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Dreams with Sharp Teeth (2008) More at IMDbPro »

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Dreams with Sharp Teeth -- Crackling with infectious energy, DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH pays homage to the dark prince of American letters, Harlan Ellison. Master of his craft, Ellison has heroically produced over 75 books and more than 1,700 classics of fiction and non-fiction on one of his Olympia manual typewriters, including the single most popular Star Trek episode ("City on the Edge of Forever") and brilliant, award-winning short stories, some written in bookstore windows, on very public display. Wildly imaginative writer, flame-tongued provocateur, unholy fusion of Lenny Bruce and Mark Twain, Ellison's remarkable personal journey is lovingly rendered by director Erik Nelson. The film draws on over 25 years of exclusive video footage that captures Ellison at his most inspiring and irritating, curmudgeonly and lovable. See Ellison rant about the idiocies of geekdom, confess to mailing a dead gopher to an executive at a publishing house, recall his rebellious childhood, and speak about the joy (and craft) of writing. The film features candid interviews with famous and surprising friends, including actor Robin Williams, author Neil Gaiman and Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica), who flesh out Ellison's prodigious contributions to the worlds of literature and popular culture, as well as their very personal encounters with this unique Force Of Nature. Whether a die-hard Ellison fan or someone tragically uninitiated, DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH will amuse, inspire, infuriate, and edify.
Dreams with Sharp Teeth -- Trailer for Dreams With Sharp Teeth


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Erik Nelson (writer)
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Release Date:
4 June 2008 (USA) See more »
A documentary on speculative fiction writer and essayist Harlan Ellison. | Full synopsis »
User Reviews:
a mind with sharp teeth See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order)

Harlan Ellison ... Himself

Robin Williams ... Himself

Neil Gaiman ... Himself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Edie Adams ... Trina Yale in 'The Oscar' (archive footage)
Haskell Barkin ... Himself

Tony Bennett ... Hymie Kelly in 'The Oscar' (archive footage)

Stephen Boyd ... Frank Fane in 'The Oscar' (archive footage)
Michael Cassutt ... Himself

Peter David ... Himself
Stu Levin ... Himself

Ronald D. Moore ... Himself
Josh Olson ... Himself
Nicholas Podbrey ... Himself
Dan Simmons ... Himself
Tom Snyder ... Himself (archive footage)

Elke Sommer ... Kay Bergdahl in 'The Oscar' (archive footage)

Jill St. John ... Laurel Scott in 'The Oscar' (archive footage)
Connie Willis ... Herself

Directed by
Erik Nelson 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Erik Nelson  writer

Produced by
Randall M. Boyd .... co-producer
Amy Briamonte .... executive producer
Erik Nelson .... producer
Original Music by
Richard Thompson 
Cinematography by
Wes Dorman 
Film Editing by
Randall M. Boyd 
Makeup Department
Lorraine Martin .... makeup artist
Sound Department
Glenn Bates .... sound recordist
Visual Effects by
Douglas Martin .... visual effects supervisor
Editorial Department
Bartholomew Burcham .... assistant editor
Herrianne Cayabyab .... assistant on-line editor
Terence Curren .... colorist
Terence Curren .... on-line editor
Colin Hatton .... post-production coordinator
David W. Ryan .... assistant editor
Other crew
Colin Hatton .... post-production coordinator

Production CompaniesOther Companies

Additional Details

USA:96 min

Did You Know?

Director Nelson was only 24 when he first videotaped Ellison at a typewriter for a March 1981 PBS documentary about science fiction and fantasy writers - footage that is included in this filmSee more »
Harlan Ellison:"I'm entitled to my opinion"? NO! I've got news for you, schmuck! You're entitled to your INFORMED opinion!See more »


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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful.
a mind with sharp teeth, 25 May 2009
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

While Harlan Ellison might bite my head off for going off into self-indulgence in writing about whether or not I enjoyed Dreams with Sharp Teeth, I should mention how I came across him and why I had to seek out this documentary, for better or worse. The first was watching the adaptation of his short story, A Boy and His Dog, by LQ Jones from the mid-70s, a warped, outrageous, and yet insanely lucid fantasy satire that was the direct inspiration for Mad Max. It's still unlike few stories out there in terms of matching wit with real decrepit atmosphere fused with the cold-blooded non-ideal of living underground in a false utopia.

The second was reading Harlan Ellison's Watching, a collection of his film criticism from the mid 60s to the early 90s. For anyone looking to become anything of a writer about film or one who just wants to become more knowledgeable of Ellison's sardonic and ferocious pen need to check it out, as it is, in my opinion, on par if not more enjoyable than Pauline Kael. He brings personal experience into the work, as well as some imaginative leaps/flights of fancy (i.e. imagining the nimrods going at the mall to see Rambo: First Blood Part 2 opening weekend), and while it and his film writing get only passing mention here, it is something that should be mentioned at every turn. That, along with I would wager reading just one of his stories, will turn you on to him... or turn you off.

The documentary on Mr. Ellison and his successes, and his own personal anger at life and the world in general most days, is adoratory but not unaware of the man's tendencies to lunge out at people's throats (if only figuratively) any chance he gets. He's alive like few other writers (I'd say Hunter S. Thompson could take him, but that's about all that pops into the mind at first), and like all good writers knows that a legacy is legitimate only by the work left behind. As we see here, it is the work that is incredible, if only for the abundance of it: hundreds of short stories, loads of TV work, 8 Hugo awards, and a Master of Science Fiction award. Oh yeah, and apparently this 5'5 Jewish kid from Ohio was a super Ladie's man in his time, though we only get a hint of that and more-so the lovely, acerbic relationship with his current wife of twenty years, who seems to be the only one who can stand up to him when he goes off the rails.

If the filmmakers may take some choice clips that don't quite dig into all the crevices we might want (i.e. they brush over the fact, though make mention, of his lack of contact with a sister, and his personal life in general with his family), they do provide us an idea of his working relationship, maybe so much so that you wonder who could work with him. He's a professional, to be sure, but he'll also nail a gopher to a door of a publisher or go into a Three Stooges style stunt to give a big-time sock in the nose to someone he has a vendetta against, and never will a fool be treated kindly. What one takes away with in Dreams with Sharp Teeth, ultimately, is that whether or not you'll "like" this guy or even "like" the guys writing, he's alive. He won't be a zombie in the world, though he admits that he's thought once or twice it would be more convenient than waking up every morning angry as hell. You wouldn't want to walk down a dark alley and meet this guy's mind and not be ready to spar. If nothing else, the film does a fantastic job illuminating that and the man's career.

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My Video Tribute To Mr. Ellison... jlrucilez
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