Don’t Go to Sleep (1982)

This Aaron Spelling produced TV movie originally aired on ABC on December 10, 1982. It’s a star-studded affair, with Valerie Harper, Dennis Weaver and Ruth Gordon in the main roles. It’s also a great example of when TV movies ruled the world.

Plus, you get Oliver Robins as one of the kids. He’s the only surviving child actor from the Poltergeist films.

Phillip and Laura (Weaver and Harper) are the parents of Kevin and Mary, but they once had a daughter named Jennifer who died in a car accident. They move back north after that tragedy and the loss of Phillip’s job to move in with Grandmother Bernice (Gordon), who gets along with no one.

Mary begins hearing the voice of her dead sister under her bed, which soon catches on fire. Even when her brother tries to be nice to her, Mary reacts with violence. She hides under her bed and starts chanting “Kill me” when her dead sister shows up and offers to take care of things.

Soon, everyone dies. Grandma gets frightened by Kevin’s iguana and has a heart attack. Kevin falls off the roof. Phillip is electrocuted in the bathtub.

Then, we learn why. Kevin and Mary disliked their sister, thinking she was always treated better than they were. So they did an innocent prank and tied her shoes together, but after the car accident, this kept her from being able to get out of the car.

This is a fun TV movie ghost story, told well and acted decently. Director Richard Lang was all over 1970’s TV, directing the pilot of Fantasy Island and the movie Night Cries.

Sadly, like so many TV movies, it’s not available on DVD or streaming.

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