Twenty-five years ago last month—on April 10, 1992, to be precise—the Stephen King-based film Sleepwalkers was released. It came out after the King-related The Lawnmower Man (March) and before Pet Sematary 2 (August), and the Newt thought all three of them sucked.
Was 1992 the worst year for Stephen King movies ever? Let us know in the comments section below.
There are some people out there who refuse to believe that this year’s big Oscar winner, The Silence of the Lambs, is a horror movie—even though it concerns a face-ripping cannibal with a taste for human liver who helps capture a sicko who skins women to make dresses. Well, I’ll tell ya one thing—it’s sure more of a horror movie than Sleepwalkers is. The latest Stephen King work to hit the screen is actually a comedy.
A bloody one, mind you, but still a comedy.
Written for the screen by King and directed by sequelizer Mick (Critters 2, Psycho IV) Garris, Sleepwalkers involves the supposed mother and son team of Mary and Charles Brady (Alice Krige and Brian Krause, who look more like brother and sister), the last of a dying breed of Sleepwalkers, a shape-shifting cross between a werewolf and a vampire. These creatures—which are supposedly equal parts feline, reptilian, and human—live off the life force of virtuous young women, which means they suck a colourful ray of light out of their victims’ mouths to stay alive.
Always on the run for past indiscretions, the Bradys set up house in the idealized small town of Travis, Indiana—in the same cosy pad that TV’s Waltons occupied—and immediately set their ravenous sights on “nice girl” Tanya Robertson (“Twin Peaks” star Mädchen Amick), who’s more than happy to visit the town’s graveyard-cum-make-out spot on her first date with the new kid/creature in town.
Amick manages to avoid becoming the Bradys’ brunch, though, thanks to a brave and vengeful cat called Clovis, which performs serious kitty-fu on Charles’ face, but not before he can push a pencil deep into the ear of Clovis’ policeman owner. You see, cats are the only beings that can see the Sleepwalkers for what they really are, and they don’t like what they see.
The feeling is mutual, so a whole army of cats—along with a good number of humans—get offed during Sleepwalkers. If this movie weren’t so gleefully over-the-top—not to mention dumb as a box of rocks—the SPCA would have good reason to put a contract out on old Steve-O.
Cameo appearances by horror icons Clive Barker, Tobe Hooper, and the King himself add little to this slapstick gorefest, which focuses on goofy bloodletting—including death by corn-on-the-cob—and tosses in a modicum of thrills and chuckles. The filmmakers deserve credit for keeping the zipper of the rubber reptile suit hidden during the climactic Sleepie barbecue scene, though.
For more from Steve Newton, visit his website about rock ‘n’ roll and horror movies, Ear of Newt!