CERT: 18 / BLU-RAY / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 26TH
“sleep’walk’er n. Nomadic shape-shifting creatures with human and feline origins. Vulnerable to the deadly scratch of the cat, the sleepwalker feeds upon the life-force of virginal human females. Probable source of the vampire legend.”
With those three sentences the plot of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers is neatly revealed at the film’s beginning. Mary (Alice Krige) and Charles (Brian Krause who has extraordinary feline features) are an incestuous mother and son, and the titular Sleepwalkers, perhaps the last of their kind. After fleeing California they arrive in Indiana famished but hopeful that they’ll find sustenance. And find it they do in the shape of high school student Tanya (Mädchen Amick). Now if they can only do something about those darn cats.
Sleepwalkers was King’s first original screenplay, and who better to direct the venture than Masters of Horror creator, and frequent King collaborator Mick Garris. Those expecting The Shining or The Dead Zone will be disappointed for Sleepwalkers is strictly pulp, B-movie, material. What distinguishes it from such fare is the self-referential tone of the film. This isn’t an earnest treatise on the human condition. It is darkly humorous, sometimes shocking (some may find the scenes of incest and the attempted rape scene disturbing), and a tongue-in-cheek fun filled horror. Where else might you find a characters demise from an ear of corn, or grin inducing cameos from Mark Hamill and Ron Perlman, as well as comic turns from horror luminaries Joe Dante, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, Clive Barker, and King himself.
As usual, Eureka! is generous with the special features. The two audio commentaries which both feature director Mick Garris and with film historian Lee Gamblin, and Mädchen Amick and Brian Krause respectively are a joy to listen to. Garris is honest, personable, and entertaining with his recollections regarding the making of the film, the cat wrangling in particular. There are several interviews with the cast who clearly had a good time on the production, behind-the-scenes footage and an FX featurette.
When Sleepwalkers was initially released in 1992 it was critically mauled, but the intervening years have seen the film positively re-evaluated. This is a carnival ghost train ride of a movie, not a visit to an art gallery, and as such it’s purr-fect Halloween viewing. Get it? Purr-fect, cats…!? I’ll get my coat.