When I was a kid my parents didn’t have much money so while some families went to Disney, we went to the drive-in. Honestly, it seemed like we were there nearly every weekend. There was something special about the smell of burnt pizza and the sound of honking horns at the Candlelight-Pix drive-in in Bridgeport, CT and it was there that I was first introduced to horror movies in the late 70s/early 80s. I have many fond memories of sitting in the backseat of my parents Plymouth Valiant, eating my mom’s cold fried chicken while watching Blood Beach, Mother’s Day and other assorted gems. Justin Russell’s The Sleeper is just that same kind of movie that I would have seen in between bites of fried chicken and in between my mom’s fingers as she tried, in vain, to cover my eyes during a sweet boobie scene.
The Sleeper is an indie throwback set in glorious 1981 when Blondie was tearing up the music charts and Ash was on the big screen dealing with some Deadites in the first of the Evil Dead franchise. The Alpha Gamma Theta sisters are throwing a pledge party and in attendance is our heroine and potential pledge Amy (played by Brittany Belland in her first role).
The craziness starts when some creepy-eyed weirdo starts prank calling the sorority house (a la Black Christmas)and then killing the girls one by one with the claw-end of a hammer. Why is he killing the Alpha Gamma Thetans? Who knows and who cares, that’s just what happened to sorority girls in the 80’s, remember?
This flick is as short on plot as it is on originality and no explanation is offered for what’s going on but it really doesn’t matter; I dug it anyway. It’s clear that writer/director Justin Russell loves 80’s horror and it shows in every way. From the story-line to the music (well done by “Gremlin”) everything here screams 80’s and I dig it. Mr. Russell has done a great job of bringing me back to my favorite time in horror and I applaud him for it.
The DVD version of The Sleeper contains some great bonus features including an hour-long featurette on the making of the movie and some good director’s commentary. Also, from what I understand, a VHS version was even released which is super-cool! Justin Russell and his Gamma Knife Films are to be watched out for in the future – as is Brittany Belland who just may be a scream queen in the making.
P.S. – Don’t miss the Joe Bob Briggs cameo and be on the lookout for the oddest group dance scene ever put together in a horror movie. It’s amazingly corny in a great way.