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by Shrub 1/8/04

Well. I’ve put this one off long enough. I waited and waited due to the only domestic version being the Artisan release which is pan & scan and I didn’t want my first exposure to this flick to be a cropped version. So what has it been, 2-3 years now? With no other release on the radar that I know of, combined with a good price, I’d waited long enough. That said, why this DVD is not letterboxed is more than my feeble mind can comprehend. It’s Argento for God’s sake. The craziest thing this side of the Kubrick collection. What the HECK?!?! Why are we forced to watch conversations between two people with neither of them fitting on the screen?

Ok the rant out of the way… This is a pretty darn good movie. After “Phantom of the Opera,” I wasn’t sure it would be. As you probably know, Argento is getting back to his giallo roots with this one and it really feels like a throwback. From the credits it looks like he’s got some of his past collaborators together as well, all the way down to the Goblin soundtrack. Ah nostalgia.

There are elements of various other Argento flicks present, especially the re-introduction of the black gloved brutality. The most noticeable difference I think is the pacing as we are witness to a rapid succession of kills featuring nameless victims. The first 20 minutes, with its pounding Goblin riffs set to racing trains, thunder and lightning, harsh neon lights, and cold, hard, deadly steel, play like a heavy metal nightmare. It’s a familiar feeling Eurohorror ride, right down to the twist at the end. There are some genuinely creepy parts, punctuated by the soundtrack and pouring rain, reminiscent of Suspiria, or a frightening voice a la Tenebrae. While I wouldn’t quite put it on the level of those two classics, I was pleasantly surprised and felt the excitement from the opening credits.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great job by Max Von Sydow (as if you would expect otherwise). It was great to see the genre legend return with a nice role and magnificent performance. Now. How long do we have to wait for the widescreen version?


Sleepless Official website.

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