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Dream Lover (1986)

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After she's been attacked in her apartment, Cathy starts reliving the event in her dreams. She seeks help at a sleep disorder research center, but in doing so she encounters some unexpected... See full summary »



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Title: Dream Lover (1986)

Dream Lover (1986) on IMDb 5/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathy Gardner
Michael Hansen
Ben Gardner
Justin Deas ...
Kevin McCann
Paul West ...
Matthew Long ...
Vaughn Capisi
Doctor James
Ellen Parker ...
Nurse Jennifer
Lynn Webster ...
Brenda Cowling ...
Hotel Manager
Charles West ...
Man at Hilton Hotel


After she's been attacked in her apartment, Cathy starts reliving the event in her dreams. She seeks help at a sleep disorder research center, but in doing so she encounters some unexpected results ... Written by Homme A. Piest <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Now I lay me down to sleep. If I should kill before I wake...


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 April 1986 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Dream Lover  »

Box Office


$758,501 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

Relentless creep-out from director of "Klute"
11 September 1999 | by (Burbank, California) – See all my reviews

This is a creepy little film... Kristy McNichol plays Kathy, a flautist and daddy's girl from the suburbs who is invited to join a professional jazz combo with a gig in a downtown restaurant in a big city. No sooner has she rented an apartment in town than she is attacked by a stalker, whom she kills in self-defense. Afterwards she attempts to suppress the memory of the attack and subsequently is plagued by a recurring nightmare where she relives the night of the attack. The rest of the movie deals with her relationship with a sleep researcher who uses her as a guinea pig in his experiments into the dream-life of animals. The scenes with McNichol playing flute and scatting are a little embarrassing (the movie employed technical advisors for scenes involving clinical psychology, and they could have used similar advice in the scenes with the jazz combo). Also, there's not much dramatic tension in a movie where Science is the protagonist and the only real antagonist is McNichol's lingering nightmares (in contrast with, say, "Altered States", where sound scientific theories complemented perfectly the fact that all the scientists were raving nutters). But the atmosphere is certainly unnerving and claustrophobic. The movie shifts from dream-frame to reality-frame often enough so that at the most crucial moments, you're kept guessing whether what you're seeing is real or not. Director Pakula coaxes his usual understated, naturalistic performances from all concerned. McNichol is perfectly cast as the slightly lost, sexually vulnerable young artist out on her own for the first time, and gives a great performance I've never seen her match. Her scenes with her father are affecting and pathetic. Paul Shenar is great, too, as Kathy's Dad; "Twin Peaks" fans will no doubt spend most of the film watching and waiting for the man who played Laura Palmer's possessed father to look in a mirror and see the face of Bob. To sum up: this is not one of Pakula's best movies, but definitely worth seeing--if only for the scene where McNichol meets her psychotic, and armed, self in a dream.

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