Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 89 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Mick Garris,
Cast: Brian Krause, Alice Krige, Mädchen Amick
Synopsis: Brian Krause and Alice Krige star in this terrifying tale of modern-day vampires who move from small town to small town to prey on virtuous young women. Imperceptibly inhuman to everyone except for felines, these vicious shape-shifters have their eyes on a new victim: Mädchen Amick is Tanya, the sexually curious virgin who falls for Charles, the new boy in school (Krause). Mutating at will from golden boy to savage monster, Charles stalks Tanya to feed his seductive mother. As the tension mounts (and the casualties pile up), the town's tabbies gather for a final, chilling showdown with the monsters in their midst – and we all know it's not nice to hurt people's felines.
When hunky teenager Charles Brady (Brian Krause, Return to the Blue Lagoon) and his weirdo mom Mary (Alice Krige, Ghost story) arrive in smalltown Indiana the local girls begin to swoon right away at the sight of the handsome blonde new boy, especially young Tanya (Mädchen Amick, Twin Peaks). What no one can know is that the mother/son are centuries old shape-shifters with origins dating back to ancient Egypt, a race of mystical creatures known as "sleepwalkers" who have the ability change a sort of werecat, creatures who prey on young virgins and steal their life force, so they're basically energy vampires.
Directed by Mick Garris (The Shining TV mini-series) from an original screenplay penned by Stephen King - but not an actual novel - the movie is a odd early 90s take on vampire lore with our energy vampires showing a few quirky supernatural powers, aside from the life force draining and shape-shifting abilities they can also make themselves invisible, something they call "dimming". The movie showcases and uneven mix of teen comedy and late-80s type horror gimmicks, all filtered through a Norman Rockwell nightmare lens, along with some unfortunate digital morphing special effects that do look awful, as do most digital FX from this era.
Krause and Krige make for a twisted mother and son duo, with an incestuous love simmering between them, the teen son must procure virgins to drain of life for his mother to live. Krige plays the character to the hilt, she's like a drug addict jonesing for a life force fix and trying to scratch that special mother-son itch she has burning. Problem is that Charles is sort of falling for young Tanta which puts his mom on the edge, she's not happy that he's playing with his food. Not everyone in town is enamored with the newcomers though, local cop Andy Simps (Dan Martin, HBO's Dream On) and pervy high school teacher Mr. Fallows (Glenn Shadix, Beetlejuice) each suspect something is off about the new kid, though both meet with gruesome deaths. The gore is pretty decent in this one, even if some of the make-ups look rubbery from time to time, I will always accept rubbery over digital, in fact the worst offender here are the awful digital morphing stuff, which have not aged well. But when the teacher has his hand ripped off or the cop is killed with a corncob to the spine, it's fun tongue-in-cheek stuff!
Mick Garris called in favors from his Master of Horror friends with loads of director cameos including brief appearances from John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Joe Dante (Gremlins) and even Stephen King himself, also be on the lookout for a cameos from Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Mark Hamill (Stars Wars), plus it was a hoot to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off parents, Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett reunited here as Tanya's parents! This was a staple of 90s cable when I was in high school and I always found myself watching it all the dang time, though more out of familiarity that out of any sense of true joy, and it still feels that way to me. Sleepwalkers is a perfectly watchable 90s horror entry, nothing too great, but a fun Stephen King/Mich Garris team-up.
Audio/Video: Sleepwalkers (1992) arrives on single-disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray presented in 1080p HD, framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. Grain is present and looks well-managed, colors are solid, and blacks are reasonable looking. There's a bit of inherent softnes to the image at times, but overall this is a solid presentation. I own the region-free release from Via Vision Entertainment, comparing the two I will say that this looks to be the same HD master, with the Scream Factory release being marginally brighter, but the framing and color grading looks identical to me. Audio comes by way of English DTS-HD MA 2.0 or 5.1 with optional English subtitles. Dialogue is crisp and clean, no issues with hiss or distortion and the score from Nicholas Pike sounds good, but not as good as the classic guitar instrumental "Sleepwalk" by Santo and Johnny that plays during the opening scene, that is absolutely my favorite song of all time.
Where Scream Factory blows the Via Vision release away is with the extras, beginning with an audio commentary by director Mich Garris and actors Mädchen Amick and Brian Krause, they cover a lot of ground, and some of it is carried over to their interviews elsewhere. There's a new 19-min interview with Garris covering a lot of the same ground as the commentary, he gives a nicely candid view of the film, working with King and the cast speaking about certain limitations, and calling Clovis the cat “the De Niro of cat actors”, good stuff.
Actors Mädchen Amick And Brian Krause team-up for a 15-min interview discussing their careers at that point, making the film, what it was like for Krause to have the make-up applied everyday, and how a parking ticker prevented him from attending the premiere of the film.
The ethereal Alice Krige speaks about landing the role, how she didn't often to get roles that allowed her to explore dark humor and how much she liked playing the part.
My favorite extras are usually from the FX guys,and this one is no different, Special Make-up Effects Creator Tony Gardner And Prosthetics Designer Mike Smithson, discussing how certain effects were achieved, sculpting the werecats, and we also get plenty of behind-the0scenes stuff, some of the stiff-looking werecat stuff is fun to see. Finishing up the disc is 7-minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, a trailer and TV spots for the film, and an image gallery.
The single-disc release comes with a 2-sided sleeve of artwork with the familiar original artwork plus a new illustration from artists Devon Whitehead that is truly eye-popping, and I love that Clovis the cat is front and center! There's also a slipcover with the new artwork plus the disc art is a nice close-up of Clovis. Sleepwalkers might not be the cream of the crop of 90's horror comedy but if you're a fan the film it looks solid in HD and the extras are purr-fectly fine.
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Mick Garris And Actors Mädchen Amick And Brian Krause
- NEW Feline Trouble – An Interview With Director Mick Garris (19 min) HD
- NEW When Charles Met Tanya – A Conversation With Actors Mädchen Amick And Brian Krause (15 min) HD
- NEW Family Values – An Interview With Actress Alice Krige (16 min) HD
- NEW Feline Trouble: The FX Of Stephen King's Sleepwalkers – Interviews With Special Make-up Effects Creator Tony Gardner And Prosthetics Designer Mike Smithson (16 min) HD
- Behind-The-Scenes Footage (7 min)
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min)
- TV Spots (2 min)
- Still Gallery
To be honest, I never wanted nor thought that Sleepwalkers (1992) was a film that needed a collector's edition from Scream Factory, but watching this and pouring through the extras I think this is actually quite a nice release. The film itself has aged decently, it's still not a great film, but there was a reason I always watched it when it aired on cable, it's a fun horror junk-food watch.
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