Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You Can't Kill Stephen King Interviews and Trailer

The Blood-shed Weighs In On: YCKSK

Check out review of You Can't Kill Stephen King.

The review is hard to read because -- are you ready? -- there are no paragraph breaks at all.  It's one big block of text.  BAM!  It's like people who email me (usually women) who don't have any breaks in their thoughts.

That aside, the review is worth reading.

Here are some highlights:

  • The film is B beyond dispute but it has production polish.
  • The horror component isn’t compromised by the humor, a significant risk when mixing and matching fright with funny. 
  • The first kill is both classic and creative. -- its hash of humor and horror is well-balanced and effective. 
  • Even without the attention-snagging title there’s enough panache to make this more than mediocre. 
  • It’s not the Lawrence of Arabia of scary movies but it’s a good time nevertheless. 
  • All the best parts of a corpse-counter. 
  • If you’re paying attention you can hear the brooding opening music of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining show up briefly in this film’s score. The movie throws bloody obvious fanboy gags at the viewer with one hand while with the other hand deftly slipping in less forward references for the initiated. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Marvel And Stephen King Announce Dark Tower: The Drawing Of The Three – House Of Cards #1 posted news that Marvel and Stephen King today announced the next installment of the Dark Tower comic book adaptation,  Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – House of Cards. It is set for a March, 2015 release date.

From the press release:
The troubled streets of New York City pulse with the beat of desolation and crime. Among the dissidents of the city is Eddie Dean a troubled young man gifted with the ability to open doors to other worlds has smuggled narcotics from Nassau to New York City, but now Eddie has to escape a packed airplane guarded by armed Custom Agents! How will Eddie avoid prison and yet also fulfill his contract with the dangerous mobster Balazar? The answer lies in Mid-World, and with a dying gunslinger named Roland!
I love The Drawing of the Three, so this is exciting. notes:
“In the latest chapter of King’s epic tale there are some fascinating connections being made within the Dark Tower mythos, expanding on the histories of the characters and revealing their twisted ‘family tree,’ says series Editor Mark Paniccia, via the release. “Fans will get a real thrill as we discover what kind of role Eddie Dean plays in Roland Deschain's plans to bring the tower down.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

What To Actually Get A Stephen King Fan

First, if you're really a Stephen King fan, you know we're really called "constant readers."  I spotted a short article of suggestions to give various people on a Christmas list.  Of course, of  the Stephen King "fan" the writer suggested Doctor Sleep.  Problem here?  Well, yeah -- see, if you're really into Stephen King, you already have a copy of Doctor Sleep!

The truth is, the latest book by Mr. King may not be the best Christmas gift.  Here are some ideas of cool things for a Stephen King reader:

1. Any first edition of the Doubleday books.  (Carie, The Shining, The Stand)
2. Books published by Cemetery Dance.  Who cares if they already have one -- these books are so cool that you can't really get enough.  I love my copies of IT, Doctor Sleep and FDNS.  What would we do with another copy?  Take if off the shelf  and read it!
3. Odds and ends.  There is a lot of strange Stephen King junk out there that is the perfect stocking stuffer.  How about a Christine matchbox car?

Here is one of the coolest Stephen King Christmas gifts I've gotten:
(From my December 24, 2012 blog  entry

Here's something pretty cool I got for Christmas, a paperback edition of The Raft.  According to Amazon, it was actually a pamphlet inserted into Nov. 1982 Gallery.  It looks fuller than it really is -- just 26 pages in a glossy cover.   I like it!

Funny thing, my mother in law got it for me.  "He wants an older paperback book?" she questioned my wife.  "You know, they have that same story in collections."  My wife reassured her that it was the old paperback I wanted.

So I looked up  what "Gallery" was, thinking the entire magazine might be of interest.  It's  porn!  Glad I didn't ask my mother in law for that!

Interesting, huh?  I liked  it.  For a collector, we like anything we don't already have, even if it's cheap!

SO here's my question: What do you think would be a great gift to a Constant Reader?

(Reposted from December, 2013)

Friday, December 12, 2014

12 Ways Reading Stephen King Will Traumatize You

Happy Friday the 12th.  Reading Stephen King can be a lot of fun.  It can also be traumatic.  Psychologically dangerous.  Here are 12 ways reading Stephen King will traumatize you.

1. Clowns aren't fun anymore.

2. You want to give a wide birth to the weird girl at the prom.  Who knows what strange powers she might have.

3. Crows seem ominous.  And rats aren't just nasty -- they're evil!  Dare I mention spiders?  SPIDERS!

4. You avoid mom & pop stores because they might have just what you need; and be run by the devil.

5. It's not so much fun to be alone in a hotel hallway, because you are terrified two dead girls will appear and invite you to come play with them.  The hotel bathtub is another place Mr. King ruined.  Who knows when a dead body will float to the surface.

6. On foggy days, you wonder if maybe it's actually a dark mist headed your way and think that any moment monsters with tentacles will be attacking.

7. You want to ask the waitress at your local cafe if you can check the pantry, secretly wondering if there is a time portal.

8. The law, and your mom, say you have to respect authority.  But when you're traveling long stretches of desert road, you aren't sure you would actually stop for a sheriff.

9. People in your life remind you of people from a Stephen King novel.  I swear I know Mother Abagail and am pretty sure I've met Annie Wilkes.  Also had some contact with Big Jim, Jack Torrance and unfortunately Mother Carmody.

10. There's no way you would own a Saint Bernard.  Or dog sit one.  You also would not name your cat Church.

11. You can't enjoy a movie based on a Stephen King book, but keep irritating your friends and family by saying, "really, the book was better," and, "the book was a lot scarier," and "I can't believe they messed that up."

12. A 1958 Plymouth Fury is a cool car -- from a distance.  A long distance.

And. . . extra credit: In awkward or unnerving situations, you think, "Oh man, this is the way a Stephen King book starts."

Okay, give me your list

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Charting New Ground With Apt Pupil

With Revival behind me, and a long drive ahead, I dug through my giant case of Stephen King CD’s to find a book to listen to.  Surprising, there are some I just don’t want to go back to.  Misery was good – once, but it doesn't beckon me for more reads.  Same with Gerald’s Game, Desperation and Roadwork.  Good once, but not hungry to venture into that territory for a long period of time again.

I dug into a novel I knew nothing about, Apt Pupil.  And know what, I love it!  The book is driven by total psychological warfare here.

The basic plot is this: A thirteen year old boy discovers his neighbor is an old SS soldier who worked in the concentration camp.  How he puts the pieces together becomes a little contrived, but it works for the story.  He then uses his knowledge to extort the old man; but not out of money, he wants him to retell stories of the war days.  Only, the boy isn't just interested in stories, he wants gruesome details of how people died.

What’s scary is just how young King makes the main character; thirteen.  Often he responds with a confidence that far exceeds anything most thirteen year olds possess.

It is a crazy novel.  I mean crazy!  A thirteen year old gets the upper-hand on an old Nazi who used to torture people.  What’s amazing is that King makes this pretty believable.  And, King turns the old plot problem, “why don’t they just call the police” into his theme, what if they call the police?  The novel builds into a game of mental chess between the old man and the nasty kid.

In the world of Stephen King, kids can be brutal.  But Todd Bowden is easily one of Stephen King’s scariest characters.  Because he’s young, he’s unflinching and he’s brilliant.  King may have given his lead character too much emotional strength, resulting in a character that’s far more creepy than the likes of Carrie.  Of course, Carrie isn’t evil exactly, she’s persecuted.  Carrie lashes out at her persecutors.  But Todd is the persecutor.

The novel was released in 1982 as part of the larger book, Different Seasons.  I’ve always focused more on Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Body, forgetting the other two novels.

The book takes us back a few years.  Obviously, through story telling, it takes us back to the dark days of World War Two.  But, because King writes in his own time, it also takes us back to the seventies.  Electric typewriters, no cellphones and most important, no internet.  I am curious when the novel itself was actually written.  Was it a trunk novel thrown in to Different Seasons?

One of the delights of going into a King novel I know so little about is that anything can happen.  Usually I have a pretty good idea if a novel is seriously dark, or a few tricks King has up his sleeve.  For instance, when Revival came out, the publisher was so stinking paranoid, they built a website to try and ease everyone into the right mood.  They didn't want anyone surprised that Stephen King could be dark.  GASP!  So I knew going into Revival that it was not going to be fun and games.  But when it comes to Apt Pupil, I'm taking it one blind curve at a time.  I know there's a movie.  But it's not the same as letting Frank Muller read it to me.

Star Trek:
For some reason, reading this book reminds me of that old Star Trek episode where the enterprise comes to a planet that has been fashioned completely after Nazi Germany.  It's not a good episode.  What is fantastic is watching Spock use  a strip of metal from his prison cot to focus light coming from a simple light bulb, turning it into a laser beam that blows the door open.  Yeah, that's how it works.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pennywise The Elf on a Shelf

Merry Christmas.  Marie Lawton posted this at Stephen King constant reader fan club and gave me permission to post it here.  I LOVE IT!

Top 10 Iconic Horror Movie Moments

Hey, I like anything that gives me two Stephen King films with two Alfred Hitchcock movies.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Revival Journal #5: The Final Stretch

I finished reading Revival tonight, and so I'm going to talk about it.  If you haven't read the book, it goes without saying that you shouldn't read an article about the end of the novel -- right?  Ultimately, I don't care.  I think people who whine about "spoilers" are pretty lame.  But then, I hate surprise parties and always manage to get my wife to tell me my Christmas present early.  Anticipation is better than surprise.  That's why a good novel taste better the second time.

I run in the middle of the night; walk really.  And I listen to Stephen King.  Often I can't listen to King, because I have friends with me.  We have started a route that takes us up a steep hill that looms over our town.  Ont he top of the hill is a water tower and a massive red light -- probably to mark the spot so local aircraft don't hit it.  (?)  It is a military town.  It is awesome to stand atop the hill and look down on the desert city.  29 Palms is a lot like Space Mountain.  Awesome with the lights off.

We usually take the paved road up the mountain; the one that winds back and forth until you suddenly peak in front of a water tower.  But there is another path; a friend and I found it the other night.  It's not easily recognizable  because it's dirt, and it's steep.  Really steep.  It's been smoothed out by rushing water, I think.  I only took it once with a friend, who had to crab walk  to keep from tumbling down.

I did something tonight I don't usually do when I'm out alone.  My wife asked me not to take the dangerous path through the gullies (huge rain ditches that are like canyons in the desert), so instead I decided to try the mountain.  Again, I don't do this alone because -- well, who knows what you'll find atop a hill that overlooks the city late at night.  But, remembering the path that goes straight up the mountain, and the moon beaming down bright -- I decided to go for it.

And here's the cool part.  As I was trudging up the side of that mountain, the final chapters of Revival began to play out.  And what happens?  Pastor Charlie and company take a trip up the mountain.

The setting where the final scenes of Revival play out is great.  A mountain cabin in a great storm; lightening cuts the sky up.  On complaint I might lodge about the mid-portion of the novel is that King spends a lot of time telling us things, but he leaves out interesting settings.  He makes up for that in the final chapters as we go to the mountain cabin to raise the dead.

The dead ladies name is Mary.  Most certainly a nod to Mary Shelly.  When Mary is brought to life, bad things happen.  Very bad things.  And I guess it would be nerve wracking to listen to in any situation; the car, in bed or even on a sunny day.  But at 11:30pm on the side of a mountain, the wind blowing, it was pretty freaky!

A Short Analysis:

I like Revival a lot, because the end pays off.  It is dark, reminding me of the tone of 1922 or Pet Sematary.  There is a healthy dose of Science Fiction

My real complaint is that it takes far too long to get there.  There are so many characters, I lose track of whose who.  Some parts are like reading the phone book -- someone who was mentioned on some other page pops up again, but they aren't that important.

I could have used a lot more of what we got at the end.  Not the tail end, where people start dropping like flies.  I mean up on the mountain.  Mary and Charlie are disposed of quite quickly.  There is no real struggle, no wonder in the readers mind if Jamie is going to make it.  (Well, it is first person.)  But not just that, King doesn't give time to develop the story on through.

Mary Shelly gave the monster in Frankenstein some breathing room.  He got to roam about and cause some mischief  -- but our Mary never gets that opportunity.  So we spend a lot of time building up to the creation of a monster that never goes anywhere.  (Yes, gang, I do understand that Charlie is the real monster, bla bla bla.)

The horror in Revival isn't the Mary-Monster anyway; nor is it Charlie -- it's death.  And that nagging question: What lies beyond?  Jamie sees something terrible, and carries that vision of the afterlife with him.  In that sense, things are carried beyond Pet Sematary, as King dares to lay at least a big toe on the other side of the pond.  What we get a glimpse of is the dark side of Sheol.  King doesn't give us doses of hell and fire and brimstone; but ant overlords.  You know, it seems ridiculous looking back on it, but at the time when I was reading it (on a mountain) it was scary.

So I enjoyed the novel a lot.  King is like a cat chasing a mouse.  The mouse is death and the ugly side of resurrection.  But once King catches his mouse, he kills it too quickly.  I'd be happy if he'd played with his dead -- not dead -- mouse a little longer.


It's been hinted in some corners that maybe King is taking his digs at people of faith in Revival; or that organized religion is going to take a blow.  Well, if Stephen King can knock it down, it wasn't organized from on-high anyway.  I was ready for some heavy handed preaching in Revival -- some uncomfortable digs at faith.  But I found the opposite -- for the subject matter, King is very reserved in his commentary on faith itself.

People of faith are not attacked in Revival; people who have faith in a single preacher -- or prophet -- or evangelist -- or TV personality -- are laid waste to in Revival.  I don't think the reverend in Revival was ever really a preacher.  I realized early in the book, this guy never had real faith.  So when he turns on God, it's not surprise, because he was already there.

Charlie's god, his Golden Calf, is electricity.  "Secret electricity" is what Alfred Hitchcock would call a Mcguffin.  Something added as a plot device to simply make things work.  Charlie might have once had a passing interest in God, but he's a servant of electricity.  He believes electricity can heal the body, and perhaps bring back the dead.  Hey, why mess with a Pet Sematary when there's good ole electricity?

There is a price to pay, Revival would suggest, for chasing after false prophets hoping for a miracle.  As the old preacher, R.G. Lee, would say, "The devil pays in counterfeit money."

What Charlie does is turn from the legitimate work of pastoring and shepherding a Methodist congregation to churning our miracles at revival meetings for profit.  He goes from pastor to showman.  And we've all met preachers who were more showman than man (or woman) of God.

King plays fair because his keeps the commentary from Jamies perspective.   And Jamie is allowed his doubts and opinions -- he's the narrator.  What would be uncomfortably preachy and heavy handed in the third person, works fine in first person narrative.

While the novel is pessimistic, it's not anti-God.  It's anti-fake-preacher. These fakes are the biggest threat to Christianity itself.  Benny Hinn and the whole TBN crew that like to make Jesus a flashy word before they pass the plate and fake miracles are actually the problem.  They aren't advancing the Gospel, they're advancing their bank accounts.  They embarrass those of us who do believe with their carny like shenanigans.  They make many people of deep faith, who do believe in miracles -- without the aid of electricity -- appear foolish.  But King does people of genuine faith a kindness.   He moves Charlie out of the church house before he begins the real crazy stuff.  Better yet, the church has the gumption to remove him.  So what ole Charlie does, he does on his own, not under the authority of a congregation that could fire him, but can't find the will.

I think King's publishers were overly concerned about him offending people.  They put out warnings that this was a dark novel -- like William Castle having doctors in the theater lobby to check your heart before you went in to see his scary movie.  (Check out "William Castle and Stephen King")


WOW!  Those after effects were no pretty, were they?  I don't have much to say, except that I really didn't see that coming.  I know, many of you did, and you're just sooo smart!  But I didn't.  Suicide is nasty business, and to have just about everyone Jacobs healed take their own life was pretty bold on King's part.

I liked the idea of Jamie being a key of sorts that allowed the door to be unlocked.  It was also pretty cool that he was able to shut that door.  But honestly, it just wasn't hard enough for him to get the door shut.

I like those corny parts where King -- Jamie -- says things like, "I would stop writing, but I have to, if only in the hopes that maybe it will turn someone else back from the horrors I've seen. . ." (that's not a quote from the book.)  Moving toward the final events, King uses heavy shadowing that lets the reader know the book is about to get a lot darker.

Revival is a great book.  Best read in the dark.  Alone.

It's one of those books that leaves me anxious for the movie version.  This is the kind of movie (no one would do this) that would be great in black and white.

Stephen King AC/DC

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The First Clown That Scared Me

Tim Curry as Pennywise entertained me.  In fact, I can see how he could have been scary.  But he didn't really scare me.

There is a clown that scared me -- big time.  That clown doll in Poltergeist is freaky.

So tell me, what movie or TV show has a clown that you think ranks up there with the scariest?  (Don't say Krusty the Clown)

Friday, December 5, 2014

IT movie to start filming in March 2015 has posted an article that says they spoke with IT project producer Dan Lin, who confirmed that IT is getting serious.

Lin told vulture, “The idea is to start official prep in March for a summer shoot.  Cary likes to develop things for a while, and we’ve been with this for about three or four years, so we’re super excited that he stayed with it. You guys are gonna be really excited.”

The current plan, according to Lin, is to break the movie into two parts, much the way the ABC miniseries handled the King book in its 1990 adaptation.
“The book is so epic that we couldn't tell it all in one movie and service the characters with enough depth,” explained Lin; the first film, then, will be a coming-of-age story about the children tormented by It, while the second will skip ahead in time as those same characters band together to continue the fight as adults. Though Fukunaga is only committed to directing the first film, Lin says the in-demand helmer is currently closing a deal to co-write the second.
Lin went on to say that what was really important to them was Stephen King's "blessing."  What did King say after the script was sent to him?  "Go with God, please! This is the version the studio should make."

The idea of two IT movies is good news to me, since the book is so large.  The story could hardly be told in 2 or 3 hours.  I do hope they don't mess with the dates, though.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

They Wanted To Do WHAT With The Ending Of THE STAND?

With Devin Faraci's article titled, "How Will The Movie Version Of THE STAND End?" and a subtitle, "Will the film retain Stephen King's finale?" I feel myself getting a little concerned.

He addressed in particular the ending, writing:
I do know how the draft before Boone ended, one written by David Kajganich. It's not great. 
In this version, from last year, the good guy survivors from Boulder get together in an army and march on Las Vegas to kill Randall Flagg. Flagg's headquarters is, of course, the Luxor Pyramid. The Boulderites invade the city while, off to the east, a squad fights at the Boulder Dam - which Trashcan Man explodes, killing Larry Underwood and sending a deadly flood to Vegas. In the city Flagg squares off against hero Stu Redman... who now has the power of God, and they have an Akira-like battle on the Las Vegas Strip, with Flagg trying to take Stu's magic. Cars are thrown, Excalbur's turrets are tossed, the people of Vegas are used by Flagg as disposable cannon-fodder. Meanwhile Nick Andros sacrifices his life taking out a howitzer. The Boulder forces, while armed, try to only take prisoners and rescue people from being under Flagg's evil spell. It all comes down to Flagg and Stu, and whether or not Stu will absorb Flagg's evil magic.
 I actually find this interesting.  But. . .

If they want to film an apocalyptic novel with lots of battles -- why not film Swan Song?  Because it's not "Stephen King's Swan Song" or we would already be talking about remake #4.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Stephen King Cinematic Universe!

This is fun: has an article that "flirts" with the work of Stephen King.  In particular, it look at the Stephen King "Cinematic Universe."  From suggested scenes, actors for upcoming movies and soundtracks, this article is great.

The authors explain: "For this installment of the Producer’s Chair, we opted to do all the legwork for the studios and pieced together a proper cinematic universe of King’s bibliography, all based around Boone’s upcoming production of The Stand. We parsed out the release dates, cast its characters, and targeted 19 essential films and/or television properties that would do justice to the man’s reign in modern literature. Sadly, this probably won’t happen, but this was far more enjoyable than it was taxing."

To build this universe, the authors include actors and places that connect from one movie to the next.  What's cool is that this is all possible -- assuming you think Matthew McConaughey is a great Flagg.  (Yep.)

Their discussion brings them right to the upcoming movie version of THE STAND.  They rightly identify the pivotal scene as the Lincoln Tunnel.  And then they tackle the bigger problem: How is that thing going to be broken into four movies?  With a nod to the miniseries, they suggest the theatrical film will be "similar."
However, not only are there aspects of the book that should be expanded upon (e.g., Trashcan Man), but those four sections, especially the first two, could benefit from bleeding details into one another. However, the cliffhangers that the mini-series employed would do wonders on the silver screen, especially the ending of “The Plague”, which sees Stu escape a desolate and corpse-laden CDC facility into the night. There’s no way that doesn’t guarantee sales for the sequel.
After THE STAND,  Dan Caffrey takes a turn discussing THE DARK tower.  I like his cast of characters suggestions: Roland Deschain (Viggo Mortensen), Jake Chambers (Nolan Lyons), Cort (Michael Rooker), Brown (Ray McKinnon), Allie (Esmé Bianco), Young Roland Deschain (Tye Sheridan), Cuthbert Allgood (Michael Zegen), Alain Johns (John Robinson), and The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey)

For the movie IT, they suggest Crispin Glover.

I know, you're still going, "Who?"  Crispin Hellion Glover (born April 20, 1964) is an American film actor, director and screenwriter, avant-garde musician, publisher and author. Glover is known for portraying eccentric people on screen such as George McFly in Back to the Future, Layne in River's Edge, unfriendly recluse Rubin Farr in Rubin and Ed, the "Creepy Thin Man" in the big screen adaptation of Charlie's Angels and its sequel, Willard Stiles in the Willard remake, and The Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. (osmovies)

I appreciate this comment from the article:
How Do You Replace Tim Curry?: You don’t. All you can do is press ahead. The 1991 adaptation had its flaws, to be sure, but Tim Curry was perfectly cast as the clown Pennywise. His interpretation was as scary to see from across a swamp as he was up close with fangs drawn in the Derry sewers. It’s hard to imagine anyone else saying, “They all float…” with that same detached menace, but I will be mighty curious to see what Crispin Glover could do with that material.
And here's a big question: When we get to Song of Susannah, who would play Stephen King?  Well, there is a brilliant - BRILLIANT -- idea: Joe Hill.  (YES!)

Also sketched is The Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand 2, The Drawing of the Three, IT, The Wastelands, The Stand III, Salem's Lot, The Stand IV, Wizard and Glass, Wind Through the Keyhole, Wolves of the Calla, From a Buick 8 (I want the movie just so I can stop trying to read it), Low Men in Yellow Coats, Song of Susannah, Everything's Eventual, Insomnia, The Dark Tower.

If you want to read the whole article, instead of clicking movie by movie, here's the link:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Compare and Contrast: Stephen King and Arthur C. Clarke

by Brandon Engel

Meet Arthur Charles Clarke and Stephen Edwin King, Jupiter and Venus of the science fiction solar system. In 2005, the government of Sri Lanka designated Clarke Sri Lanka Abhimanyu, meaning “The Pride of Sri Lanka,” the highest civil honor in the country. The year before, the World Fantasy Convention bestowed upon King the Award for Life Achievement. No satellite explored further than the reaches of blackness that Clarke and King dived into with science fiction and fantasy literature.

But, the two had different notions of where the future of humankind led.

Stephen King: Scribe of Horror

In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes famously claimed that the state of nature of man was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Stephen King took Hobbes at his word. In King’s 2009 book, Under the Dome, an invisible dome barrier envelopes the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill. Thus isolated, the townsfolk pull a page from Lord of the Flies, with the climax of the story ending in asphyxiation and incineration. “I saw it as a chance to write about the serious ecological problems that we face in the world today,” said King. “The fact is we all live under the dome.”

Like many contemporary authors, King worried that short-term politics would upset the teeter-totter of technological equality. He extrapolated that concept in his 1982 work, The Running Man, the story of a desperate man, living in a state-sanctioned media-saturated dystopia, who wages his life in hopes of a $1 billion grand prize. Yet just as in Orwell’s 1984, the omniscience of technology thwarts Richards’ plans. What can Richards do against the Hunters, who draw from endless resources?

Or what if, suggested King in his 1986 horror film, Maximum Overdrive, machines were themselves malicious? In the movie, King’s only directorial effort and winner of a 1987 Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director, machines come to life and launch a lethal vendetta against homo sapiens. King described his film as a “moron movie,” but nowhere else does he so blatantly suggest that one day, for reasons inexplicable, mankind may regret its first electrical transistor.

Arthur Clarke: Science Fiction Storyteller

Statistically speaking, King is in the minority. According to a Pew and Smithsonian research poll, some 59 percent of Americans believe coming technological changes will improve the future, while 30 percent hold the glass half empty. Those within the 59 percent are in good company with Arthur Clarke. A lifelong proponent and enthusiast of space travel, terraforming and computer networking, Clarke believed in a fundamental goodness of technology that would improve the human condition. “It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive,” he believed, “when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective as a single small globe against the stars.”

Clarke was a pop prophet extraordinaire. He predicted satellite internet coverage that could be accessed from virtually anywhere, cloud computing, and in his seminal film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, he even predicted the iPad – or “newspad.” Most famously, Clarke popularized the concept of geostationary satellites for telecommunication purposes. Some of his more fantastic notions have yet to manifest, though, such as slave chimpanzees, bioengineered whales, suspended animation, and an earth-to-moon space elevator.

But some of Clarke’s most important words, which hint at the same fears King discussed, are rarely quoted. “As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals.” In his 1972 essay, for example, “Profiles of the Future,” he was quick to give wasteful transportation a thorough tongue-lashing. “In one lifetime they [automobiles] have consumed more irreplaceable fuel than has been used in the whole previous history of mankind. The roads to support them … cost as much as a small war; the analogy is a good one, for the casualties are on the same scale.”

Perhaps the truth lies between the two authors. The future is without form and void, and it is humans who will author its genesis, for where humans lead, technology follows.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Brandon Engel is a Chicago-based blogger whose favorite Stephen King book is either Hearts in Atlantis or The Shining. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonEngel2"

Monday, December 1, 2014

Shawshank is epic

I was just looking at IMBD's list of 250 greatest movies.  #2 is Godfather.  #10 is Schindler's List.  #12 is the Empire Strikes back.

So what's #1 ?  The Shawshank Redemption.

Now I like Shawshank a lot.  But, I like the Green Mile better.

For context, The Lord of the Rings is #17.  And the original Star Wars is clear down at #20.  Yikes.

The formula for calculating the Top Rated 250 Titles gives a true Bayesian estimate:
weighted rating (WR) = (v ÷ (v+m)) × R + (m ÷ (v+m)) × C
  • R = average for the movie (mean) = (Rating)
  • v = number of votes for the movie = (votes)
  • m = minimum votes required to be listed in the Top 250 (currently 25000)
  • C = the mean vote across the whole report (currently 7.0)

Rocky Wood

My favorite Stephen King website posted some sad news today:

Today is a very sad day because a friend and King expert; Rocky Wood has passed away. I think many of us knew he was terminally ill. I have for years but I had no idea that it would happen so soon.

 I never met Rocky in person but we spoke through email and he often sent me news bits for the site, the last one less than a month ago. I will miss him a lot!

 Walk in peace my friend, there are other worlds than these...


Stephen King said about Wood:
Rocky Wood was my go-to guy for all things Shining, providing me with names and dates I had either forgotten or plain got wrong. He also provided reams of info on every recreational vehicle and camper under the sun (the coolest was Rose’s EarthCruiser). The Rock knows my work better than I do myself. Look him up on the web sometime. He’s got it going on.
-Stephen King in the Author’s Note to Doctor Sleep

Wood was author of:
•The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King 
•Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished 
•Stephen King: The Non-Fiction 
•Stephen King: A Literary Companion 

Check out his website at:

Cemetery Dance Offers UK Limited Edition of REVIVAL

Cemetery Dance has posted news that it is offering the UK Slipcased Limited Edition of REVIVAL for "just" $199.  (That comes with a $50 Cemetery Dance Coupon.)

CD notes:
 We're very pleased to have a few copies of the UK Slipcased Limited Edition of Revival by Stephen King on the way, and we're offering them on a first come, first served basis. We've also arranged for our collectors who buy this book through our online store to receive a $50 Cemetery Dance coupon to spend on any books, magazines, comics, or eBooks you'd like this month -- the perfect way to snag a holiday gift for someone special or for your special collection!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

REVIVAL is swinging home runs

Revival is out and doing great!  In fact, has listed the top 10 bestseller -- and Revival is leading the pack.

Hardcover fiction

1. Revival, Stephen King

2. Gray Mountain, John Grisham

3. Flesh and Blood, Patricia Cornwell

4. The Burning Room, Michael Connelly

5. Havana Storm, Clive Cussler

6. Prince Lestat, Anne Rice

7. Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult

8. Blue Labyrinth, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

9. Pegasus, Danielle Steel

10. The World of Ice & Fire, George R.R. Martin

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Mist The Novella Cut

This is what happened. . . 

I'm watching my copy of The Mist, The Novella Cut.  And, of course, I'm liking it a lot.  I haven't seen the end yet, but I'm liking the film more because I'm not dreading the end.  The movie is broken up with headers, much the way the novella was.  There is an opening note that assures us that this is only a fan film, not meant to in any way disparage Mr. Darabont's work.

Another difference; not only am I not dreading the end, I'm watching it with my daughters.  Why is that different?  Because I previously was hesitant to let them see a dad blow his kids brains out.

This movie really does have the feel that the novella had.

Some quick notes:
1. Mother Carmody is no Bible scholar.  She quotes Revelations, which is a common mistake.  But the Biblical book is titled Revelation, no S.  Why?  Because it is the singular Revelation of Jesus, more than it is a series of revelations of end time events.\\

2. I like almost all the scenes with the monsters.  I think they are truly horrifying.  Fromm the attack in the loading dock to the fight in the store with the flying things -- it's great stuff!  What's more, trips to the grocery store are not nearly as boring, as I can now imagine an attack by prehistoric creatures.

3.Few movies (at least in the world of Stephen King) manage to capture the feel of a novel quite as well as The Mist.  Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile all do a great job bringing the book to screen.  But King's really scary stuff usually remains locked in the pages of his books, because you just can't make it happen on screen.  I think The Mist accomplishes some real scares.  This is no B-movie, as Darabont joked.

4. I don't think there is any way a crazy like Carmody would gete that many people to follow her.  I do understand there are religious nuts who gather a crowd; but she goes from being a total outcast in the community, to gaining complete trust in a few moments of crisis.

5. This is easily my favorite version of The Mist.  I LOVE IT!  I feel like something has been redeemed.  That is, it was good all along, but deeply marred by the ending.

6. The Durabont film brings resolution to two issues: Will the mist go away?  And what happened to David Drayton?  The re-cut. . .

I won't give away the ending to the novella cut, but I will say:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Revival Journal #4: The Mystery

Mr. Mercedes is supposed to be a mystery -- and Revival is supposed to be, well, something else.  It's King's new "dark" novel.  It has the tone of King's novella, 1922.  But it also has a great deal of mystery in it.  What's up with Rev. Jacobs?  That is the mystery.  It's what keeps us coming back, wanting to know more.

After we discover he has the power to heal, the reader wants to know how.  I've always been interested in "faith" healers and how they pull their stunts.  Partly because so many people I know, people I love, are easily taken in by religious shysters and shenanigans.  TV preachers and tent revivals with the big sign out front, "HEALING SERVICE" are of great suspicion to me.  In fact, I'd suggest that one of the great wounds to Christianity is the showman preachers who use the Gospel as a platform for making money.  But more about that in later posts.

They mystery at the mid-point and just beyond of Revival is three fold: How is Jacobs healing all those people, why do things sometimes go "bad" for the healed, and what happened to Jacobs?  I don't know the answer to any of those things at the moment, because I'm still plodding.  And here's the thing, I'm interested in the answer to all those things.

King does a great job ruling out early suspicions on the healing service.  No, he is not just using plants.  And yes, he really does seem to be healing these people.  But is he maybe doing more?  Is he actually experimenting on them?  Is something else going on that the reader has not been let in on?  Well, of course!

It is King's ability to turn a good mystery, to keep enough elements up in the air like a great juggler, that has me fascinated.  Now, here's a small confession.  If this were an author I'd not heard of, I'd be concerned that he'd bit off more than he could chew.  There are too many questions to resolve in the number of pages ahead.  Can he do it?  Will the answers be lame?  But this is Stephen King.  And there is a sense in which I keep reading simply because I know he will work some magic when the curtain is pulled back.

In some ways, Revival is a better mystery than Mr. Mercedes.  In Mr. Mercedes, we got a peak in at the criminal mastermind at work.  In Revival, things are more limited.  We don't get Jacobs perspective, so we are kept in suspense.

There is a slight change in writing style for King in Revival.  In the past King built a book scene by scene, the way a television show would progress.  In Revival, and other recent books, King does a lot of narration that skims over scenes, simply pushing the plot forward.  He's "telling" instead of "showing" a writer friend of mine would say.  And that's pretty easy to do when using first person narration.  I like it, because I don't always want to travel scene my scene.

And where's another confession; while King might identify with Jamie, I don't.  In fact, I find Jamie a pretty unlikable character.  Is it his sleeping with a much younger woman?  Maybe it is.  King works pretty hard to make us, the reader, cool with the older man sleeping with the younger woman.  It's a delightful fling for him, and a educational step into the world for her.  But it feels unreal.  I don't think younger woman just throw themselves at older guys and say, "yeah, I have daddy issues."  Maybe.  But I talk to A LOT of people, and that's not the way that goes down.

The bottomline is, I see Jamie as a user.  He uses women, he sues drugs, he uses opportunity to advance himself.  So it makes me suspicious of his desire to hunt down the old reverend and find out what he's really up to.  I don't think our main character is really all that noble.  King is working to show Jamie as someone who doesn't have the wool pulled over his eyes; but what he gives us is a loser.

I'm secretly rooting for King to pull a Christine on us, move from first person to third person and knock Jamie off.

But here's the deal: It's all enough to keep me interested, and that's what matters in a novel, isn't it?  I'm driven back again and again to Revival because I want to know what's up.

I should note why I'm SO SLOW at reading this book.  I only allow myself to listen to it when I go running at night.  It's my motivation.  Sometimes I can do five miles, I just keep choosing longer routes, because I'm hooked.  So it keeps me from skipping too many nights on the road exercising.  It also slows the pace.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Mist -- There Is Hope!

I'm excited about this. . .

Kevin Karstens, a graphic illustrator, who shared with me that he also prefers King's version of the Mist and in particular, our strong dislike for the movies ending.  Kevin wrote,
I had looked forward to a film adaption for over 20 years, and was thrilled to hear they were doing one (and by Frank Darabont, no less)...until I started hearing, 'they changed the ending'....and I personally REALLY did NOT care for the 'new version' I did something baout it, and you might find it interesting...
What he did was recut  the movie, creating a fan film titled, "The Mist, The Novella Cut."  Great title!

The movie's webpage does a great job explaining exactly what was done:

 'The Mist-The Novella Cut' is a fan edit of the Frank Darabont/Stephen King film 'The Mist' which was released to theaters in 2007. 
It is in no way meant to disparage the wonderful work created by Mr. Darabont and his brilliant team of filmmakers, it is simply a version of the film meant to more closely adhere to the original text from the Stephen King novella upon which the movie was based. As the original story is my all time favorite King tale, I wanted a version that reflected the source material as closely as possible, especially the original, ambiguous I created this fan edit for fun. 
Certain scenes have been cut, others added from the DELETED SCENES found on the DVD release, as they mirrored actual sequences from the source material. Chapter 'headings' have been added in areas to reflect the feel of a novella, and the ending now pays homage to the 'Hartford/hope' finale originally seen in King's original text. 
This is from a conversation between Kevin Quigley and I.  Kevin is the overseer of charnelhouse, a Stephen King website.
Talk Stephen King: The novella left the story open ended. The movie, however, chose an ending scene that was rather controversial. King said he liked it. I hate it. Which of us is right?
Kevin Quigley: King and I often disagree about movies.  The ending of The Mist is atrocious.  It’s going for shock value and succeeding at that, but it doesn’t do much for the film itself.  It’s a complete shift in tone and intent, one that feels incongruous with the rest of the movie.  (talkstephenking interview with Kevin Quigley
Wait a minute, you may be saying -- is  the ending to the Mist really that bad? Allison Weaver wrote an article earlier this year titled, "Which Movies Have the Most Terrible Endings?"  She wrote, "Did anyone actually enjoy the ending of 'The Mist'? I don't believe it's possible. Who could be happy after watching the main character give up, shoot his own son, and then head off in search of the perfect way to kill himself? Honestly, though, even if it ended there, it would've been more acceptable than what really happened. Instead, he discovered that he and the rest of his family and friends could have survived the entire ordeal if they had just waited a few moments longer. Oops! Tough break."  My heart cries, "YESSSSSSSS!" (in best Darth Vader noooo voice)

Also of interest to this discussion is Blake Hennon's LA Times article, "‘The Mist’: Frank Darabont, Thomas Jane on ‘angry, bleak’ ending."  (  Hennon quoted Darabont,
“I was really getting something off my chest here,” Darabont said. “So if you hated the ending, I apologize for the two hours of your life I took. … This is an angry cry from the heart from a humanist who is really pretty pissed off about the fact that all the reasonable people seem to be marginalized, ground under the heel of the extremists.”
The good news is that I didn't lose two hours of my life.  The movie is great -- until characters  who had been making solid decisions began acting irrationally.

A producer once offered Darabont a 30 million dollar budget for The mist IF he would change the ending.  Darabont asked, “What ending would you like me to have?  What is your suggestion?”  The answer: I don’t know!  Darabont explained, "This is the ending I’ve been thinking about for 30 years now.  He didn’t have a suggestion."

To be clear  -- It’s okay for the main characters to die – just not that way.  Let them drive away and get eaten by a big dino-monster.  That’s fine.  But a father cannot do that to his child – not a good one.  It messes up the movie for re-watch.  To me, the ending makes the David Drayton unlikable.  As you watch again, you are thinking, “I can’t like this guy, he’s got a major character flaw.”  He does what Mother Carmody wanted to do but failed.  He does it with different intentions.  Simply put, a good reason not to blow a kids brains out when a situation looks really really really bad – is because there might be a miracle.  Not only does David Drayton carry out a incredibly painful act, but the movie rubs our face in it by showing the mist getting blown away by the army.

Curious what kind of reviews the recut of The Mist is getting?  Here are a few:

Original Runtime : 126 min
New Runtime : 1 hr 45 min
Amount of time Cut/Added : CUT: Approx 10 min ADDED: Approx 5 min

More about the changes, the website explains:
The added sequences were from the DELETED SCENES which can be found on the DVD release of 'The Mist'. These specific portions mirrored sequences from the book (Mr. Norton speaking with Stephanie before he, David & Billy leave for town, conversations in the store and so on)...also, the entire ending seen in theaters has been dropped and replaced with new scenes that reflect the original, haunting and more ambiguous 'Hartford/hope' angle found in the original text. 
Check out the website at: 

Monday, November 24, 2014

BOOM! So Stephen King is a MASTER!

See, I would never ever want to say, "I told you so."  Or suggest I was ahead of the curve.  But. . . now that Revival is out, people are starting to note that King makes a lot of connections to other masters of the craft.  In particular, H.P. Lovecraft.  Why does this matter to me?  Because I put a book out this Summer (before Revival came out) discussing King and the enduring nature of his work as serious literature.  I also discussed connections between King and Lovecraft.

Note this article posted at  Before diving in to King's use of Lovecraft in Revival, the writer says, "He seems to be trying to make sure his own pop fiction lasts by going even darker than he has before, into the realm of earlier horror masters Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and H.P. Lovecraft."

What Douglas Perry (the author of the article) totally misses is that King didn't just wake up and decide to start shadowing some of these people.  He didn't just decide to get more serious with Revival.  King's work has been consistently serious literature; it's just the critics who have been reading him wrong.  It's time they gave the Stephen King library another read.

Perry nicely summarizes some recent reviews of Revival:
The New Statesman calls "Revival," King's 58th novel, a "serious book by a major writer," insisting that it "reads like a populist sequel to Sinclair Lewis's evangelical satire 'Elmer Gantry.'" 
The New York Times calls it "a well-built book that unfolds on a big canvas." The paper adds, teasingly, scarily, that the novel "winds up with the idea that to be human, you must know what it is to be inhuman." 
That sounds like Shelley's influence, but The Guardian says "it is Lovecraft, and the quote 'That is not dead which can eternal lie, / And with strange aeons, even death may die,' that reverberate throughout the book." 
King, 67, happily admits he's been influenced by "everything" Lovecraft has ever written.
In chapter 1 of Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters, I included a portion titled, "The eyes of H.P. Lovecraft."  I noted not only similarities in their writing, but biography as well.  I also looked at how the two are very different.  

  King’s Lovecraftian stories include such titles as Jerusalem’s Lot, I am the Doorway, Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut, N, and Crouch End. In the documentary, Fear of the Unknown, Peter Straub compared The Mist to Lovecraft. “Tentacle things break in from another dimension, that’s just pure Lovecraft.” 
Gardner, Brighton (2014-05-04). Stephen King A Face Among The Masters 
What I find in Revival  isn't a brand new Stephen King.  This King was with us in Full Dark, No Stars.  He was there in the pages of The Dark Half and especially Desperation.  The depressing tone of the book mirrors very much the narrative style of the novella 1922.  

So to put it simply, I'm excited.  I'm so glad that King's novel, Revival, is being taken as serious literature.  Because I think it will force some others to look back at the work of Stephen King.  All along King has been giving us serious literature; we were just having so much fun reading it, we didn't realize how great it was.  I believe someday, future generations will study Stephen King the way we study Lovecraft, Dickens, Poe, Twin and  Shelly.

Friday, November 21, 2014

William Shatner joins the cast of Haven

Greetings Captain Kirk!  tvbythenumbers is reporting that "William Shatner (Star Trek) is set to guest star in a four-episode arc on the Syfy fan-favorite series in 2015. Shatner will play a pivotal character that has the potential to forever impact the fate of the town of Haven and its troubled residents." puts it this way:
William Shatner will seemingly throw the Prime Directive out the window when he sets foot in Haven later this season. The iconic Star Trek captain recently teased on Twitter his gig on the Syfy series. Now, TVLine can exclusively reveal that Shatner will recur in a four-episode Season 5 arc in “a seminal role,” as a pivotal character that has the potential to forever impact the fate of the town of Haven and its Troubled residents.

(thanks Stephenkingonly)

The Stand to be FOUR movies

Good news on THE STAND.  Previous ideas  floated that it would be done as a single film; which is, of course, insane.  Mike Fleming at Deadline posted  an article  titled, "Josh Boone Says Warner Bros Will Turn Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ Into Four Films."  

Fleming writes:
 Boone told Kevin Smith in his Babble-On podcast (I heard it on Aint It Cool News) that after he boiled down the tale to a single script for a three-hour movie, Warner Bros actually suggested to him a more ambitious plan for what he calls “The Godfather of post-apocalyptic thrillers.” Said Boone: “They asked, would you do this as multiple films. I said f*ck yes. I think we’re going to do four movies. Do The Stand at the highest level you can do it at, with a cast that’s going to blow peoples’ minds. Production in the spring.” Boone said he’s writing that first installment, based on the script he has happily scrapped.
I like this line, "Do The Stand at the highest level  you can do it at..." YES!

Fleming rightly says, "It all starts with a studio decision maker, one with a spine, saying, yeah, I want to see this."  This series of films will take someone with spine.  He compares the work to  the multi-part adaptation of Tolkien's work.
There are opportunities for visuals from The Stand that rival what Stanley Kubrick put on the screen in King’s The Shining. The depiction of the apocalypse in The Walking Dead, you just know that and other filmed works were informed by some of what King presented in his seminal novel. Stay tuned.
Check out the full article at:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Flashback to 2003

For throw back thursday, King posted this November 19th, 2003 picture of himself and Tabitha at the 54th National Book Awards.

The text of his speech is at  The speech is like a public love letter to his wife; it's beautiful.

"Tabby always knew what I was supposed to be doing and she believed that I would succeed at it."
"She's what the Bible calls a pearl beyond price."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Will There Really Be A Running Man 2? and are citing Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent comments that he might be returning to the role of Ben Richards in a new Running Man movie.

Cinemablend writes:
The Austrian-born actor is currently in London, and it was while speaking during a Q&A that he revealed talks of a possible Running Man 2 in the works. According to Digital Spy, Schwarzenegger didn't exactly elaborate on what might be happening with the property or if he is actually attached to a project, but he did say that there have been rumblings about a return to the 1987 sci-fi film. This comment was looped in with a lot of other talk about in-development sequels, including The Legend of Conan (the actor saying. "It's an honor to be asked back after all these years, back to the franchise. This is really wild") and the Twins sequel, Triplets (the script for which Schwarzenegger says he's read the first draft). 
Wait. . . Twins 2?  Or, to put it another way -- Hollywood is now officially out of ideas.  Between sequels and remakes, there aren't a lot of original stories.

Of course, we are also enduring talk of a single movie version of The Stand.  King suggested maybe this would not just be one movie.  And there's the IT remake.

If they're looking for something great to film, here's some ideas:
2. The Talisman
3. Duma Key
4. Rose Madder
5. From a Buick 8

Really need to remake something?  How about getting on that IT project?  I watched the miniseries recently and thought, "This could be a lot better than it is."

Of course, no one is really looking to remake or do anything with the Stephen King property, The Running Man.  The movie had very little to do with the novella.  I loved the novel -- and the movie, not so much. The book had an almost 9/11 type ending.  The movie was actually less suspenseful.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Revival Journal #3: Not Vintage King

Journal entries are my thoughts as I read.  This is not a review.

Revival has the feeling of returning the constant reader to some home turf.  With Castle Rock near by and characters who have a special place in their heart for drugs -- the hard kind -- it has traces of novels offered long ago.  But the story is no rehash.  It's new, and written by a much more cynical man than penned The Green Mile.  Are the dark musings in Revival a phase he is passing through, or a final resting place he's stepped onto?  I don't know.  King does what most people do; he wrestles with the issues of life.  Only, King does it in public while most people work issues through in the privacy of their heart.

It is King's ability to work things through while all eyes are on him that make his stories so engaging.  We enjoy the ride because we're taking it with a man who's not quite sure of the road ahead himself.  Thought he novel is tight and moves quickly, King has said more than once that he does not write with an outline in hand.  That is to say, he doesn't always know where he'll end up when he starts the journey.

After the terrible accident that takes pastor Charles Jacob’s wife and son, and the terrible sermon, the novel follows Jamie Morton as he bounces about as a rock musician and sinks deeper into drugs.  I found this portion of the novel difficult to get into, because I was so interested in what would happen with the preacher.  As with Christine, the story is not told from the position of someone who would always be in the “know.”  This makes some scenes a little awkward, as Jamie drops us in on scenes he had no way of being there for.  How does he know?  Well, he listens a lot.  In Christine, when the narrator broke his leg at a football game, King ran into a problem and switched to third person.  No third person in Revival.  Instead, we continue to travel life’s road with Jamie.

Revival is as much about Jamie’s coming of age as it is the evil preacher.  It seems the older King gets, the better he is at reviving the flavor of first love.  His recent novel Joyland had a wonderful story of first love.  But unlike Joyland, Revival is about two young people coming of age together.  There is no one to guide Jamie in the way of love – he and his girl must explore that path together.  And the scenes are rather tender.

It is amazing how King can take us back there.  Back to another time and era.  More than that, back to young love and young thinking.  For instance, Jamie discusses how easy it is to make a promise about life when your fourteen.  That's true -- but most of us forgot that.

The rock band Jamie joins was originally called the Gunslingers.  They dropped that name, and the new name – I’ll let you find it – combined with the old name is almost a direct nod to Guns n Roses.

It seems obvious that in many ways, King lives through his characters.  Of course, he has had a taste of the rock star life; but that was always overshadowed by the fact he's a famous author.  That is, the question of could he have made it onto the stage just on his music powers, had he not first been the author of some super-duper novels -- is really in doubt.  There is a sense that Jamie is a shadow, an alter ego, of what King might have been.  Not what King was, or was ever in danger of actually becoming -- but in some other dark tower  world, King mixes bits of his own personality and experience with his fictional characters.

It is funny when people ask him if these characters are based on himself.  Of course.  That was true of Devon and Stu and even Jamie Mortion.  But, it's also true of Pennywise and Mr. Mercedes.  GASP!  Because they are all coming out of the same guys head.

I’m reading a lot of people who say this is “vintage” King.  I disagree with that entire line of thought.  Even when it comes from King and his publisher.  There is no vintage King.  Vintage King is Salems’ Lot.  And the author who wrote that has moved on with life.  He can’t dull his skills back to that age.  In other words, while Revival and Joyland might contain themes and flavors of the old dark novels, these are written by a man who has traveled much further in life and has a better grasp of his artwork.  While I don’t enjoy every Stephen King book, I enjoy books from every era.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

You Can't Kill Stephen king on DVD and Amazon

I saw this on Amazon instant  the other day.  You Can't Kill Stephen King has confirmed that the film has a platform that can reach an audience.  Posting on Face Book, YCKSK wrote:
Our movie will be released on DVD on December 9th and is available for pre-order from Amazon, BestBuy, and other retailers! We'll be digitally available at a later date. Thank you so much to everyone for all your interest and support! It is finally here!

What They're Saying About REVIVAL for the millions of us who keep ignoring Camus and Proust in favor of “Cujo” and “Carrie,” King scatters a few Easter eggs in “Revival.” Among them: references to the amusement park setting in his short novel “Joyland” and a setting in Maine near Castle Rock, King’s version of Yoknapatawpha County. This book isn’t as much fun as “Mr. Mercedes,” published way back in the summer of 2014, but King fans won’t lose any faith in his powers while breezing through “Revival. He does not ramble on, as he did with “Dreamcatcher” and “Duma Key,” which at 600-plus pages each both seemed endless. “Under the Dome,” his best behemoth of recent years, might have been 1,074 pages, but each one was worth it. “Revival” is much shorter, but it, too, is a well-built book that unfolds on a big canvas.

. . . and: “Revival” winds up with the idea that to be human, you must know what it is to be inhuman — and to know that only this thin partition separates that horror from ordinary life. So it’s not just a book that delivers its share of jolts and then lets the reader walk away unscathed. Older and wiser each time he writes, Mr. King has moved on from the physical fear that haunted him after he was struck by a van while out walking to a more metaphysical, universal terror. He writes about things so inevitable that he speaks to us all. Stephen King has taken a more expansive — and less apologetic — approach to describing the world. In book after book, he has poked, prodded, and thumbed open loopholes in the fabric of reality. He has questioned the mysterious, and then expanded on it in novels of fabulous and intensely wrought prose.

Friday, November 14, 2014

MERCY -- we have a problem

That sinking feeling when what was an interesting movie begins to slide, and then drag, and then sink.  That's the feeling I had watching Mercy, which is based on Stephen King's short story, Gramma.

What is an interesting short read, is a painful long watch.  Simpy, this is a movie that needs -- BEGS -- for an editor.  Because somewhere in all this mess is probably a good movie.  But what comes to screen is not enjoyable.  The music is good.  The acting is pretty good.  But the dialogue is belabored, and the scenes ramble on so long they fail to scare.  No quick shots.  No suspense.  Simply put, the movie commits the deep sin of boring the audience.

There are elements that are just hokey.  Throwing a flower at gramma causes her face to burn.  Yeah, whatever.  This is starting to feel like kids telling a story. "My gramma is a witch.  And if you throw a flower at her, her face will burn.  But it has to be a verbena flower."  Say, very nicely to the child, "Oh really."  The child is excited someone believes them.  "Yeah.  Then a piece of wood came from the wood chipper and stabbed my brother in the stomach."  "wow, that must have been something," you say to the kid.  "Yeah, and we were about to put the weeping book inside the wood chipper. . ." pat the kid on the head an ignore them.

Whatever, let the Langoliers have this movie for dinner.

Speaking of the Langoliers, I think the special effects are just about as good as  that mini-series.

One nice touch: The R.L. Flagg home of the aged.

Revival Journal #2: Darkness Descends

The journal  entries are my thoughts as I read.   There are spoilers, because I'm talking about the book, and issues raised by the book.

Darkness descends quickly in Stephen King's latest novel, Revival.  We meet the preacher; he's awesome; his wife is pretty and everyone loves his little boy.  Then there is a terrible accident (was she drinking?) and the preacher, Charles Jacobs, is out of commission for a few weeks.  When he returns to the pulpit, he is bitter and has lost every bit of faith.

The sermon that follows the tragedy, the bad sermon, is really built up.  I was pretty hyped,  thinking something truly inspired was going to drip from the pulpit.  Unfortunately, the preacher didn't have anything really new to say.  I would have outlined his sermon with these points:

The bad sermon:
1. There is a lot of bad things that happen to good people.
2. There are a lot of bad things done in the name of God.
3. There are a lot of people claiming to follow God, but they send mixed messages.
4. There is no proof that there's an afterlife.

This would be interesting, if I sensed it was true to life.  Since I actually do deal with people often when they slam into life's worst storms, I feel it fair to say that I have  some understanding of the way people of faith respond to storms.

What is more likely if a person who once held a deeply rooted, even a trained faith, were to walk away is that they will do so in gradual stages.  They begin to question, struggle through terrible, dark nights, and the bitterness begins to grow.  It doesn't strike like lightening.  Tragedy does.  Tragedy hits and we are swept away in grief.  But for a genuine believer to drop into unbelief usually takes some time.

Here's the thing: There are people who hold one or all those views.  (The views presented in the bad sermon.)  But they don't stumble into them over a three week process.  World views don't usually change to the negative that quickly.  More likely, if a person with a relatively robust faith experiences a sudden tragedy, their initial response is not to say, "There's no proof of an afterlife."  At that moment, people reach for their core convictions.  This isn't the point where most walk away.

Reverend Jacobs never preached an Easter sermon?  Or he preached it with no application point?  These are pretty straightforward messages.  1. Jesus physically died.  He was put to death by trained executioners.  Dead people usually stay dead.  That's how the world works.  2. On the Sunday after his death, his tomb was found empty.  3. Over a forty day period his disciples encountered him in a variety of situations in which he proved to them he was still alive.  4. All of those he appeared to (of the Apostles) would go to their deaths, one by one, saying they had encountered the risen Jesus.  APPLICATION: If God could  raise Jesus from the dead, then the other things discussed in the Bible are not so far fetched.  As Gary Habermass says, "The resurrection is a rock that can bear the weight of Christianity."

Why does  this matter?  Well, if Jacobs is a farmer who just lost his wife, the four point "bad sermon" is pretty normal.  But if Jacobs is a preacher, he should have already dealt with some of these issues.

So here's what strange about the novel: All of the points of the "bad sermon" are things any person with a strong faith has thought seriously about.  What's more, they are things anyone who has been theologically trained at a seminary has been forced to wrestle with.

Pre-Doubt and the building blocks of faith:

A guy who's been to seminary doesn't say, "There's no proof."  A writer in Maine might.  But someone who has given their life to pastoral ministry doesn't do so without some pre-doubt.  That is: Before the storms in life smack us, we've already  had some restless  nights where we've asked these very questions.  How do I know this is true?  Why is there suffering?  And for those who continued on, there were answers they were able to accept at the core of their being.

This isn't void lofty talk for me this week.  I'll be doing the funeral of a three month old.  What do you think a mothers asks the preacher in that situation?  "Why did this happen to me?"  My core isn't rocked by this, because I've already had some storms before  this one where I asked those same questions.  The questions, the doubt, was healthy for my faith because it forced me to seek answers.   Am I an idiot to believe?  Is faith foolishness?

So, here's a simple problem: Has our dear minister never previously wrestled with these issues?  He never took Apologetics in seminary?  While preachers might be emotional, and some do walk away and leave the faith -- they don't do it three weeks after a crisis.  It takes more time to break down the emotional/spiritual fortress that's been built up.  One tsunami doesn't usually wipe it out.

Doubts force us to move either form a childish faith to a mature faith, or to walk away.  But Jacobs responds to tragedy like someone who has never ever experienced doubt at all.

It's hard to believe Jacobs loses his wife and son, and then suddenly goes, "Well if that's the way life works, I'm out!"  Give him a year, and he might end up there.  But he isn't going to start there.

Why would faith disappear in such a short period like that?  
1. Faith was shallow an immature.  That happens all the times!  Someone starts out great, but their faith is lost during a great crisis.  The truth is, their own faith never matured, so when the crisis comes they fall away.
2. Their faith relied on another person.  The removal of that other person causes personal faith to collapse.
3. They never really had personal faith.  The faith is full of fakes.   Crisis exposes fakery.

But I don't get the feeling King was building toward either of those caricatures with reverend Jacobs. Yet, when tragedy strikes, he drops  out pretty quickly.  His "bad sermon" isn't really that bad for anyone who's heard people in pain talk for very long.  He doesn't bring anything new to the table.  Nothing that makes others go, "oh my goodness!  There's suffering in this world!  And many denominations with different views?  I'm done with God."

What Jacobs does have is something of his own idol; electricity.  Perhaps it was electricity he really worshiped all along.  Tragedy struck, and he turned his back  on God and leaned into the lightening.