Despite being saddled with one of those supremely irritating "dream vs. reality" type plots, DREAM DEMON is a surprisingly well-made British horror film which could be considered the British equivalent of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The budget may have been low (especially considering the state of British cinema in the '80s) but the producers of this movie picked some fairly good actors and mixed them into a complicated plot involving a girl's dreams which become reality. This is a film which manages to be pretty suspenseful in places and even - wow! - scary on occasion. I wouldn't consider it a great movie but it passes the time nicely and has some over-the-top splatter for gore fans to enjoy, while displaying an imagination usually lacking in late '80s cinema.
Opening with a superbly crafted shock scene involving a decapitation at a wedding of all places, the film alternates between reality and dreamscapes repeatedly with the lines between the two becoming ever more blurred. Shots of heroines running down weirdly-lit netherworldly corridors deserve a nod to HELLRAISER, that other major late '80s British horror movie, but the script remains unpredictable at all times. The cast is an interesting one, with Jemma Redgrave giving a powerful performance in the leading role as the dreamer, with Kathleen Wilhoite as her imported American friend (shame about that dated haircut though). Surprisingly the heavies are played by Timothy Spall and Jimmy Nail, two well-known British comedy actors. The surprising thing is that they're actually very good as the two loathsome reporters, with Spall being particularly repulsive.
The splatter effects are kept to a minimum but tend to go over-the-top when they do appear. In all the film doesn't really make much sense (at least to this viewer), and with the flashback to the burning figure I wasn't really sure how that linked to all of the terror. Still, there is plenty to be entertained by for the horror fan including walls which crack and bleed and lots of shadowy menace. An intriguing effort.