Sleepwalker dual format (DVD/Blue-ray review).

From 1984 we have, by all accounts, the first release on any format of a 50 minute film called ‘Sleepwalker’ directed by Saxon Logan. Presented by the British Film Institute, it comes out on a dualformat disc which includes DVD and Blu-ray.


Rather disturbing, it is centred on a dilapidated house in a rainstorm. In this house, we have a brother and a sister, the latter sleeping in bed. What would happen if your life was only a character in another person’s dream? Here we find out. Unfortunately, the dreams tend to be nightmarish and. as the film progresses, the nightmares become more and more horrific.

The siblings are visited by a couple, an odd couple to say the least, in the form of a repressed woman and a pretentious prat with extreme right-wing views. Unable to eat at the house because of storm damage, they manage to visit a restaurant and consume an unsatisfactory meal. Look out for performances by Fulton Mackay and Michael Medwin as restaurant staff. By the way, the brother is played by Bill Douglas and the others by Joanna David, Heather Page and Nickolas Grace.

Returning to the house and retiring for the night, your guess is that not much sleep will be taken. A dream within a dream produces horrific consequences, where blood flows and people die. How much control do the characters have? Probably not much! Their actions seem to be deliberately stilted, disjointed and out of sequence. All in all, it wasn’t a jolly film to watch. It jarred nerves and left you with an uneasy feeling. As horror, it went right to the soul, invading the sanctuary of sleep.

More interesting, I thought was one of the extras on the disc, a 45 minute movie called ‘The Insomniac’, with Rodney Geisler from 1971. He seems to live in a fantasy world because, despite residing in a multi-storey block located in a dreary industrial setting, he has delusions of idyllic countryside outside. He has a wife and children. At night, he falls asleep for a while but then looks out the window to see sunshine and blue skies. Going out, he drives to the countryside and meets people at a party. They think it’s night but he thinks it’s daytime. Outside, others are wearing dark glasses, believing in the apparent reality of the world. He eventually convinces an attractive woman to see things the way he sees them and their runaway to the countryside ends in a romantic liaison.

There are a couple of other short films and a long interview with Saxon Logan himself talking about ‘Sleepwalker’. You will also find an informative booklet about all the material on the disc which culminates a very good package which can be recommended to any discerning film viewer with an interest in horror and history. As with most offerings from the BFI, you get a lot of additional information to not only satisfy curiosity but educate at the same time.

Rod MacDonald

October 2013

(region 2 DVD: British Film Institute. 1 DVD 49 minutes with extras. ISBN: 5035673011478. Price: £19.99 (UK))

cast: Joanna David, Bill Douglas, Heather Page

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