Dreams were a total nightmare in the 80s, no matter what street you lived on! Dreamscape and Bad Dreams were just a few of the obvious titles to explore the subject. And then there was the 1986 Kristy McNichol film Dream Lover.
Kristy doesn’t exactly love her dreams. She hates them! The title isn’t the only bizarre aspect of this film. Kristy’s character is a talented flute player who is about to get the chance of a lifetime…if her daddy will allow her to take it.
Okay. The father/daughter relationship is so uncomfortable in this film. There are hints dropped that her father “killed” her mother by being too controlling. He seems to be controlling of Kristy. Then he doesn’t seem so bad. Then it feels like their relationship is perverted when she acts like a submissive thumb-sucking little girl in bed with him. Then it appears he really is just an overprotective dad who won’t let her grow up and can’t fathom the idea of her having a sexual relationship with another man.
Kristy spends a good part of the movie acting like an adult woman whose emotional growth was so stunted that she has turned out as a wide-eyed helpless victim. But her acting is outstanding when she discovers a man in her apartment (he also gives an amazing and chilling performance) and he threatens to do awful things to her. When she turns the tables and stabs him, Daddy swoops in and tells her to lie to the police about what happened.
And so begins chronic nightmares about what she went through. It gets so bad she goes to a sleep clinic for help. But they just do testing. They don’t help cure anyone of anything. Luckily, there’s some dude walking by who says something about only being qualified to work with animals, but then decides he can help her anyway.
So begins their romantic relationship as he tries to help Kristy get control of her recurring nightmare. Trippy things start to happen in her dreams. She dreams that she is the man who broke into her apartment. She dreams that her lover man is trying to assault her. She has dreams about living in the Victorian era. She is a hot psychosexual mess! Eventually, she runs home to Daddy….
At this point, you really think her dreams are going to finally reveal some fucked up shit that she suppressed concerning her, her dad, and her mom, but it never happens. Just an absurd finale in which she ends up on a balcony railing while having a nightmare and her love interest conveniently ends up on the balcony of her neighbors apartment to save the day.
Needless to say, The Pirate Movie still remains Kristy McNichol’s best movie ever.