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Dream Demon (1988)
This movie is a strange little amalgam. A dash of Sam Raimi gross out, a hint of haunted house potboiler and a pinch of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
Our main character is Diana (Jemma Redgrave) and she is having awful dreams in which her soon to be husband Oliver (Mark Greenstreet) is a total tool. In the dream that opens the film, it is her wedding day, she it at the altar with Oliver and when the priest finishes his “Do you take this man?” spiel, Diana decides she can’t go through with it. Well, Oliver gets very upset and CANNOT BELIEVE SHE IS DOING THIS TO HIM. He hauls off and slaps her. Well, Diana isn’t about to take that and she hits him back – and his head flies off. A geyser of blood spurts out of his neck that would impress Old Faithful. Diana is soaked in the stuff, and takes off running Julia Roberts style from the church. But she doesn’t get far because there is a mob of reporters and photographers waiting as she bursts of out the doors.
But Diana doesn’t have anything to worry about – not really – does she? Oliver is a very nice young man (or is he?) and Diana’s doctor friend tells her that she she’s just nervous, which is perfectly natural and normal (did I mention Diana is a virgin?) and that everything will be fine.
A young American (oh yeah – this takes place in England) Jenny (Kathleen Wilhoite) arrives in the city. She was born in England but can remember nearly nothing about her childhood (she should go to The Dream Factory! Actually so should Diana…) and was raised by her adoptive parents in Los Angeles. She wants to find out about her past, and one of the few thing she does recall is a house – the one that Diana now lives in.
Oliver is a Falkland’s hero (look it up, I had to) and so his wedding is generating public interest – two news rag dudes turn up in front of the school Diana works at and ask if she is willing to be photographed and to answer a few questions about the upcoming nuptials. She’s not a bitch, so she agrees until their inquiries quickly become rude and she tells them THEY HAVE SOME NERVE and ends the interview.
The photographer Peck (Timothy Spall) and the reporter Paul (Jimmy Nail) are waiting for Diana outside her house when she returns home, but Jenny comes to Diana’s rescue and both girls run inside.
Jenny tells Diana about why she is in England, and about her interest in Diana’s house – which seems so very familiar to her. They two make plans to meet the following day.
Peck decides to sneak into the house during the night – but he never comes back out! Paul slips in the next morning to look for him and Diana and Jenny discover him in the basement. Paul wants to know what is going on – where is Peck? Well, Diana had a dream about him, in which he tormented her and then fell into a hellish pit…
Diana’s dreams get exceedingly worse and she invites Jenny to stay with her. Oliver isn’t around because he is off shagging some hooker (see how he is). When Diana nods off, she manages to suck Jenny into her dream. Jenny is able to wake her, but she is pretty freaked out because something was after her in the dream and what would have happened if she hadn’t been able to rouse Diana?
Jenny decides she doesn’t care anymore about her past and just wants to get out of dodge, but she cannot get a flight home for a week. Diana accompanies Jenny in her hotel room and Jenny believes that since they’re out of the house, Diana should be able to sleep peacefully, and Jenny should be safe.
Paul shows up while Diana is asleep and informs Jenny that the only reason Oliver is marrying Diana is because he is broke and she has money. And Paul and Jenny find that Jenny was quite wrong about the influence of Diana’s dreaming as they both begin to fade and then completely disappear. Has Diana dreamt them away forever?
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.
The pay off isn’t substantial enough – emotionally or story wise and things are wrapped up far too easily and neatly. And a lot is never explained – for example why is Diana able to send people into her dreams? Why does the house manifest “the haunting” through dreams? And who is the Dream Demon anyway? C