Don't Go to Sleep

Last updated
Don't Go to Sleep
DVD cover
Written by Ned Wynn
Directed by Richard Lang
Starring Valerie Harper
Dennis Weaver
Ruth Gordon
Robin Ignico
Oliver Robins
Kristin Cumming
Theme music composer Dominic Frontiere
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producers Douglas S. Cramer
Aaron Spelling
ProducersRichard Lang
Claudia Myhers Tschudin (associate producer)
E. Duke Vincent (supervising producer)
Production locationsWarner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California, USA
CinematographyChuck Arnold
EditorPatrick Kennedy
Running time93 minutes
Production companies Spelling Television
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio format Mono
Original releaseDecember 10, 1982 (1982-12-10)

Don't Go To Sleep is a 1982 American made-for-television horror film that was produced and directed by Richard Lang. The movie features Dennis Weaver, Valerie Harper, Ruth Gordon, and Robert Webber, and youngsters Kristin Cumming, Robin Ignico, and Oliver Robins.


The film focuses on daughter Mary's encounters with the ghost of her late sister, Jennifer, who perished in a car accident and is out for revenge.


A family of four including parents, Phillip and Laura, son Kevin and daughter Mary move to a new home; they are accompanied by Grandma Bernice, for whom no one other than Laura cares very much. Mourning the recent loss of daughter Jennifer, the family is looking to put the tragedy behind them and start a new life.

After moving in, Mary hears what sounds like her dead sister's voice calling to her from beneath the bed. When she checks it out, Mary's stunned to find that her sister has returned as a ghost. Jennifer appears to Mary numerous times in secret, ultimately communicating her desire to kill the entire family, except for Mary, as an act of revenge.

Following this revelation from Mary, the family members suffer an assortment of twisted fates: the appearance of Kevin's pet iguana in Grandma Bernice's bed causes the elderly woman to suffer a fatal heart attack; Kevin's attempt to retrieve a Frisbee from the roof results in a deadly fall; the radio Phillip listens to while bathing ends up electrocuting him. Laura barely escapes, injuring her arm.

Based on the belief that she committed the murders, Mary is placed in a mental institution and soon experiences a flashback concerning Jennifer's fate. In the flashback, while riding home from their grandmother's house, Kevin convinces Mary to play a prank on Jennifer and they tie her shoelaces together. Aside from being jealous of their parents' favoritism toward their sister, Kevin and Mary are fed up with Jennifer's constant bullying. When a van collides with their car, everyone except Jennifer manages to escape. She screams for help as Mary runs to inform her father of Jennifer's plight, but Phillip is unable to rescue her before the car bursts into flames. Back in the present, Mary now claims that she is actually Jennifer; the deceased sister has possessed her living sister. Mary screams for Jennifer not to leave and that she "loved her".

Later, as Laura sleeps in her bedroom, she is awakened by a sound at the foot of her bed. Jennifer's ghost pops up and says, "Hi, Mommy."



Don't Go to Sleep garnered positive reviews upon its initial broadcast, earning praise for its suspense and strong performances. Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide awarded the film three out of five stars, commending the film's acting, screenplay, and suspense, calling it "a tight, genuinely scary made-for-TV thriller". [1] Todd Martin from offered similar praise for the performances, suspense, and script, as well as the film's ominous tone, and soundtrack. [2] Brian Collins, in a retrospective on Birth.Movies.Death , lauded the film's scares, performances, and mounting tension for retaining their effectiveness years after its first release, although Collins did note that the film's pacing was slower than it should be. [3]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michelle Phillips</span> American singer, actress, songwriter

Michelle Gilliam Phillips is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and model. She rose to fame as a vocalist in the musical quartet the Mamas and the Papas in the mid-1960s. Her voice was described by Time magazine as the "purest soprano in pop music". She later established a successful career as an actress in film and television from the 1970s onwards.

<i>Sleeping with the Enemy</i> 1991 film by Joseph Ruben

Sleeping with the Enemy is a 1991 American psychological thriller film directed by Joseph Ruben and starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Kevin Anderson. The film is based on Nancy Price's 1987 novel of the same name. Roberts plays a woman who fakes her own death and moves to escape from her controlling abusive husband, but finds her peaceful new life interrupted when he discovers her actions and tracks her down from Cape Cod to Cedar Falls, Iowa.

<i>Stir of Echoes</i> 1999 film by David Koepp

Stir of Echoes is a 1999 American supernatural horror film written and directed by David Koepp and based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas and Kevin Dunn.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alice Ghostley</span> American actress (1923–2007)

Alice Margaret Ghostley was a Tony Award-winning American actress and singer on stage, film and television. She was best known for her roles as bumbling witch Esmeralda on Bewitched, as Cousin Alice (1970–71) on Mayberry R.F.D., and as Bernice Clifton (1986–93) on Designing Women, for which she received an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1992. She was a regular on Nichols (1971–72) and The Julie Andrews Hour (1972–73).

<i>The Anniversary Party</i> 2001 film by Jennfier Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming

The Anniversary Party is a 2001 American comedy-drama film co-written, co-directed, co-produced by, and co-starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming, both making their respective feature directorial debuts. It is Phoebe Cates's final film appearance before her retirement.

<i>Xtro</i> 1983 film

Xtro is a 1983 British science fiction horror film directed by Harry Bromley Davenport. Starring Bernice Stegers, Philip Sayer, and Simon Nash, the film focuses on a father who was abducted by aliens and returns to his family three years later, where he goes in search of his son. Production of the film started and completed in February 1982. The film received largely negative reviews, though the special effects were praised.

<i>Venom</i> (2005 film) 2005 American film

Venom is a 2005 American horror film directed by Jim Gillespie and starring Agnes Bruckner, Jonathan Jackson, Laura Ramsey, Meagan Good, D. J. Cotrona and Method Man. It is the final film by Dimension Films to be released during their Miramax tenure before The Walt Disney Company, Miramax's parent company at the time, sold Dimension to The Weinstein Company (TWC) on October 1, 2005.

<i>The Uninvited</i> (1944 film) 1944 film

The Uninvited is a 1944 American horror film that was directed by Lewis Allen and stars Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, and Donald Crisp. The film is based on Dorothy Macardle's novel Uneasy Freehold (1941), which was published in the United States as The Uninvited (1942) and deals with a brother and sister who purchase a house in Cornwall, England, that is plagued by paranormal events. The film is part of a cycle of supernatural-themed films that began appearing in the mid-1940s. Dodie Smith began writing the film, and Frank Partos was brought in by his friend, associate producer Charles Brackett. Brackett wanted to have the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock but could not organize plans with him, so Allen directed it. Filming began on April 16, 1943; Allen found working with Gail Russell, who was inexperienced and began crying several times, to be the most difficult part of filming.

<i>Solstice</i> (film) 2007 American film

Solstice is a 2007 American horror film directed by Daniel Myrick, written by Myrick, Marty Musatov, and Ethan Erwin, and starring Elisabeth Harnois, Shawn Ashmore, Hilarie Burton, Amanda Seyfried, Tyler Hoechlin, Matt O'Leary, and R. Lee Ermey. It is a remake of the 2003 film Midsommer.

<i>Terror in the Aisles</i> 1984 film by Andrew J. Kuehn

Terror in the Aisles is a 1984 American documentary film about horror films, including slasher films and crime thrillers. The film is directed by Andrew J. Kuehn, and hosted by Donald Pleasence and Nancy Allen. The original music score is composed by John Beal.

<i>Joshua</i> (2007 film) 2007 American film

Joshua is a 2007 American psychological thriller co-written and directed by George Ratliff. The film stars Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga and Jacob Kogan.

<i>Girls School Screamers</i> 1986 American film

Girls School Screamers is a 1986 American supernatural slasher film co-written and directed by John P. Finnegan. The plot follows a group of young college girls who are taken up to an abandoned mansion to help renovate it, only to later be dispatched one by one by an unseen assailant. The film was shot independently in Philadelphia under the title The Portrait, before it was acquired by Troma Entertainment, who reshot portions of it and retitled the film.

<i>Jennifers Body</i> 2009 American film

Jennifer's Body is a 2009 American horror-comedy film written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama. The film stars Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, and Adam Brody. Fox portrays a demonically possessed high school girl who kills her male classmates, with her best friend striving to stop her. The film premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in the United States and Canada on September 18, 2009. As a tie-in to the film, Boom! Studios produced a Jennifer's Body graphic novel, released in August 2009.

<i>Sundo</i> (2009 film) 2009 Filipino film

Sundo is a 2009 Filipino horror-suspense film from director Topel Lee, with screenplay written by his Ouija screenwriter Aloy Adlawan. The film stars Robin Padilla, Katrina Halili, Rhian Ramos, Hero Angeles, Mark Bautista and Sunshine Dizon. The film was released on March 18, 2009.

Death of a Ghost Hunter is a 2007 horror/suspense film, directed by Sean Tretta.

<i>The Living Ghost</i> 1942 film by William Beaudine

The Living Ghost is a 1942 American mystery-drama film directed by William Beaudine and produced by Monogram Pictures. Starring James Dunn and Joan Woodbury, the film incorporates elements of the horror genre as it follows an ex-private detective who is called in to investigate why a banker has turned into a zombie. As the detective shares wisecracks with the banker's cheeky secretary, the two fall in love. The film was distributed in the United Kingdom under the title Lend Me Your Ear, and later released on home video as A Walking Nightmare.

<i>Bloodmoon</i> (1990 film) Australian 1990s horror movie

Bloodmoon is a 1990 Australian slasher film directed by Alec Mills and starring Leon Lissek, Christine Amor, Ian Williams, Helen Thomson, and Craig Cronin. It was featured in the documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!.

<i>Go for Sisters</i> 2013 American film

Go for Sisters is a 2013 crime drama, written and directed by John Sayles. The title refers to the history of friendship between the two main characters: when they were in high school, the two African American women were so close they could "go for sisters". Sayles shot the film in 19 days, using 65 locations, for under a million dollars. The DVD was released in August 2014 and features a Director's Commentary in which Sayles talks at length about the art and craft of guerrilla film making.

Crowhaven Farm is a 1970 American made-for-television supernatural horror film and folk horror film directed by Walter Grauman and starring Hope Lange, Paul Burke and John Carradine. It originally aired as the ABC Movie of the Week on November 24, 1970.

<i>Going for Broke</i> (2003 film) 2003 television drama film

Going for Broke is a 2003 Canadian-American made-for-television drama film directed by Graeme Campbell and starring Delta Burke, Elliot Page, Matthew Harbour, Francis X. McCarthy and Gerald McRaney. It is based on the true story of former Juvenile Diabetes Foundation charity director Gina Garcia, who from 1993 to 1997 fraudulently issued cheques from the charity to herself in order to funnel money into her bank account for her compulsive gambling addiction, after which she was arrested, resulting in legislation that required that casinos and other gaming establishments in the state of Nevada have a telephone number posted for gambling addiction services. The film was also notable for being one of Elliot Page's early American acting roles, before mainstream success in films such as Juno, Hard Candy and The Tracey Fragments.


  1. McDonagh, Maitland. "Don't Go To Sleep - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV Guide. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  2. Martin, Todd (30 September 2016). "Film Review: Don't Go to Sleep (1982)". HorrorNews. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  3. Collins, Brian (November 29, 2011). "Terror Tuesday: TV Movie Trauma From 1982's DON'T GO TO SLEEP". Birth.Movies.Death. Retrieved 23 April 2020.