Hail to the King Vol 22 – Sleepwalkers
The story of psychic vampire cat? Monsters come to a small town, where only one cat can stop them.
In the grand tradition of December being a fuck off month for this column, something pretty special had be on the docket. Steve’s first original screenplay seemed fitting. However, there isn’t much of a difference between the two. I read the script, honest I did. But while researching this it became clear the true hero of this tale never got his due. So…
To give the film it’s proper title, The Curious Adventures of Detective Whiskers is the tale of one cat’s encounters and triumph to become the first feline to make detective in the police department and stop a supernatural force.
We open on a couple of demons in town (I think they’re demons; the movie is never 100% clear on what the creatures are). There are hints they’re like psychic vampires, but they look the bastard offspring of the Cowardly Lion and one of the vampires from the Buffy TV show. They hit the incestuous bond thing like five times in the opening scene because King has always been one for taboo. In a scene linking back to their first home, they’re like the Jeffrey Dahmer of cats. So they need life force from a virgin, and find the most appropriate target is a popular high school girl, because a Magic The Gathering tournament had just left town.
That’s when we first meet Officer Clovis Whiskers. On standard speed trap with his partner, he’s heard tell from the word on the street there are monsters about. But then a call came in that Whiskers was on the case, coming across what appeared to be some kind of rubber-suited homunculus only Whiskers could see. His partner is fatally stabbed by a pencil; that’s when Officer Whiskers jumps into action, trying to expose the cheaply done special effects to the world. After taking some damage, the perp gets away. In the wake of Andy’s death, it’s personal for Whiskers.
When back at the station, torn up by the death of his partner, Whiskers is promoted to the rank of detective by the chief. After interrogating Stephen King and a whole host of other cameos (seriously, this thing is a who’s who of horror directors: John Landis, Tobe Hooper, Joe Dante, Mark Hamill – I’m guessing they all signed up having only read their scenes), even though he should be happy about his promotion, Whiskers just can’t get over the thought he could have helped Andy. He sits smoking a cigarette in the rain:
“Come on Whiskers, we’re going for a few down at the bar.”
“Not now, Chief. I have to find the killer.”
“There was nothing you could’ve done. They’ll turn up.”
“You haven’t see what I’ve seen. The dark underbelly of this town, Chief. I’ve seen a lot of good people get swallowed up by it. Just never thought it would be one of our own.”
“Well, we’ll be down at the bar if you need us.”
Whiskers can’t let it rest. He decides to put word on the street about his partner and finds a few willing to help out. They think they have the right house on the edge of town. The police follow this lead, but there is no one at the house, and the Chief is not impressed with Whiskers’s care-a-damn attitude. At this point, the Chief throws Detective Whiskers off the case:
“That’s it Whiskers, you’re off the force!”
“I am the force, Chief!”
“You’re a loose canon.”
“I’m the best this town has got.”
“Get the hell out of here, Whiskers. I want your gun and your badge.”
Whiskers storms out in the humid night air. He knows he got the right house and poorly constructed monsters must be something the likes of which he has never dealt with before. The rest of the police force goes to protect Tanya, the girl saved at the cemetery. Whiskers sits in his car with a bottle of scotch, keeping an eye on the house he believes is at the center of this whole conspiracy. How do they know that? Well the front yard is full of hissing cats, it has various cars out front (which are either robbed or they’re people who visit the house), and they never turn off the fucking record player.
Meanwhile back at Tanya’s house, the mother of this monster pair storms in and kills all of the cops and Tanya’s parents…. sorry I need a moment here. I thought the mother was dying so the son needed the virgin soul. But now the mother is okay again because the son is hurt worse? I know King was clean and sober when he wrote this but… jeez.
Anyway Whiskers comes across this scene of his fallen former colleagues and now it’s even more personal. He and his feline brethren are taking that house by force. Whiskers are the Chief make up their past differences in the car ride over the house.
“Whiskers, you’re the best damn cop I’ve ever known.”
“It’s your round at the bar when this is all over.”
“We’re coming up on the house.”
“Why not drive through the wall, Chief?”
“That’s a great idea Whiskers.”
The Chief drives through the wall as Tanya is killing the mother cat looking thing. The Chief shoots it a few times to reveal the most hideous foul thing imaginable: the underfunded creature effects at this movie’s core. Anyone with an appreciation for design or craft of such things must look on in horror as a poor body actor has to flail around in this latex monstrosity. Tanya gets away, but this unventilated nightmare impales the Chief on a white picket fence. Whiskers rushes over to him.
“It’s getting cold, Whiskers.”
“You’re going to be okay, Stanley.”
“Just… just tell my wife I love her.”
“You can tell her yourself when… Stanley?….STANLEY!!!”
Whiskers and his group of informants tear the cat monster to pieces, putting this crime against the memory of Dick Smith to rest. Detective Whiskers knows he’s saved this sleepy little town from the scum of whatever the fuck those monsters were supposed to be.
As the sun sets on another year of this column, what’s left to say but:
Hail to the King, baby.