King’s Halloween: Apt Pupil (1998)

Tonight: Apt Pupil (1998)


Although I love movies and consider myself pretty well versed in pop culture, it always amazes me how few movies I have seen and how oblivious I am to many references.

Many times I end up seeing more of the classic movies in parody before I ever see the original source. The first time I saw the Godfather, I had already seen most of it parodied in The Simpsons, Family Guy, How I met Your Mother, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Once I finally saw Star Trek The Motion Picture, I realized I had already seen it in Futurama.

Well, for Apt Pupil, I already saw a good portion of it in Family Guy.

Now I’ve known about the reference for the past couple years as I started looking more into Stephen King. I was just assuming it was a short story with some padding. Movie is nearly two hours, so if it was a short story, that is a LOT of padding. Turns out they left quite a bit on the cutting floor.

The movie stars Ian McKellen as Nazi war criminal Dussander alias Decker. That’s right, he played a Nazi 2 years before playing a Holocaust Survivor in X-Men. What do we call that fellow X Men actor, Patrick Stewart?

The other prot-. . . the other main character of this movie is a high school kid named Todd. Todd becomes obsessed with the Holocaust and notices that the old man who rides the same bus as him looks a lot like a missing Nazi War Criminal. After going full CSI on him, he assembles a blackmail kit and talks to Decker. Yeah I know that’s his fake name, but it will be easier to type Decker a dozen times than Dusendorf. See, I’ve already forgotten his name and I’m too lazy to scroll up and fact check.

After Todd details to what lengths he went to discover Decker’s real identity, Decker offers him a drink.  Todd then drinks it before revealing that he has it set up that Decker’s identity will be revealed if anything happens to Todd.  Well thank god for all parties involved that Decker didn’t poison Todd’s drink.  Lesson from TK, kids, when you accuse someone of being a Nazi, make sure they know fail safes are in place before accepting any food or drink from them.  You’ll live longer. . .maybe.

So apparently Todd just wants to hear gruesome Holocaust stories.  Then Todd has Decker put on a Nazi costume(yes costume, it does not serve to keep your Nazi uniform when trying to disappear) and march in place.

Todd and Decker then participate in different forms of animal cruelty.  Decker finds a cat and decides to try putting it in the oven.  Fortunately, the cat just burns its toebeans a little before scratching the s*** out of Decker and running for dear life.  Todd comes across one of Franz’s Nazi pigeons from The Producers.
And crushes it with a Basketball.  We think.  The bird could not fly due to too much saluting, and then Todd makes a smashing motion with the Basketball, but he then immediately shoots the ball at a basket and misses the basket so maybe he missed the bird?

Yeah, probably not.  We’ll go with Nazi Pigeon so we all feel better.

Todd is starting to fail fail his classes when he was previously on the way to being Valedictorian.  Decker then intervenes, pretending to be Todd’s grandfather, and manages to come up with a story of Todd’s parents causing a bad environment at home due to alcohol or something.  Ross from Friends is Todd’s guidance counselor and buys the sob story and sets it up that if Todd can get his grades back to A’s, then they can waive the failing grades.

Todd is pissed that he now has to study, but after he gets his grades back up, he decides to kill the old man.  The old man on the other hand details out how he is reverse blackmailing Todd with a written statement in a safe deposit box to be opened upon his death.

Then Decker has a heart attack and nearly dies while attempting to kill a homeless man in his kitchen.  He calls Todd to come over and asks him to help clean up the mess so they can call an ambulance. Decker tricks Todd into going into the basement where the homeless man is slightly more sturdy than a knife to the back and a fall down the stairs.  Not sturdy enough to withstand several shovel blows to the head, though.

Todd does a once over to clean up most of the obvious blood and calls the ambulance.  After Decker is in the hospital, Todd does a more thorough clean up, even hitting the spot on the other side of the phone that his dad would have noticed if he had decided to enter the kitchen and investigate the phone for no reason.  Oh and Todd buries the body in the basement.

At the hospital, Decker is sharing a hospital room with a Holocaust survivor.  Don’t even know that the odds are on that, but sadly we are not given the old man battle we saw in Family Guy.  He just calls the police and they work out who Decker is.

The FBI questions Todd and Todd manages to lie his pants off.  That is until Ross figures out that Decker is not Todd’s grandfather.  Todd has already graduated Valedictorian by this point, but Ross is mad and won’t let it go.  So he shows up on Todd’s doorstop to talk to Todd’s parents.  Todd on the other hand threatens to accuse Ross of being a child molester and Ross backs down.

Decker commits suicide via air bubble in the IV.  Todd is a monster. The end.

In the short story(that I haven’t read yet), apparently Todd and Decker both went on killing sprees of the homeless.  Neither knowing what the other was doing.  Ross again found out about Todd’s activities, but instead of bowing out at false accusations, Todd kills him and then goes on a shooting spree before getting killed by the police.

So I guess I can’t really fault Stephen King for the depressing endings, the people who make his movies tend to change the ending for the depressing and hopeless.

Tomorrow: Speaking of ending changes for the more depressing. . .

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