King's Highway pt. 19: Sleepwalkers

Actually from the Japanese movie Hausu, but it came up when I searched for Clovis...
...so I figured I'd keep it. ("...with whom not to mess with," tho? For shame.)
There's really not all that much to say about Sleepwalkers. Having just watched it, I figured rather than put it off for another blog, let's get this one out of the way. (We'll get back to the Rogue States after this, in case anyone's as OCD as me and breathes a sigh of relief with this disclaimer.)

Directed by Mick Garris (who also did The Stand adaptation, as well as 1997's The Shining) with an original screenplay by Stephen King, this is not a bad installment of your general 80s/ early-90s horror film. I forget who said it, but someone said a decade (ie "the 80s") actually exists a few years into the next one, so what we refer to, say, as "the 60s" is really 1962-1972, "the 70s" is really 1972-1982, and so on. I agree. It holds true for most of the twentieth century, at any rate; beyond that, I'll defer to experts. Anyway, despite its 1992 release date, I'll consider Sleepwalkers as an average-to-not-bad entry in the 80s slasher/ supernatural genre. Like a Tales from the Crypt two-parter or something.

It hits most of the hallmark-tropes for either, as recounted ad infinitum elsewhere.

Why isn't it great? No real defining reason - the performances are good, the pacing is fine, the set pieces are more than acceptable. The f/x are dated but who cares. So what is it? Primarily it's the 80s/ Mom jeans...

...and the general progression of the main antagonist (he who drives a shape-shifting/ dimming blue Trans Am into a Mustang and has the incestuous relationship with his Mom i.e whose whole life is sort of a rape-metaphor, if you want to sip some brandy over it.)

All right, I like Buffy fine, so I can hang with this, I guess.
Keep it moving! * Granted, "morphing" was in its infancy as CGI at the time, but this is inelegant, to say the least.
This isn't too bad, but... I mean, that's still a cat-guy under there, right?
 * trademark Dawn Byrd  

In a way, this cat thing was incredibly prescient. A time traveler from the distant past of 1992 who made his or her way to 2012 would go online and think the future was two parts cat pictures and one part porn-and-flesh-parade.

Perhaps it has always been this way, in one form or another.
A topic for another night! Anyway - it's tough enough to get past the 80s jeans, and then there's the cat-people thing, is all I'm saying.

Staying with cats for a second,

this whole movie is a 2012 cat lover's delight. And they're out there. Someone - going by that "Clovis" motivational poster I found, above - is way ahead of me here, but this whole film can be seen as "the Cat Lady's confession."

And there's a fun parallel to Cat's Eye, as well. If you recall, in that movie, the "glue" that binds the three stories is the cat's journey to an eventual home with Drew Barrymore. Whereupon, the cat saves Drew Barrymore from a troll who lives in the wall, who waits until she goes to sleep before pouncing on her chest and trying to suck out her life force. (This stuff is all... calling it Freudian doesn't do it justice.) The same happens here, right down to that slippery-zone between metaphor and strange Pagan relations, and cats saving the day.

I don't mean to make too much of it, with the Freudian/ Pagan relations stuff, just, hey, it's there if you want it.

Alice Krige plays the mother-villain. She first crossed my radar in the film adaptation of SK's sometimes-collaborator Peter Straub's Ghost Story.

Which I did see, back in the 80s (unbeknownst to my parents), but she is perhaps better known to the popgeek-critic-in-my-head as the Borg Queen:

Whether or not the Borg should even have a queen is the Roe vs. Wade of certain segments of the ST: TNG community.
There are a couple of fun cameos. SK, Clive Barker, and Tobe Hooper

And finally, I kept trying to figure out why Madchen Amick's parents looked so familiar. I couldn't place them, but once I sat down to write this and looked up a few things, I said Oh, of course:

NEXT: Probably back to the Rogue States. I'm going to take most of August off from the ol' King's Highway, but before I do, we'll get through all the novellas, the "Shawshank"/ Green Mile one, and Cell.


  1. It's worthwhile to note a couple things about the troll and its chest-sitting/life sucking.

    One is that tradition holds that cats "steal" the breath, i.e. the life, of babies and children. So there is a bit of irony that the cat is defending the kid from that - cats take the blame, much like in the Sylvester Looney Tunes.

    Second is the legend of the "hag" or nightmare that rides the sleeper, draining him or her of energy. You'll hear a lot about this in paranormal circles (such as Coast to Coast AM) today. Basically, the "hag" sits on the sleeper's chest. I think it's just a case of sleep paralysis; people begin to wake into consciousness before their brains have fully shifted out of the sleep paralysis that keeps us from thrashing around in our sleep. I've experienced this enough times to know it only seems like one can't breathe; in fact, it's just a matter of not being able to draw in a big breath at will. It's definitely terrifying. This only lasts for a few moments, until you actually wake up instead of hovering in that "twilight zone" between waking and sleeping.

    1. I like it. I think you've articulated the very thing Sk went for, here, and more.

      Breathing and sleep ... my imagination going going going gone. Of course, it's quarter-to-twelve and my imagination is on its way to dreamland, so, if dream-totems can be believed, I'll try and navigate this sort of trolls-and-breath landscape tonight. Hope so.

      Oneironaut One out.