After a few decades as a great source of horror, England in the ’80s wasn’t quite so scary. Gone were Hammer, Amicus and Tigon. But there was still a bit of a nightmare lurking on the British Isles. This was proven when Clive Barker gave us Hellraiser in 1987. The next year another nightmare was unleashed with Dream Demon. This was a bit of a proper English horror that played a bit upon the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. But the filmmakers covered their tracks slightly. The female lead is a school teacher named Diana that gets swept up into a high profile wedding. But her groom is merely an upper class war hero and not the future King of England so there’s no fear of the Royal Family shutting down the production. However technology has held back Dream Demon since for a few decades hasn’t been available since the original VHS release. Now the movie has been not only upgraded to Blu-ray, but given a fresh edit to tweak the scares with Dream Demon: Director’s Cut.
School teacher Diana Markham (Doctor Who‘s Jemma Redgrave) gets cold feet while at the altar with Fauklands War hero Oliver (Trainer‘s Mark Greenstreet). Her not-quite husband loses his temper at her reluctance to marry and slaps her across the veil. She slaps him back and his head pops off. His blood covers her as she rushes out of the church only to be greeted by a wall of English journalists and cameramen eager for a scoop. What a nightmare. And it is. She wakes up in bed with Oliver near her. It was all just a dream. But the press is a real horror show when Peck (Harry Potter‘s Timothy Spall) and Paul (Morons From Outer Space‘s Jimmy Nail) stalk her to get the truth about the upcoming marriage. Peck creeps up on her bedroom window to get naughty snaps for his Fleet Street rag. Her only defense is when Jenny (Road House‘s Kathleen Wilhoite) takes on the snooping journalists. Diana and Jenny become fast friends which also means that Jenny gets drawn into Diana’s horrific nightmares. What are they going to do to get her back to having sweet dreams before her big wedding day?
Dream Demon came about when the company that distributed A Nightmare on Elm Street in England wanted to make a local version of the film. They succeeded in making a movie that gave a true English flair instead of merely sticking a bowler on Freddie Kruger’s head and have his finger knives cut up scones. There’s a touch of the whole Princess Diana wedding without it being overbearing. Oliver is definitely Prince Charles dealing with waiting for his mother to die to assume the crown. Although he does have that upper crust attitude to all things including romance with Diana.
The special gore effects are very effective although the most disgusting moment in the film involves Timothy Spall licking Diana’s engagement ring. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. It could gave Christopher Lee the heebies if he saw Spall’s tongue touch the metal. It’s more stomach churning than when Freddy Krueger’s tongue came through the phone.
The big difference between the director’s cut and the original cut is that Cokeliss snipped off the final scene. While not wanting to spoil it, the moment did lessen the tone of the film by giving it too much of a comical edge after a film that had it’s fill of scares. You’ll appreciate the movie more by watching the director’s cut first. Dream Demon might have taken it’s time to rise up from VHS to Blu-ray, but it’s been worth the wait.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the physical effects that will gross you out. You will see so clearly what Timothy Spall does to the engagement ring. The audio is LCPM 2.0 Stereo. The uncompressed soundtrack brings out the creepy nature in Bill Nelson’s synth based score. The movie is subtitled in English.
Introduction (0:45) describes how Harley Cokeliss could recut and improve the film.
Original Theatrical Version (89:23) is the released version that ended up on VHS.
Dream Master (27:22) is a fresh interview with director Harley Cokeliss. He talks about how the project came together after he was finishing Bad Moon Rising. He go the job over a meal when someone dropped by his table. Turns out the original director had to bail. He went into pre-production immediately in England. They show off the storyboards. He explains how the director’s cut came about.
A Nightmare on Eton Avenue (37:22) talks with producer Paul Webster. He started his job checking 35mm prints for distribution to art houses. He moved up from there. This was his first production. He would produce dozens more film including Sexy Beast.
Dreaming of Diana (16:00) catches up with actress Jemma Redgrave. She talks about learning sign language for the film. She says her character wasn’t supposed to be Princess Diana.
Cold Reality (9:44) meets up with actor Mark Greenstreet. He liked working on the film because it had a street quality to it. He’s not sure how he got cast. But he remembers the continuity director since she worked on James Bond films. Greenstreet was up for the role of Bond on The Living Daylights that went to Timothy Dalton.
Sculpting the Part (8:58) chats with actor Nikolas Grace. He talks about playing a father in the film. He was also eager to be in a proper horror film. Grace went on to play Albert Einstein on Doctor Who.
Angels and Demons (9:20) lets Annabelle Lanyon recount her time of playing a dual role in the film.
Demonic Tons (15:13) gets the score from composer Bill Nelson. He recounts getting run the rough draft of the movie to get musical ideas. He recorded the score in his home studio. Nelson was the leader of the English band Be-Bop Deluxe.
Foundations of Nightmare: The Making of Dream Demon (26:26) along with the people already interviewed Timothy Spall contributes to the story of how the film was made. This was made to promote the theatrical release of the film.
Original Theatrical Trailer (1:56) focuses on the nightmares.
Image Gallery includes Behind the Scenes (8:50) and Promotional (2:50) with a bunch of the wrappers for the VHS release, lobby cards and production shots.
Select-Scene Audio Commentary with Harley Cokeliss and Paul Webster has them focus on 46 minutes of the film. They give a background.
Arrow Video present Dream Demon: Director’s Cut. Directed by: Harley Cokeliss. Screenplay by: Christopher Wicking, Harley Cokeliss & Catherine de Pury. Starring: Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall, Mark Greenstreet & Susan Fleetwood. Rated: R. Running Time: 88 minutes. Released: June 23, 2020.
Tags: Arrow Video, Doctor Who, Dream Demon, Harry Potter