Sleepwalkers was one of those movies that has immersed itself in my mind and I’m pretty sure formed part of my horror film makeup. It’s probably not surprising really if I divulge a little of my personal journey through horror films. I would have been around 14 years old at the time of its release and already had sunk my impressionable mind into the works of Stephen King and knowing his name was attached to the writing credits for what would have been his first not to be based on any of his pre-existing works (Not that I knew this at the time). It also starred Madchen Amick, hot off the David Lynch hit tv series Twin Peaks. Lynch was also integral to forming my cinephilia and with Amick’s involvement, I was already hooked. It would also be directed by Mick Garris who has since carved a name for himself in the name of horror on-screen and often using King’s work as source material.
Later, I would understand the importance that Aice Krige would play in movies having already carved a name through Chariots of Fire, Ghost Story, and Barfly. This would be my first encounter with Krige however and it’s fair to say that her role of the matriarchal shapeshifter Mary, a shapeshifting energy vampire, sets the tone for the whole movie.
Along with her son Charles Brady (Brian Krause) feeds off the lifeforce of virgin women and can transform into werecats to feed on their prey, whilst also using their powers of telekinesis and illusion to manipulate those with whom they encounter. Their only weakness are domestic cats, who are resistant to the sleepwalkers magic and can cause fatal wounds.
Madchen Amick takes on the role of Charles’ virginal interest Tanya, who is lured in by his magnanimous charm. Before long, Tanya realises that there is more to Charles than meets the eye and must fight tooth and nail to survive.
Looking back at the film now, it still holds some allure despite some clearly aged creature effects, and the moment when Charles transforms for the first time is a great counterweight to our first impressions of his character. Throw into the mix a blink and you’ll miss Ron Perlman as Captain Soames and horror maestros Clive Barker, Joe Dante, John Landis, Tobe Hooper and even King himself cropping up at notable points, and you’ve got a lot to get your teeth into. Oh and Mark Hamill also makes an uncredited appearance which brings a smile to this cinema lover’s face.
It is Krige however as mentioned who really comes to life as Mary and the lead antagonist of the film, with her incestous needs and devilish desires lights up every scene that she is in.
For this, Sleepwalkers is well worth a revisit.
- Saul Muerte