Okay, so I’m not a big fan of 90s horror movies. But that’s not the reason I’m calling this a “sleepfest.” It’s a sleepfest because I’m covering 2 movies from the 90s with the word SLEEP in them!
Sleepstalker is a perfect example of how horror lost its way in the 90s. Should it be a slasher? a complex mystery? A character study of the killer with a focus on his motivation? Sleepstalker tries to do all of the above. As a result, the only thing it has going for it is the endless chase scenes.
The Sandman is some dude who goes around killing families. He is caught in the midst of one of those killings and the little boy in the family survives. The Sandman goes to jail. 17 years later, he finds a way to come back after he’s executed—as the Sandman. Like, literally. He’s made of sand. And he’s coming for the little boy he didn’t kill the first time. The little boy has grown into a cute reporter and is in the midst of doing a story on the leader of a street gang.
Sleepstalker is not a scary movie. Nothing thrilling happens for the first 45 minutes. You won’t jump. You won’t be grossed out by gore. You won’t be titillated by nudity. The lead guy and his platonic female friend spend a majority of the film trying to find out how and why the Sandman has come back. There are a couple of not so exciting kills with the Sandman spouting one-liners that are completely forgettable.
On the plus side, the Sandman travels through cracks and keyholes like sand through an hourglass, which makes the chase scenes really good. The lead guy and girl do a lot of running from him and it is quite suspenseful. There’s also a brief appearance by Ken Foree of the original Dawn of the Dead. And the final destruction of the Sandman is pretty cool.
You just have to brace yourself for the hokey scene when the gang leader comes to try and save the day….
STEPHEN KING’S SLEEPWALKERS (1992)
As a huge fan of Stephen King in the 80s, I remember when I saw Sleepwalkers in the 90s…I could tell I wasn’t going to be as dedicated to King in the 90s. Sleepwalkers had too much focus on the bad guys as the lead characters, so I couldn’t really relate.
I have to say, re-watching it over 20 years later, I kind of liked this movie, despite it being uneven and cheesy. First of all—OMG it’s Leo from Charmed!!! Cute, a little younger, and shirtless in his first scene!
I still don’t really get what a Sleepwalker is. They look like cats, they’re scared of cats. They need the blood of female virgins. They turn into these demon/alien creatures. They can turn invisible. They can make cars invisible. They can make those cars come back as different cars. They can make record players start on their own. WTF?
So yeah. The first part of the film focuses on the SEXUAL relationship between Leo and his freaky mom (played wonderfully as always by the woman who portrayed the religious freak in Silent Hill) and their plan to feed off a pretty young virgin in the new town to which they’ve moved.
It seems like Sleepwalkers is going to be a “teen” movie about school and young love. But then in a shocking gay twist, this dirty old teacher tries to grab Leo’s crotch and the movie gets gruesome and violent! Leo loses his shit and the film turns bizarrely campy. It also turns kind of suspenseful as his pretty young gal pal is pursued relentlessly for the remainder of the film. The second half of this absurd movie is definitely my favorite—especially the part about Leo being repelled by pussies.
In an effort to make a spectacle of itself, Sleepwalkers is bombarded by cameos: Stephen King, Jon Landis, Joe Dante, Mark Hamill, Tobe Hooper, Clive Barker. A victim of its own hype in the 90s, if viewed now with no expectations, it might surprise you. All the goofy horror fun aside, I think my favorite part is when the lead girl busts a move—to “Do You Love Me” by the Contours. And not the original version. The 1988 REMIX released after the song was used in Dirty Dancing. AMAZING.