Dream Lover Come Rescue Me

Rather than use Nightmare on Elm Street’s concept for more teen splatter, Dream Demon turns to a story of repressed memories, victimhood, and anxieties. Looking on from 1988, Dream Demon was ahead of its time in depicting abused women and social inequities, going so far as to infuse Hellraiser’s eerie, discomforting break from domesticity.

Jemma Redgrave stars as Diana, soon to marry a public-facing war hero, but Dream Demon isn’t so clean. Indirectly lambasting the Falkland conflict, Diana fears her husband. She’s never certain why; it seems initially to stem from puritan-based fears, worrying her as the wedding draws near. Turns out, he’s no hero, rather a judgmental, irritated veteran who blames and faults Diana for her mental breakdowns.

There isn’t a good man in this movie. Not only is it Diana’s husband, but two tabloid journalists looking to turn Diana into a headline sensation. They too judge and torment, even lusting after her, hoping for a front page photo.

… as interest wanes, Dream Demon comes up with something exotic

What happens in Dream Demon isn’t inherently supernatural. Spooky, moody, no doubt, but rational in conveying distress. Everything that happens is surreal, if based in real world grief. Diana is joined by new friend Jenny (Kathleen Wihoite), unknowingly carrying her own grief. A psychiatrist notes women connect in unique ways, a clever way to bring these two women together as they share dream experiences. Diana and Jenny naturally support one another, and in doing so, fuse their hurt in visually bold, willfully bizarre dream sequences.

Visions of decapitated heads, molting skin, angels, and burning men let tension build. The mystery isn’t much (and easily solved), yet the visions grow in their intensity the longer they linger. It’s a layered script, if not effectively paced, then at least offering an engaging thematic hook. This isn’t a case of gore, but a subtle teardown of late ‘80s Britain, lessening media morality, and how in the midst of this, women become vulnerable.

Dream Demon works as social criticism. Not so much as a movie, where the plodding, repetitive imagery clogs up the runtime. Creative bursts help though – as interest wanes, Dream Demon comes up with something exotic, like the tabloid photographer stuffing himself with noodles next to a BBQ’d pig head, this as his skin pusses and welts. Feeling empathy for Diana as she hopelessly looks on at one of the men responsible proves startling. Those images linger, if not the whole.

Video

After Dream Demon disappeared from home video for decades, Arrow produces a new master for this release, and not only for the original version, but a slightly shorter director’s cut too. The result is 90 minutes of freshly renewed imagery, showing hardly any major damage or dirt. A slight scratch or occasional specks do appear, however limited. This is remarkably controlled for a film sitting in a vault for however long.

Superb definition and texture stick out behind a resolved, clean grain structure. The 35mm stock maintains consistency and clarity, only a step below the best 4K masters (Dream Demon comes from a 2K scan). Look for mossy growths on the home’s exterior, facial detail in close, and overall pleasing resolution.

Impressive as whole, it’s the color likely to draw some debate. It’s unusually heavy, as if vibrancy mattered above all. That’s toned down later as Dream Demon slips into basement dungeons (the blue tint organic, not digital), but prior, skin tones carry neon saturation. Lipstick glows. Primaries go beyond a typical peak, arguably excessive, if also setting an aesthetic into place. The first act is dynamic, then falling off as madness ensues.

Audio

Surprisingly wide in stereo involvement, sound effects spread between the speakers with atypical precision for something of this budget and/or age. Listen as cameras click or objects fall. Even voices drop into positional spots. It’s great.

So too is fidelity, pure and organic. A low-end touch adds light rumble to an earthquake, equally smooth.

Extras

Arrow goes a long way into making this release count. Beyond the original/director’s cut (shared on the single disc), director Harley Cokeliss and producer Paul Webster add thoughts in a partial commentary; they speak for 46-minutes over specific scenes.

A making of from 1988 runs 28-minutes, but Arrow’s litany of interviews count for more. Cokeliss speaks for 27-minutes (and provides a brief movie intro), Webster for 37-minutes, followed by cast members Jemma Redgrave (16:00), Mark Greenstreet (9:44), Nickolas Grace (8:58), and Annabelle Lanyon (9:20), with composer Bill Nelson chatting for 15-minutes. A trailer with an image gallery comes in for the finale.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Dream Demon
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Dream Demon found itself ahead of its time in depicting emotional manipulation and how social standards impacted women.

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