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Sleepwalkers – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Stephen King is so hot right now, right? After It exploded in theaters worldwide, it would seem people are chomping at the bit for new adaptations. We’ll see if people are pumped for Pet Sematary continues to keep the fire burning next Spring. In the meantime, lets get the older films based on his works some continued love on the Blu-ray format. Last month saw Maximum Overdrive land itself a Vestron Video debut. Now, Scream Factory will be putting together one of his least popular works in that of Sleepwalkers, directed by Mick Garris who is no stranger to directing a King adaptation. While the film is what it is, the story of the film, I’m sure could be quite entertaining and that’s what works so well with these Collector’s Editions. We’ll be able to find out when it releases on Blu-ray November 6th!

Film 

When newcomers Charles and his mother, Mary, settle into town, the local residents do not suspect that they’re shape-shifters looking to feed on the town’s virgin girls. Charles quickly befriends innocent and chaste Tanya when he begins attending high school, hoping to take her life force in order to feed his mother. When Tanya agrees to a first date with Charles, she may learn his true intentions the hard way.

Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers is pretty subpar Stephen King and even subpar for Mick Garris. Luckily Garris is at the helm or I don’t know if this film would be watchable. He’s good with showing care to oddballs, monsters and strange situations. His films tend to always have this way of looking more well lit and welcoming as opposed to showcasing menace and dread. Sleepwalkers has a lot of the film taking place in the day time, which is an interesting choice for creatures of the night.

Sleepwalkers was coming toward the descent of the Stephen King hype era. Things were still rather solid on TV, but the feature film output was severely lacking. This is a fun bit of nostalgia to go back on, seeing a I recall renting this movie the weekend right after it came out on VHS. But its no better a film than when it first came back out in the 90s.  Luckily, in terms of how it has aged, the film has good effects and some weirdness going for it to play into its favor.

The film has a pretty fun cast littered with a lot of cameos about. The highlight of which is King himself wandering around a crime scene bitching at the likes of Toby Hooper and Clive Barker. Ron Pearl shows up later in the film to add some fun as well. Alice Krige vamps up and chews the scenery all over this movie. She just about steals every frame she touches and steals the movie pretty much. Madchen Amick is pretty wonderful as a very sympathetic and peppy high school girl. As I return to works she took part in past Twin Peaks in the 90s, I continue to be shocked at how she wasn’t THE “it girl” of the time. There’s not a whole lot like her.

If you wanna have a trashy horror movie night and watch some rather competently mad films, but are oddities in their own right, Sleepwalkers probably fits that mold. It comes in at time that horror and King adapted properties seemed to be on a steady decline until the Scream-era began. I will say something super complimentary is that I really do enjoy the heck out of the film’s theme music. Its pretty top notch for a very simple little synth pop track. Nonetheless, because its at the hand of Mick Garris, I think its better than it probably could be or have a right to be.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4  AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: I don’t have any information on the transfer but I wouldn’t imagine its beyond a 2K transfers. Either way, this transfer shows strong detail with some pretty good color saturation and natural sharpness. The sleepwalker outfits look really good and you can practically know what its like to touch one using your mind. Overall, though, its sort of a “par for the course” Scream Factory video transfer, which really isn’t a bad thing if you fairly assess these things.

Depth:  This is a little above average. Depth of field is decent and the movements are smooth and cinematic. No real distortion issues occur with rapid movement.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and can provide some solid shading in the picture. Not a whole lot of information is lost during very dark scenes and the shadow work is very complimentary. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty natural, with the pop really reserving itself for the magic sucking blue beam and of course splattered blood.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial textures and details are easily discernible from most distances. The work on the cat people faces and outfits comes out pretty impressively here, too.

Noise/Artifacts: N/A

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Sleepwalkers drops us with a 5.1 track that is well balanced and makes for a pretty enjoyable little time. Its a front heavy one, but still has a nice loose feeling and good clarity. The effects here are decently layered and has good depth to them. This isn’t a bad track, its not an amazing track, but its one that’ll get the job done and for a film of this ilk, that’s A-Okay.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Music bumps, engines, physical altercations and a couple more things give a solid medium level bump.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a pretty front heavy track with majority of the rear work helping to amplify or add to something already emanating up front. Motion back and forth is pretty accurate to the actions on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Some moments have a little bit of analog feeling to them.

Extras 

Sleepwalkers – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Mick Garris and Actors Mädchen Amick and Brian Krause

Feline Trouble (HD, 18:34) –  An Interview with director Mick Garris. “Its very much not a Stephen King novel, but its very much a Stephen King movie”. He goes over his Norman Rockwell approach to horror filmmaking, gives his bits on the cast members and takes us through is making Sleepwalkers. He does have a good quote about doing certain things, “It may not be interesting, it may just be masturbating with a camera.”

When Charles Met Tanya (HD, 15:25) – A conversation with actors Mädchen Amick and Brian Krause. The two actors sit next to each other and have a fun, candid conversation talking about where they were at in life then, previous work with each other (Baywatch) and go over certain points of the film. Scream Factory has started doing these instead of solo interviews lately, and they are a much better watch so far because they ask each other questions and take the conversation in genuinely interesting (Possibly unplanned) directions.

Mother & More (HD, 15:49) – An interview with actress Alice Krige. “It was challenging. It was happy. I didn’t get how dark the humor was.” The actress gives us her side of the story and how no appreciative she is of the role she played. She very much a person dedicated to their craft and its a bit more of a serious conversation than the bubbly other ones on the disc.

Creatures & Cats: The FX of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers (HD, 15:38) – Interviews with special make-up effects creator Tony Gardner and prosthetics designer Mike Smithson. A little retro-doc that covers bringing the creatures to life, which honestly are still good to this day. These guys had just come off of Darkman and had previously worked with Mick Garris on Psycho IV. They followed it up with Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers.

Behind The Scenes Footage (SD, :53)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:53) 

TV Sports (SD, 1:52)

Still Gallery (HD, 3:52)

Summary 

Sleepwalkers is neither Stephen King nor director Mick Garris finest hour, but its highly watchable due to some factors only horror can do. Better off though, is hearing about making this movie which Scream Factory’s Blu-ray has put together in fun fashion with a slew of new bonus materials. The film looks and sounds up to snuff with most of the “solid” Shout! Factory releases. I’m not sure who’s going to be game to jump on Sleepwalkers, but if you’re wanting to go for it, you’ll be rewarded with a very nice set.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Sleepwalkers – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Kiara

    Dang, this is actually one I haven’t hard of, looks real creepy