The Stand Will Be An 8 Part Mini-Series



YES! yes yes yes!
Sorry, I'll try not to be excited.
YES!

Jeff Sneider at thewrap.com posted news that The Stand "will take a revolutionary detour to the small screen."  Wait, whats happening?  Warner brothers and CBS are in talks with Showtime to turn the novel into an eight-part miniseries.  But that's not all; it comes to a big massive end with a big screen "big-budget" feature film.

Of course, the miniseries format allows for a bigger story; one more true to the novel.  By going with showtime instead of network TV, the story is more leeway to be a true horror pic than the previous miniseries offering.

Here's the facts as reported by thewrap.com:
Josh Boone will write and direct the miniseries.
The miniseries should start shooting early next year "as one cohesive production."
"Boone is expected to set his sights on several A-listers."
WB will handle the theatrical distribution of the movie.  (Which explains why showtime is involved.)

What was great about the 94 version of The Stand: Gary Sinise, and Rob Lowe.
What was not so great: It was very 90's.  Molly Ringwald.  Television.

Finders Keepers Journal 1: Oh Yeah!



Finders Keepers is the sequel – kind of – to Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes.  But, in typical King fashion, the novel doesn’t quite feel like a sequel.  Because the story doesn’t pick up where Mercedes left off, it backs up and moves through scenes we’ve already been to in the first novel, but this time with different characters.  Thus we the reader relive the horror once again, but from a new angle.

Finders Keepers is certainly it’s own book; but it is wound tight with Mr. Mercedes references and story twists.

I’ve been away from reading Stephen King for a while, and the arrival of Finders Keepers caught me by surprise.  “Oh, is that this week?”  And then a little fear.  I couldn’t even remember everything Mr. Mercedes was about; details had slipped away.  Was I ready to return?  What if the magic had left?  But the warmth hasn’t gone anywhere.  Those “OH YES!” moments of reading a Stephen King novel come quick in Finders Keepers.  That’s partly because it is a second novel, so King is giving us easter eggs right from the get go.

You know about Stephen King “Oh yes!” moments, right?
That’s when Carrie burns up her school, and your heart goes, YES!
When a writer pulls off something, maybe something you didn't see coming, and you're amazed at how they did it.  When Roland steps into the world of The Stand.  Or, when the corpse comes to life in Revival.  Or when the grieving father carries his dead child up to the pet cemetery, and you know this novel has some traction.  Inside, you're going, "Oh yeah!"

I love it when two books come together and you feel distant sparks.  Like when Gerald’s Game and Dolores Claiborne touch.  Of course, Mercedes and Finders are supposed touch.  But the way King does it is mesmerizing.  He doesn’t just bop on with the story, picking up where Mercedes left off.  He starts a new story, running alongside and intersecting the time line of the first novel before eventually starting on a fresh track.  This is brilliant!  And powerful when done by a master like King.

Characters:

As with any King book, the characters take center stage in the story telling.  What I like is how very complex King makes characters.  These people feel real.  Someone injured by the evil Mr. Mercedes isn’t just a poor pitiful victim in a Stephen King novel; they are a real person.  King shows us the emotional pain a physical injury can bring to a marriage.  I like it that King allows characters, children, to make up expressions for their parents behavior.  Adults don’t just argue, it’s the arkie barkies.

By the way, any time someone digs up a buried treasure chest in a Stephen King book, your heart should start pounding.  Because -- I mean, it's Stephen King!  Who knows what's in that chest.  Could be pirates gold or money.  But it could be rotted body parts or a clown nose.

Writing:

A quick note here about the style of the book.  First, unlike Mercedes, I have not detected that the novel is told is strict present tense.

Second, there are points where the narration allows dialogue to flow like a play.  You know:
Dad:
Mom:
Dad:
(A side from the one observing.)
This is interesting because I haven’t ever seen King use this approach in a novel.  Certainly he’s written plenty of scripts, but novels usually have the normal back and forth flow of quotes mingled with narration.  In fact, I was unaware that it was “okay” for a novel to use this style until I read The Keep, by Jennifer Egan.  I was so startled by how easy she made the dialogue using this format that I incorporated into my own writing.

Just under the surface of Finders Keepers is the ever evolving discussion about The Writer.  King gave us a first glimpse into the writer in Misery.  In Finders Keepers, a writers notebooks become part of the driving force of the novel.

Of course, King has insisted he doesn’t use an idea notebook.  In fact, he’s said that a writers notebook is a great way to preserve bad ideas.  The good ones, King says, stick with you.  (This is like preachers who insist they don’t use notes. The truth is, they don’t always stay on topic and tend to talk too long.)

That aside, there are certainly piles of Stephen King notebooks we would all love to see.  Much if not all of Dream catcher was written by hand and filled a pile of notebooks.  Wouldn’t you like to have that in your collection?  Finders Keepers is partly about a guy who steals a writers notebooks.

Link: AVCLUB review of Finders Keepers

I enjoyed the review of Finders Keepers at avclub.com.

we learn:

  • Finders keepers isn't really Hodges book.
  • "Finders Keepers is a direct sequel to King’s 2014 novel Mr. Mercedes, though it takes a while for the connections to appear."
And now I'm off to read the book.

NEWS: IT is sinking



A film production of Stephen King's epic novel, IT
-- True scares
-- Theaters
-- Big budget
-- Tight editing
-- Not television!

. . . is it too good to be true?  Maybe.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that New Line Cinema has indefinitely cut production on IT. EW says that director Cary Fukunaga reps say that he has left the project.

I've grown leery of remakes in recent days.  In fact, I opted not to see Poltergeist this weekend because reviews were -- it's just not scary.  Bu IT wasn't just another remake; it truly was a re envisioning of the Novel.  The previous work had been for television; a worthy effort, but Pennywise has always belonged more on the big screen.

So of all the Stephen King projects that I was really excited about coming to the big screen, I was excited about this one.  And the Dark Tower.  While the novel is slowly dating itself, the movie promised to bring an update to the story.  

Finders Keepers Cockadoodie Brat



Stephen King recently noted:
If you liked MISERY, you're probably going to like FINDERS KEEPERS. Some fans are just cockadoodie brats. 
Molly, aka The Thing of Evil, is also a cockadoodie brat. Can't say more. She's in the room. And listening...

10 Best Stephen King Books



Rolling Stone did a poll, asking what the 10 best Stephen King books are.  The answers -- a little ridiculous.  (www.rollingstone.com) I am glad they allowed novella's to count.

Here is the Rolling Stone line up:
10. Wizard and Glass. (REALLY?!)
9. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.
8. The Dead Zone
7. The Green Mile
6. 11.22.63
5. Misery
4. Salem's Lot
3. The Shining
2. IT
1. The Stand

I wonder if Shawshank might be getting a huge boost from movie memory.  I read the novella recently, and was struck by how much butter the movie is.  In fact, the same is true of The Body, which was turned into Stand By Me.  I liked the movie better.  In turn, I wonder if books like Bag of Bones might be overlooked because of the poor performance of the mini-series. Notice all the books selected were adapted nicely to screen, with the exception of Wizard and Glass.  In fact, The Deadzone and The Shining have both been given multiple treat

And I'm glad a Dark Tower novel made the list. . . but Wizard and Glass?  My favorites of that series were Drawing of the Three and Wolves of the Calla.

What would a correct list look like?  Glad you asked. . .
10. Christine
9. The Green Mile
8. Joyland
7. Salem's Lot
6. Dolores Claiborne
5. 11.22.63
4. The Shining
3. Pet Sematary
2. IT
1. The Stand

So I chose a lot of books people tell me they don't like.  (Pet Sematary, Christine, Joyland, Dolores Claiborne.)  But in many ways, these novels are much stronger than they are given credit for.  Dolores Claiborne in particular is an incredibly intense novel that is driven by both character and plot.  In fact, there are two plots moving through the book, and a connection point to Gerald's Game.  Frankly, it's brilliant.  Why is it so easily overlooked?  Because it was written in a period that was experimental for King.  So books like Needful Things, Gerald's Game, Rose Madder were not as strong and to some degree, I think, caused Dolores Claiborne to be lumped in with them.

Also, Pet Sematary is a dark, terrible novel.  (Expect a similar darkness to loom over Revival.) But it is also a strong novel.  In fact, I think it is better -- even scarier in theme --than The Shining.  Think about it, the guy digs up his dead sons body!  King takes you there!  The Shining is an exceedingly closed in novel; at points it's a tough read.  The Shining has been romanticized, so people give it a little more grace than they might otherwise. The thing is, The Shining is very closed in; almost claustrophobic.  In fact, note what reviews at the time said compared to modern readers.  The story is almost solely carried by three characters trapped in a hotel.  It is slow going for a few pages.  Yeah, when it starts rolling, it's good stuff!

I also think Joyland is too easily skipped over. What's great about that book is not the plot;  the mystery is secondary.  What makes the novel really strong is King's ability to take us back to 1973 and to the feelings of first love.  It's one thing to read a book King wrote in the 70's and think, "wow, this feels like the seventies alright."  Try reading the original edition of The Stand.  In fact, the revised version of The Stand still has flavors of the seventies.  But with Joyland, King wasn't writing during the period; but he perfectly recreated it. He did something similar with both IT and 11.22.63.

Does Christine deserve to be on a Stephen King top ten list?  I think so.  Not only is the novel a good one, but it represents the young Stephen King anxious to just drive the horror home.  It's a bloodbath; and unapologetically so.  The reader can feel King's joy.  Cars, rock and roll, and girls -- oh, and a ghost. It's not "deep" -- but it is a delight for the horror fan. King got himself into a hole when he wrote his narrator into a hospital bed.  So mid novel, he switched to third person!  I'm surprised he didn't rewrite the novel to stay with one perspective; but ultimately it is fine with me.  Who really cares if a writers switches between narrative styles?  Only my English teacher; and she's dead.

Don't you hate top ten lists?  Me too.  Good,  now give  me yours. . . 

Far more fun than a 10 Best list is a 10 worst list. And the funny thing is -- I still read and enjoy several of the books off this list.  They're just not King at the top of his game.  But, unable to come up with TEN -- here's five.
5. Gerald's Game
4. Insomnia.
3. The Tommyknockers
2. Dreamcatcher
1. Cell

Final Cover or Bazaar Of Bad Dreams

I think this looks great!

The Guardian notes that the book will also include notes from King on the craft of writing.  Of course, King hasn't taken on the subject of writing since his classic book, On Writing.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, due to be published on 3 November, will bring together 20 short stories by King, a mix of new writing and work already collected in magazines. But it will also include an introduction to each story by the writer, in which he will provide “autobiographical comments on when, why and how he came to write it”, as well as “the origins and motivation of each story. His editor at Hodder & Stoughton, Philippa Pride, predicted the inclusion would “delight all his readers including those who love his insight into the craft of writing”. 
theguardian.com/books

Shawshank Was Almost Real



Check out Michael Miller's article at the Washington Post titled, "‘Shawshank’ prison escape ends 56 years later with cinematic stakeout." 

In 1957 Frank Freshwaters was a 20-year-old Ohio bad boy.  On a July night, he hit and killed a pedestrian while speeding.  He was given 20 years, but the sentence was suspended.  However, he got back behind the wheel of a car, and so he went back to prison in 1959.  He landed in the Ohio State Reformatory.  

Now, track with this: The Prison closed and became the set for the 1994 Stephen King classic, "The Shawshank Redemption."  

Freshwaters secured a transfer to a nearby “honor camp,” and disappeared in 1959.  (See the link for the rest of the story.)

Will Poulter will be PENNYWISE



variety.com reports that Will Poulter is "in negotiations" to play the evil clown, Pennywise, in the upcoming IT movie.  The movie is not a remake of the mini-series so much as it is a retelling for the big screen.

Justin Kroll at Variety reminds us that the IT project is really two feature film.  Kroll notes, "Fukunaga has been very vocal recently that the latest script will stay true to the King story while also giving the film a new look."

The plan is for the first movie to tell the kids’ story and the second movie to focus on the adults.

About Poulter as Pennywise, Kroll says that New Line originally looked at older actors like Mark Rylance and Ben Mendelsohn to play the evil clown.  However, they decided to "go younger" with Poulter.  Why?  Because Poulter rocked the audition with Fukunaga -- leaving the director unable to say no.

Honestly, Pennywise does seem like the role of a lifetime.  What fun.

comingsoon.net notes taht Will Poulter, best known for his roles in The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Maze Runner.

Just How Much Blood Do You Need To Fill An Elevator?



filmschool rejects asks an important question: Just how much blood would it take to fill an elevator at the overlook ?  See, I'm glad someone is thinking about the important things in life.   Kevin Carr explains his love for The Shining before explaining that he has been diving into the "thought provoking" Room 237.  Now, maybe that's just a kind nod, because when I watched Room 237 I came away thinking I've been in the room with the UFO believers a little too long.

Discussing the scene where the elevator doors open to a outpouring of blood. Of course, Kevin Carr asks what all of us asked when we saw that -- How much blood would it actually take to fill the elevator lobby?  Yeah, that's what I thought!  Carr writes, "The Answer: About 3,000 gallons… and possibly much more."  WAIT!  More?  So that's not the answer.

Carr explains how the scene was filmed:
The actual shooting of the blood elevator scene was, of course, an effects shot. Achieved decades before CGI blood would even be an option, the sequence was shot on a soundstage in miniature. Kubrick wanted to literally have 200 to 300 gallons of Kensington Gore fake blood available for the shot, and it reportedly took days to reset. 
Visual effects expert David Ridlen generated a computer model of the blood elevator sequence using RealFlow 4 and LightWave 9.6. What resulted was a strikingly accurate recreation of the original practical effect from The Shining. In the process, Ridlen’s work debunked the theory that there is a body or some other object hidden in the blood. (Ridlen tells me, “I am absolutely 200% sure there is no such thing.”) 
Ridlen used a 1/2-scale set because he felt Kubrick would have wanted his shoot to look as close to reality as possible, though there is evidence that the set itself might have been 1/3rd-scale. Regardless, in Ridlen’s recreation, he used 366 gallons of digital blood. Doubling the size of Ridlen’s elevator set would mean the volume of blood needed to fill it increases by a factor of eight. This results in 2,928 gallons of blood. So there’s your shopping list. 
However, while a set was used to shoot the scene in The Shining, within the film itself, the elevator hallway is opened to the rest of the hotel. Within the actual scene, you can see chairs floating and the blood pooling rather than draining away. So… 
One of the hallmarks of Kubrick’s film is that the Overlook Hotel is constructed with impossible geography. Maps are available online which attempt to lay out where the different rooms are. However, many of the rooms, hallways, and corridors seen in the film cannot fit together in normal space. 
Of course, the concept of impossible geography in film and television is nothing new, especially for anyone trying to figure out the layout of the house or apartment in The Golden Girls, Roseanne or any other popular sit-com. However, Kubrick deliberately used impossible geography in The Shining to disorient the viewer (and, at times, the cast and crew).
And then Carr asks the great big question I was actually wondering; Where did it all come from?

Check out the answers at: filmschool rejects

What Happened To Jim Carrey In Room 237?



I was watching Dumb and Dumber last night with my daughters.  It's sad when you reach the age when things that were hilarious in your 20's are now just -- stupid.  What did catch my eye was The Stanley Hotel.

James Parker at The Atlantic wrote:
 Jim Carrey requested 217 during the filming of Dumb and Dumber, but checked out—so the story goes—after only three hours. “That’s a shady one,” says the hotel’s tour guide Kevin Lofy. “What happened to him in that room, we don’t know. He’s never spoken of it.” A fantastic, if apocryphal, image: Carrey the rubbery actor-medium, the channeler of presences, windmilling out of the Stanley in a post-ghost panic.
Advocate "In Focus" editor, Lindsay Maynard, reports a similiar details about Carrey's stay at the Overlook -- I mean Stanley Hotel.  Maynard took the hotel tour and wrote a very nice article in which he wholeheartedly embraces the spooky elements of the old place.  In fact, she says the hotel is deemed one of the "most haunted."  HERE is the article, titled "Tour Estes Park's most haunted hotel."



Maynard also includes the tid-bit about Jim Carrey's stay in room 217, and also reports he did not stay the entire night.  Seems a few hours after checking in, he left the room and "never returned."  Why?  He's never said a word about it.  Could it be that the woman in the tub bothered him?  She was so very pretty!  Or perhaps the two dead girls made it hard to settle down.


Some interesting facts gleaned from the article:
  • Ghost Hunters has visited the hotel nine times!
  • Travel Chanel's "Ghost Adventures" has also paid their respects.
  • In June 1911, during a power outage, a chambermaid named Mrs. Wilson entered room 217 to light a candle.  A gas leak caused the room to explode!  What's amazing is that she lived, and was given a job at the hotel for life.  Maynard says that she is known to appear from time to time and even put away clothes for guests.  Nice ghosty.
  • On the fourth floor, there is sometimes the sound of unseen children playing.


Stephen King Video Games


Doesn't it seem like there should be more games based on Stephen King books?  I'm still waiting for someone to give me an edition of THE  STAND Civ 5.  Really, no one has wanted to drive Christine?  Think about it -- it would be a lot more fun than Pole Position.  Actually, a lot of things were better than that game.

Here is a list of video games based on King's work.  I am not including Discordia.  If you know of others, tell me in the comments section (or email me).

1985: THE MIST:

Was a text adventure game.  Remember Zork?


1989: THE RUNNINGMAN

The Running man was released as a Commodore 64 game.  It also inspired a game called "Smash TV."




1992: THE DARK HALF:




www.giantbomb.com gives us this review of The Dark Half video game:
The Dark Half is a point and click story based adventure game based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It was released in 1992 by Capstone and even though many consider it to be a terrible game, it is highly sought after and considered a cult hit.
The Dark Half was developed by Symtus and published in 1992 by Capstone. It is a ScummVM-esque point and click adventure game that is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Although the mechanics of the game are very similar to many adventure games released around the same time from LucasArts, it is possible to die / be arrested in the game, bringing your adventure to an eary finish. 
The game itself is a poor reflection of the novel and is riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies. Even with these inherent flaws, The Dark Half remains a cult classic, a title that is still highly sought after even this long after it's debut. The ease of getting a "Game Over" screen is such that it's vital to save often and in different files, which is a turn off for many gamers with games such as Monkey Island setting the benchmark of a "deathless" game.



1994: The Lawnmowerman 

This was a Sega Genesis game. I never got to play it because we were Atari people.  Then Commodore.  



For more, check out David Finniss article at voices.yahoo.com.
Finnis' article covers all of the above games,and also a wallpaper program called F13: "The only thing that I was able to find on my own was a program called F13. It wasn't so much a game as a program that gave you wallpapers for your desktop. There were some mini-games as well as an electronic copy of Everything's Eventual. It received a mixed review at best."

10 King Novels That Should Be Video Games:

I liked this article by Clayton Ofbricks: 10 Stephen King Novels That Should Be Video Games.  He gives a nice outline of how each game would be played out.
1) The Shawshank Redemption: 3rd Person Stealth Action 
2) The Stand: Post Turn Based Strategy 
3) The Green Mile: Construction and Management Simulation 
4) Misery: Tower Defense 
5) The Dark Tower: Action RPG 
6) Christine: Extreme Driving Sim 
7) Rose Red: Survival Horror 
8) Pet Sematary: FPS 
9) Salem’s Lot: Sandbox 
10) Cujo: Trivia
Or. . . you could just play The Sims 3 Supernatural!  Or, Naughty Bear.

Stephen King is mean



The Stephen King message board recently had a thread that was a discussion about my book, Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters.  (stephenking.com) The topic -- that I said Stephen King is "mean."  Of course, this lead to some heartfelt whining that Stephen King is a serious writer who shouldn't be called mean.

I say -- HA!  
He's mean.
Mean Mean Mean Mean Mean.
And you can't make me un-say it.

If you want nice authors, read Jane Austin.
If you want someone with the guts to kill off little Gage and send killer clowns after grade school kids, read Stephen King.

I echo, what I said in the book, "Most writers don’t have the guts to be mean."
Gardner, Brighton (2014-05-04). Stephen King A Face Among The Masters (Kindle Location 2364).  . Kindle Edition.

(The chapter was developed from this blog post: talkstephenking.blogspot.com: seven-reasons-we-read-stephen-king)

Stephen King Chides Governor LePage



In his weekly radio program, Maine governor LePage suggested that Stephen King left Maine because of the states income tax.
Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine. Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax. Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby have moved away, as well.
Stephen King issued this response to Goernor LePage:
 "Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green. Tabby and I pay every cent of our Maine state income taxes, and are glad to do it. We feel, as Governor LePage apparently does not, that much is owed from those to whom much has been given. We see our taxes as a way of paying back the state that has given us so much. State taxes pay for state services. There's just no way aRound it. Governor LePage needs to remember there ain't no free lunch."
Now it makes me wonder if the Republican Governor knows anything at all about Stephen King and politics.  Did he really think King, who has openly said he should pay more taxes, would leave the state because of taxes?

Amy Fried at Bangor Daily News points out that Stephen King has not left the state.  She writes:
 I live in Bangor and frequently walk past his house on West Broadway. There are often cars in the driveway with Maine plates. I sometimes see Stephen or Tabitha in Bangor. 
The Kings vote in Bangor. I’ve looked up their donations to federal candidates and they’re listed as Maine residents. 
Besides the Bangor home, they also own a home in western Maine. Plus there’s a house in Florida.

Stephen King and the End of the World

By Brandon Engel

When it comes to book-to-film adaptations, Stephen King doesn’t really have a consistent track record. Some film adaptations are awful and some are great. With anticipation building for the release of the film Cell with John Cusack, and murmurs about a new film series based on The Stand, one wonders how these new films will measure up against older film/tv adaptations of King’s dystopian stories.

You might remember the TV miniseries adaptation of the "The Stand" which debuted in 1994. It was based on a novel by King from 1978, which told the story of a weaponized version of the flu that escapes from a government lab, and it wipes out most of humanity, except for a few people scattered throughout the United States. In the TV adaptation, these survivors are portrayed by famous performers: “Nick Andros,” a deaf man from Arkansas, was played by Rob Lowe, and “Frannie Goldsmith,” a Maine teenager played by Molly Ringwald. The survivors start to have visions of either the kindly “Mother Abagail,” played by Ruby Dee, or the demonic “Randall Flagg,” played by Jamey Sheridan. Survivors are told to travel to Nebraska to meet Mother Abagail, or to go to Las Vegas to join Flagg.

The eight hour “Stand” miniseries is faithful to the over 1,000 page book, but it is more similar to the earlier abridged version that was released in the seventies than the complete, uncut edition that Doubleday published in 1990. The A.V. Club said in its review that the miniseries reduced the story to a simple-minded duel between good and evil, without the complex nuances of the book.

Entertainment Weekly offered a somewhat backhanded compliment, stating that the "Stand" miniseries was a "sheer messy sprawl" in the most affectionate way a critic can say that sort of thing. In this writer’s humble opinion? The TV miniseries has not aged well. The music, the special effects, and even the actors chosen seem a little dated and cheesy.

Speaking of dated and cheesy: you might also recall an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle based on a book that  was attributed, not to King directly, but to King’s nome-de-plume, Richard Bachman. The novel was, of course, “The Running Man,” which “Bachman” wrote in 1982. The novel talks about a man named Ben Richards, who lives in the middle of the United States in the year 2025. The world economy has collapsed, and the general public is demoralized. Richards has a daughter who is violently ill. Because he lacks the finances to pay for her medical treatments, he agrees to participate in a new TV program entitled “The Running Man,” which is sort of like American Gladiators, but infinitely more barbaric.

Contestants on the program try to evade “hunters” — hitmen who are employed to track contestants down, and snuff them out. Contestants win money for every hour they stay alive, plus money for every hunter they manage to kill themselves, plus a billion dollars if they make it for a whole month without getting caught.

When producers approached King with the desire to turn the novel into a film, King insisted that the story be credited to Bachman. The film (released in 1987) starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Ben Richards, and the story was changed. In King’s novel, Richards was an impotent civilian acting out of desperation for the sake of his family. In the feature film, Richards is a former police officer who is wrongfully accused of killing civilians. He is put in prison, but manages finds a way out when he is invited to compete on “The Running Man.”

According to Roger Ebert, "The Running Man" film felt sort of like a videogame or a comic book for the big screen. The film is repetitive, highly stylized, and heavy-handed, but still manages to capture some of the cynical satire of King’s novel. Regardless, ultimately, the film shares many weaknesses with the TV adaptation of “The Stand” — it’s overwrought with dated cliches, and it featured a lot of dubious casting choices.

The bad news? Dystopian fiction is easy to sell to people. It doesn’t even have to be especially well-written (just think about “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent” series). Perhaps part of the reason why there are so many dystopian novels and films in the first place. While King’s dystopian novels are well constructed, bad things happen to these stories when producers get their hands on them. The film studios pander to the audience, and what results are subpar films that look even more ridiculous over time. Cell will be, in its own way, capitalizing on the popularity of the zombie craze. The unlikely pairing of Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack is also worrisome. Cell will probably not be a very good movie. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong on this point.

The good news? There are Stephen King film adaptations that were pretty great, such as The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, which still air regularly on satellite TV networks (more info here). For every thirty crumby Stephen King derivative films, maybe one or two will be truly excellent. Such is life.

Creepshow Cup



In full disclosure -- David Marancik‎ shared this on Mark Pavia's timeline.  Mark Pavia is the director of Night Flier.

As for the cup. . . that's totally cool!  Why?  Because it's unique.

Mick Garris’s The Stand: The Black and White version.



by Chris Calderon

I just hope he’s not a figure of controversy.  That’s one way I thought of starting all this.  The other was to start off with the question: Does anyone think The Stand is kind of, well, weird (I'll explain what I mean in just a minute)?

Either way, one things is certain.  For most fans of Stephen King, the adaptations done by constant collaborator Mick Garris will always be divisive.  Some will fall on the side of support and others on the downgrade side.  Those who aren’t impressed with Garris’s King work may have number of reasons for their dislike.  For some, it may be that his cinematography is dull and uninspired, others may say that he chooses poor actors for the roles.  Then of course, there’s always the question of the writing itself.  Or it could just be that Garris’s take on King never seem to raise whatever highs or lows the viewer may desire, the film’s success in this case being determined by its emotional content (this always seemed to be Roger Ebert’s ultimate rule of thumb).

For my part, as someone who, after all these years, still falls on the Pro-Garris side of the fence, all I’d prefer to do right now is simply ask yet another question: ever try watching Garris’s version of The Stand with the color off?  No seriously, all TVs, most of them anyway, have a color setting on their screen, and you can adjust it all the way off if you want.  What follows is simply some observations on what happens when some moron with too much time on his hands decides to turn the color off and watch a black and white version of Garris’s Stand, just because it sounded like a cool idea to found out (in other words: lame!).

First Impressions
A word of warning, from here on in, things get pretty impressionistic, as I was always trying to balance paying attention to the story while at the same time trying to pay attention to the images on screen (something I’m not sure if I’ve really done before, however that may sound).  So if it sounds like things are wandering off point or I’m losing a thread somewhere, blame trying to juggle two things at once unsuccessfully.  Oh yeah, and the author’s to blame of course (rimshot!).



Viewing the miniseries on a purely visual aspect (bearing in mind it’s not my strong point), what strikes me first most of all is how quickly the visual style, minus color, easily jumps from one style to another depending on what the scene calls for.  For instance, it starts out with the breakout of Captain Trips, and the visual style is on par with those old 50s nuclear fallout movies from back when the Cold War was at its height, mixed with a little bit of the original George Romero NOTLD vibe.  Cut to Arnette, TX (“about 110 miles from Houston”) and now the style resembles something you might see in a Steinbeck film if it were crossed with something out of the Universal horror flicks of the 30s.  Cut back to another army sequence and the 50s fallout style is back, only this time reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove.  After a brief return to Steinbeck country, the visuals shift again into another mode as the army takes over the town, featuring footage that is similar to Vietnam documentary footage to a certain extent.  Next, we meet Larry Underwood, in footage of New York that recalls, of all things, Martin Scorsese.  The scenes in Ogunquit have a Frank Capra pastoral quality to them without any color to get in the way, and yet the overall gray tone gives the proceedings an ominous vibe.

Mother Abigail’s homestead is clearly revealed as an onstage set, and if you’re looking for more convincing Nebraska farm fields then the great irony is, yes, the Children of the Corn series probably looks more realistic (not real sure how to feel about that).  However, the set also conjures up memories of the kind of live action MGM or RKO fantasies spun out in the 40s by Robert Wise and Jacques Tourneur.  As for Stu’s escape from the medical facility, I can only I’m not kidding when I say the shot of him emerging from his cell reminded me of certain scenes from Ridely Scott’s original Alien, only in a dull clinical, unsettling monotone.  In fact, the lack of saturation gave the whole scene a genuinely creepy edge.

Things get Weird.
It was in watching part two that things sort of kicked into overdrive.  Starting with the introduction of Tom Cullen, I don’t if many realize just how fundamentally weird the character really is.  Our first sight of Tom is really a tableau of department store mannequins all arranged in a row of sorts in the middle of a small town main street.  I think in color the immediate reaction is that it’s either charmingly quirky or something like that.  Let me tell, in stark black and white it’s downright unnerving.  Maybe others will react differently, but I’ll swear nothing is saw suggested a mind that was in any way normal.  I know the character is supposed to have a mild mental handicap, yet I’ve also read him in comparison with the Trashcan Man, and what that suggests to me is that the two are in fact similar polar opposites.  There is something fundamentally wrong or off-kilter about the both of them, and yet one is good, while the other is an out of control train looking for a place to wreck.  What I saw made me think of what might happen if Tim Burton and David Lynch collaborated on a project.  Everything about the scene was just off kilter, and really I think it colored (pardon the pun) everything that came after.

For instance, there’s the Meeting Hall scene in Boulder.  Many fans may take this scene to task as one of King’s moment of unfortunate sentimentality.  Stripped of color, the scene is a cross between a Capra film and The Manchurian Candidate.  Instead of being bored by syrupy sentiment, I found myself slightly on edge with the uncertainty on display, and found myself thinking, “Well yeah, that’s all well and good, but what do you really want out of the American Experiment?”  Don’t how that must sound (I told you it would get weird).

There is another scene with Tom after this, and once more the weirdness of the character is more noticeable without color to get in the way.  Instead of being bright and cheerful, his house is drab and somewhat dark, decorated with several surreal brick-a-brack.  For instance, there are decorations of miniature nuns hanging from a light fixture over the middle of the table the characters are gathered round (no, I did not make that detail up, look closely and you’ll see them hanging there).  In fact, surreal is the word that pretty much sums up every scene that comes after.  The scenes with Harold and Nadine, in particular, now really have a sordid, sleazy noir feel about them.  The cumulative weirding out effect comes from the stark setting of Americana slowly being invaded by the fantastic, at least to all appearances.

As the final part of the show closes in, the barren Nevada landscapes take on the hallucinatory feel of an acid western, and there’s the scene in the washed out pit of a highway next to some old cars where Stu separates from the rest of the Stand Group.  I’ll swear it has the peculiar look and feel of both Bergman and Kurusowa, maybe even a little Samuel Beckett.  Yeah, it was all pretty surreal experience.  I wasn’t expecting any of that.

 Final Thoughts.
So, what effect does viewing Garris’s Stand in black and white have on the miniseries as a whole?  The answer, my answer anyway, is: not bad, really. 

To go into a bit more detail, I think watching the film sans color can at least highlight the surreal qualities of the work, or maybe it just makes things seem more surreal than they are.  For me, the whole experience of the story in black and white had a strangely hypnotic effect, and yet I remember wondering whether or not that was because viewing from a different angle just naturally lowered my defenses (whatever they are) and allowed me to take in more of the story than I normally would, or whether I was just letting the oddness of the bleached cinematography get to me at the expense of the story. 

In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that even though the experience was worthwhile, it ultimately was more a stylistic exercise than anything else.  What tipped me into this realization was reaching the same stumbling block other fans have tripped over a million times before.  While the overall story of The Stand is more or less solid, the ending (in both the edited and restored versions of the novel, as well as the miniseries) still needs a bit of retooling after all these years.  When I felt the same sense of letdown at the literal deus ex machina denouement just like so many times before, I knew that black and white couldn’t save the ending, and that hence there was a big difference between style and substance.

This is something I’ve believed in for a long time, yet this de-Turner-ized viewing of the Garris miniseries just helped solidify it.  I’ve always felt that the writing of a story, even for film, is more important than whatever style it’s told in.  This may have been driven home to me when I first viewed two films by the same director, An American Tail and The Secret of Nimh, by Don Bluth.  Both films are pretty much gorgeous to look at, yet I was only drawn into the drama of Tail while to this day I find the story of Nimh lacking.  The reason why, I think, helps explain why I think The Stand ought to be appreciated on a story level, regardless of visuals.  The problem with both Nimh and King’s book is that they have a creditable buildup, yet the pay-off is sorely lacking, and all the little flourish of images never seemed enough to me to salvage things.

The funny thing is, no matter what its format, I can’t really say The Stand is a bad story.  It may be imperfect, yet in spite of this it holds up really well, even with a bit of a botched end.  I think the reason why is very simple.  In spite of its flaws, the rest of the story is very well written, and I think it is this more than the flaws which keep old readers (and viewers) coming back, while still managing to bring in new ones over the years.

While watching The Stand in black and white may be just a stylistic exercise, it might nonetheless be a profitable one for those interested in making the experiment.  In particular, it may help skeptics and naysayers by forcing them to look at the series in a different way.  In particular, it’s helpful to note that while the experiment manipulates the image, it doesn’t fundamentally change it in any great way.  Even more important, the story remains the same, in either book of film.  The trick here, as I see, is to realize the manipulated, therefore plastic, therefore treacherous, therefore less importance of the images, which take second place to the quality of the writing.  I think it’s an experiment well worth making, even aside from the novelties and interesting questions about entertainment it may raise.  Either way, the story still remains, and while it’s not perfect, I’d say it’s entertaining enough.

Valentine’s Day and Misery



by Brandon Engel

Valentine’s Day and Misery

While Stephen King is most widely known for his horror stories, in his 1987 novel Misery, themes of romance prevail. Not romance in any conventional sense, however – it concerns the "romantic" nature of the relationship between an author and his writing. And beyond merely that, it also explores the ties that bind avid readers to works of pulp literature. King has often written about writers, and Misery, much like The Shining, offers readers an intimate glimpse behind the tortuous exercise of converting inspiration into a meaningful end product. Utilizing familiar elements of horror, he reveals the pain inherent to the writing process.

Misery was inspired by a dream King had on a plane flight to England, concerning a popular writer who fell victim to a psychotic fan. Waking up, he wrote down a description of the character that would later become "Annie" on a napkin. King centers the primary focus of the novel on Paul Sheldon, the author of a best-selling Victorian romance series about a character named Misery Chastain. When Sheldon is rescued by Annie Wilkes from a car crash, he slowly finds that she is sickly obsessed with his work and will do anything to have the recently killed-off protagonist revived. Even if it means sacrificing Paul himself.

The novel was adapted into a film in 1990 by Rob Reiner and starred James Caan and American Horror Story star Kathy Bates (who would later star in another King adaptation: Dolores Claiborne). We follow Paul (Caan) as he rewrites this story while being tortured by the seemingly-harmless Annie. King shows us the literal blood, sweat, and tears that had been put into Paul’s writing – making it the most meaningful piece in his career as an author. The relationship between the author and the writer is one that is carefully portrayed in Misery. King shows us that this pain is almost necessary to succeed, and sometimes, that pain itself provokes a twisted and perverse sense of pleasure.

Extreme fandom is personified in Annie (Bates), showing us just how obsessive certain individuals can be. Her crazed eyes and apparent insanity is enough to have Paul terrified for his life. Although Annie was just one single fictional woman, she had paranoid viewers rethinking their safety and security. The threat of other "Annie" types was enough to provoke some viewers to take dramatic action, turning to Charlotte ADT Security or Chicago Security Doctors to protect themselves. As we see Annie torture Paul for the fun of it, we recognize characteristics in her that we've seen in other people (or even ourselves). She isn't that nuts. She just loves the characters in her favorite stories as though they were her own flesh and blood. She is dependent on these novels as a way to escape her own lonely life, and like any fan out of touch with reality, she reacts in devastation when she learns that a beloved character has died. To her, these are real people - and she wants her protagonist back. Though perhaps not to this level, Though perhaps not to this level,

She is dependent on these novels as a way to escape her own lonely life and like any crazed fan, Annie reacts in devastation when she finds out that a beloved character dies. To her, these are real people and she wants her protagonist back. Though perhaps not to this level, we have seen this before in crazed fans, who believe they know what’s best for their particular franchise.


The Annie-Paul duo takes our breath away in this dynamic relationship of abuser and abused. Bates skillfully portrays a sweet and caring individual who has the capacity to turn into a woman scorned, once she has the proper reason to enact revenge. Paul is a departure from Caan’s previous performances, but he was definitely able to portray the controlled, terrified victim who seemed to have no chance at being saved. The film received mostly positive reviews and was seen as one of King’s best film adaptations to date. Perhaps this is because Misery exceeds generic horror. It isn't about in-your-face scares or supernatural beings- the real horror is within everyday people.

James Franco to Star in 11/22/63



variety.com reports that James Franco will star in the Hulu mini-series 11.22.63.  Elizabeth Wagmeister notes that not only will Franco star in the series, but he is also set serve as a producer on the miniseries.  The program is set to be nine hours.  Franco will play the lead role of Jake Epping.

Kindle Edition Of A FACE AMONG THE MASTERS Free This Weekend



Good news for Kindle readers -- My book, Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters, is FREE this weekend on Kindle through Amazon.com.

February 6, 2015 -- February 8, 2015 

Here's a link to the book: amazon.com/Stephen-King-Face-Among-Masters-ebook

" Gardner makes what could have been an ordinary book about a writer a true pleasure to read."
--Sandra Scholes, SF Site Reviews
"In short, readers both familiar and unfamiliar with Stephen King's novels will find a motherlode of interesting information inside the pages of Brighton David Gardner's insightful and illuminating treatise. I can't recommend it enough"
--Shawn Lawton

Why do authors give books away?
1. Because we believe that if you like the content, you'll give the book a positive review.
2. It gives us exposure to a wider audience through the Amazon publicity machine.
3. It's fun to give stuff away.  Really -- authors just want to be read.  (Though that check from Amazon is nice.)

"Gardner's book makes a persuasive case for why I should want a similar knowledge level about the rest, though.  That is not a minor achievement; I tend toward grumpiness when somebody is trying to convince me to be interested in something that I'm not already interested in.  Gardner pulls it off effortlessly.

Elsewhere, A Face Among the Masters also makes a case for reading King as a "dark theologian," and this section confirms what I already suspected: that a weighty book dealing with King's themes of Christianity (and religion/spirituality in general) is way overdue.  Gardner here catapults himself to the upper echelons of the list of people who seem well-suited to the writing of just such a book."

--Bryant Burnette

Salem's Lot Special Edition



I'm LOVING the artwork for the Cemetery Dance edition of Salem's Lot.  Let's face it, the early works of King were not given the best artistic treatment by Doubleday.  Well, the wrong is being righted!

From Cemetery Dance:

'Salem's Lot: The Deluxe Special Edition
A Collectible Limited ONE TIME PRINTING featuring an introduction by Stephen King, an afterword by Clive Barker, color paintings by David Palumbo, and Special Bonus Features including deleted scenes, two related short stories, and a map of the town by Glenn Chadbourne!
Volume Two in The Stephen King Doubleday Years Set!

'Salem's Lot: The Deluxe Special Edition (Volume Two in the "Doubleday Years" Collection)
 by Stephen King

Featuring full color wrap-around artwork by David Palumbo and full color interior paintings printed on a high-quality glossy stock and tipped into the book!


About the Book:
 'Salem's Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in 'Salem's Lot was a summer of homecoming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to 'Salem's Lot hoping to cast out his own devils and found instead a new, unspeakable horror.

A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved.

All would be changed forever—Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of 'Salem's Lot.

This is a rare novel, almost hypnotic in its unyielding suspense, which builds to a climax of classic terror. You will not forget the town of 'Salem's Lot nor any of the people who used to live there.

Special Features For This Deluxe Special Edition:
• an introduction by Stephen King
• an afterword by Clive Barker
• many deleted scenes that were cut from the original manuscript
• the short stories "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road"
• deluxe oversized design (7 inches X 10 inches) featuring two color interior printing as part of the page design
• printed on a heavy interior specialty paper stock that is much thicker than the paper in a normal trade edition
• epic wrap-around full color dust jacket artwork by David Palumbo
• a different full color dust jacket for the Numbered Artist Edition painted by David Palumbo
• full color interior paintings by David Palumbo
• interior artwork will be printed on a heavy glossy stock and tipped into the book
• an original map of the town drawn by Glenn Chadbourne exclusively for this special edition
• signature sheet artwork for all three editions by Glenn Chadbourne
• high-quality endpapers and fine bindings
• an exclusive reproduction of the first reader's letter to point out the Father "Cody" error and several internal memos from Doubleday about changing the pricing after the first edition of the book was already printed
• extremely collectible print run that is a tiny fraction of the TENS OF MILLIONS of copies of this novel you've seen in bookstores over the years!

picture credit: cemeterydance.com

Published in three states:
• Slipcased Oversized Hardcover Gift Edition of only 3,000 copies printed in two colors on a specialty paper stock; bound with a fine binding, two color hot foil stamping, and embossed endpapers; and featuring a unique black-and-white limitation page with artwork by Glenn Chadbourne ($95)

• Traycased Oversized Hardcover Numbered Artist Edition signed by the artist and limited to only 750 hand-numbered copies printed in two colors on a specialty paper stock; bound with a different fine binding, two color hot foil stamping, and full color illustrated endpapers; a full-color signature sheet signed by the artists and featuring artwork by Glenn Chadbourne; and housed in a traycase ($250)

• Traycased Oversized Hardcover Artist Lettered Edition signed by the artist and limited to 52 hand-lettered copies printed in two colors on a specialty paper stock; bound in two different fine materials in a hand-made three piece binding featuring spine hubs, gilded page edges, two color hot foil stamping, and full color illustrated endpapers; a different full color signature sheet signed by the artists and featuring artwork by Glenn Chadbourne; and housed in a unique "three piece" traycase ($1250)



Top 5 Horror Anthology Films of All Time





Top 5 Horror Anthology Films of All Time
by  Brandon Engel 

If it wasn’t for fifties horror comics (especially EC titles like Tales From The Crypt and Haunt of Fear) it’s probably safe to say that horror movies and literature simply wouldn’t exist as we know them today. Stephen King is himself a huge fan of the comic format, and he has borrowed liberally from the influence of such works throughout the course of his career.

There have been many great horror anthology films over the decades, typically comprised of three to five short stories with wrap-around segments to stitch the disparate stories into one self-contained narrative. Many follow in the footsteps of the EC, while one title from the list below predates such comics, and might have, itself, influenced the format of the comic books.

Here is a look at the top five horror anthology films of all time.

5. Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Originally made for ABC, the film is comprised of three short stories all written by Richard Matheson (author of I Am Legend and frequent contributor to The Twilight Zone). Actress Karen Black appeared as a different character in each segment. The most memorable sequence is the film’s closer, “Amelia,” about an upscale New Yorker who brings home a Zuni warrior fetish doll (which resembles a piranha with fearsome fangs and stringy black hair). There’s a golden band across the doll’s waist, and it’s said that if the band is removed, the dormant spirit which inhabits the doll will be unleashed. The segment is significant in the annals of movies with killer dolls, and was even once parodied in a Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror segment.

4. Dead of Night (1945)
This was one of the only horror films made by the English Ealing Studios, and it’s often regarded as  one of the most inventive horror films of all time. A group meet for a weekend vacation, and one member of the group is plagued by a sense of the uncanny. This provides the narrative container, as each guest then relates a story about an eerie occurrence or dream they’ve had. The most famous sequence features Michael Redgrave as a psychotic ventriloquist who can’t seem to discern where his identity ends, and the identity of his doll “Hugo” begins.

3. Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990)
The film was of course a spin-off of George Romero’s cult TV show, Tales From the Darkside (which is itself enjoying its own resurgence in popularity now that it can be streamed directly from DTV - see their website) and the feature film also features a story contribution from King himself, The Cat From Hell. The most memorable sequence features a woman who plots to cook her newspaper delivery boy. Even more memorable is the device used for the wrap arounds: a young man is telling these stories to distract a witch who intends to eat him. A technically well-executed and enjoyable horror omnibus in the Romero tradition.

2. Tales From the Crypt (1972)
Released by the British film studio Amicus, this take on the classic fifties horror comics offers wonderful performances from Hammer Horror icon Peter Cushing as an ostracised but nevertheless benevolent eccentric who is driven to suicide by the taunts of his community (only to come back as a vengeful zombie on Valentine’s Day) and the great Patrick Magee, who stars in a segment as blind man who exacts his revenge on a cruel administrator of an asylum for the blind. The film also features a segment about a monkey’s paw which gives its owner five wishes, as well as a story about the homicidal Santa Claus (the very same story which would serve as the basis for the Robert Zemeckis directed pilot of the HBO Tales From the Crypt series).

1. Creepshow (1982)
Written by Stephen King and directed George A. Romero, Creepshow is a highly-stylized tribute to EC comics, which even integrates comic book frames. The film opens with a father reprimanding his son (Joe King, Stephen’s actual son) for reading a gruesome comic book entitled Creepshow. This provides the container for the five vignettes, and among the most memorable are: “Father’s Day,” about a murdered father who returns from the grave to collect his father’s day “cake”, “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill,” which features a performance from King himself as an east coast bumpkin whose life is turned upside down when a meteor crashes in his backyard, and “The Crate”, a story about a blood-thirsty primate discovered in a crate under the stairs in a university which evokes Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue.

*******

Brandon Engel is a blogger in Chicago who writes about a variety of topics - everything from vintage exploitation films to energy legislation. Brandon has a penchant for horror literature, and his favorite authors within the genre include: H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Clive Barker, and, of course, Stephen King. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonEngel2