When you think of “the master of horror,” Stephen King, I’m sure your mind immediately goes to It, Pet Semetary, The Stand, or any other number of classic horror titles. But what I’m here to argue is, why isn’t Sleepwalkers included in that list? This ’90s cult classic was #1 at the box office when it was released, deftly balances the double threat of horror and humor, and oh yeah, features giant anthropomorphic cat-like monsters who are only defeated by…cats!!! Yes! Fortunately, on November 6th, 2018, the fine folks over at Scream Factory released a new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of Sleepwalkers fans of this forgotten gem can truly appreciate.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or new to the movie, there’s plenty to love from the new Blu-ray. In addition to the traditional bonus features, Scream Factory includes four new interview featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage, and new audio commentary with director Mick Garris and actors Mädchen Amick and Brian Krause. Thanks to these new special features, here’s nine things I learned about Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers:
- The cat monster suit in Sleepwalkers wasn’t the original design. Instead, due to time constraints, special effects designer Tony Gardner had to settle for the less articulated version. Fortunately, the intended design would appear in a future Stephen King movie, The Tommyknockers.
- Sleepwalkers was the very first time Stephen King wrote a screenplay intended for the screen first, rather than adapting one of his already-existing novels.
- This was one of the earliest uses of special effect “morphing” technology. Previously, one of the only other noteworthy uses was Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” music video.
- Before Stan Lee started showing up in every Marvel release, fan-service cameos weren’t a very common occurrence. However, Sleepwalkers had tons of cameos for horror fans including Clive Barker, Joe Dante, John Landis, Tobe Hooper, and of course, Stephen King himself.
- The movie was filmed on the Columbia Pictures studio lot. Only three movies were filming at the same time: Sleepwalkers, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Hook.
- Although this was a major studio movie, it was still considered somewhat low-budget at only $15 million dollars. It opened at #1 at the box office, but was critically panned. It’s earnings doubled its budget with over $30 million dollars.
- Sleepwalkers features an uncredited Mark Hamill performance that was only added at the last minute after audience screen tests to help introduce the mythos of the cat creatures. Director Mick Garris called in a favor to his friend Hamill whom he met on his first job as a receptionist for Star Wars.
- Instead of celebrating the premiere of Sleepwalkers, star Brian Krause spent opening night in the Orange County jail for unpaid parking tickets. In total he would serve a 45-day stint and gave another prisoner his lunch so he wouldn’t tell the rest of the population he was the star of the #1 movie in America.
- You’ve heard of the phrase “herding cats?” Well, that abstract concept became literal when a total of 126 cats were used in the production. To get them to run en masse down the set’s city streets, the cats weren’t fed breakfast and came running when they were finally fed in the afternoon. According to director Mick Garris, the easiest feline to work with was named Sparks, who was a trained Hollywood cat and considered the “Robert De Niro of cat actors.”
There’s tons more to learn and love about Sleepwalkers, and it gets better with every viewing. Go pick up your own copy of the Collector’s Edition Blu-ray today!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this movie. All opinions are my own. Meow!