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Blu-ray Review: Sleepwalkers – “It’s unique, gloriously bonkers and just has to be seen”

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Released on Blu-ray in the UK on the 19th of October, Sleepwalkers is directed by a Master of Horror™: Mick Garris (The Stand), stars Brian Krause (Charmed), Madchen Amick (Twin Peaks) and Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact) and was the first script written specifically for the screen by one Stephen King (Maximum Overdrive).

Charles (Krause) and Mary (Krige) Brady are a mother and son who are new arrivals in the familiar to constant readers of King town of Castle Rock. They are also “sleepwalkers”: sexy, creepy, shape-shifting incestuous vampires who in their true form look like giant slimy hairless cats and feed on the lifeforce of humans.

Charles is young and able to leave the house to feed, but Mary requires Charles to bring her sustenance and particularly enjoys young virgin teenage girls. When they aren’t busy with each other, the pair have their eyes on the pure Tanya (Amick) for their chopping block but Charles likes her a little too much and continues to draw out of his seduction of her while his mother grows hungrier and more jealous and desperate by the day.

The cast takes a story that sometimes slips into the silly (hi, vengeful cat that can break windows and invisible magic car) completely seriously and keep you invested, hooked and suspending disbelief throughout, especially Krige, who in the extras says she approached it like it was Shakespeare – even when delivering the amazing kill-off line: “No vegetables, no dessert, those are the rules” after stabbing a dude with a corn on the cob. Krause is wonderfully gleefully evil and initially convincingly charming while Madchen Amick is an incredibly loveable smalltown sweetheart oblivious to her position on the chopping block.

The cast also features iconic character actor Glen Shadix (Heathers and Beetlejuice) as a suspicious and on the edge educator, Mark Hamill as a cop, Sheriff Ron Perlman and cameos from some of Mick’s fellow Masters of Horror: John Landis, Joe Dante, Clive Barker and Tobe Hooper, and even King himself. The fan service is immensely satisfying and even stretches to The Birds’ Bodega Bay being a location.

There is still really nothing like Sleepwalkers: a mid-budget studio picture written and directed and featuring cameos from all manner of horror royalty with unforgettable effects, a hero cat, up-front incest, decent scares and a soundtrack that consists solely of Santo & Johnny’s ‘Sleepwalk’ and Enya’s ‘Boadicea’. It’s unique, gloriously bonkers and just has to be seen.

The video encode looks very clean but retains the grain, and the remaster’s grade is bright with realistic skin tones and no visible faults. Stereo and surround audio are both available and we screened with the 5.1. Most of the surround audio mix is front-loaded but there is some cool caterwauling from the rears at times and it’s always crystal clear with no clicks or dropouts. There is also a new commentary with Garris, Amick and Krause that is excellent. Mick approaches the track like it’s a feature-length episode of his ‘Post Mortem’ podcast and Amick and Krause are his guests. He is full of great stories about King and their history and relationship, points out all the easter eggs and cameos and asks his actors plenty of intelligent and leading questions.

The other new extra is a phone interview with Garris recorded during Covid lockdown that is full of good questions and insight. As already noted, Garris has a sparkly and lively personality making this extra feel fresh and inclusive.

Other bonus material is from the previous Scream Factory release and features another 18 minute Garris interview that covers other ground more specific to his career path and eventual gaining of the directing gig, as well as extremely frank discussions of the pros and cons that came with his biggest-until-then studio gig.

The 15 minute Brian Krause and Madchen Amick interview is a cute reunion proving the pair still have great chemistry, ‘Mother and More’ is Alice Krige talking about her acting process and adding different insights and angles to everything else. ‘Creatures and Cats’ focuses on the effects work and FX maestro Tony Gardner reveals that the studio nixed his initial idea for the look of the sleepwalkers and that those designs were repurposed for The Tommyknockers.

Rounding out the extras are seven minutes of behind-the-scenes archive B-roll mostly covering all the cat wrangling and sleepwalkers monster suits, the theatrical trailer and TV Spots and a stills gallery of all the film’s publicity material.

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Sleepwalkers is released on Blu-ray in the UK on the 19th of October.

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