• Dream Demon (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: June 23rd, 2020.
    Director: Harley Cokeliss
    Cast: Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite, Timothy Spall, Mark Greenstreet, Jimmy Nail
    Year: 1990
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    Dream Demon – Movie Review:

    Diana Markham (Jemma Redgrave) is soon to be married to her fiancé Oliver (Mark Greenstreet). She’s a school teacher and he’s a decorated veteran of the Falkland Islands war. As the wedding draws near, Diana begins to suffer from very traumatic and vivid nightmares just around the time that she moves into a massive new house in London, a wedding gift from her affluent father.

    She talks to her therapist, Deborah (Susan Fleetwood), about the issue and she ascertains that this is simply virginal Diana’s worrying about consummating her wedding, brought on by pestering reporters Paul (Jimmy Nail) and Peck (Timothy Spall). Things get weird when Jenny (Kathleen Wilhoite), an American orphan hoping to piece together the puzzle of her birth parents’ story, arrives at the door. It seems that Diana’s new pad is the last place that Jenny’s parents lived before they passed away. As Diana’s nightmares continue, Peck mysteriously vanishes after a vivid dream, and she and Jenny start working together to try and figure out what’s really going on here.

    Redgrave and Greenstreet are decent enough here, she’s got an interesting screen presence and is convincing enough in her depiction of Diana’s increasing paranoia. Supporting work from Nail, Spall and Wilhoite is all fine and Susan Fleetwood does decent work here as well. The cast handle the material without any real problems, everyone here does their job well enough.

    Borrowing more than a little from A Nightmare On Elm Street, Dream Demon is a good looking film with some interesting ideas that never takes off the way that you want it to. It’s quite stylish, a nicely lensed picture that makes great use of color and that has some good quality makeup effects on display as well. The production values aren’t half bad here at all, and the film definitely benefits from a good score as well. The direction, however, is a bit messy and the story itself feels tired. It’s interesting that the death of Prince Diana works its way into the movie, thematically (this is covered in the extras in a fair bit of detail) but the script fails to tie everything together the way that it should and, as such, the ending doesn’t have the impact that it needs to really hit the viewer with any actual impact.

    Arrow offers up both the theatrical cut (89:22) and the slightly shorter director's cut (88:08) of the film, the only real difference being a trim to the ending.

    Dream Demon – Blu-ray Review:

    Arrow brings Dream Demon to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc taken from a “brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, supervised and approved by director Harley Cokeliss.” By and large, the picture quality here I excellent. Colors are reproduced beautifully and we get nice, deep black levels. Detail is quite strong, though sometimes the hazy photography softens things a bit, clearly an intentional choice on the part of the filmmakers, and there are no problems with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts. This looks very good indeed.

    The only audio option on the disc is a 16-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo track in the film's native English language. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Audio quality is also very good, offering up clean, clear dialogue and properly balanced levels. The score sounds really strong here as well, it’s quite vibrant and detailed sounding.

    Extras start with a new ‘scene-select audio commentary’ with director Harley Cokeliss and producer Paul Webster. It’s an interesting track that notes the obvious influence of a certain American horror film directed by Wes Craven, but which also talks about other elements that worked their way into the narrative and ideas that the film toys around with. They cover how Cokeliss came to direct, the film’s rocky distribution history, thought on the performances and the look of the film and more. Harley Cokeliss also offers up a minute-long optional introduction to the director’s cut of the film.

    Cokeless appears again in Dream Master, a newly shot twenty-seven-minute interview where he details his connections from this film to his education, working with Webster, more on the influences and distribution, some of the effects work featured in the production and more. Webster also gets a solo interview with the thirty-seven-minute A Nightmare On Eton Avenue where he talks about his background and educational training, his work in the live theater scene, how he got into film production and more.

    Dreaming Of Diana is a sixteen-minute interview with Jemma Redgrave where she talks about making this film very early in her screen acting career, her previous experience acting on the stage, auditioning for the film and landing the part, working with her fellow cast members what it was like on set and more. Actor Mark Greenstreet appears in the ten-minute Cold Reality featurette, speaking about having to have a mold made of his head, who he did and didn't get along with during the shoot in terms of some of the crew, and getting along with the other cast members on the shoot. Sculpting The Part spends nine-minutes with actor Nickolas Grace where he discusses having to work with a child actor on the set, some of the details of the character he played in the film, edits that were made in the picture and more. Up next is a newly-filmed interview with actress Annabelle Lanyon called Angels And Demons. Here, over nine-minutes, she talks about working on the film as a child, interacting with her agent, having to wear a wig for the shot and more. Composer Bill Nelson spends fifteen-minutes talking about his work in Demonic Tones, where he covers having to record in a primitive home studio, the technology that he used and the limitations of it, how he got around those limitations and his thoughts on the film overall.

    Arrow has also included a twenty-six-minute archival featurette entitled Foundations Of Nightmare: The Making of Dream Demon which is made up of a series of on-set interviews with director Harley Cokeliss, producer Paul Webster, actors Timothy Spall, Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite, composer Bill Nelson and quite a few others. There’s quite a bit of behind the scenes footage included in here as well.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are a few still galleries, an original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection options.

    As this review is based on test disc, we can’t comment on the packaging or insert booklet.

    Dream Demon – The Final Word:

    Dream Demon is a mixed bag, there are some great ideas here but the execution is often times lacking which results in a film that never hits its potential. It’s watchable enough, for sure, but it’s far from great. Arrow has done an excellent job bringing it to Blu-ray, however. The disc looks and sounds very nice and contains a great selection of extra features. An impressive package for a film that is just okay.

    Click on the images below for full sized Dream Demon Blu-ray screen caps!