Directed by Justin Russell
Distributed by Gamma Knife Films
Just like everything else in this world, what was once old in horror eventually becomes new again. There’s no doubt Eighties slasher flicks hold a very special place in the hearts of genre fans everywhere. Back then they were as mean and violent as they were fun and campy. Logic was thrown out the door. Effects were practical and gooey, and there was none of the glossy Hollywood sheen bullshit that seems to be found everywhere. The killers and how they dispatched their victims were the stars of the show, not the hot young vomit-inducing pretty cast.
Yep, there was certainly a lot to like back then. Over the years filmmakers have been trying to recapture that now vintage feel with varying degrees of success. Indie filmmaker Justin Russell not only captures it but nails it to a degree that would make anyone (who didn’t know any better) think they were watching a movie from the desired era. Simply put, The Sleeper oozes authenticity.
The story, as you may have guessed, is wonderfully flimsy. Sorority Alpha Gamma Theta is putting on a bash for its new pledges. One that will be memorable not for the girls who show up but for the milky-eyed killer who comes along with them. A madman who stays just out of sight studying our students – when he’s not placing deliciously vile phone calls to the dorm that is. Of course he eventually hunts down each chick one by one with a claw hammer being his chosen implement of doom.
Once we get going, eyes are gouged, heads are lopped off, boobs pop out, and all manner of mayhem ensues, including an obligatory disco dancing sequence. What’s not to like? As previously stated, the movie is meticulous in its pursuit of recapturing that bygone era. From the soundtrack by Gremlin to the editing and look of the movie, everything is completely spot on and right now stands as the best homage to early Eighties filmmaking since Ti West’s amazing The House of the Devil. It will fit nicely on your shelf with Black Christmas, The House on Sorority Row, The Prowler, and the like.
Once you’re done chilling in your time machine and resisting the urge to tease your hair up really high, there are some quality special features on tap. Things kick off with a very lively commentary with director Justin Russell, in which his love for the genre totally shines through, and from there we have an hour long making-of, Joe Bob Briggs’ hilarious “Drive-In Total” of the flick, and a couple of trailers. Really good stuff that’s not to be missed.
With The Sleeper director Justin Russell has created something special. It’s a movie that revels in the glory of being what it is: a balls-out and bloody good time. Sleep with one eye open. You’ll probably have to considering your other eye will likely be gouged out via claw hammer by then. Highly recommended!
4 out of 5
4 out of 5