Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Brian Krause, Alice Krige, Mädchen Amick
Extras: Bonus Trailers, Talent Files, Production Notes
Hi folks. My name is Leonardo the Cat. My good friend Mike Long is taking a few days off, so I’m writing this review. Now, you may be wondering how a cat is qualified to review DVDs. Well, I’ve watched plenty of them with Mike, so I hope that I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. But, I think that I’m very qualified to review this particular DVD, as it’s the cat-filled opus, "Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers". This movie is a dream come true for us cats, who are usually portrayed as villains or used as a cheap scare when we leap from a dumpster. I’m very excited about this film arriving on DVD, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
"Sleepwalkers" was the first Stephen King project, which was written exclusively for the big screen. As the film opens, we are presented with the legend of the Sleepwalkers, a nomadic race of feline-like shape-shifters whose lone enemy in this world is felinus domesticus, or for you non-phylum types, cats. The Sleepwalkers are believed to be the basis for all vampire legends. We then meet Mary Brady (Alice Krige) and her son Charles (Brian Krause), who have just moved to Travis, Indiana. Mary and Charles are very close. Read my snout, very close. In their first scene together, Charles seduces his mother. Now that’s close! You humans are weird. We immediately begin to suspect that these Bradys aren’t going to live up to their TV namesake.
Charles then sets his sights on Tanya (Madchen Amick). When the two first meet, they are both very shy, and they agree to go out together. It’s at this point that King takes off the gloves, flexes his dewclaw and goes for the throat. We quickly learn that Charles and Mary are Sleepwalkers. Charles has decided to steal Tanya’s "lifeforce" so that he and his mother may live. The only person that can protect Tanya isn’t a person at all, it’s Clovis the Attack Cat! (It’s about time that the cats showed up!) From this point on, the movie becomes a fun-filled roller coaster ride as the police and every cat in town follow Clovis to put an end to the Sleepwalkers’ reign of terror.
While watching this film, one can almost hear Stephen King laughing in the background. This is a fun movie and you can tell that King had a ball writing it. While there have been some very good adaptations of King’s work, which closely mirror the stories in his writing, "Sleepwalkers" was the first film that came close to matching the macabre depravity that resides in King’s books. The slow-motion scene of hundreds of cats running down Main Street may border on camp, but if not taken too seriously, it’s fun. Personally, it made me cry.
Director Mick Garris would go on to work with King regularly with TVs "The Stand" and "The Shining", shows great skill with "Sleepwalkers". One of the scariest scenes in the film is filmed in broad daylight and Garris pulls it off perfectly by employing rapid cuts and shooting from strange angles. Trust me, having lived with Mike, I’ve seen my share of horror films and it takes a lot to excite me. But during the finale, as I was cheering for Clovis, I was on the edge of my seat (and my paws still couldn’t reach the floor!) Besides Garris’ confident direction and King’s wild script, "Sleepwalkers" also boasts a strong cast. Brian Krause and Madchen Amick may not be the best actors on Earth, but their good looks and charm help to create an image of innocence and young love that King quickly shatters. Krige is just plain creepy as the mom. And, as with Garris’ mini-series, "Sleepwalkers" is full of cool cameos. John Landis, Tobe Hooper, Clive Barker, Joe Dante, and even King himself pop up in small roles. But, the best cameo comes from Zippy the Wonder Squirrel, who can be seen at the right side of the screen at the 0:32:00 mark. What an actor! Also, Mike says that any movie featuring a ’78 Trans-Am has to be good… whatever that means.
The "Sleepwalkers" DVD from Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video brings us a transfer that will have you purring. The film has been <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1 and is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TVs. This framing of the image appears to be accurate, as there is no obvious loss of information at the top or bottom of the screen. The digital transfer has rendered the film very crisp and clear, showing only a subtle amount of grain at times. There are no obvious problems from artifacting or compression, nor are there any other issues, such as distortion or over-scanning of horizontal lines. The colors really stand out on this transfer. The fleshtones are all natural, and the reds and blues (just look at both of Charles’ cars) really stand out. It should also be noted that the pan-and-scan version of "Sleepwalkers" is also accessible on the DVD.
The audio on the DVD is a Dolby 2-channel surround mix, that offers a good soundfield and packs quite a punch. Besides the expected clear and audible dialogue, the surround mix brings us a nice presentation of music, sound effects, and ambient sounds. While looking for Zippy the Wonder Squirrel in Chapter 9, note how the music, the car engines, and the dialogue, are all nicely mixed and appropriately placed in the speakers.
This DVD is oddly shorn of special features. Instead of getting the theatrical trailer for "Sleepwalkers", we are treated to five bonus trailers. The trailers included are for "The Tingler" (full-frame), "Johnny Mnemonic" (full-frame), "Screamers" (full-frame), "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (<$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1), and "Night of the Living Dead" (1990) (full-frame). The only other extra feature are talent files, which mainly consist of filmographies. And although I rarely review the actual DVD when I review DVDs, the DVD for "Sleepwalkers" have a very interesting graphic on it.
Overall, I was very impressed by "Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers". It was scary, funny, gross, exciting, and chock full o’cats. What else could you want? While the DVD could have used many, many more extra features (where’s the behind-the-scenes interview with Clovis?), it does offer a very nice audio and video package. Fans of the film, or their cats, will definitely want to check out this DVD. I just have one final question, and, believe me, this isn’t something that I would usually endorse. If the Bradys were so worried about cats, why didn’t they just get a dog?