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  Dream Demon There Goes The Bride
Year: 1988
Director: Harley Cokeliss
Stars: Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite, Timothy Spall, Jimmy Nail, Mark Greenstreet, Susan Fleetwood, Annabelle Lanyon, Nickolas Grace, Patrick O'Connell, Andrew Jones, Richard Warner
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Diana (Jemma Redgrave) is the blushing bride standing at the altar with her husband to be Oliver (Mark Greenstreet), but when the vicar asks her the big question, the one that should be answered "I do", she cannot bring herself to agree. As she breaks the news to her fiancé in front of his family, he quickly turns livid and slaps her across the face in his humiliation, which earns a fury of her own and she hits him in the head, which has the unfortunate effect of smashing it clean off, whereupon she is sprayed with the blood from Oliver's neck. She runs from the church and straight into a group of press, attracted by Oliver's Falklands War hero status, which confuses her even more...

And then she wakes up! The end. Oh, no, there was more to it than that, because Dream Demon was posited as the British answer to Hollywood's A Nightmare on Elm Street, the connection being that they both featured nightmares the heroine has difficulty waking from. But there was one big difference: you're likely to have heard of Freddy Krueger, whereas this little item was trapped in obscurity for decades thanks to the collapse of its parent company Palace Pictures which placed it in a legal limbo. Now those dark days are over, it can be reassessed as one of those rarities, a British chiller from the eighties that gained a big screen release, though it was better known on video.

It was also shown on television before slipping off the radar, and there are those who have fond if vague memories of seeing it back when it was current. Are those benevolent feelings justified? Well, yes and no, it was not a disaster as some thought at the time, but it was overall far too vague about what was supposed to be happening, purposefully so to emphasise the mystery angle, yet a motive for the dream world becoming reality was never clearly established. With no central villain to serve up some much-needed explanation, it was left to Diana and her new American pal Jenny (Kathleen Wilhoite) to work out what was going on, and they did not do a particularly good job.

What they did instead was run about shadowy and tastefully lit sets, screaming and looking panicked. It was something to do with the house Diana is living in, bought by her father for her and Oliver to live in, but with a history connected to Jenny's past, symbolised by Annabelle Lanyon playing a victimised little girl (Lanyon, best known for Legend, was often called on to play children despite being in her twenties at the time, and she's not entirely convincing here). To make matters worse, there are a couple of tabloid reporters sniffing around, played by Timothy Spall and Jimmy Nail, who had evidently loved working with each other on that decade's popular TV dramedy Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and keen to team up again. Though like a lot of this, it was a curious choice for both.

Director Harley Cokeliss (somewhat bravely credited without the "E" in his surname in a Ghostbusters-reminiscent development) made Herculean efforts throughout the eighties to establish himself as the talent behind fantasy and science fiction for that decade, but despite a few releases it never quite took off and before long he was landed in series television, for his sins. He did not do too bad a job here with the atmospherics, and he was blessed with a decent effects and makeup team, but the positioning of Redgrave as basically Princess Diana circa her era as Lady Di, hassled by the tabloids and cast in the role of shy, virginal bride, was so specific to that time, in fact a bit before it, that it did the film few favours when there was no real development of the heroine past that. Wilhoite added her usual punky energy, and Spall and Nail were enjoying themselves, but it was anaemic overall and unsure whether to go the full Hellraiser, which might have improved it. As it was, a footnote, but with a sliver of nostalgia for the select few. Music by Bill Nelson of Be-Bop Deluxe.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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