The next movie on the pile was Doug Curtis' 1989 flick The Sleeping Car.
Mature college student Jason (David Naughton) rents an apartment converted from an old train car only to find it may be haunted by the previous owner.
I did actually see this when it came out, but remembered nothing about it except Naughton was in it and that it was less than great. But, hey I figured thirty-plus years is grounds for reappraisal.
Man, even if I didn't know when this film was made, I would've known when this film was made. I mentioned in my Dr. Giggles post last month about that stretch when film studios were looking for the next Jason or Freddy and The Sleeping Cat is right in that era. It's even on the coverbox for fuck's sake.
|Forget Freddy. Forget Jason. Here Comes The Mister.|
That aside, this was when, on the backs of recent Nightmare sequels and Evil Dead 2, camp, or at least, wry comedy, was en vogue in horror and The Sleeping Car lapped it up. It is evident early on why they cast Naughton in this, as the filmmakers wanted a David Kessler - his iconic role in American Werewolf - type for this picture. I like to think this movie was an alternate timeline where he took Jack's advice and they went to Italy instead of Northern England and this is where he ended up almost a decade later.
Naughton literally wisecracks his way through the entire movie, well to be fair, EVERY character wisecracks their way through the movie. But him especially. This dialogue, man. It's exhausting to the point you just can't help but crack up eventually.
And yes, that's Judie Aronson. I had somehow forgot she was in this, which shocks me because she is fire in this. Kevin McCarthy also has a role as Naughton's next door, er, next car neighbour and looked like the one having the most fun in this. If you get past the try-hard air of Curtis and Co. there is some amusement to be had. It wasn't lost on me that the writers were big genre fans, and with Naughton on the payroll you better believe they were gonna do another double nightmare bit.
But moving onto the antagonist The Mister. He really only bookends the movie, as everything in between is him killing people with furniture, namely the sofa bed in the train car. It sounds absurd, and it is, but watching people being impaled by bedsprings is admittedly kind of badass.
Also, of note is the Mister is played by none other than John Carl Buechler. Maybe he figured Kane was having so much fun on Friday 7, he thought sure, I'll get in on the action.
In the end, forgiveness plays a huge part in the climax for a reason I guess I missed. To be honest, my VHS copy was a really shitty Vidmark SLP recording so I almost aborted on more than one occasion. All the gore and at least a hundred of the “jokes” were still intact though, don't you worry. So, is The Sleeping Car forgettable? Probably. But, I still give it an A for effort.
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