King’s Halloween: Secret Window (2004)

Tonight: Secret Window (2004)
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 So my sister bought me the book for this movie about two years ago for Christmas when I started REALLY getting into Stephen King.

I did not read it. I was busy with The Stand and IT and the Tower. Although the Tower likely has several Secret Windows and Secret Gardens, it is not on one of the levels I concerned myself with at the time.

So I selected this movie because it was continuing the theme of Author Insert stories. Interestingly enough, Timothy Hutton from the Dark Half also plays a part in this movie.

He. . . uh, loses this time around.

Johnny Depp plays a writer named Mort who catches his wife cheating on him and now he takes long naps in his cabin on the lake while trying to write his next great novel.

Mort is roused from his nap by the Rat King himself, John Turturro. He skips the song and dance, both literally and figuratively, and accuses Mort of stealing his story, “Sowing Season.”

Mort wrote a story called “Secret Window.” Interesting note is that in the book, the titles are slightly swapped. Which makes sense that Mort would get the better title. Sowing Season was probably being held onto for a Children of the Corn sequel.

John Turturro gets more threatening as the movie goes on. He implies violence might come due if proof or reparations are not brought forth, and then he kills the dog.

Yeah, the dog dies. Sorry. In the book it was a cat.

Mort decides to hire a body guard. Which results in his wife’s house getting burned down. Then the body guard gets killed along with a local guy who happened to see Mort and John Turturro together.

Mort finds the bodies and freaks out. He turns and sees a squirrel in a tree staring him down. Did the squirrel do it? Is the squirrel working for John Turturro?

IS THIS THE RAT KING?!?

As things continue to spiral and Mort has to start covering up murders he didn’t commit, he begins to talk to himself.

And we learn he has been doing this the whole movie.

Yes, Mort is the RAT KING!- no I mean, John Turturro, by which I mean Shooter.

Once Mort comes to grips with this, he decides to steer into the curve, murder his wife and her lover(Tim Hutton) and bury them in the backyard. He then plants corn which . . . covers up murder?

Was this established? The only reason I know this is because I looked up the differences between the book and the movie and this is how the ending is described.

It is an interesting movie, basically taking “The Dark Half” and instead of making it a supernatural event, it’s just the writer going crazy and killing people. Revealing that the only person the author was plagiarizing was himself!

Tomorrow: So continuing the theme of King putting himself in his own stories, now we explore Stephen King’s fear of befriending a NAZI! . . . okay, Secret Window and Apt Pupil are on the same disc and I’m just too lazy to swap out the disc.

King’s Halloween: The Dark Half (1993)

Tonight: The Dark Half (1993)

So this is an interesting one for me. I’ve seen the ending for this movie a few times. Never really had a context for it, just noted how similar it was to another movie ending.

I saw a scene with the Thad Beaumont and George Stark having their final showdown and George Stark getting torn apart by birds. Reminded me a LOT of the ending of The Crow: City of Angels where the Crow sends a storm of crows against the Judah Earl and he gets torn apart. The difference being in The Crow, they just used cgi to sort of warp him out of existence. This being a George C. Romero film, you actually see the birds tear off bits of flesh and bone until he is gone.

Now that you know the end, lets recap how we get there. It will be like one of those classy art films told in reverse order.

So Thad Beaumont apparently had a tumor when he was a kid that got cut out and buried. It got better. 23 years later. Thad Beaumont is a successful writer of crime novels, written under the pseudonym of George Stark. He builds the persona of George Stark as a writer who was in gangs and spent time in jail for murder, etc.

Thad gets tired of murder writing and decides to “kill off” George Stark(specifically after someone figures out his true identity and tries to blackmail him). Well, after taking pictures of Stark’s “burial,” George Stark pulls a Lady Stoneheart and pops out of the grave.

George Stark then goes on a murder spree wearing Thad’s face. Because he looks like Thad and has his fingerprints and DNA and such. So it brings Sheriff Yondu around to Thad’s doorstep accusing him of murder and offering Chocolate Covered Pretzels.

What follows is everyone trying to come to terms with the supernatural as the body count racks up.

Finally we get to the epic showdown between George and Thad making heavy use of sunglasses and hats to avoid too much use of crappy split screen. I mean they don’t have the HIGH CLASS technology that we have now with Gemini Man.

So apparently it ends with them having sort of a . . . write off? Thad starts writing the novel and then tries to out man George Stark by forcing him to come to grips with his inability to write. But George actually starts writing and stealing the lifeforce from Thad.

I really wonder if this is sort of how Richard Bachman was finally killed off.

Realizing his plan is about to fail, Thad decides to beat the crap out of George. But of course, George is a murderer. Sadly Thad doesn’t keep any pig statues around, so he has to stab George with a pencil and George falls down “dead.”

Then the bird scene I alluded to earlier arrives just in time to take George away after he does the “killer pops up for one last try.” We even get Sheriff E.Z. Ponder (look it up) to arrive and see the final demise of George Stark so Thad isn’t stuck with all the murders.

All in all, a pretty good movie. I recommend it, especially since this seems to be on of King’s lesser talked about movies.

Tomorrow: Well, we’ve explored King’s fear of getting killed by his fans, we’ve explored King’s fear of getting killed by Richard Bachman, now lets explore King’s fear of getting killed by the guy he plagiarized.

King’s Halloween: Misery (1990)

Tonight: Misery (1990)
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So, when I plan out these marathons, I generally try to find movies on streaming to watch. So far it has worked out fairly well with me only having to purchase a few movies here and there.

Unfortunately there are VERY few Stephen King movies available for streaming. On the other hand, due to Stephen King movies being popular, they are available at my local library.

The reason Pet Semetary remake was on the top of the list was because it was the first one I checked out. I figured it would be in high demand come October, so I got it out mid September. I also started pulling a bunch of movies out shortly after. If no one places a hold on the movie, it auto-renews.

Well, somebody else apparently wants to watch Misery. Sick bastard.

So I haven’t read the book. But like most of King’s more famous works, it has been referenced in MANY tv shows and movies.

My only dream is that one day one of my readers finds me half dead on the side of the road and threatens to kill me if I don’t change one of my reviews that she, or much more likely he, doesn’t agree with.

The hobbling scene keeps popping up on various lists as one of the more horrifying scenes in cinema. In fact, it gets shown on so many watchmojo lists and the like that I am sure they cut away before the REALLY gruesome scene happens. Well, I am somewhat disappointed. I steeled myself to witness a truly cringeworthy scene.

It was okay. In fact, you only see one ankle go sideways. The next one you just hear the crunchy audio. I was expecting bone to pop out. However, I’ve seen the scene so many times that I was largely desensitized to it when I actually saw it in context.

I was hoping for something like the Red Wedding. When everyone was shocked and talking about the Red Wedding, I went and watched it out of context. My thought was, “Meh, I’ve seen redder weddings.” Then I finally decided to watch Game of Thrones and with the context it was just gut wrenching.

But then again, I didn’t know the characters. With Misery, you kind of pick up on the context fairly quickly.

The ending was interesting. Paul writes the ending that Annie Wilkes wants, but burns it before she can read it. Then Paul smashes her over the head with a typewriter. Doesn’t take. Then he smashes her head on the typewriter. Seems to take, then doesn’t. Finally he smashes her head in with a pig statue. Seems to take this time.

Then we skip over how he escapes the middle of nowhere and he’s written a new book, but sees Annie Wilkes everywhere he looks.

Honestly, it is a great movie. Kathy Bates is a national treasure. You know, the one you lock away and dare not touch lest your family be cursed for 19 generations. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed in a Kathy Bates role (but I’m sure if you give me some time I could find one).

Well, all the other movies have quite a while before they need to be returned, so nothing URGENTLY needs to be chosen, so what should I do tomorrow. .

Tomorrow: So we go from an author nearly dying because he tried to kill of his fictional character, what happens when an author nearly dies while trying to kill off his fictional author?

King’s Halloween: Children of the Corn (2009)

Tonight: Children of the Corn (2009)

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So I’ve never read the short story, never seen the original and for the longest time, I had Children of the Corn mixed up with Village of the Damned. Dunno, just assumed the children had creepy eyes and hair and assumed it’s what the Simpsons was referencing.

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Needless to say I was wrong. So I had to do a little research and it turns out this is closer to the original short story than the original movie.

When I learned this was a SyFy movie, I figured this would be a really toned down movie life the other made for tv movies.

Nope, this is the Uncut and Uncensored version. We get BRUTAL death scenes and a full on sex scene IN FRONT OF CHILDREN!

So the story opens with the children of Gatlin deciding to kill everyone over 19. An odd cutoff date, but whatever. They sign this agreement by killing a pig.

We then cut to 12 years later. Burt and his wife, Vicky, are driving to California to try their hand at a second honeymoon. Burt is TRYING to be cheerful, but Vicky apparently has no room for cheer and keeps yelling at him for everything.

Honestly, most of this movie is pretty good, but DAMN I am sick of Vicky. Every chance she gets she rails on Burt about being a soldier in Vietnam.

When a bloody child runs into the road, Burt is too busy arguing with Vicky and ends up running the kid over. And it is a GOOD hit, complete with multiple shots and good sound effects.

Apparently somebody didn’t tell the director this was going to air on SyFy.

Vicky will NOT stop yelling at Burt about how he ran the kid down and how he’s going to jail. Burt gives her the most satisfying slap to shut her up for a second. I don’t promote violence against women, but damn. Haven’t been so happy about a slap since Game of Thrones.

So Burt finds out the boy’s throat had been cut long before he ran him down, so they take the body into Gatlin to try and report the murder. They find no one, and apparently keep conveniently missing the dead bodies lying everywhere.

Burt investigates the one place that appears to have updated its sign in the past 12 years. While in there, the Children surround the car Vicky is in and wreck it with farm tools.

When she is finally killed, I am right there with the Children praising God/He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

Burt runs out just in time to see Malachi blow his car up. Supposedly with Vicky still in it.

Burt then gets to answer the question: how many 5 year olds could you take in a fight? Well, the answer is about 2. The rest of the children he beats up are mostly in their teens.

Burt manages to run around in the corn field most of the day and slips into Vietnam flashbacks and kills more kids in the process. As night falls, all the children abandon the corn. They go back to their tent and have dinner, and have a show of two of the older children having sex. With full nudity.

1. SyFy Channel movie, 2. IN FRONT OF CHILDREN!

I just hope they are the ones over 18 and under 19.

Burt on the otherhand finds Vicky’s dead body splayed out on a cross in the middle of the corn and then some unknown force kills him

The next day, Isaac tells the children that the age of favor has been lowered to 18 and ends up sending everyone who is now over 18 to their death in the corn. Kinda sucks, can’t grandfather the older ones in due to change in law? Oh well. Malachi ends up walking in and his wife Ruth briefly imagines burning down the corn, but that’s the end.

The movie is actually pretty good. All the child actors give pretty decent performances, but they DESPERATELY needed to rewrite or recast Vicky. She was just unbearable. I’ve enjoyed the actress in other things, but she is just garbage here.

So I recommend it, save for Vicky. I actually expected a lot worse considering people say it is terrible and is very difficult to find. But honestly it works.

Tomorrow: Well, the remakes are over, now I guess I can get into a movie that will likely never be remade. Simply because the original is too good. Although it might love the company. . .

King’s Halloween: The Shining (1997)

Tonight: The Shining (1997)
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This mini-series came out when I was a kid.  For some reason, I didn’t watch it, though in school, my teacher at the time used the popularity of this mini-series to discuss foreshadowing.  I was confused when my teacher kept talking about a hose when I was familiar with blood coming out of an elevator (thanks to the Simpson’s parody of the movie).

This is the one remake this week that I have actually seen the original version.  I watched the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining a couple years ago when I first started getting into King.  I was really interested in seeing Jack Nicholson’s performance and I hadn’t put a hold on watching all Stephen King movies yet.

I also haven’t had a chance to read the book yet.  I’m only about 3 short chapters in.

So in comparing the two films, this version generally makes more sense and builds over time.  Unlike the Kubrick film which had to fit everything into an feature length run time, this series has four and half hours to build up the crippling psyche of Jack Torrence.  In this movie, it makes sense that the Torrences are a family.  In the original, Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall didn’t seem to have any business being a couple, let alone having a child.

Jack Nicholson going crazy and trying to kill his family seemed like the thing for him to do.  Steven Webber on the other hand goes back and forth from being angry and frustrated to being a caring father.  Hell, in the middle of yelling for Danny to come downstairs so he can beat him with a croquet mallet, as soon as he sees a bruised and traumatized Danny, he immediately breaks and becomes concerned.

I did a little research and so far as I can tell, this follows a lot closer to the book. I’m honestly surprised that Kubrick even bothered keeping the names of everything the same. Cause he seems to change everything else.

In Kubrick’s movie the Overlook has a hedge maze instead of a Rocque court. The haunted room is 237 instead of 217. Jack tries killing people with an Ax instead of a Rocque mallet. Jack dies from freezing to death instead of making the self sacrifice play by allowing the boiler to explode and taking all the ghosts with him.

Honestly, the biggest thing about this that makes me enjoy it over the original is the ending. I loved that Jack decided to take the hotel down with him. Then we see Jack’s ghost at Danny’s High School Graduation. It is a really touching scene.

Yes, the original movie is a classic and you can’t top Jack Nicholson’s manic ax wielding glee, but this movie feels closer to what the story should be.

The movie is the abridged version that was made by someone who didn’t quite understand the original story and just wanted to make things “scarier.” This version is unabridged made by someone trying to get the real story across.

I will concede that I would have liked to see this version except not made for TV. You can tell they had to dig in on “suspense” because they couldn’t go for gore.

Tomorrow: Speaking of TV remakes that can’t go for gore, we will end Remake Week with probably the worst offender. . .

King’s Halloween: ‘Salem’s Lot (2004)

Tonight: ‘Salem’s Lot (2004)
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This TV miniseries inspired my first attempt at entering the realm of Stephen King.  I saw trailers for an upcoming miniseries on TNT called “Salem’s Lot.”  I knew absolutely nothing about it, but it looked neat and had a cool name.  For some reason I never watched it.  Just one of those things that came and went without me actually seeing it.

I was still intrigued by the title, so when I saw a book at my local grocery store that was a three in one hardcover of Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, and The Shining.  Due to my need to do things in order, I decided to read Carrie first.  I thought it was okay, and then I moved on to the reason I ACTUALLY bought the book.

I got about 30-40 pages in and BOOM find several pages missing.  How crappy is that?!?  Then, the final nail in the coffin was that I found out the book was about VAMPIRES!  At this point, I was very much against vampires.  I was actually not aware that Stephen King did normal monsters at the time.  I later became equally surprised he did a werewolf story.  But that is for another time.

So I put ‘Salem’s Lot out of my mind for almost a decade and a half.  Then the Tower. . .

I ended up reading ‘Salem’s Lot last year in my effort to read the Dark Tower series.  I absolutely loved it.  Never judge a book by its cover, but I think a title might be well worth investigating.  Probably why I am in no hurry to read Tommyknockers.

So on to the actual mini-series.  The casting director’s budget had to be EXTERMELY lopsided.  You have PHENOMENAL actors Like Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, and James Cromwell, and even some lower level, but still very enjoyable actors like Rob Lowe and Captain Holt.  Then you have a bunch of actors there just to stand on the right spot and say the line.

Honestly, I like this series. . .until they made one crucial change, and I hated them for it.  James Cromwell is an AMAZING choice for Father Callahan.  For anyone who has read the Dark Tower series, you know that Father Callahan is a badass, yes in the book he has a fall from grace due to his alcoholism and loss of faith, but his road to redemption is full on vampire hunter.

Instead, they turn Father Callahan into an outright villain.  Loss of faith is one thing, but he murders people.  He works for Barlow.  He leads the vampire horde after Barlow is killed.  Then to top it off he gives a crappy “DAMN YOU TO HELL!” speech at the end.  Before getting snuffed out with a pillow.  Screw you movie.  I will concede that Wolves of the Calla was released only about half a year before the mini series came out, but I really really don’t care for it.

The only change that I actually really enjoyed was the death of the Doctor.  In the book, he goes down a set of weakened stairs and falls onto a bed of spikes.  In this he falls onto a running buzzsaw.  Which is just brutal and at the same time awesome!

The Vampires were okay in this movie.  Really, all they did was give them pale makeup and ghostly white eyes.  It works for the most part, but I have seen some clips of the original ‘Salem’s Lot and the effects there look more otherworldly.

I would say it isn’t bad, definitely worth a watch.

Tomorrow: Lets go from one mini series that came out when I was a kid to another, with The Shining.

King’s Halloween: Carrie (2013)

Tonight: Carrie (2013)
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With the continuation of Remake Week, I once again am looking to defend Barney Stinson’s famous line. . .
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I have the feeling I might be the only person in the world who is going to try to give this movie a fair shot.  The first Carrie movie is SO well known and loved that EVERYONE compares it to the original.  I haven’t seen the original, so no comparisons to make.

Carrie was the first Stephen King novel I ever read.  I bought a three book collection when I was in High School that contained Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, and The Shining.  I originally really wanted to read ‘Salem’s Lot, but I figured I could read the other two as well.  Carrie ended up being the only one I ended up reading, for reasons I’ll get into with ‘Salem’s Lot.

I thought the book was good, but it certainly didn’t inspire me to get into the rest of Stephen King’s works.  That was done by the Tower.

One thing I CONSTANTLY hear in relation to this movie is that the actress who plays Carrie is “too attractive to be believable as Carrie.”  I’m sorry, that’s bulls***.  You are never too attractive to be an outcast and shamed in High School.  Especially if you have been stunted by a parent who is freaking insane.

Also I would like to point out in the novel, Carrie was overweight.  They weren’t brave enough to cast an overweight girl in 1976, why are we crapping on them for making the same decision in 2013?

So, after watching this, without seeing the original, I think it’s fine.  I would actually say I enjoyed it.  I like most of the actors in it and among the Teenagers, I am happy with the revenge scene.  They got what was coming.

This movie has a LOT of disturbing imagery.  Carrie’s birth, Carrie’s Mother constant self harm, and Carrie’s “Aunt Erma” visit.  When we get to the prom scene, it just gets cathartic when she freaking UNLEASHES.  I liked it.

The actress who plays Carrie is naturally attractive, but she does a great job looking homely and like a girl who would be picked on in high school.  I would say that Carrie works very well with the other teen actors and school officials, but I would say Carrie and her mother don’t quite pull it off.  Which is problematic.

Carrie and her mother is one of the central story points of Carrie.  If you can’t believe the stress and antagonism between Carrie and her Mother, it weakens it.  That would be, in my opinion, the only weakness of this movie.  Everything else works.  Maybe when I see the original I will come back to this movie and call it garbage like everyone else, but for me right now, this is a good movie.

Tomorrow Night: The miniseries that actually inspired me to read Carrie was Rob Lowe’s ‘Salem’s Lot.