Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sleepwalkers (1992)

Boyfriend and I recently received a VCR on indefinite loan from Boyfriend's parents. (Thank you, Boyfriend's parents)! Since then, we have tirelessly scoured Value Villages, scouted Salvation Armies, and spelunked small-town flea markets for long-forgotten celluloid trash and treasures. We have left no stone unturned in our quest for the best, and more importantly the worst, movies. And I am happy to inform you that in the latter respect, Sleepwalkers (Mick Garris, 1992) paid off big time.

This screenshot is somewhat misleading regarding the actual content of the movie.
Based on a Stephen King short story which was (to no one's surprise) never published, Sleepwalkers follows mother-and-son monster duo Charles (Brian Krause) and Mary (Alice Krige) on their disastrous quest to find a virgin to feed on. As their crucially intacta target they choose small-town usherette Tanya (Madchen Amick, parlaying her Twin Peaks fame into a fleeting sixteenth minute). Once Charles and Mary have taken out Charles' pederastically ambitious English teacher Mr. Follows (Glenn Shadix), Tanya's parents (Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett gearing up for Ferris Bueller), and 3/4 of the local police department, we realize that Tanya's apparently invulnerable pursuers are weak to the scratch of a cat. Before you can say "meow mix", Charles and Mary meet a horrible, but also hilarious, death by tabby: cue the end credits, scored by Enya (no, really).

How is Sleepwalkers not remembered more fondly in the annals of horror trainwrecks? Its highlights rival the creme de la creme of the cinematic cheese-and-corn buffet. Someone is stabbed in the eye with a corkscrew. Someone is stabbed through the ear with a pencil. Someone is stabbed in the back with a boiled ear of corn. And the script. My god, the script. The script is so achingly bad, so wondrously inept, that it sent me into transports of unadulterated joy. Somebody out there, somewhere, wrote this. Somebody out there chose to have his or her villain ruthlessly stab a police officer, then punctuate the crime by screaming "COP KEBAB!" (Gore warning on the cop kebab... obviously).

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Sleepwalkers is that deep down inside this terrible movie is a decent movie trying to get out. A few moments -- Mary setting bear traps for the neighborhood cats, Mary and Charles' weirdly Oedipal relationship -- are almost disturbing. Plus there are cameos from Clive Barker (what?) Mark Hamill (what??) and even Stephen King (post-coke, ostensibly). Hollywood vegetables bent on remakes could do worse than Sleepwalkers. There is a scary movie in there somewhere. In the meantime, the original is entertaining in its own right.

Did you know she was in Mad Men? True fact.
FINAL GIRL: Tanya's sort of a nonentity in this movie; a force more acted-upon than acting; no brighter than basic human survival requires; basically, a cut-rate Molly Ringwald with a 90s makeover and a lobotomy. Madchen Amick does what she can with it. She can scream convincingly, anyway, which is all the role really demands. Also, she gets a bonus introductory dance montage that makes the movie ten times better if you're a Motown fan.

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