear that the parents are the ones denying their own responsibility, trying to put the blame on anyone but themselves. It's unbelievable that this case ever came to trial in the first place and it's shocking to learn about the troubled childhood of James Vance and his friend. The scariest thing, however, is that we as a race always tend to look for obvious "monsters" to put the blame on. Making bands responsible for misguided kids is comparable to witch-hunts in the middle ages. You could say this is just a portrayal of the American society in the late 80's/early 90's, but I don't think things have changed all that much. These days it's Marilyn Manson or Eminem or anybody who questions the American government in any way. There's always someone to point the finger at. Freedom of speech is still at stake. The situation hasn't gotten better, if anything it's gotten worse.

"Dream Deceivers" still gives me the creeps after all these years, because the main problem prevails: The youth is helplessly lost in modern day society and no one is willing to take responsibility. There's a lesson to be learned here and we better learn it fast.


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