Based on Catherine Storr’s book Marianne Dreams — which was also the inspiration for the early 1970s British TV series Escape Into Night — Paperhouse was an early film from Candyman director Bernard Rose.
11-year-old Anna Madden is dealing with mono and the fever she endures is giving her horrifying dreams in which the house she’s drawn during the day becomes a real place. After drawing a face at the window, she meets someone else, a boy named Marc who is suffering from muscular dystrophy.
Sadly, Elliott Spiers, who played Marc, suffered a negative reaction to an anti-malaria medication that he never recovered from. He dies at the Royal Free Hospital in London just before the second film he appeared in, Taxandria, was released.
Anna’s father is an alcoholic who has been away from his marriage. She draws him one day in the hopes that he can carry Marc away to safety, but her true feelings emerge and she draws him with an angry expression. That drawing becomes an angry ogre who chases the children whole brandishing a hammer.
To top that off, Charlotte Burke — who played Anna — never acted after this film. Years after it was made, she called Rose and told him how much she loved the movie. In fact, she loved it so much that she never wanted to do another film afterward.
This movie is pretty astounding — a dream world where children’s fears become living and breathing monsters. Sadly, it was never released in the US on blu ray or even DVD. Luckily, it is currently available on Amazon Prime. Please check it out while it’s still streaming. It’s so worth your attention.