Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Stephen King's Sleepwalkers (1992)

The first original screenplay from Stephen King yields one of the more bizarre, sort of funny films with his name in the credits.  Sleepwalkers concerns two nomadic energy draining vampires named Mary (Alice Krige) and Charles Brady (Brian Krause) who are ostensibly mother and son but their relationship is decidedly... icky.  They look like normal humans for the most part but when they vamp out, they take on a horrific humanoid/feline appearance and can only be killed by the scratch of a real cat.  In other words, they can die from cat scratch fever.

They arrive in a small town for their latest feeding session and Charles fixates on Tanya (Madchen Amick), a local teenager who also happens to be a virgin, the preferred target of these particular ghouls.

The majority of the film focuses on Brian and Tanya while also delving into the occasional scene of Mary looking worried as an army of cats gathers around her house.  This film may have the most cat related jump scares of any horror film in the last twenty five years.  Mick Garris directs the two younger actors well enough (truth be told, the stuff with them is sort of dull unless it involves any effects work) but Alice Krige walks off with the film, as she usually does in cases like this.  She puts on quite the show in the last act, offing a bunch of cops (one of whom is played by Ron Perlman) by biting fingers, impaling on picket fences and at one point stabbing one through the back with an ear of corn.  Outlandish bits like this are what save the film from being just another dull riff on the vampire movie.  I also like the Stephen King cameo that also features Tobe Hooper and Clive Barker.

Special effects are decent enough with some nice gore, cool cat creatures and some endearingly early 90's morphing effects.  This film came out the year after Terminator 2 and the f/x team was eager to play with their new toys as much as possible.  Really, besides Alice Krige, the gore and f/x are the only reason to really see this.

Sleepwalkers is an endearingly stupid way to spend 89 minutes.  The film benefits from some nice f/x and one or two good performances but in the end, it's a cheesy horror film that has an offbeat sort of vampire and an army of cats in the Van Helsing role.

King's script is cheesy as hell with dumb bits of humor but honestly, even a bad Stephen King film can be worth the effort if you're in the right frame of mind.  What can I say?  I'm sucker for early 90's horror and Stephen King in general.  Plus, it's funny to think that while he was legit coked out of his gourd while making Maximum Overdrive, he was sober by the time he wrote this one.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.