Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Film Review: SLEEPWALKERS (1992, Mick Garris)

Stars: 3.2 of 5.
Running Time: 91 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Brian Krause (RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON), Mädchen Amick (TWIN PEAKS, MY OWN WORST ENEMY), Alice Krige (TWILIGHT OF THE ICE NYMPHS, BARFLY), Ron Perlman (HELLBOY, IN THE NAME OF THE ROSE), Glenn Shadix (HEATHERS, BEETLEJUICE), Mark Hamill (VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, BODY BAGS). Cameos by Stephen King, Clive Barker, Tobe Hooper, Joe Dante, John Landis.
Tag-line: "They feast on your fear - and it's dinner time." That sounds about right.
Best one-liner: (stabs policeman in the ear with a pencil) "Cop-kabob!" Wowww.

Full of the silly, sloppy storytelling that typifies the collaborations between Mick Garris and Stephen King, SLEEPWALKERS still manages to be a pretty enjoyable experience. This thing is no SILVER BULLET or CREEPSHOW, but it's leaps and bounds above the (Garris) TV movies of THE STAND or THE SHINING. The plot is kind of a CAT PEOPLE/DRACULA mash-up involving incest, virgin sacrifice, morphing automobiles, powers of invisibility, and teenage romance. And we've got King taking that whole 50's Americana thing a bit too far, as always.

Gotta love the cat family portrait.

In the tradition of "General" from CAT'S EYE, we've got a damned likable housecat performance courtesy of "Sparks," who plays "Clovis."

"Sparks" is pretty solid, but he's nowhere near the thespian that "General" was in CAT'S EYE. I'm serious. Rewatch CAT'S EYE and tell me I'm wrong.

But the number one thing that makes this movie work is a little lady named Mädchen Amick (Shelly from TWIN PEAKS).

Her first appearance involves a really spazzy, impromptu, solo dance number worthy of Elaine Benes;

and, throughout the film, she exudes sheer pathos and an adorable magnetism. Generally, in a film of this kind, you couldn't give two shits about the damsel in distress- but here, Amick outshines both the colorful villains and bumpkin-style character actors- a true feat. There's bit parts by Ron Perlman (an a-hole state trooper), Mark Hamill (a stupefied cop),

Hamill + 'stache.

Glenn Shadix (a smug schoolteacher), and Stephen King (doing that whole yokel routine again).

Clive Barker doesn't have the heart to tell Stephen King that, though he's seen CREEPSHOW seven times, he's always fast-forwarded through the segment starring King as the plant-infected hillbilly.

Tobe Hooper comes face to face with what he might look like if he shaved the beard- and he's not sure he likes it.

There's a slew of horror cameos (Barker, Hooper, Dante, etc.), an overload of really cheap 'loud noise' scare stingers, perhaps the first (and last?) Mr. Pibb product placement, and an avenging army of pissed off cats.

Then there's the one-liners. Yeah, there are a lot, and boy, are they bad:

"I don't think you're getting into the spirit of this- why don't you think of yourself... AS LUNCH!"

Where things start to get iffy.

Then there's, "People should learn to keep their hands to themselves...HERE'S YOURS!"

And finally, after a corn cob impaling: "No vegetables- no dessert... those are the rules."

That's not even a one-liner! Plus, he ATE his vegetables!

Ah, well. Three stars.

-Sean Gill

2009 Halloween Countdown OVERFLOW

1. [•REC] (2007, Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza)
2. THE MANITOU (1978, William Girdler)
3. SLEEPWALKERS (1992, Mick Garris)

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