Stephen King's Bad Guys Are Terribly Real



Have  you noticed how unnerving some of King's killers are?  It's because they seem all too real.  That's because, I think, King often bases them on real people.  There was a real Annie Wilkes and a real Mr. Mercedes.

salon.com posted an interesting article  titled, "“Mr. Mercedes”: How Stephen King’s killers mirror real-life murderers."

Mike Berry notes that the timing for Mr. Mercedes could not be less propitious, and reminds us in a side note that Black House arrived in stores September 11, 2001.  I didn't know that.
The novel’s publication date comes a little more than a week after Elliot Rodger stabbed three people to death in his apartment near UC Santa Barbara, killed three others in drive-by shootings, ran down pedestrians in his BMW and then fatally shot himself with his own gun. In the wake of the Isla Vista tragedy, this straight-ahead thriller now makes for uncomfortable reading, in a way Mr. King undoubtedly did not intend.
Of course, King gives  us two types of  bad guys.   There's  the Randall Flagg naughty boy;  he's the devil  and he'll do as he likes.  And then there is the more creepy real life murders

The scary thing about Mr. Mercedes is that he could be -- anyone.  Thus Mike Berry notes Hartfield starts off as one of King's "least interesting villains."  He reminds me of Norman Bates; only, Psycho was scarier.  Norman was scarier.  It might be the difference in media (print verses movie, Hitch verses  King.)  But what both characters emphasize is that we never really know what's going on inside someone elses head.  And that's scary.

What Berry keenly  notes is that Hartfield didn't "snap." And most killers really don't.  They plan, plot  and  think over their crimes.  They relish messing with the police and reliving their crimes.

Here are some easily overlooked villains in the Stephen King canon: 

1. Jo St. George.  A child molester, wife beater and thief, it seems ole Joe doesn't get his due in the Stephen King universe.  His wife, Dolores finished  him off in what can only be described as a brilliant execution.  I loved it!  In fact, I think Dolores Claiborne might be one of those overlooked gems that Stephen King has churned out.  And though the focus of the novel is on Dolores, Jo is one mean  dude and the reader sympathizes with Dolores' vigilante style  of justice.

Let me tell you, as creepy as Mr. Mercede's is -- and as sick as his relationship with his mommy is -- he doesn't molest little kids.  Driving cars into crowds is very, very bad.  But there is something that so deeply crosses the line with child  molestation that it stands on its own in terms of wickedness.  Allow me to go a bit preacher on this one.  Jesus said it would be better to have a millstone hung around your neck and thrown into the ocean  than to have to stand before him on Judgment day and have to answer to harming a child.  In other words, God has a special  place in hell -- literally -- for that kind of wickedness.

2. In 11.22.63, King gave us a real life killer, Lee Harvey Oswald.  By mixing fictional characters with historical, King offered a strange blend of realism. Oswald wasn't a passing character in the book, but someone we followed at some length, getting to know and to some degree understand. Yeah, he was creepy.

3. Charlie Decker, a high school student in the Bachman novel, Rage, holds his classroom hostage  and has a long talk-session with them.  The novel is tense as the reader is left wondering if these students are going to make it out alive.  And, the book  is scarier now than when it was written, since it's actually been connected directly to several  schools shootings.

That ever helpful source, Wikipedia,  gives these examples of real life school  shootings that were in some way connected to or supposedly inspired by rage:
  • Jeffrey Lyne Cox, a senior at San Gabriel High School in San Gabriel, California, took a semi-automatic rifle to school on April 26, 1988 and held a humanities class of about 60 students hostage for over 30 minutes. Cox held the gun to one student when the teacher doubted he would cause harm and stated that he would prove it to her. At that time three students escaped out a rear door and were fired upon. Cox was later tackled and disarmed by another student. A friend of Cox told the press that Cox had been inspired by the Kuwait Airways Flight 422 hijacking and by the novel Rage, which Cox had read over and over again and with which he strongly identified.
  • Dustin L. Pierce, a senior at Jackson County High School in McKee, Kentucky, armed himself with a shotgun and two handguns and took a history classroom hostage in a nine-hour standoff with police on September 18, 1989 that ended without injury. Police found a copy of Rage among the possessions in Pierce's bedroom, leading to speculation that he had been inspired to carry out the plot of the novel.
  • Barry Loukaitis, a student at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake, Washington, walked from his house to the school on February 2, 1996, and entered his algebra classroom during fifth period. He opened fire at students, killing two and wounding another. He then fatally shot his algebra teacher, Leona Caires, in the chest. As his classmates began to panic, Loukaitis reportedly said, "This sure beats algebra, doesn't it?" — a line erroneously believed to be taken from Rage. (No such line appears in King’s story. The closest is when Charlie Decker quips, "This sure beats panty raids.") Hearing the gunshots, gym coach Jon Lane entered the classroom. Loukaitis was holding his classmates hostage and planned to use one hostage so he could safely exit the school. Lane volunteered as the hostage, and Loukaitis was keeping Lane at gunpoint with his rifle. Lane then grabbed the weapon from Loukaitis and wrestled him to the ground, then assisted the evacuation of students.
  • In December 1997 Michael Carneal shot eight fellow students at a prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. He had a copy of the book within the Richard Bachman omnibus in his locker. This was the incident that moved King to allow the book to go out of print.
SOURCE: wikipedia.org/wiki/Rage
Berry raises the concern  that Rage  can be misunderstood as celebrating the violence it actually condemns.  Comparing Rage to Mercedes, Berry writes,
[Rage] was written by a young author not fully in control of the tools of his craft. “Mr. Mercedes” is the product of an old hand, an accomplished writer of popular fiction who generally knows what he’s doing. There’s really no need to fret that the book might inspire further mayhem.
4. The Needful Thing's cast.  Leeland Gaunt is supposed to be the devil himself.  He's one bad  dude.  But he's not the scary part of Needful Things.  The town-folk are!  Willing to cut each other up in the street, slay dogs and burn their town right  to the ground, the last novel of Castle Rock was a dozy!  It is long, but it's also under-appreciated.  King really shows how the devil  works, getting us to take one small step into sin and finding that soon we are willing to do things we never thought was in our own character.

Berry misses his opportunity to really dig deeper into Hartfield's psychology.  It does seem to be what the article promised.  Instead, Berry gives us as much a review of the book itself as a deeper look at Brady Hartfield.  He declares that the novel ranks in the "middle" of King's work in terms of quality.  And where  would that be?
nowhere near the pinnacle of “The Shining” but well away from the abyss of, say, “Dreamcatcher.” 
Humm.  I liked The Shining a lot.  But I'm not sure it was the "pinnacle."  It's brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and yes -- Mr. Mercede's isn't The Shining.  But it's not King's absolute  best.  Disagree with me?  It might be a while since you've actually read the book.  The  novel is very closed  in, which is both creepy and at point tedious.  I like sprawling novels like The Stand, and, believe it or not, Doctor Sleep.

And as for  Dreamcatcher, which Berry put at the bottom of the pile; I enjoyed it!  Well, for a while.  It's both crazy and engaging.  Stick with the book, not the movie on this one.  Is it a masterpiece?  No.  But it's fun.

How To Survive A Stephen King Book

picture credit deviantart.net

Let’s get this out of the way up front: No one is safe.  In a Stephen King book, kids can die – at their own hand.  Old people can be wiped out.  Even narrators, in the case of Christine, are not immune to injuries that takes them out of action.  But, should you suddenly discover your life might be narrated by Stephen King – here’s a helpful survival guide:

1. Avoid classic cars sold by shifty old men.

2. Don’t talk to clowns in sewers; ever.  Unless the clown has a balloon and. . . wait, NEVER!  Never talk to clowns anywhere.  In fact, kill all clowns.

3. Turn down missions that involve going to the dark man’s city during periods of post-apocalyptic plagues.  Just say, “no.”  NO.

4. Don’t stop for Sheriff’s in the desert after spotting a crucified cat.

5. Resist the urge to dig up your dead loved ones and bury them in a magical Pet Sematary.

6. If you stumble upon a buried spaceship – just cover it back up.  You don’t want to know what’s down there that bad.  Really.

7. In the case the you find a time portal in a closet – eat the meat, but pass on opportunities to save dead presidents..

8. Don’t answer your cellphone.  Don’t play in the mist.  Don’t run over Gypsy family members.  Don't stay alone through the winter season at old haunted hotels.  Don't keep poison meat in your garage fridge.  Just. . . DON’T!

9. If the crazy girl with telekinetic powers goes to your school – skip prom.

10. Do NOT. . . I repeat, NOT – chew on toothpicks while holding a monster down in the toilet.

11. If a girl who has the power to set things on fire crosses your path, leave her alone.  That seems obvious, right?  Yeah.  You would leave her alone, right?

12. Don’t buy a home in Castle Rock, Derry or the outlying cities.  In fact, avoid Maine.  All of it.  And Florida.  And Colorado.  Oh, and if your town ends with the name “Lot,” you need to move.  Basically, move to California or Hawaii, bad things don’t happen there.

13. Take your Saint Bernard to the pound.  Now.

14. If you discover a Nazi war criminal, it’s probably best to call the police.

15. If you spouse is abusing your kids – yeah, it’s okay to throw them down a well.  Go with the narrator on that one.

16. Did I mention, don’t chew toothpicks?  I did?  But shadow puppets are okay.

17. Ebay your polaroid camera.

18. Slash the tires of all motor homes.

19. Be a writer.  The writers always seem to make it out alive.



20. Burn the croquet mallet.

21. Don't have sex with the antichrist.  That's important.  In fact, just to be safe, don't even snuggle.

22. No matter how much they pay, turn down job offers that involve descending into a subbasement to root out the rats.  In fact, kill all rats, and spiders.  And avoid subbasements.

23. Turn your library books in on time.  Really, I'm helping you.

24. If horns begin growing. . . wait, wrong writer.  Sorry.  Scratch that one.

24. Keep silver nearby in case you have to destroy a monster.

25. Shoot crows.

. . . If you realize you are NOT in a Stephen King book, but you are actually in a Stephen King movie -- all hope is lost.

It suddenly occurs to me – since this is the world wide web, that I should remind you that you should not really slash motor homes tires.  But you really should not chew toothpicks while a monster is in your toilet.  Really.

The Langoliers Miniseries




Watching the Langoliers on SyFy tonight. I read the novella at a breakneck speed in high school, and loved every bit of it. I mean, absolutely loved it!

For me, this mini-series falls flat -- very flat. It's not that it's bead, exactly, but it's empty -- hollow. a few reasons strike me as I watch this:

1. Length. The story worked as a novella. Might have worked as a 2 hour movie. But at four hours on Syfy, it's like a soap opera. Lots of talking, but a little thin on action. even the flashbacks become cumbersome. Unlike IT and The Stand and even Desperation, which lent themselves well tot he mini-series format, there's just not enough base material in the book. There are no supporting characters, since everyone on earth is gone. So it's just up to these few actors to carry the whole thing.

Each element of the story is introduced with the same energy as my daughter doing her math homework.

2. Special effects. I'm not going to say much about this because it's obvious, the special effects on this movie just aren't there. Or, more plainly, they suck.

Creepshows says: "With much of the budget being spent in other area's, Rubinstein decided against a star cast." I'm not seeing that budget anywhere!

Now, the power lines being crushed is pretty good. Once we get the pac-man's in the sky, the story loses all believability, as it now looks like a bad video game. My wife is cracking up as Craig is chased by the evil pac-man's!

The evil pac-man's remind me of the plant from Little Shop of Horrors, with its head detached.


3. Awkward! There are several scenes that are just absolutely awkward. Passengers introducing each other on the plane -- grown woman telling a kid about how she's going to visit a man she's never met -- and more. Even the kiss shared between Bethany and Albert

4. Dialogue. here's a great line, "The later it gets the later it gets." What?

Leaves me wondering: What happened here. Did anyone review this script? Did King sign off on this?

The story itself reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode. (Odyssey of flight 33)


Creepshows quotes King thusly from Fangoria, "I wasn't crazy about it. that was more of a TV thing. But given when it was, it was fine. The best thing about it was that it gave Tom Holland and Richard Rubinstein the bona fides they needed to get Spelling Productions to go ahead with Thinner." Right, because Thinner was such a . . . I'll stop now.

IMBD notes, "In the scene were Craig Toomey hallucinates that he is in a board meeting on the runway, the man at the head of the table asking him how much money he has made for the company is Stephen King." (www.imdb.com)

Jan 15, 2015: Check this out -- THANKS CHRIS!


Play THE MIST Video Game




Well, come on in . . . TO THE MIST!  Check out archive.org/Stephen_Kings_The_Mist_1985, which is a text based game (remember Zork?)

This is also a time warp back to the sweet year of 1985.  That doesn't seem so long ago -- does it?  I am a huge fan of internet archive, which not only has some old games, television shows and movies, but lots of vintage radio shows.

Anyway -- jump on in to the Mist. . .



The game notes are from my friend Chris Calderon.

Some differences between the game and novella:

As in both book and film, the player is given the part of David Drayton, however, Norton is nowhere to be seen, and Billy has apparently been left "in the care of Mr. Eagleton", "somewhere safe".  The Eagleton character doesn't appear in either book or film.

Mrs. Carmody and Mrs. Reppler are present, however unlike the book or film, the other shopper immediately form a cult around her the instant the mist strikes, we're talking like no more than a second after.  You apparently can't either restrain or take out Mrs. Carmody like in the book.  All the happens is time is wasted and after a certain number of turns, the crowd feeds you to the mist.  Would you like to try again?

Mr. McVey the butcher is nowhere to be found.

The encounter with Norm the Bag Boy goes very differently.

Ollie is there, however he pretty unhelpful, and far from the picture of calm confidence in both of the other incarnations.  This version just sits and panics.

Surprisingly, the game does bear a similarity to the movie in that both offer an explanation for the Mist.  In the film, this info is alluded to by a doomed Army MP.  In the game, a notebook belonging to an Arrowhead Project employee is discovered lying in a dumpster, however never encounters this character in person.

Now for the real scary part, THE GAME FORCES YOU TO GO OUT INTO THE MIST!

Players are going to need to read Gaming after 40's article about the text adventure.  It presents a lot of essential info for playing the game, and is the closest to a manual players are likely to get.  A link for Gaming after 40 can be found here:

Ending The Mist Goes On



In an article titled, "The Mist, Love It Or Hate It," Lilja's Library posted a link to aintitcool news.  The article at aintitcool was a passionate defense of the ending of Frank Darabont's The Mist.  I loved it!  Totally disagree -- but enjoyed every bit of Quint's impassioned defense of dark endings.

The aintitcool article argues that not only are dark endings cool, but they are important for all movies because they add a layer of uncertainty to every movie watching experience.

Quint boils the issue of the Mist and the ending to this:
"So why does The Mist get singled out for its ending? I think people are a hundred times more comfortable with the idea of a big bad monster killing a person than the good guy having to pull the trigger."
I think he's right.  Really right.  And then he swings a home run,
"It would have been awful if a tentacle had come out of the gray clouds surrounding that car and yanked little Nathan Gamble out the window, sucking him into the mist for good, but people would have forgiven that. What many folks can't forgive is that Tom Jane's David Drayton is the one to kill his son."
Is this a nerd debate?  I suspected if you asked most people, they'd say, NO!  This is serious stuff.  But in truth -- it's a minor argument over a few seconds of film.  In big the scheme of things, doe sit really matter?  YES!  . . . oh, wait, my wife tells me she's never worried once about the end of The Mist.  Event though she saw it.  Not once since did she give a lot of thought to it.  Sigh.  Maybe it is a nerd debate; but it's an interesting one.

It's About Character

But let me be clear why it doesn't work for me.  It's that we are asked at the end of the movie to believe something about Drayton's character never presented to us in the rest of the film.  Let's just say, the guy at the end of the film isn't a guy I'd feel comfortable falling asleep in his car.  Throughout the film, Drayton is shown as stoic, strong, logical and ready to fight.  But when actually confronted by the monsters -- he doesn't fight, he kills his kid.  Grown men -- good guys -- don't kill little kids.  That's a pretty straight forward statement -- and it's true.  I'm not comfortable with a movie ending that tries to make the murder of a child A-OK; even cool.  I wonder if people who think this is a great ending have kids.  Of course, father's do kill their children.  And we as a society have agreed we're not cool with that.

Can you think of another scenario where it's okay for a father to kill his child?  Maybe a rapist breaks into the house, is about to rape his daughter -- so he shoots his daughter to save her from the rapist.  Doesn't work, does it?  Why?  Because you think, "why doesn't he just shoot the bad guy?"  Which make us wonder, why doesn't Drayton have any fight in him?  Why did he leave with no real plan to take on the enemy?  Wait -- But what if there's a lot of rapist after the father's girl, and he only has one bullet?  Would it be okay then to say, "You don't get my daughter!" and shoot her?  No.

Of course, The Mist offers a level of despair somewhere beyond the situations I suggested.  Because things look utterly hopeless to Drayton.  Drayton's decision at the end of the movie is a response to his own fear and hopelessness.  But he went out into the mist ready to fight and survive.  So all of his survival instincts wash away in an instant?

I'll just say that for me, the ending doesn't work because it's not the character we were presented with throughout the movie.

What I Like

My disagreement with Quint doesn't mean I didn't take his point.  In fact, I do have a new respect for the ending of The Mist; I see it through new eyes.  I don't agree, but I appreciate the perspective.  And I agree, dark endings are important.  I just want them to be -- logical.

In fact, I'm embarrassed (but not overly read faced!) to admit that Quint spots something I totally missed.  Remember Melissa McBride, who ran into the Mist to get home to her kids?  Quint writes:

Then there's the reveal that they were moments away from being saved. I'd say most who don't like the ending think it's because of this timing, but I'm not so sure. Their salvation was only moments away, but the real knife twist is when we see Melissa McBride and her family being transported past a completely broken Drayton.
What?  Of course everyone else saw it and got it -- but my entire focus was on what just happened, not on what was happening on screen.  No matter how many times I've seen that ending, I missed it!  Quint explains why that particular detail is so unnerving:

You see, he played it safe from the beginning. He did everything logically, thought through his options, and still this awful -- happened to him, yet she was reckless and ran into the mist to get home to her kids, danger be damned. She made it, her family made it, but calm, cool and collected David Drayton did not.
That's a great insight.  Of course, I didn't have that reaction, because I didn't  pick up on the fact that the lady at the end is the same lady who ran into the mist.  I was still thinking about Drayton's handy work with his gun.

Check out the article at aintitcool -- I liked it a lot.aintitcool.com

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.

Rose Madder Journal #2: This Is Where The Problems Begin



I was engrossed.  I mean, totally sold on this book and these characters.  When Rose Daniels left home and headed into the big unknown, I was ready to travel the path ahead with her.  Who knew hat adventures lay ahead.

The very point where I thought the book would really take off and get exciting, the problems began.  Rose finds herself in a train station, low on money and seeking shelter.  As she moves among the homeless hoping to find safety somewhere, I began to realize -- this is an "agenda" novel.  King isn't writing a story so much as he's trying to get me to sympathize with a character so he can then make a point.

Characters that were fresh, tight and intricate quickly began to get one-dimensional.  Everyone is against Rose.  The pregnant lady she asks for directions from curses her out.  Why?  Wait -- that's a big WHY?  Why Just to show that society will kick someone when their down, even a pregnant lady can't be nice to poor Rose.

The villain I thought would be a great "bad guy" -- maybe one of King's best -- evaporated quickly.  He's a cop, and a bad boy at that.  But he's ALL bad.  He's so nasty, he's unbelievable.  How does this guy make it though life?  People aren't just one thing; they are multifaceted.  This is something King often excels in bringing to the page; but not in Rose Madder.  Characters are good and bad.  That's it.  There is no complicated Roland or Eddie.  What made the Dark Tower work was that the characters were both flawed and noble.  We identified with them.  In Rose Madder, everyone is painted in single strokes with little detail.

Yes, I feel for Rose when her back hurts.  But scenes play out with such simplicity, the reader knows what's coming before it happens.  There's not need for King to write out the scene where she goes to exchange her very expensive wedding ring, because the reader knows the moment she walks in the pawn show that  the ring isn't worth anything.  King is known for pulling surprises and plot twists; but so far, Rose Madder isn't doing much twisting.

THEN -- Rose encounters a painting that catches he attention.  Could this be the plot twist?  It's hard to hang in there, because even though I suspect there is something special about this painting (can she move inside paintings?), I'm not sure I want to travel the many pages it will require King to get to the point.  Not because I don't love King's writing; usually I'm patient as he builds a story.  But this one is becoming painfully predictable. King makes the mistake of boaring the reader.

In The Stand, there were plot twists I never saw coming.  When King killed off the first batch of good guys, I realized: Anything can happen!

With Rose Madder, I'm beginning to feel like this is one of those John Grisham novels, written with more agenda than story. (Read the Street Lawyer, you'll see what I mean.  And I loved that book, but it was definitely an "agenda" novel.)

But I'm still here.  Still reading.  Still working through this book.  Because sometimes it takes a while for King to make the magic happen.

Jim Carrey Flees Room 217

photo: Olivia Lewis | UCD Advocate

This was the most read article at talkstephenking.com this year, with almost 70,000 views.  Thanks Dumb and Dumber To.

$15 will buy you a tour of the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration behind Stephen King's novel The Shining.  Kubrick didn't use the hotel as his filming location, but mini-series director Mick Garris did.  The creepy spooks aren't just the stuff of novels and movies, seems some people actually believe the old place is haunted.

Advocate "In Focus" editor, Lindsay Maynard, took the tour and wrote a very nice article.  It seems this time of year there are always a pile of stories about the Stanley Hotel.  Maynard's is a lot more fun than most!  She wholeheartedly embraces the spooky elements.  In fact, she says the hotel is deemed one of the "most haunted."  Not most haunted in America. . . just "most haunted."  I assume she means in the world!  Yikes.

HERE is the article, titled "Tour Estes Park's most haunted hotel."

Maynard has an interesting story about Jim Carrey, who stayed in room 217 -- but not for an entire night!  Seems a few hours after checking in, he left the room and "never returned."  Why?  Seems 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.  I dunno. 

About King's visit, Maynard writes, "While stuck in the mountains, King and his wife begged the innkeeper to let them stay for the night. They were the only guests to occupy the hotel and they stayed in Room 217, where they experienced uneasy tension throughout their visit. Seven days later, the outline for The Shining was created."

I'd never heard that they "begged the innkeeper to let them stay for the night."  Sounds familiar, though.

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.

Rose Madder Journal #1: Brewing Hate



In the 90's King wrote three novels that were distinctly different than his previous work.  All three focused on strong female leads and in two of the stories the theme of revenge.  Gerald's Game was the story of survival, Dolores Claiborne was about a woman who murdered her husband because he was sexually abusing their daughter and Rose Madder (1995) is about a wife who is physically abused by her police officer husband.

At the time both King readers and reviewers wondered where this new direction would take King. The new direction was a good one.  Stronger characters inhabited all three novels.  Dolores Claiborne and Gerald's Game took place in the same time frame, during a solar eclipse, and actually had some connections between the two.

I don't know about Rose Madder because -- this is my first reading.  And I'm loving it!  I may have been slow to come to the novel because I found Gerald's Game to be a frustrating novel.  The writing is strong, but it can be slow going as it is mostly about a woman tied to a bed.  There are frantic moments, but the novel is primarily built around flashbacks.  I found it difficult.

But here I am now --  At Rose Madder; alas!

I Hate Norman:

What's stands out in the opening chapter (the chapters are long) is that King is really good at creating victims and abusers.  In fact, I think Rose's husband, Norman, is one of King's most vile monsters.  I hate him.  He beats Rose daily, causing lots of bodily injury, and the miscarriage of her child.  He's more despicable than Dolores' sweetly pie I think; but that may just be a momentary feeling, since I've just had to spend time with Norman, so my feelings are pretty fresh.

Abusers are overlooked monsters in the Stephen King universe.  The nice thing is, they often get some hardcore payback.  What's scarier than Pennywise or Flagg?  Norman.  Just plain ole Norman.  A dude with a badge who knows how to hit his woman so no one knows what a monster he is.

Norman reminds us of a painful reality; when something bad happens in an abusers life -- maybe at work or driving or even at the store -- he finds a way to blame his pain on his wife and then take out his rage on her.  So a wife in an abusive relationship feels she can't do anything right.  What's more, every problem in life is blamed on her.  It's her fault he's a mess at work; it's her fault the IRS is after him; it's her fault he struggles with depression or suffers with ED or . . . whatever.  What's truly scary is how close to life King gets this character.

Cowards

Guys like this are often cowards with other men.  One night as I drove my family home, I saw a man and woman on arguing.  Only, they were arguing, she was crying and he was screaming.  I parked my car and started down the street.  "Don't get into that," my wife warned.  But I couldn't leave a woman on the street while her husband went after her.

"Hey there!" I said, in a cheerful - how ya doin' -- voice.  "Whatcha doin'?"
The guy immediately turned red and looked at his wife, "Now see what you've done!"
He quickly began to explain everything was okay.  I thought what a coward this guy was.  He could go after his wife, but was a wimp when another man called him on what he was doing.  I can't tel the rest of the story here -- but it was interesting.

Faith Abusers:

I'll take you a bit deeper into an abusers mind, if you want.  In the world of faith, abusers manage to keep women in terrible relationships by convincing them that if they leave, they are dishonoring God.  So these men convince their battered wives that God hates divorce, which means these women have to stay and continue to suffer at the hands of their abuser.

Once, as part of a marriage series, I discussed Malachi's statement that God hates divorce.  I pointed out that in the same passage, the same verse, God says he hates a man "covering himself with violence."  Somehow that part is always skipped!

Here's the full verse:
"I hate divorce ," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith." Malachi 2:16
So the very verse that is so often used to forbid divorce is actually a verse that also discusses abuse.  And God says more about abuse than divorce in the passage.  Notice the abuser in the passage is male.  That is because the prophet Malachi was addressing men who had broken faith with their wives, abused them and left them destitute.  Thus God hated divorce because of what it did, in particular, to women and children.  It says that some men cover themselves with abuse like a garment.  That is, as easy as it is to slip on a jacket, some men slip into rage.  And as a garment covers your body, some people are covered in anger.

It seems unusually wicked for men to use a woman's faith as a mean's of keeping her trapped in a physically abusive relationship.  And some women really are trapped.  Just as Jess was tied to that bed in Gerald's Game, some women are tied to destructive relationships.

Run!

The excitement in Rose Madder begins when Rose has finally had enough and decides to head out.  And she does just that; she just up and leaves.  With the cloths on her back, she turns from the world she knows and just begins walking.  This is AWESOME!  Because I have no idea where this novel will go.  It can take any turn, because the whole world is open to Rose.

Naturally, Norman will follow -- but King gives Rose a head start.

By the way, there's a nice reference to a Paul Sheldon novel.

Eyeing Changes in 2015

Is it polite to talk about blogging?  I’m not sure it is.  Really, a blog should be about the articles.  I weary of blogs that say, “Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, my life is really busy.”  Yeah, so is mine.  I don’t care.

That’s my intro to saying that my plan is to make some changes with talkstephenking in 2015.  I still intend to discuss things in the King universe that interest me; but I do not plan to post daily anymore.  It seems major news announcements are already well covered by big websites, so there’s no need for me to try to keep up.  What do I plan to do? Write as I read.  I still read Stephen King, and I still want to write about what I’m reading.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

What blogging about Stephen King has given me is a whole lot of really great friends with a similar passion.  I love the emails, comments and discussion about King related subjects.

I started Rose Madder last night, and I can’t wait to post the Rose Madder journal.

Smile!



What if your favorite villain smiled a little more?  That's the idea the folks at saveplans.com ran with.

Cassandra Gold writes, "Have you ever wondered what Gollum would look like with Clooney's smile? Would Pennywise the Clown be as tormenting had he brushed his teeth a little more? My company decided to figure out how the scariest movie villains would look if we gave them a beautiful set of pearly whites! Refer to the link below to view your favorite evil doers with a brand new mouth full of teeth!"

"The best part of horror films isn't the teenagers who run in opposite directions in terror or even the creative ways the main characters slowly fall victim to fate; quite simply, its the villains themselves! We took some of the most notable and scary villains from the horror and action film worlds and placed a nice little smile on their faces."

You Can't Kill Stephen King Interviews and Trailer


The Blood-shed Weighs In On: YCKSK



Check out theblood-shed.com 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. 

Marvel And Stephen King Announce Dark Tower: The Drawing Of The Three – House Of Cards #1



comicbook.com 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.

Comicbook.com 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.”

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 talkstephenking.blogspot.com)



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)

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

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.

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.

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.

Setting:
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.

Faith:

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")

After-Effects

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


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)

IT movie to start filming in March 2015



vulture.com 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.

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.
(badassdigest.com)
 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.  

The Stephen King Cinematic Universe!

This is fun: consequenceofsound.net 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: consequenceofsound.net

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.

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"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"