ME AND LIL’ STEVIE’s
FIRST ANNUAL HOLIDAY TURKEY SHOOT
By Peter Dudar
(Establishing shot of a small, secluded bungalow. The front yard is filled with cats, some of which are pacing back and forth while others merely sit and stare at the house itself. There are steel bear-traps set everywhere, and now and then a poor, hapless cat steps on one and yowls and shrieks out in pain as it springs on him. This sets the other cats off into a demented chorus of caterwauling. The front door opens and a figure walks out, carrying a ventriloquist dummy in the image of the Master of Horror, Stephen King. The dummy is carrying a tiny little shotgun, which he aims into the crowd of cats and opens fire.)
Lil’ Stevie: Take that, you furry little…
Peter: Seasons Greetings, and welcome to another episode of…
Lil’ Stevie: Seasons Greetings, my wooden ass! Merry Christmas, folks!
Peter: …of “Me and Lil’ Stevie.” And today is a very special episode, isn’t it?
Lil’ Stevie: That’s right, amigo! Welcome to our First Annual Turkey Shoot!
Peter: Yes, folks. Today we’re going start a new holiday tradition by taking one of King’s worst movies and putting it out of its misery.
Lil’ Stevie: They can’t all be champions. And with the amount of stuff I write, you can’t…
Peter: And with the amount of works the REAL Mr. King has written, there’s bound to be some turkeys. So, for this holiday season, we’ve chosen the 1992 Mick Garris film, SLEEPWALKERS.
Another bear-trap springs in the distance, and a cat screams out.
Lil’ Stevie: Ha ha ha…didja hear that? All nine lives in one blow.
Peter: You’re just sick, you know that? And not just for laughing at that poor cat. I happen to love cats and have two of them.
Lil’ Stevie: Are they here right now?
Lil’ Stevie: Dang. Get on with the review.
Peter: Fine! But you’re also sick for the whole premise of this movie. The movie consists of Charles Brady (played by Brian Krause, who appeared in the television series CHARMED, 2005-06) and his mom, Mary (Alice Krige, SILENT HILL, 2006). The Bradys are shapeshifters; people that can morph into bad CGI cat monsters that feed off the souls of young, virginal women. The movie opens with a pair of police officers bumbling their way through a crime scene that happen to be the Bradys’ last place of residence. The outside of their old home has dead cats dangling from ropes strung on tree limbs, and others poking lifelessly out of the bear-traps.
Lil’ Stevie: Tee hee hee.
Peter: What is it with you and cats? We just reviewed PET SEMETERY a short while ago, and you had that cat run over by a semi!
Lil’ Stevie: Cats are notorious Yankees fans!
Peter: (sighing) Whatever. Jump cut to the Bradys’ new home, where we’re introduced to the two “sleepwalkers” and learn a little more about what they are through weak dialogue and bizarre behavior. For starters, the two start dancing in their kitchen to the old Santo and Johnny hit “Sleepwalk”…right before they begin making out and he carries his mom up the stairs to, well…
Lil’ Stevie: A little of the old “In and out”…
Peter: Stop it! For a little incestuous liaison. It’s really creepy to watch this taboo relationship unfolding. For me, it called to mind Norman Bates, if he’d taken that next logical step with his mother. But while it’s unfolding, Charles confides to his mom that he’s picked out a new love interest, one that is virginal (to satisfy the vampire-like energy she needs to feed upon and stay alive, and yet one that apparently has enough emotional, romantic attraction to make him carve her initial into his arm).
Lil’ Stevie: God, this movie sucks!
Peter: How can you say that? I thought you wrote it?
Lil’ Stevie: Oh, hell no. The real Stephen King wrote it. And obviously he was addicted to Beverly Hills, 90210 at the time, because this movie seems to cater to the same demographic. It’s geared toward the young, the horny, and the stupid. Can we just shoot it now and skip the rest of this?
Peter: Absolutely not. I had to suffer rewatching this.
Lil’ Stevie: You watched it TWICE?
Peter: Yep. The first time I saw it was at a drive-in back in college. I’m glad it sucked because it gave me and the girl I was with time to…
Lil’ Stevie: Stop! You’re making me sick.
Peter: Fine. Let’s continue. Anyway, Charles has his eye on Tanya (Mädchen Amick, PRIEST, 2011) (Editor’s note: “Screw PRIEST, Amick is best known for playing Shelly Johnson in the great David Lynch series TWIN PEAKS, from 1990 – 1991”), a fellow student in his creative writing class and popcorn girl at the local theater. He sets out to woo Tanya and gain her trust so that he can steal her soul and feed his mother. Only, along the way, his identity is discovered by his creative writing teacher, Mr. Fallows (Glenn Shadix, Otho from BEETLEJUICE, 1988), and in a rather obscene film moment, Fallows pulls Charles over after pursuing him in his car and tries to blackmail him into inappropriate teacher/student activities, which forces Charles into murdering him.
Lil’ Stevie: Charles hacks his hand right off, and then chases him out into the woods to finish him.
Peter: It all comes across as incredibly stupid and gratuitous, as does the subsequent offing of Officer Andy (Dan Martin, GRIDIRON GANG, 2006), the cop who drives around with his cat, Clovis (who can detect the shapeshifter—just like the other cats—even when he is invisible). What cop gets to drive around with his cat all day? That just seems cruel and inhumane.
Lil’ Stevie: I’ll show you cruel and inhumane…Pull!
A plate launcher fires, sending a cat hurling into the air, its legs spread wide and its tail dangling below it. Lil’ Stevie lifts the shotgun and fires.
Lil’ Stevie: You really need to try this!
Peter: By this point, Tanya is in love with Charles. He’s young, hot, and charming. So sure, no problem, she’d love to accompany him to the cemetery to shoot some photos and do some grave rubbings…
Lil’ Stevie: Grave rubbings…wink wink, nudge nudge.
Peter: Only, when he gets her there, he tries to steal her soul (and King really should sue J.K. Rowling, as the whole Dementor soul-sucking thing is a total rip-off from this flick). She manages to escape just as Officer Andy arrives (to meet his demise), and flees back home…but not before she plucks his eye out with a cork screw and Officer Andy shoots him. Charles is in bad shape, and goes home to his mother. She sets out at once to claim Tanya’s soul and save her son, and all of it goes to pot by the conclusion of this movie, when the rest of the cops (led by Ron Perlman, HELLBOY, 2004) show up at their house.
Lil’ Stevie: We should probably go on record and state that this film is NOT an adaptation of any previous King work, but one that was written specifically as a screenplay. Why, God only knows…
Peter: Look, it’s like you already mentioned above…this is super reminiscent of Beverly Hills, 90210. But more than that, it kind of gives a nod of what’s to come with the whole Buffy/Angel phenomenon. There’s nothing scary about it. I’d have liked this movie tons more if it did away with the whole shapeshifter business altogether and pushed toward the damaged mother/son relationship that made this movie feel dirty and creepy.
Lil’ Stevie: Who’s sick NOW?
Peter: I’ll admit it. The CGI was terrible. The acting was substandard. The plot was paper-thin. And the gratuitous cameos? Holy cow! King, himself, plays the cemetery owner, then you’ve got Cynthia Garris (nepotism), Clive Barker, John Landis, Joe Dante, and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker himself! Uncredited, and that says a lot). I tend to find that annoying. It’s hard to take a film seriously when you’re distracted with all the walk-ons.
Lil’ Stevie: It’s like pouring perfume on a pig.
Peter: Amen. Do we have anything positive to say about this turkey?
Lil’ Stevie: Mädchen Amick is HOT!
Peter: Other than that?
Lil’ Stevie: Well, it IS the starting point of Mick Garris’s affiliation with King and his stories. Garris will later go on to helm the television miniseries, THE STAND (1994), as well as QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY (1997), RIDING THE BULLET (2004), DESPERATION (2006), and the upcoming BAG OF BONES, which premiers this month on A&E.
Peter: Yeah, Garris’s career has definitely benefitted from King. And he has gotten better over time. I liked THE STAND very much. But I’ll be honest…DESPERATION may very well just be next year’s Christmas dinner.
Lil’ Stevie: Does that mean it’s time.
Peter: It’s time.
Lil’ Stevie: Alleluia! Here, turkey-turkey-turkey…Gobble Gobble Gobble!
(The DVD version of SLEEPWALKERS suddenly pops up just over the ridge, sending the cats all scurrying away in every direction.)
Lil’ Stevie: Fire!
(The shotgun blasts, and the SLEEPWALKERS DVD is smashed to smithereens.)
Lil’ Stevie: Phew, that felt good.
Peter: Almost cathartic. Almost, but not quite…
(Peter yanks the gun out of Lil’ Stevie’s hands. He pumps it and turns the barrel right at Lil’ Stevie’s face.)
Lil’ Stevie: But I didn’t write it…I didn’t write it…I didn’t
(Peter pulls the trigger, and a little flag pops out of the end of the barrel. The flag reads “Merry Christmas.”)
Peter: Thank you for joining us, and have a wonderful holiday season!
Camera fades out.
© Copyright 2011 by Peter N. Dudar