Blu-ray/DVD Review: SLEEPWALKERS (1992)

SLEEPWALKERS, directed by Mick Garris (Masters of Horror, Hocus Pocus) and written by Stephen King, is a bizarre yet highly entertaining take on supernatural lore. The film stars Brian Krause (Charmed), Alice Krige (Ghost Story), Mädchen Amick (Twin Peaks) with cameos from Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Joe Dante (Gremlins), and Clive Barker (Nightbreed).

Charles Brady (Brian Krause) and his mother Mary (Alice Krige) have recently moved to a small town in Indiana after fleeing their home in California. Unbeknownst to those around them, the Brady’s are modern-day vampires who move from one town to the next, preying on young women and draining their blood in order to survive. Also known as shapeshifters, their true nature is unrecognizable from almost everyone except felines. Once settled into their new home, Charles sets his sights on a new victim, the innocent and virginal high-school student, Tanya Robertson (Mädchen Amick). Charmed by Charles’ charisma, nothing could have prepared Tanya for the horror that awaited her as she comes to learn of Charles’ mutating ways. As the terror rises, along with the body count, the townsfolk gather, with felines in tow, for the ultimate showdown between man and monster.

This movie was fucking wild. Funny enough, when I posted online that I was going to be watching this film, a friend of mine told me not to watch it stoned because I would be dying from laughter. Of course, I accepted the challenge and proceeded to get stoned which I think made my viewing experience of SLEEPWALKERS that much more entertaining. I haven’t read, or seen, all of Stephen King’s work, but I’ve seen enough where I feel comfortable saying that this particular storyline is probably one of his more unusual ones. The film takes a hard left turn right from the start when it’s revealed that Charles and his mother share a very intimate, romantic, relationship. Honestly, I was so disturbed by their storyline that it was hard to watch them interact on screen regardless of the fact that they were shapeshifting vampires.

I don’t want to linger too long on the incestuous plot line so let’s turn to the practical effects. This was one aspect of the film that really shined even if the end results were a bit comical at times. When it came time for us to see Charles and Mary in their true form, I was incredibly impressed with the detail that went into the design of their creatures form. However, the midway portion of their transformations were by far the most laughable – I would have never guessed that they were vampires by their transformation, instead, I would have assumed they had mutated themselves into some weird half cat/half human hybrid. It’s when we move into the territory of visual effects that we see a bit of a decline, but I blame that on the fact that it was the early ‘90s and we hadn’t perfected the use of CGI yet (though, I’m not sure we ever will).

In terms of performances, I had a blast with all the characters that the actors portrayed (outside of the romantic mother-son relationship). It was great seeing so many surprise cameos throughout the film, but the most surprising was definitely when Ron Perlman showed up. Again, not knowing much about this film prior, I had no idea that he was going to pop in out of nowhere, which the same could be said about Mark Hamill, who has a brief cameo in the beginning of the film. However, my favorite character had to be police officer Andy Simpson (played by Dan Martin) as not only did he have the best tunes to sing along too but he also had his a cat as his trusty sidekick. He knew what was up, he knew there was something off with Charles, and it’s truly unfortunate that no one listened to him.

All in all, SLEEPWALKERS may be an odd film to many, but I came to find that there were a lot of entertaining moments. I wouldn’t categorize this as being one of Stephen King’s best stories, but it’s one that is at least enjoyable to watch by yourself or with a group of friends. If you are a fan of cannabis like I am, I highly suggest watching this high because god damn, it’s a fucking trip. SLEEPWALKERS is now available to own as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory and features loads of bonus features including audio commentary, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and more. With the holidays quickly approaching, this is the perfect gift to give to that Stephen King fanatic in your life.

Shannon McGrew
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