Carrie, Carrie, Carrie

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Stephen King’s “Carrie” has  been adapted three times now, and while I’m a long-time fan of DePalma’s 1976 version, the newest addition by Kimberly Peirce is pretty damn good too. Really, the only horrible misstep is David Carson’s 2002 made-for-television version, which whole-heartedly SUCKS.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!  Read the full post »

Italian Horror Double Feature: Argento’s Tenebre and Dracula

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In order to save my sanity (lest it break from too many awful adaptations) I had to take a break from my Stephen King project this weekend to review a couple of horror films by Dario Argento instead.

Ah, Dario Argento. I feel like Italian horror is either something you completely love or completely hate, and I’ve been completely in love with Argento since I viewed Suspiria when I was a teen. After that, it wasn’t long before I was driving down to Scarecrow video every weekend to check out more Argento films, along with some Lucio Fucli and Lamberto Bava (Demons and Demons 2! YES). In order to love Argento, you have to love bad dubbing, melodramatic acting, and watching women’s heads crash through glass windows over and over and over … and over again. Which I do!  Read the full post »

Cat from Hell (Tales from the Darkside: The Movie)

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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is one of those films that I always forget about, and then when I watch it again I’m like, “Oh, hey, this is great! Why don’t I own it?” I can only chalk it up to seeing it on TV over and over and over again in the 90s, which apparently created some kind of near-blackout in my brain when I try to think of horror movies that are wildly entertaining.

Anyway. This 1990 horror anthology features 4 stories (one of which is an amazing wrap-around story starring Deborah Harry and Matthew Lawrence), and the middle story is based on Stephen King’s “The Cat from Hell.” George A. Romero (yes, THAT George A. Romero) adapted the screenplay from King’s short story, and the entire movie is directed by John Harrison, who also directed a bunch of episodes of the Darkside TV show.  Read the full post »

The Shining (1980) and The Shining (1997)

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The two adaptations that have been made so far of Stephen King’s The Shining are a pretty stellar example of what I mean when I say that when King adapts his own work, it just doesn’t make for a good film. Stanley Kubrick re-worked King’s story into his own by adapting the screenplay himself for his 1980 film, and then a pissed-off King (who never thought Kubrick got it right), wrote his own adaptation for the Mick Garris-Directed TV miniseries of The Shining, which aired in 1997. 

While I think Garris and King’s adaptation is pretty terrible, I understand why they did it: they both felt that Kubrick made his own version of the story that was completely different from the book. Garris has a good explanation of it here. It’s an interesting story, Mick, but unfortunately almost nothing about your film was scary. The only moment I found myself gritting my teeth through was when Weber’s Jack Torrence assaulted De Mornay’s Wendy with a croquet mallet (as written in the book), and I mean BEFORE his face morphs into demon-mode — but it was still nothing close to the way I feel every single time Nicholson axes through that door to get to Wendy and Danny. NOTHING. CLOSE. Read the full post »

Firestarter

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Firestarter (1984) is one of those Stephen King adaptations that was constantly playing on television, so saw it about 100x during my pre-teen years (I think my parents didn’t consider it a scary horror film because it’s not a slasher flick, so it escaped being part of the “not until you’re 13″ rule they imposed).

And while the film does scare me, it’s not Charlie — so brilliantly played by a tiny Drew Barrymore — and her pyrokinetic powers that I’m afraid of. Nope! It’s the government that’s after Charlie and her father that I’m afraid of! Specifically “The Shop” that caused Charlie’s parents and her to have their powers, run by a steely Captain (Martin Sheen) who’s only interest is using Charlie as a weapon, and even more specifically, one-eyed John Rainbird (Geroge C. Scott), who becomes obsessed with Charlie and somehow thinks he can absorb her power.

After Andy McGee (David Keith) arrives home to find his pretty wife dead (Oh, Heather Locklear! You and your amazing hairdo barely get any screen time in this movie), he grabs his daughter Charlie and the two are off and on the run from government agents. Aided by Andy’s ability to “push” people to get the things they need, they run into some minor trouble when it becomes clear that Charlie has trouble controlling her pyro powers — especially when she’s mad. Of course, eventually the government agents catch up and capture them, and that’s when we meet John Rainbird. *shiver* Read the full post »

Riding the Bullet

Unnnnnnggggh. I thought I’d try to watch a Stephen King film I hadn’t seen before, and one of the choices on demand for me to pick from was this Riding the Bullet nonsense, which is a movie based on an e-Book King wrote in 2002. Again, King wrote the screenplay, and again, Mick Garris did the Directing.

The gist is that shortly after trying to commit suicide (but not succeeding, obviously) this college kid Alan Parker gets a phone call that his mother had a stroke, and decides to hitchhike to the hospital to see her. Of course all the people he gets rides with are total weirdos, but the last guy, George Staub (Hi, David Arquette! How’s that movie career going?), is actually dead. Or Death. Or something — and he tells Alan that he has to make a choice: either his mother dies, or Alan does. Along the way there are hallucinations and some flashbacks to The Bullet in Thrill Village, which is an amusement park ride Alan was too scared to ride as a kid. Ah, metaphors.

Anyway! The  most exciting thing about this movie is … the trailer. And that’s it. Otherwise, it’s completely BORESVILLE all the way through. It’s not even bad enough to be good, or to watch with friends and make fun of. It just is.

Final recommendation: SKIP THIS ONE. It’s not worth 98 minutes of your time.

Sleepwalkers

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Sleepwalkers (1992) is one of those Stephen King movies that hits the sweet spot of horror movie enjoyment: it’s hilariously terrible, but still so ridiculous it’s fun to watch. It also doesn’t hurt that it stars one of my top 5 girl crushes of all time, Mädchen Amick,  and Borg Queen Alice Krige, who was born for to play creepy women that you’re strangely attracted to even though they will most likely murder you in your sleep.

Mick Garris directed this original screenplay written by King for television, and if you pay close attention to the cast, you’ll see cameos from Stephen himself (of course), Clive Barker, Joe Dante, John Landis, and Tobe Hooper, as well as Mark Hamill decked out as a policeman.

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The plot makes absolutely no sense, but that’s somehow okay. Mädchen plays plucky high school student Tanya Robertson, who falls for the hunky blonde new kid in school, Charles. But while Tanya has make-out plans on her mind (one of my favorite lines of bad dialog in this film involves Tanya saying “Oh, we’ll do some RUBBING” after the two of them make plans to go to a cemetery to do some … rubbing. Like on paper. With charcoal.), Charles is actually planning to steal her virgin life essence, which he and his mother need to survive. Why? Well, because they are “sleepwalkers”, aka some kind of giant Were-Cat things. OH, and Charles and Mother Mary are also totally sleeping together (ewwwwwwww). OH OH – and! They can be killed by — wait for it — CATS.

HOLD UP. Read the full post »

Needful Things

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Needful Things is one of the Stephen King books that I’ve read more than a few times, so I was prepared to hate the 1993 film adaptation … but it’s one of the adaptations that actually holds up — amazing, considering it follows the novel pretty faithfully, and it’s directed by Charlton Heston’s son, Fraser Clarke, who doesn’t have the greatest track record.

Things is set in the  fictional Maine town of King’s popular supernatural spot Castle Rock, where things are going as good as they can when you have a complete idiot running it. Sheriff Alan Pangborn rarely encounters trouble in his small, peaceful town, until new shopkeep named Leland Gaunt arrives with a store full of curiosities called “Needful Things.”

From the moment he arrives, you KNOW he’s trouble. Probably because he’s played by Max Von Sydow, and you only have to take one look at that guy to know he’s a bad-ass. Gaunt takes obvious pleasure in fucking with the town’s citizens, immediately enlisting a young boy to pull some pranks and start some shit between simple-minded Nettie and bully Wilma, and Reverend Rose and Father Meehan, who already can’t stand each other’s religious preferences. Read the full post »

Children of the Corn

Children of the Corn

31 Days of Horror, 4 days in, and I’m Stephen King’ing it up with Children of the Corn (1984). I bet all y’all are expecting me to say that is another dud, but NOPE! As dated as it is, I am still genuinely scared by this movie because it combines two of the things I am most afraid of: a remote country location and a bunch of off-the-rails religious zealots, murdering people in the name of the Lord — only in this case, the lord is known as “he who walks behind the rows.” *shiver*

Poor Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicki (Linda Hamilton). They’re just driving through Nebraska on the way to Seattle (!!!) so they can start a new life together, when they accidentally hit a boy and then end up in Gatlin trying to find help. Unfortunately, the creepy, mostly deserted small town is ruled by a gang of children who believe that they have to sacrifice anyone over 18 in order to make the crops grow. Or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, because the lead preacher kid, Issac, is fucking terrifying, as is his red-headed second in command, Malachai. No I mean it. I had nightmares about both of these kids for YEARS. Years. Read the full post »

Thinner

Thinner Fat Suit

For my third Stephen King film, I picked Thinner (1996), which is kind of a mixed bag for me. The novel is one that I read over and over and over again to the point of it falling apart because I just thought the story was so damn cool, but the translation to screen is a little bumpy. Mr. Tom Holland is the director of this one too, and he co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Michael McDowell (who helped craft the screenplays of both Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas!).

The story of Thinner is pretty basic, and somewhat chilling (at least, in the book it seemed so): overweight, obnoxious lawyer Billy Halleck (John Robert Burke) accidentally runs over a gypsy woman in his car and kills her — while his wife is giving him head —  and then uses his connections to get out of being punished for it. The gypsy’s ancient father decides to takes matters into his own wrinkled hands, by cursing Halleck with something that causes him to lose weight rapidly no matter how much he eats.

It doesn’t take Billy that long to figure out what’s up, and once he does, he spends the entire movie running around looking for a way to break the curse — and, and ogling hot gypsy Kari Wuhrer, but who wouldn’t? It’s a little boring, but since the whole movie only runs 93 minutes it’s okay. The best/funniest parts involve Wuhrer and her slingshot, and Joe Mantega as mob boss Richard Ginelli, who’s also an expert on Gypsies. Or something. Read the full post »

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