Friday, March 20, 2009


What synchronicity. I read a novel by Mick Garris, and coincidentally (I swear) watch one of his first movies, Sleepwalkers. This could be a joyous confluence of events if the novel and movie were great ones. It falls a bit short.

The movie was scripted by Stephen King, based on one of his unpublished stories. To paraphrase Stephen Jones, unpublished with good reason. It’s one of his weakest efforts, without a doubt.

Mary (Alice Krige) and Charles (Brian Krause) are a mother and son pair of …..something. I suppose their supposed to be the titular Sleepwalkers of the film, although they are never described as such except in the opening titles, and there is no reason they would referred to as such. The opening states they are the origin of the vampire myth, but they seem closer to werewolves, since they turn into cat-like creatures at will, which seems to be their natural state. (Their true form is also revealed by mirrors, which makes me wonder why they keep mirrors all over their house. Their human appearance is an illusion, so they don’t need them. Dumb sleepwalkers.) Apparently, they live only by sucking out the soul/life force of a virgin girl. Only the son can do this, and he has to then feed Mom. (How did she get by before procreation?) The sleepwalkers can also make themselves and other things invisible, and can instantly change the make, model, and color of automobiles.

There is a slight overtone of incest in Mary and Charles’ relationship. By “slight overtone” I mean they graphically bang each others brains out every chance they get. I suppose that may go beyond “slight overtone.” This is a little out-there. Alice Krige is a definite babe, but I don’t think I’d go for her if she was my Mom.

The sleepwalkers have one Achilles’ Heel. Cats hate their guts, and the scratch of a cat burns them like acid and kills them. Cats are also attracted to them, as is evidenced by a lot of scenes of cats sitting around looking at their house. The cats actually look bored, but hell, they’re cats. Despite setting multiple traps, eventually there’s too much painful cat buildup, and the pair have to relocate.

Charles is going to high school and he focuses in on Tanya (Madchen Amick), a suitable virgin for eating. Unfortunately for him, she is Final Girl, and will be his undoing. Well, Final Girl and some cats. Charles does in a predatory gay schoolteacher (perpetuating a painful and inaccurate stereotype) and a cop. The cop, who acts at least slightly retarded, travels with a cat named Clovis who proves to be Charles’ undoing.

There are a number of cameos, but unfortunately the appearances of Stephen King, John Landis, Clive Barker, Tobe Hooper and Joe Dante are crammed into the same scene. If they were spread out, it would give the viewer something to watch for. There is also a brief appearance by Ron Perlman, always welcome.

The biggest flaw of the movie, other than the terribly stupid plot, is the (non)acting of Brian Krause. He’s the kind of actor that, when the director says “act naturally” stiffens like a board. Good looking guy, I suppose.

Garris would get better, and everything Stephen King ever wrote was better, so the future was rosier. Still, this is a movie only for Stephen King fanatics. And incest lovers.

1 comment:

Craig Clarke said...

I remember Alice Krige as Bathsheba in King David (the only reason to watch that Richard Gere movie). Definitely a babe.

Not so much as the Borg in Star Trek, though. The ridged head just doesn't do it for me. :)