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Sleepstalker 
Written by: on July 20th, 2011


Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1995
Director: Turi Meyer
Writers: Al Septien, Turi Meyer
Cast: Michael Harris, Jay Underwood, Kathryn Morris, Michael D. Roberts, William Lucking

DVD released: August 17th, 2004
Approximate running time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Lions Gate
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: OOP


Synopsis: As a young boy, we see very young Griffin Davis (Vincent Berry) being put to sleep by his parents, be told that there is nothing to be afraid of, and shadows cannot hurt you. Moments later, a serial killer known as "The Sandman" (Harris) enters the house, and murders Griffin’s parents, and shows his trademark when he pours sand into the mother’s eyes. The police knew the pattern of houses the sandman was striking at, so they were luckily at Griffins house, they break in, and take the sandman down and to jail.
 
It is now 17 years later (a little long for an execution, isn’t it?). We now see adult Griffin (Underwood) who works as a journalist, setting up an interview with a gang leader Dog Sanchez (Vasquez). In the place, he is joined by his best friend Megan (Morris), his roommate Kenny (AJ Glassman), and a girl he is being set up with named Dana (Kathleen McMartin). Kenny shows Griffin that that is the very night the sandman is being executed. Cutting into the prison, we see a priest (Roberts) coming to visit the sandman in his cell. He puts a spell over the murderer, and instructs to him that he must find & kill Griffin. He is then given a glass upside-down cross, which is the showing of a satanic symbol. He then drops his blood in the neighboring desert.
 
After the setup date with Dana, Griffin & Megan go out to the Dog Sanchez interview, while Kenny stays alone at the apartment. After being in the gas chamber, we see in the desert. a mysterious mound of sand growing, until it forms into bones & a skull, and fully forms the rebirth of the sandman. Now having the power to teleport as sand, the sandman goes to the apartment where Kenny sleeps. Kenny is lured up to the roof because of sandy footprints, and refusing to tell sandman where Griffin is, he gets pushed off the roof. After the interview the next morning, Griffin & Megan are horrified to see the dead body of Kenny laying on the sidewalk with sand in his eyes. (Oh my god! They killed Kenny!) Griffin is then sure that the sandman is still alive, so he teams up with the cop who arrested the sandman 17 years ago (William Lucking). Dana is then found dead due to being suffocated by sand the sandman has turned himself into. The cop who arrested sandman is then killed off. So for the remainder of the film, we see that its up to Griffin & Megan to stop the killer sand man.

With a title like "Sleepstalker", you would expect it to be a knockoff of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. No, it is not. You do have a Freddy Krueger like villain, but the only other thing that has to do with sleeping, is that the sandman will sing a lullaby before he kills his victim. Being made in 1995, the film has some good special effects, and some bad special effects. Good special effects are when we see the sandman first being made into sand, and bad is when we see him emerging out of a puddle of sand. There are a few very surprising moments in the film, like when we find out the real connection between Griffin and the Sandman, or the death of a certain character near the end, its just surprising. Kill wise, some are okay, and some are just overused. Buried alive with sand, pushed off roof, burned alive in an incinerator, impaled on glass, those have all been done several times and aren’t that creative, but some deaths such as the retired cop being, well, I truthfully don’t know how exactly the sandman kills him, its very bizarre, and then another inventive kill is where we see a guy being skinned alive when the sand man turns himself into a dust devil and swirls around the person. Storyline is pretty good, I never really did mind it, catchy theme song / lullaby "Sleep, Baby Sleep". Jim Manzie did a good job with the score, such as the Sleep Baby Sleep song & the metal / rockish type song that plays when we see the sandman first come alive in the desert. Some acting really had to be worked on, though, the only actor that proved decent to me was Michael Harris, who plays The Sandman. Otherwise, the acting was really not that good.

The DVD:

The DVD of Sleepstalker was released by Lions Gate. It has no special features, not even trailers. When you turn on the main menu, the only two choices you get are "Play" & "Scenes". Picture is a tad bit grainy, but not that big of a problem, I also think that is just how the film was shot, although it is barely noticeable when you don’t pay attention to that fact.
 
So overall, Sleepstalker did OK at some points, other points had to be worked out. So if I had to rank this film, I’d rank it directly in the middle. Either a 2.5/5, or a 5/10.

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