The Dreaming (1988)

From Television and Film Character Encyclopedia

An archaeologist uncovers a cursed bracelet which dooms those it comes in contact with.


Folk Horror


Professor Bernard Thornton - Arthur Dignam

Cathy Thornton - Penny Cook

Geoff - Gary Sweet

Najira - Laurence Clifford

Warindji - Kristina Nehm

Dr Graham - Patrick Frost

Dr Richards - John Noble

Archeologist - Peter Merril

Admissions Officer - Deborah Little

Alf - Leo Taylor

Young Nurse - Marcella Russo

Sister - Kathy Fisher

Policeman - Gary Goodwin

Priest - Frank Casper

Undertaker - Geoff Smith

Hospital Aides - Brian Mulqueeny and Boris Maciburko

Security Guards - Ian Kakoschioe and Mike Read

Students - Chris Jones and Kate Rankin

Detectives - Mike Norman and Peter Green

Truck Driver - Jack Harris

Small Boy - Dieter Linde

Cleaner - Margaret Atkinson

Drunk - Hedley Cullen

Barristers - Kate Roberts and Brenton Whittle

Court Usher - Morris Howie

Whalers - Kim Hyde, Michael Evans, Geoff Ledger, Val Pylpenko, Frank Smith, Phil Swan, Ken Hopkins, Paul Cornelius, John Blocki, Jeff James, Michael Dare, and Phil Van Dyck

Character thumbnails with links to profiles

Detailed Synopsis

"Two hundred years ago...Bands of men roamed the oceans...from the east coast of America to the Great Southern Land of Australia...They were Whalers...hardened, brutal men who hunted the giant creatures for their precious oil...Arriving before civilisation on the vast Australian continent..they intruded on the natives who lived at one with the land, and who cherished the mystical power of their Dreaming...a knowledge handed down from the time the world began...The Whalers and the aborigines met. There were rapes, killings, massacres...a betrayal of innocence...a taint on the Dreaming...A taint that will live on into the present...and create a new kind of nightmare..."

A helicopter lands at an archaeological base camp. Professor Bernard Thornton gets out and an Archeologist tells him that they found a cave sealed by the Aborigines. He continues that the cave has wall paintings that are fairly recent and that he thinks the Anthropology department should take over. The Archeologist takes Bernard inside of the cave and shows him the rock art. Bernard starts to chip at the seal on the cave and a large amount of pressurized air bursts out of the cave. Bernard goes inside the new chamber and finds a burial of some sort. He then finds a bracelet and when he touches it, sees a vision of an Aboriginal woman and a group of Whalers walking onto the shore. During the vision the Whalers come across a group of Aborigines sleeping on the beach and start to slaughter the men and rape the women.

9 Months later, a group of teenagers including Warindji and Najira break into a university museum and steal artifacts including the bracelet. The alarm goes off and Warindji puts the bracelet on her arm and tries to run away with the others. She is surrounded by Security Guards and after spraying one with a fire extinguisher, is taken to the hospital. Cathy Thornton is waiting outside when Warindji arrives on a stretcher brought in by two Hospital Aides who are surrounded by two Detectives. A Young Nurse tells Cathy that no one knows what happened to Warindji and that she was unconscious when the police found her. Dr Graham walks into the operating room with a Policeman. Cathy wonders to Sister if Warindji was unconscious before or after the police found her. Graham suggests they get her looked at quickly, but Cathy insists they do a thorough job. A Detective asks Dr Richards what was stolen and Richards asks the Detective if he could keep things out of the press. Richards sees Bernard and tells him about the theft of the bracelet. He then tells him that he is putting the island where the cave was at off limits.

Cathy and Graham look at the x-rays and while Cathy is staring at them, the image starts to move and Warindji starts to squirm on the stretcher and then codes. Cathy has a similar vision to that of Bernard, but she is chased into the cave by the leader of the Whalers. Warindji dies and Cathy tells Graham that she wants to do an autopsy. Cathy thinks she sees a gash on Warindji's shoulder, but when Graham checks her body, there is no gash wound. As Cathy is leaving work, she notices a tattoo pattern on her wrist. She goes to the library where the only other person there is a Cleaner and while taking notes on Aborigines, the clock stops working and her hand starts to move on its own and draws out a pattern. She drives home and Geoff asks her where she has been. He tells her that they are supposed to have dinner with the Maoists. She tells him that she would rather stay home and he calls her selfish and arrogant, just like Bernard. During the night, Cathy has a nightmare and when she wakes up, realizes the pattern she drew out matches that of an island. The next day at the hospital, Cathy asks the Admissions Officer who brought Warindji to the hospital. While they are talking, Najira steals the bracelet from the nearby table. Cathy's pager goes off and she calls Bernard and he tells her that her mother died and when the funeral is.

At the funeral, the Priest gives the final prayer while the Undertaker holds the umbrella for him. After the funeral, Cathy goes to speak to Bernard and when she gets into the car tells Geoff that she hates Bernard. Before he leaves, Bernard tosses his wedding ring in his wife's casket. Cathy tells Geoff that she is going to walk to work and as she is walking, she sees Najira arguing with Bernard about who the artifacts belong to. Cathy follows Najira into a bar where a Drunk is playing cards. She follows him outside past a Small Boy and shows him the mark on her wrist. He walks away from her and she hears a crash and walks to where the noise came from and sees a Truck Driver staring at the impaled body of Najira. She goes to Bernard's house and hears the phone ringing. She picks it up and Richards asks to speak with Bernard and says he heard from some Students that Bernard went back to the island. Cathy finds a map in Bernard's house and drives away. Geoff apologizes to some Barristers for being late and a Court Usher walks by. His pager goes off and he calls the number and it is the hospital asking where Cathy is.

Cathy drives to an inn which she saw a photo of on Bernard's wall. She gets a room for the night from Alf and asks to rent a boat. During the night she thinks she hears a female guest crying and walks towards the lobby and see the Whalers harassing the same Aboriginal woman from the dream. She wakes up and takes a boat to the island. She finds Bernard chopping wood and she tells him that Richards was asking where he was and he tells her that he isn't leaving the island. She tells him about her visions and he suggests she might be working too much. Geoff goes to see Richards who tells him about the island. Bernard goes back to the dig site and brings in a surveying tripod. While Cathy is on the beach she finds a mutilated sea lion. While in the cave, Bernard finds a whaler's weapon. While she is taking a bath, Cathy has a vision that Geoff is hunted down and killed by the Whalers. Geoff arrives on the island and when Cathy sees him, she yells that he is dead. Bernard brings out the Whaler's weapon and looks at it admiringly. He sees Cathy with Geoff and stares at them. Geoff finds the Whaler's diary and reads entries starting from 20th July, 1856. He sees a bonfire and when he goes to investigate it, he is killed by Bernard. Cathy hears Geoff scream and finds the diary with artifacts surrounding it. She reads from it and reads the entry where the Whaler leader talks of the murder of the men and his rape of the Aboriginal woman who fled into the cave of the dead. Bernard, now transformed into the leader of the Whalers attacks Cathy and she runs away. She finds Geoff's body tied up and impaled and runs to the lighthouse. Bernard follows her and tries to rape her and she grabs his weapon and strikes him with it. Bernard falls out of the window and falls to his death below.