Every now and then I trip over a film so incredibly quirky I have difficulty deciding if I enjoy the picture, or loathe it. STEPHEN KING’S SLEEPWALKERS is the perfect example of the type of movie I’m referencing. It’s hideously taboo, cheesy and completely devoid of any form of logic. And yet, I have trouble refraining from watching the picture at least once a year (or so). Does that make it a good flick? Not necessarily. However, I’m not so quick to brand this one the utter failure that so many critics have eagerly done.
Sure this tale of life draining incestuous shape-shifters is wrong on plenty of levels, but there are some great moments that really sway my negative views quite a bit. For starters, Madchen Amick is adorable as Tanya Robertson, a spunky high schooler that the shape-shifting Charles Brady (Brian Krause) immediately sets his ghts on. Tanya, a bubbly virgin has been chosen by both Charles and his kinky mother Mary (Alice Krige) as a potential meal. But Tanya’s good looks are only part of her arsenal; when faced with the threat of death Tanya’s quite the relient piece.
And Charles, well he get’s a bit too careless when overcome by his need to feed.
After Charles botches his attack on Tanya, and subsequently gets mauled by a cat (which, did I mention these Sleepwalkers are deathly afraid of, and apparently phycally susceptible to?) the young Sleepwalker makes a run back home for mommy dearest. However, the injuries sustained while being violated by a local feline leave Charles in horrific shape, and the entire encounter leads law enforcement right back to the Brady’s front door. With Charles rendered lifeless it’s up to Mary to ward off the police, but the real threat may walk on four legs and cough up fur balls regularly.
I’m not going to t back and tell you Mick Garris directed a perfect picture. The film isn’t overtly flawed on the technical front, but it’s bare bones movie magic here (in a strange way). Rodney Charters handles the cinematography well, but O. Nicholas Brown leaves a bit to dere with the films editing; it’s clean but it’s quite unremarkable. Stephen King’s script is creepy as all hell, but it’s a bit too outlandish to ever take seriously. That’s not to claim the story was meant to be taken serious, but it certainly feels as though a lot of the comedy wasn’t intentional. It’s really an awkward blend of emotions that feels a bit disjointed despite some solid performances from a reasonably strong cast.
Returning to the potives of the film: it’s a must I praise Dennis Dion for providing some cool visual effects, and I’ve got to tip my hat to John Blake and David P. Barton for some excellent makeup work. Perhaps the most appreciable quality of the entire picture however is the unbelievable load of awesome cameos SLEEPWALKERS boasts. Horror heavyweights Tobe Hooper, Joe Dante, Clive Barker, John Landis, Stephen King , and Ron Perlman all make brief appearances in the film. Hell, even Mick Garris’ wife Cynthia makes a brief appearance. All performances are of course made in jest, and I’ll confess to the fact that such appearances do indeed help sway my opinion of the film. The question is: is that enough to conder SLEEPWALKERS a good film? I still just don’t know.Grade: C
While I’m happy to say that the film itself is featured in both
full and widescreen aspect ratios, the bonus features are really a bit meager. We’re treated to some “Talent Files” which are little more than condensed filmographies of a handful of the film’s featured actors. Also included are trailers for THE TINGLER, JOHNNY MNEMONIC, SCREAMERS, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990).