As a New Englander I’m bordering on sacrilege saying this, but… I’m not a Stephen King reader.

There, I said it. I’m not even sure if it’s Steven or Stephen, to be honest. And after seeing Sleepwalkers, I think I know why. Either this story isn’t up to his usual standards, or his usual standards are pretty low. If I’ve insulted both of our readers, I apologize, but this movie is the pits.

Officer murdered with a corncob to the back
This movie is way too corny

Welcome to Travis, Indiana, where the early 90s have inexplicably merged with the 50s. High school kids go on picnic dates, listen to oldies and still think crew cuts are cool. In this bewildering backdrop, we find our main characters: Mary (Alice Krige) and her son Charles (Brian Krause). They’re “sleepwalkers,” ancient shapeshifting weirdos who are persecuted and forced to move from town to town. Why? Probably because they eat human virgins- oh, they keep having sex with each other. Like four or five times in an 87 minute movie. Times are tough for the Sleepwalkers- they can’t find a virgin, so they’re sort of starving. (Remember this is before the Internet, which finally gave virgins something to do on weekends.) Charles and Mary’s hopes rest on Tanya (Madchen Amick), your stereotypical sweet Indiana girl and apparently the last virgin in high school.

A guy gets out of a car, with mountains in the background
Impressive mountains, for Indiana

And thus we present the most implausible love triangle in cinematic history: Charles has a crush on Tanya and isn’t sure if he wants to kiss her or eat her soul; his mom is both hungry for Tanya and jealous that her son has feelings for another woman. Meanwhile Tanya’s trying to seduce Charles, which would ruin everything. And you think you have romantic troubles!

Charles takes Tanya out on the town, where he and the director realize they’re running out of time and decide to just start the violent scenes without explanation. Charles tries to kill Tanya; she barely gets away, thanks to a wisecracking cop and his cat Clovis, because cats can sense Sleepwalkers in human form, I guess. Charles kills the cop, but Clovis gets some revenge by clawing Charles’s face a bunch.

Charles heads home a bloody mess, and his mom is pissed. She hunts Tanya down, stabs the teen’s parents and drags her back to Charles for feeding.

Now the entire county police force is on the job, including Ron Perlman in an annoying role. They’re no match for a horny mom craving her dying, shapeshifting son, but with all the hoopla going on, Clovis leads about six hundred cats into the house for the Big Payback. They turn the Sleepwalkers into Fancy Feast, Tanya is safe, I’m just waiting for the end credits.

Sleepwalker Mom
Why proper cat handling matters

Clovis (Sparks the cat) is about the only saving grace of the movie. Not only is he the only character with any depth, he’s also the only good actor (semi-exceptions include Mark Hamill, the actual Mark Hamill, in an uncredited cameo, and Lyman Ward, the guy that played Ferris Bueller’s dad, as Tanya’s dad). But it’s not enough to make up for a dull movie, even one whose moral is that premarital sex is great. Think about it: if Tanya had only given in to her urges at some point, she wouldn’t have become the target of hungry shapeshifters, and the town’s entire police force wouldn’t have died trying to protect her. Plus it’s fun! Or so I’m told. Mildly recommended.

Clovis the cat

“Stop looking at me you fucking cat!” – Charles

“Why are you being such a bitch?” – Charles
“Because I’m hungry!” – Mary

“Lots of cats.” – cop
“I can see that, dickhead!” – other cop

“It’s just you and me, Clovis.” – Tanya, to the cat