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  Sleepwalker
Year: 1984
Director: Saxon Logan
Stars: Bill Douglas, Heather Page, Joanna David, Nickolas Grace, Fulton Mackay, Michael Medwin
Genre: Horror, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: "Hey, tell me the truth. Are we still in the game?" - Oscar Hsu. eXistenZ

Saxon Logan's extraordinary 49 minute featurette pitches four people into a class war situation with a vicious sting in the tale.

After a not entirely stress-free journey, ("Wake me up when it's over")Richard Paradise (Grace) and wife Angela (David) arrive at the house of Albion, owned by brother and sister act Marianne and Alex Britain. When a violent storm breaches the walls and windows of Albion, Marianne is forced to abandon plans for a quiet candlelit dinner so the quartet head for a local restaurant where Fulton Mckay and Micahel Medwin materialise as all-seeing, all-knowing proprietor and waiter; a Fulci-esque pair of characters who appear to 'come with the place.' It's here the fun really does start as Richard- ("He's in videos") looking for all the world like a deserving victim from Jose Larraz's Vampyres - launches a vicious attack on Alex (the excellent Bill Douglas) and his socialist principles. Be sure this loathsome 'Tory Boy' will set your hackles rising, as his entrepreneurial claptrap embodies the sentiments of Neil Kinnock's brilliant rejection of Conservative values ("The only person is me. The only number is one. The only time is now".) And the ladies? While Angela demonstrates she's at least a few pills short of a full valium bottle, Marianne (Page) simply drinks, while exuding a trouser-rousing air of sex and sensuality that remains right up to a veritable blood-soaked finale.

Boasting a script laced with black as crude humour, Sleepwalker comes over like a head-on collision between Mike Leigh and Dario Argento, with its mise en scene often recalling the late, great Mario Bava. Frequent references to nocturnal, eyes wide shut states of being - comas, sleepwalking, the strange tale of a certain Mr. Valdemar, not to mention Alex's final terrified demand ("Wake up!") - take this film beyond the usual 'stuff of nightmares' fare and suggests that were it not for a calamitous change in British cinema policy, one Frederick Kruger may not have had things entirely his own way.

After 16 years in the wilderness, Sleepwalker has stirred, playing one-off's at selected cinemas countrywide, largely thanks to Darrell Buxton who is collaborating with Saxon Logan with a view to a possible DVD/VHS release. This film certainly deserves to be seen by any self-respecting genre buff, so contact Darrell at his excellent 'Pass The Marmalade' web site. Darrell will be pleased to furnish you with the latest news because, just like Harry, he's here to help.

While it may be taking things a bit too far by comparing Sleepwalker to the work of a certain Mr. Argento (gory murder scenes, a sleeping witch and a girl who emerges from a drug-induced slumber), there is another (possibly unintentional?) Suspiria moment. When this film hits the small screen, hit the pause button when Alex's computer screen displays a passage of text from a script translation. There you'll see a description of a couple arriving at a town called Freiburg.
Reviewer: Steve Langton

 

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