DREAM DEMON (1988) Reviews and overview

 

Dream Demon was released by Arrow Video on Blu-ray in Canada, the UK and the USA in May 2020. Hardly seen since its VHS release, the film has been newly-restored from the original camera negative and in a brand new Director’s Cut. Buy from Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Special Edition Contents:

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative supervised and approved by director Harley Cokeliss
  • Director’s Cut and Original Theatrical Version
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new scene-select audio commentary with director Harley Cokeliss and producer Paul Webster
  • Newly-filmed interview with director Harley Cokeliss
  • Newly-filmed interview with producer Paul Webster
  • Newly-filmed interview with actress Jemma Redgrave
  • Newly-filmed interview with actor Mark Greenstreet
  • Newly-filmed interview with actor Nickolas Grace
  • Newly-filmed interview with actress Annabelle Lanyon
  • Newly-filmed interview with composer Bill Nelson
  • Foundations of Nightmare: The Making of Dream Demon – contemporary documentary taking a look behind the scenes of the production of Dream Demon, featuring on-set interviews with director Harley Cokeliss, producer Paul Webster, actors Timothy Spall, Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite, composer Bill Nelson and many more
  • Image Galleries
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Bilson, author of the Dream Demon novelisation, and director Harley Cokeliss
  • Reversible poster featuring exclusive newly-commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy

Meanwhile, here is our previous coverage of this ’80s rubber-reality pic:

“A terrifying game of hide and seek in the darkest corners of your mind.’

Dream Demon is a 1988 British horror feature film directed by Harley Cokeliss [as Harley Cokliss] (Battletruck) from a screenplay co-written with Christopher Wicking (To the Devil a Daughter; Demons of the Mind; Scream and Scream Again; et al). The movie stars Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite (Witchboard), Timothy Spall, Jimmy Nail and Mark Greenstreet.

Plot:

Diana (Jemma Redgrave) is an upper-class young woman with a troubled past, who is on the verge of marrying the caddish Oliver (Mark Greenstreet). Diana begins experiencing terrifying dreams. She sees her past, present and future, while at the same time entering a dark dimension of her own.

One day, Diana is visited by Jenny (Kathleen Wilhoite), an American tourist and also a victim of a turbulent past. Without knowing how or why Diana suddenly pulls Jenny into her nightmarish world…

Reviews:

“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 just 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…” British Horror Films

“Within the confines of a love story gone wrong, images of torment and scenes of abuse rear their ugly head in a few shocking sequences, so it’s not surprising that Dream Demon seems to stick in the minds of horror fans, even if they haven’t seen it since they were kids.” Dread Central

“The film does get into Freddy Krueger territory once in a while when Redgrave begs Wilhoite not to let her sleep, and there are too many scenes where you are supposed to believe the subjects are awake, when in fact you know they are dreaming and something bad is about to happen. Redgrave is good, but is outshined by Wilhoite.” eFilm Critic

“Even with re-editing Dream Demon isn’t that great. The good news is that it’s no worse (and actually a bit better) than some of the fare Arrow has been providing us with lately (e.g. Nico Mastorakis‘ back catalogue) so if you liked those you’ll probably like this. I certainly didn’t feel the sense of rage with which I left the cinema back in 1988…” House of Mortal Cinema

Dream Demon has some very strong visuals – the first few dreams are considerably well done – and the performances are all believable, but the story is too threadbare. This becomes especially noticeable during the film’s a-bad-thing-happened-in-the-house-and-that-past-trauma-is-responsible-for-the-current-crisis denouement.” It All Happens in the Dark

” …a rip-off may have been how Dream Demon began, but the film took on a whole new life of its own during the writing process, becoming more like the arthouse, convoluted, ultra-weird and at times shockingly gory version of Craven’s film. Not to mention, it’s packed with Heaven and Hell imagery that is simply stunning, even more so on Arrow’s restored disc.” Killer Horror Critic

” …all the murky symbolism about Jemma Redgrave’s marital fears, Kathleen Wilhoite’s forgotten memories about her childhood abuse, mirror-reversed apartments, angels, the two reporters who keep turning up as monsters and a considerable degree of confusion between when it is dream and reality, adds to a puzzling mess.” Moria

“Blurring the line between reality and dream, the film keeps the audience off-balance, while the effects are employed sparingly but to good effect. With more time and money, Cokliss might have sorted out the shaky plot and made more of some intriguing ideas. Still, stylish photography, excellent sets, and Bill Nelson’s jagged soundtrack ensure scariness.” Time Out

“Features a variety of nightmarish scenes where people morph into other people, a reporter’s flesh gives way to punches, hellish basements, ghosts, alternate dimensions, mirror worlds, a woman wakes up only to find herself still in a dream, etc. Weak horror but mildly entertaining.” The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre

Choice dialogue:

Minister (Richard Warner): “It’s not every day that a Falklands hero is married in this little church.”

Peck (Timothy Spall): “Stuck up cow! What’s up her knickers?”

Peck (Timothy Spall): “How about a nice fry up?”

Cast and characters:

Jemma Redgrave … Diana

Kathleen Wilhoite … Jenny Hoffman

Timothy Spall … Peck

Jimmy Nail … Paul

Mark Greenstreet … Oliver

Susan Fleetwood … Deborah

Annabelle Lanyon … Little Jenny

Nickolas Grace … Jenny’s Father

Patrick O’Connell … Detective

Andrew Jones … Designer

Richard Warner … Minister

Filming locations:

53 Eton Avenue, Belsize Park, London, NW3, England
Lee International Studios, Wembley, London, England

Technical details:

86 minutes
Audio: Dolby
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Fun Facts:

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror states that the film “was originally written by David Pirie and Richard Rayner for Christopher Petit, this then passed through several talented hands before emerging as an uneasy, compromised, tentative stab at a British A Nightmare on Elm Street (1985) with a few overtones from Hellraiser (1987).”

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