Don't Go to Sleep

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, Robert Webber, and youngsters Kristin Cumming, Robin Ignico and Oliver Robins.

Don't Go to Sleep
Written byNed Wynn
Directed byRichard Lang
StarringValerie Harper
Dennis Weaver
Ruth Gordon
Robin Ignico
Oliver Robins
Kristin Cumming
Claudette Nevins
Robert Webber
Marilyn Coleman
Tim Haldeman
Haven Earle Haley
Ned Wynn
Ross Porter
Theme music composerDominic Frontiere
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Douglas S. Cramer
Aaron Spelling
Producer(s)Richard Lang
Claudia Myhers Tschudin (associate producer)
E. Duke Vincent (supervising producer)
Production location(s)Warner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California, USA
CinematographyChuck Arnold
Editor(s)Patrick Kennedy
Running time93 minutes
Production company(s)Spelling Television
Warner Bros. Television
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseDecember 10, 1982

The film was released on December 10, 1982, received positive reviews and has since gained a cult following.


Phillip and Laura are the parents of Kevin and Mary. The family just recently moved from Los Angeles (as seen in the opening credits) to a house up north in the countryside, bringing along Grandma Bernice, whom nobody in the family other than Laura cared for very much. The family had recently lost the oldest daughter Jennifer, and they're looking to start a new life without her and put the tragedy behind them.

Just as they move into their new home, Mary begins hearing the voice of her dead sister under her bed, she screams and the alarmed parents rush in to see her bed in flames. Phillip manages to put out the fire and Mary tells him that there’s someone under the bed, Phillip checks but it is clear. Laura tells Mary that she will sleep with Kevin, much to the annoyance of him. However, Kevin is nice to Mary, allowing her to play with his toys to calm her down. Later, Mary shouts after she hears breathing under the bunk bed, Kevin tries to calm her down but Mary hits Kevin. After Laura and Phillip enter the room, they find Mary asleep. The next day, Kevin plays a prank on Mary with a cassette recorder that he has recorded scary noises with, making Mary running out to tell. As Mary tells, Kevin hides the recorder and goes back to bed, as they walk in Phillip hits his foot on one of Kevin toy’s and says that he’s fed up.

The next night, Mary hears it again and Kevin goes to tell as Bernice goes upstairs while smoking, which is bad for her health. Kevin tells Bernice that Mary’s acting weird again. Meanwhile, Mary can’t take the situation anymore, so she goes underneath the bed saying “Kill me, kill me” and sees Jennifer smiling at her. When Laura checks she finds Mary staring at nothing, Laura convinces Mary that she didn’t see Jennifer, but Mary insists. The next day, Mary is outside making garlands, she sits against a tree and then she falls asleep. Mary wakes up to see Jennifer who keeps appearing to Mary in secret, she hopes to kill off her family as an act of revenge.

Immediately after these meetings with Mary, one by one her family members meet twisted fates. Grandma suffers a heart attack from being spooked by Kevin's pet iguana, which was released onto her bed one night; Kevin is thrown off the roof after retrieving a Frisbee and Phillip is electrocuted in the bathtub when the radio he is listening to falls into the water.

After it is discovered that Mary committed all of the killings (at the urging of her dead sister's spirit), she is placed in a mental institution where it is revealed to viewers through a flashback the fate of Jennifer. Riding home from their grandmother's house, Kevin convinced Mary to play a prank on their sister, so Kevin tied Jennifer's shoes together. Apparently they were both jealous of the favoritism their sister was receiving as well as her constant bullying. When their car is accidentally struck by a van and begins to spark, all except Jennifer are able to get out of the car. Jennifer begs for help, but Mary runs away to inform her father of Jennifer's plight. Just as Phillip is about to go back to get her, the car bursts into flames.

As Laura sleeps alone in her bedroom, she is awakened by a sound at the foot of her bed. Jennifer's ghost pops up and says, "Hi, Mommy." and Laura screams in terror. The screen fades to black, leaving her fate ambiguous.



Don't Go to Sleep garnered positive reviews upon its initial broadcasting, with many praising the film's suspense, and 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 the film similar praise towards the performances, suspense, and script, as well as the film's ominous tone, and soundtrack.[2] Brian Collins from Birth.Movies.Death, in a retrospective, praised the film's scares, performances, and mounting tension as still being effective years after its first release. Although Collins did note that the film's pacing was slower than it should be.[3]


  1. ^ McDonagh, Maitland. "Don't Go To Sleep - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV Guide. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  2. ^ Martin, Todd. "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.

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