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?


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

1992: THE DARK HALF: 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
Finnis' article covers all of the above games,and also a wallpaper program called F13: "The only thing that I was able to find on my own was a program called F13. It wasn't so much a game as a program that gave you wallpapers for your desktop. There were some mini-games as well as an electronic copy of Everything's Eventual. It received a mixed review at best."

10 King Novels That Should Be Video Games:

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

Stephen King is mean

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen King Chides Governor LePage

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

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

Stephen King and the End of the World

By Brandon Engel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creepshow Cup

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

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

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

by Chris Calderon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valentine’s Day and Misery

by Brandon Engel

Valentine’s Day and Misery

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Franco to Star in 11/22/63 reports that James Franco will star in the Hulu mini-series 11.22.63.  Elizabeth Wagmeister notes that not only will Franco star in the series, but he is also set serve as a producer on the miniseries.  The program is set to be nine hours.  Franco will play the lead role of Jake Epping.

Kindle Edition Of A FACE AMONG THE MASTERS Free This Weekend

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

February 6, 2015 -- February 8, 2015 

Here's a link to the book:

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

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

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

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

--Bryant Burnette

Salem's Lot Special Edition

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

From Cemetery Dance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

picture credit:

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

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

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

Top 5 Horror Anthology Films of All Time

Top 5 Horror Anthology Films of All Time
by  Brandon Engel 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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. 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.
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

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." (

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

Play THE MIST Video Game

Well, come on in . . . TO THE MIST!  Check out, 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