• Sleepwalkers (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: November 6th, 2018.
    Director: Mick Garris
    Cast: Mädchen Amick, Alice Krige, Brian Krause, Jim Haynie, Ron Perlman
    Year: 1992
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    Sleepwalkers – Movie Review:

    The first of many Stephen King adaptations to be directed by Mick Garris for the big screen and the small screen, 1992’s Sleepwalkers, the only film written specifically for the movie screen by the author (at least at the time of this writing), Sleepwalkers introduces us to Charles Brady (Brian Krause) and his mother Mary (Alice Krige). When the movie begins, they’re just relocated from California to the small Indianan town of Travis where they quickly run into trouble with the town’s cat population. It’s not a matter of just not liking cats, they’re going so far as to set traps to deal with them – and it’s clear that the cats don’t like the Brady’s anymore than the Brady’s like the cats. Their collective strangeness doesn’t stop there, either: Charles and Mary have an uncomfortably strong romantic aspect to their parent/child relationship.

    As it turns out, they’re not quite human. In fact, they’re beings from another dimension that need to regularly feed on virginal women to survive. Their modus operandi is basic enough – handsome and amiable Charles heads out into town, picks up some unsuspecting young woman and brings her back to mom where she’s basically turned into dinner for the two of them. This is where Tanya Robertson (Twin Peaks’ Mädchen Amick) comes into the picture. Charles takes an instant liking to her, and you can’t really blame him, and decides he’d like to get his claws into her – but it won’t be easy. Some of the people in the town are stating to nice that his behavior is a little unusual… and on top of that? The cats in town are onto him.

    Sleepwalkers is an uneven mix of horror and humor, both elements often successful but occasionally off the mark a bit. It’s an entertaining picture with a strong second half that’s occasionally bogged down by less than stellar dialogue and some odd pacing choices, but if it isn’t a perfect film it is at least an amusing one. There are some solid gore effects included here and decent makeup work as well, and if nothing else the movie gets some points for trying a few unexpected things in its final third. This makes it a bit easier to ignore the sizeable logic gaps in the movie and pretend that it all makes more sense than it really does. This isn’t King’s finest moment as a writer, not by a long shot – but then, it’s not his worst, either. Oh, and there’s an Enya song on the soundtrack – that’s a big strike against any movie, really.

    The cast are good, however. Mädchen Amick plays the female lead in the film very well. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s beautiful but more than just another pretty face, she delivers a good performance here, rising above some of the aforementioned questionable dialogue choices in the process. Brian Krause is hammy, but at least he’s a fun sort of hammy. He overdoes it a bit here and there but that doesn’t necessarily hurt anything. Subtlety is not a strong point of this particular film. He and Ms. Krige have a creepy chemistry in their shared scenes, conjuring up some rather uncomfortable moments throughout the film that just add to the weirdness of it all.

    The film also features small cameo roles from John Landis, Joe Dante, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Mark Hamill and Tobe Hooper – so it’s got that going for it too.

    Sleepwalkers – Blu-ray Review:

    Sleepwalkers arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p presentation framed in its original 1.85.1 aspect ratio. Although this isn’t advertised as coming from a new scan like a lot of the other ‘collector’s edition’ releases that have come out on the Scream Factory brand lately, even if this is taken from an existing master it looks quite good. Fine detail is generally pretty strong and we get nice depth in the picture. Skin tones look nice and there’s very good color reproduction on display here. Black levels are fine and the image is clean, showing no problematic print damage to speak of.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is quite good. There’s plenty of fun surround activity here that’ll help keep you engaged with the movie. Levels are nicely balanced and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. There’s good clarity throughout and the score really benefits from the added depth of the lossless mix. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    There are a lot of extras on the disc, starting with an audio commentary from director Mick Garris and cast members Mädchen Amick and Brian Krause. This is a jovial track but one packed with a lot of behind the scenes stories and information. There’s a fair bit of discussion of the subject matter and the story and also talk about dealing with live animals. They cover some of the makeup effects work, talk about changes that had to be made to the film in post-production to appease the powers that be, casting the picture, locations, effects work and plenty more.

    After that, it’s time to dig into the new featurettes beginning with Feline Trouble – An Interview With Director Mick Garris that clocks in at nineteen-minutes. He talks about landing this big studio directing gig, his thoughts on the story, how he got some of the cameos in the film and more. He looks back on it quite fondly though he does tell an interesting story here about how he almost didn’t get the chance to direct the picture. Up next is When Charles Met Tanya – A Conversation With Actors Mädchen Amick And Brian Krause that runs fifteen-minutes. Here we learn about how they got along on set, Krause having to undergo a fair amount of makeup work, their thoughts on some of the bloodier scenes in the movie and more. It’s an amiable piece, these two just seem nice! Family Values – An Interview With Actress Alice Krige lets the actress who played Mary Brady speak for sixteen-minutes about having to work with cats on this production, the comedic aspect of her character and having to get made up for certain parts of the movie. Feline Trouble: The FX Of Stephen King's Sleepwalkers – Interviews With Special Make-up Effects Creator Tony Gardner And Prosthetics Designer Mike Smithson is a sixteen-minute piece that, as you’d guess from the title, interviews the effects guys about what was involved in creating the makeup effects featured in the picture, dealing with live cats and their interactions with some of the cast members.

    Shout! Factory has also thrown in seven-minutes’ worth of Behind-The-Scenes Footage that shows off what it was like on set and lets us have a peek at some of the effects set pieces being put together. Rounding out the extras is the film’s original theatrical trailer, a few TV spots, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. This release also comes with some reversible cover art and, for the first pressing of the disc, a collectible slipcover.

    Sleepwalkers – The Final Word:

    Sleepwalkers is goofy, but enjoyably goofy and that counts for something. Is Mädchen Amick is by far the best thing about the movie, there’s still some effective makeup effects and suspenseful set pieces working in the film’s favor. The best King movie? Nope, but fun. Shout! Factory’s special edition Blu-ray release will certainly appeal to the film’s fan base given that if features a nice presentation and a host of genuinely good extra features. All in all, a nice package for an uneven but entertaining film.

    Click on the images below for full sized Sleepwalkers Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      "Oh, and there’s an Enya song on the soundtrack – that’s a big strike against any movie, really"

      That song is one of the things in the movie. Haunting and beautiful.