Yeah, we’re cheating on our beloved decade of decadence. The Sleeper is not a movie from the 1980’s, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t have the look, feel, soundtrack, costumes design and dialogue down pat. It even comes as a special edition red VHS tape with big box packaging equipped with all the subtle nuisances of the video store rental experience (more on that later). IT CAME FROM 1980 X does not discriminate against films of any generation as long as they embody the spirit of hyper color and slap like a bracelet.
It’s 1981 and the girls of Alpha Gamma Theta sorority are having a party. Amy, sick of living in the dorms, invites her roommate Ava to attend the party with her in hopes that they’ll both become Thetas. As the girls arrive, so does an uninvited guest watching them in the shadows. Amy’s choice quickly becomes a nightmare as the Theta girls begin to disappear one by one. Announcing his victims, the killer calls the house whispering the next to die. The police hunt for the missing girls and the killer, but will they find him in time? Or will all the girls sleep for good?
Start off the with the classic Halloween beginning. In fact start off with the the use of the “date on screen” convention from that same movie. Add a freeze frame kill shot and synth-tastic music. I’m talking music that gets in your head. It’s not quite Goblin or Carpenter but it could be the next thing you hum under your breath at the movie theater when you’re trying to scare your lady friend. This whole time you’re asking yourself “Who is Gamma Knife Films?”. The first couple of minutes post-opening credits might have you thinking that you accidentally put in House of the Devil.
Gamma Knife Films is the full on, run the bases and score, independent production company of Justin Russell who is responsible for the 1980 X’s film du jour as well as Death Stop Holocaust (which I need to get my claws on). They pretty much do it all and then some. Their code is to create art with integrity. While you may think you’re just watching a rehash of a style made popular in our decade of choice, you’re looking at amazing attention to details. You’re looking at craftsmanship in cinematography and attention to detail that this little bastard hasn’t seen since Grindhouse. Emulating the Pepsi choice generation may seem easy because you’ve seen a few folks take it down successfully, but it can be ruined just as easily. Best of all they love to give us 80’s geeks what we love. Red VHS with all the trim and tinsel. I strongly encourage you to follow Gamma Knife HERE. Make sure you sign up using your social networking venue of choice.
Material world, material girl, VHS box with DVD/VHS combo inside. There’s a beautiful “Hi-Fi Stereo” emblem in the top left hand corner just under the rainbow box border that is the perfect facsimile of a distro company that problem only produced twenty or so tapes to market. The edge is faux worn as if this big box replica had been handled and pawed due to the amazing cover art. Turn the thing over and you find the classic VHS lay out complete with star emblem that has this writer thinking Embassy. At the bottom is the semen on the cake (?) “THIS FILM CONTAINS VIOLENCE AND GORE WHICH MAY BE CONSIDERED SHOCKING. MUST BE 17 OR OLDER TO RENT”. If you grew up in the 80’s you know what this means… you’ll have to cover the bottom of the box with both fingers when you show mom what you want to rent. The DVD inside the big box has cover art that is clearly an homage to Don’t Go Into the House complete with tag line “If I Die Before I Wake”. The red VHS itself has the ultimate slip of the nerd tongue; A $.50 if this tape isn’t rewound sticker with a mother f’ing smiley face in beautiful orange glow! This was clearly a cassette that was rented numerous times. No it wasn’t. It’s 2012 (Marty, Bif stole the friggin’ sports almanac).
Embassy Entertainment Bumper
Enough about the kick ass packaging. It’s totally worth purchasing this film for the retro packaging I assure you. Is the film any good? Here’s what I’ll give you; the film has its moments.From the moment the baby panther turns into the restricted logo you know that you’re in for some retro-tainment. It has some extreme fun, gore driven violent kills that pay tribute to the movies you know and love. That doesn’t mean you’re gonna see Robert Englund’s glove anywhere on film, but you might think along the lines of the Toolbox Murders, Driller Killer, Nightmare in a Damaged Brain, Don’t Go Into the House. You’ll find a little Maniac. A little Myers. The movies this picture imitates are early 80’s/late 70’s at the font of the slasher boom. The camera angles and focus, the intentionally substandard cinematography and editing, it’s all there for you to enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy that style of film than you can’t enjoy The Sleeper. There’s just no way to treat this like a great movie that has anything truly original about it. It’s perfect at what it does with some few shots that I thought were more 90’s (dork, dork, dork, dork).
The cast is entirely made up of newbies who have done some shorts and who all play the 80’s card well, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that we get the full scope of their performances. I will say that the killer falls flat, but looks like at least 65% of the killers from slasher knock off films produced to make some Benjamins. Keep your eye out for them and see if they make it to the sequel, The Sleeper 2:
NEVER SLEEP AGAIN! (I may have stolen this joke from the Dead Air podcast team because those guys are much funnier than me).
Spoiler-ish material (I decided you need a spoiler section because I’m about to go bat shit crazy on the kill sequences):
There’s a hammer smashed face scene that would make Cannibal Corpse proud. It’s obviously fake, but it’s cheese is effective. It’ll make you squirm for a second before you realize that you’ve seen this a few times over. There’s a sequence where a girls’ face is torn away. Torn off. Grabbed…. TORN OFF… and IT’S IN A GYM!!! This is quality entertainment. It’s the fun kills your missing in today’s shock cinema. That’s all the spoilers we have time for. Tell your friends they can look now. All the boobs have found hiding places inside of their bras.
Spoiler Zone Endeth HERE.
The flick starts great, hits a huge lull, turns itself on at the right moment and the falls completely flat. The ending is barely worth enduring the film, and I’d say skip it but hopefully you’re making out with your significant other by now and the only thing of the movie that you’re taking in is the rad soundtrack (as performed by Gremlin!). When you’re showing this to friends you might find it convenient to fast forward through the “plot” and get straight to the kills. Make sure to stop for the lewd sex scene. The “Oh Baby’s” are a flowin’ like… well… you know. Just make sure you don’t confuse it with the Woody Allen comedy from the 70’s although that’s a damn funny movie as well. It Came. It Saw. It kicked our ass. It Came from 1980..er… 2012.
Stay Magnetic. May Your Heads Be Clean.