Dream Demon (1987)
It's the wedding of the year, but it's not long before the bride's had second thoughts at the altar and literally knocked the groom's block off. So begins Dream Demon, the British late 80s answer to A Nightmare On Elm Street, except not.
Jemma Redgrave is Diana, a Fergie-alike who's having the jitters prior to her wedding to her Falklands hero boyfriend Oliver. Her jitters appear to be manifesting themselves in the form of the aforementioned bad dreams, including one where she meets the in-laws dressed in her pants. We've all been there... She's also, apparently, dreamt that Oliver raped her, which is a "symbol", according to her best mate - although she won't tell her what of (handy).
In a parallel to the Royal family (her name and "Sloane Ranger" look are not-very-subtle pointers to this), Diana gets hassled by the press (Jimmy Nail and Timothy Spall) in the street, but tells them to sod off. "Stuck up cow," says Spall. "What's got up her knickers?"
"Not me, unfortunately," says slab-faced talent vacuum Nail.
Luckily, just like during WW2 the Americans are on hand to save the day, as a young Gothic yank called Jenny jumps in hobnails-first shouting "Print this, dickhead!". In Diana's house, Jenny is convinced she's lived there before, and it's not long before the bad dreams are starting again, this time involving Spall ("Hello, dog meat"), cellars, angels and big holes. "Oh my God..." indeed.
Spall appears to have died in the dream (although it's too dark to see exactly what happened to him - a major drawback with most of the film, unfortunately), and Diana is worried that she's killed him in real life. Jenny, unperturbed by Diana's obvious barkingness, suggests that the best way to show Diana that she's okay is to go back into the cellar and confront the scene of her last dream. "There's no way that sad creep could be down there..." she reasons.
However, Jimmy Nail is down there (so much for Jenny's reasoning), although how he got into the cellar is anyone's guess. His explanation that he's an investigative reporter and he's looking for his photographer is pretty crap, really. He's trespassing in someone's cellar, for goodness' sake! There's also the matter of a spooky ghost-like bride which we catch sight of shortly before Nail's entrance.
After kicking Nail out, Diana's dreams continue - earthquakes, blood pouring through cracks in the walls, young girls being abused by their fathers, and a zombie Timothy Spall with a decaying face and removable ears. Diana now reveals that she is, in fact, a virgin (much to Jenny's amusement), and that she reckons her dreams are happening because she's terrified of the wedding night. This time the spunky Yank decides that what they need to do is go back into the cellar and photograph what happens, but after a few Hellraiser-like lighting effects they find themselves on the wrong side of Diana's living room mirror, in a dark, backwards world populated by screaming human torches (well, one anyway).
Diana (finally) gets taken to hospital, where she's sedated and appears to suck both Nail (who's discovered a few home truths about Oliver) and Jenny into her dream. Jenny is chased by Jimmy Nail with exaggerate features (yes, it's as horrifying as it sounds), whilst Jenny comes across a bloated, rotting Spall (ditto), eventually punching him one in the mush and putting her fist right through his head.
As the dreams continue and Jenny learns a bit more about her husband-to-be, we eventually discover exactly why the dreams are happening and what is responsible.
Dream Demon is a puzzle - it works on some levels (the special effects are nicely done, if a bit understated, and it is genuinely frightening at points), baffles at others (it's never explained who or what the "Dream Demon" of the title actually is - from the video box cover you'd expect it to be Spall, but it's not that clear cut), and ultimately disappoints. Anyone renting this in '87 expecting a British Nightmare On Elm Street (at one point Diana screams: "I think I'm awake and then I keep waking up!") would have thrown it back at the fat, moustachioed bloke behind the counter in disgust, but as with Palace's other 80s horrors (Paperhouse, Lair Of The White Worm) there are some brilliant ideas going on. Dream Demon is worth watching for its artistic sensibilities alone - I loved the idea of the world beyond the mirror, the weird effect as people disappear from real life is nicely done and some of the gore effects are spectacular. It's jut a shame it hasn't got any real baddies in it. The storyline cries out for a Pinhead or a Freddie Krueger - two wastoids from 80s building site "comedy" Auf Weidersehn, Pet just don't cut it, however ugly they are in real life.
Last updated: February 22, 2010
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