CD Offers A Revised Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book




Cemetery Dance has announced today that they will be publishing a revised version of The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book by Brian James Freeman and Bev Vincent. It includes material up to The Wind Through the Keyhole.  The afterword is by Kevin Quigley, who is the founder of Charnel House, which Cemetery Dance notes is, “one of the oldest Stephen King fan sites on the web.”

From Cemetery Dance:
This revised and updated second edition of The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book features all of the original questions from the first edition, along with more than one hundred new questions about Stephen King's most recent releases!
Also included are ten brand new illustration-based questions from Cemetery Dance favorite artist Glenn Chadbourne, along with the 60 illustration-based questions from the original edition. (See samples on the website.
Trade editions are $20.  Signed editions are $40.

Purchase The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book at www.cemeterydance.com

Thoughts On A Shining Prequel



With talk of a prequel to The Shining, I was interested in Christopher Campbell's piece at movies.com that discussed what direction a sequel to The Shining should go.

The article is full of wonderful quotes and insights.  My favorite is Campbell's own thoughts:

It's a bit confusing, or will be, that there will be two very different continuities going on with the tale of the Torrance family and the Overlook, although in a way these are somewhat separate stories, kind of like how Prometheus is a prequel to Alien but can itself spawn a whole other parallel-moving series. Maybe Warner Bros. will similarly want to go with further movies specific to the hotel. Personally, I can't wait for the one where the Overlook is launched into space and turned into a prison.
See, that's wonderful! And it is a problem, isn't it?  I mean, we have the Shining, then the movie,  then the mini-series, and the prequel and the sequel -- none of  them following quite the same streams of narration.


That said, I also appreciated this quote from Ethan Anderton:
Though I'd be interested in seeing what takes place at the Overlook Hotel, I'm a little skeptical without any source material from Stephen King. However, if Rise of the Planet of the Apes can craft a solid prequel to a classic film, then I suppose anything is possible. But Kubrick's shoes aren't going to be easy to fill. 
That's the spirit, mate! Of course,  I can think of a few prequel's that did not turn out as nicely as Rise of the Planet of the Apes; namely . . .  oh, I won't name names!  STAR WARS!  oops, it slipped out.

May I also point out that no matter how good a prequel is, it can't live up the Kubrick version of The Shining because there is not likely to be conspiracy groups who believe it was actually evidence of a fake moon landing.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you are so blessed!)

Campbell's article  is here:

Warner Brothers Considering a Prequel to The Shining

photo credit: LA TIMES
Jack Nicholson waits as director Stanley Kubrick 
sets up a shot for the 1980 classic film "The Shining." 
(The Stanley Kubrick Estate / July 28, 2012)

HERE'S JOHNNY AGAIN!, the The Los Angeles Times announces.  The times is reporting that Warner Brothers is "exploring the possibility of a prequel to 'The Shining.'"

Times reporter Steven Zeitchik writes:
Warner Bros.is quietly exploring the possibility of a prequel to “The Shining,” the 1980 Stanley Kubrickchillfest that many fans regard as the scariest movie of all time. The studio has solicited the involvement of Hollywood writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis and her partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt to craft a new take as producers, according to a person familiar with the project who was not authorized to talk about it publicly.
What happened at the hotel before Jack Torrance and his family arrived?  According to the novel, the old caretaker went crazy under the influence of evil spirits at the hotel and killed his entire family. So. . .the new movie would focus on the terrible events surrounding the death of the former caretakers family at the overlook.  Of course, this is exactly the same plot as the King novel, except instead of escaping – the family gets slaughtered instead.

King once said that his original plan for The Shining involved the entire Torrance family getting killed. Check out my article, "Alternate Ending To The Shining."  King is quoted in In Tim Underwood's book, Stephen King Goes To Hollywood:
"The Shining' was open right until the end. I didn't know what was going to happen until the very end. The shows in the book. The original plan was for them all to die up there and for Danny to become the controlling force o the hotel after he died. And the psychic force of the hotel would go up exponentially. . . But I got connected with the kid.
In the first draft of the book Jack beats his wife to death with the mallet and it was blood and brains and everything. It was really just terrible and I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave it that way." S.K. Goes To Hollywood, p.76
Oh, my favorite line from the Times article: "there's no word yet on whether there will be a movie adaptation of the new novel."  King doesn't even have to write sequel's to his own work for them to make children of the Corn part 304.

The Times Article is HERE.

Remainders On Late Show



My favorite King website -- Lilja's Library -- has the following bit of news:
The Rock Bottom Remainders will be on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Aug 6. There will be interviews with King & Barry that was taped on June 22 in LA.
AWESOME! Also check out Lilja's contests.

SOURCE: Lilja's Library

Here are the Rock Bottom Remainders on a previous appearance of The Late Show:


Carrie Cast Prepares To Shoot The Prom Scene

picture credit: www.eonline
EONLINE posted an article titled, “Carrie Remake: Bloody Prom Scene Is ‘Gorgeous,’ Says Costar” by Mark Malkin.

The article gushes over plans for the prom scene in the new Carrie, quoting Judy Greer (who plays Mrs. Desjardin) as saying it is “amazeballs.”  I didn’t even know that was a word.  Shooting for the scene begins next week.

Malkin notes:
Chloƫ Grace Moretz calls Carrie Remake "Very Different...Like This Dark Black Swan Version"
"Weirdly, it's kind of beautiful," Greer told us last night at the Dannijo and Tucker Tea event in Beverly Hills. "It's really totally jarring and creepy but also in a strange way gorgeous."
The full post is HERE.

CONWAY Blogging King In Order



I enjoy Joe Conway's blog, where he is reading through the Stephen King universe in order.  The entry's are short, to the point and easy to read.

Conway writes, "I’m doing this is to put my Stephen King “obsession” to bed once and for all. Once I do this, I’ll know I’ll have read every Stephen King fictional work. For some reason, I always find myself returning to Stephen King when I don’t know what to read."

About RAGE, Conway notes, " It’s like a dark version of Catcher In The Rye, with a little Breakfast Club, and maybe some Lord Of The Flies mixed in for good measure."  I hadn't thought about that.

Conway often has opinions that others would be afraid to post!  He loves King, but suggests that maybe the short stories aren't King at his best.  He thinks the Shining is "necessarily slow."  Truth is, I like the honest straightforward reviews.

Also, if you are interested in the audio books of some of the early novels, Conway reviews these as well.  For instance, Rage does exist on audio -- and he reviews the audio.

Check it out at joeconwayr.blogspot.com

I Got Stephen King'd



It happens to the best of us. . . we buy something because it promises to have a "tribute" or essay or something by Stephen King -- only to discover HAHA!, you've been Stephen King'd.  His named gets slapped on all kinds of things that at times offer nothing more than a passing mention of him.

For me, it was the July/August 2012 edition of Readers Digest, "best of America" issue.  The cover reads, "including tributes by Stephen King, Dave Berry. . ." A tribute by Stephen King?  Wow!  I was interested.

Finding the "tribute" was real work.  I realized it wasn't going to be a muti-pager, so I began searching page by page.  Maybe a half page?  Nope.  But at least a box, right?  . . . Nope.  Remember in the olden days when Readers Digest printed their contents on the cover, and with each headline was a page number?

WAIT!  I found it!  Here is the Stephen King tribute:
Stephen King on MAINEIt was a beautiful summer's day, flawless, the kind that the tourists came to the Mine seacoast for.  You don't come to swim because the water is never really warm enough for that; you come to be knocked out by the day." (From The Stand)
1. That wasn't a tribute, that was a quote from a book.
2. That quote got cover billing on the front of Readers Digest.  Never mind the "13 things your TV weatherman won't tell you" was two full pages -- it didn't make the cover.  Stephen King did!

Question: Have you ever bought something a celebrity's name was on it -- only get realize the product really had nothing to do with that person?

Beauchamp: Should You Feel Bad About Reading SK?


Did you read Dwight Allen's article ripping Stephen King?  If you didn't -- you should, just to get a idea of what intellectual snobbery taste like -- it's HERE.  My blog  post about it is HERE.

Scott Beauchamp has a great response/article titled, "Should  You Feel Bad About Reading Stephen King?" orginally posted at bookriot.com.  Of course,  he also reviews the responses to Allen's original piece.

Beauchamp wraps up, writing:
It seems like these semi-annual "should I feel bad about reading Stephen King?" battles are getting a bit out of hand. Snobs: your standards are not objective. King Defenders: don't be so insecure. These arguments always seem to bring out the worst in people, because it really becomes a war about your identity as a reader. But who cares who considered which author to be what? Sit down and read and enjoy.

A Face In The Crowd ebook/audiobook



stephenking.com has posted  news that Craig Wasson will read the Stephen King story,  "A Face In The Crowd."  Wasson is one of my favorite readers.  It is coauthored with Stewart O'Nan.

stewartonan.com notes:
"The writing team that delivered the bestselling Faithful, about the 2004 Red Sox championship season, takes readers to the ballpark again, and to a world beyond, in an ebook original to be published on August 21, 2012."
The synopsis:
Dean Evers, an elderly widower, sits in front of the television with nothing better to do than waste his leftover evenings watching baseball. It’s Rays/Mariners, and David Price is breezing through the line-up. Suddenly, in a seat a few rows up beyond the batter, Evers sees the face of someone from decades past, someone who shouldn’t be at the ballgame, shouldn’t be on the planet. And so begins a parade of people from Evers’s past, all of them occupying that seat behind home plate. Until one day Dean Evers sees someone even eerier...

INTERVIEW: Shawn S. Lealos



Shawn Lealos is a journalist and film critic, as well as the director of the dollar baby, “I know what you need.”  He will also be writing a book about Dollar Babies as well as a novel– he’s very energetic!

Shawn’s website notes:
Shawn S. Lealos has been a professional writer for over 15 years, with articles published in national magazines, newspapers and websites. He has published movie criticism and news, sports articles and entertainment based content for websites as Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! Sports, OMG.COM, Examiner.com, 411mania.com, Chud.com and The Huffington Post. He has also sold articles to magazines such as Inside Sports, Vox Magazine, Loud Magazine and The Red Zone.
Shawn has also written a handful of short stories and screenplays and has written, produced and directed six short films, including the Stephen King dollar baby, “I Know What You Need.” He is currently writing a book based on the Stephen King dollar babies, telling the stories of filmmakers from all over the world who used this program to get their foot in the door and further their careers.

INTERVIEW


Talk Stephen King: Hi Shawn! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Tell me a little about yourself. 

Shawn Lealos: I am a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where I received by Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with an emphasis on professional writing. I studied mostly novel writing but also got my feet wet with journalism, mostly sports stuff. In my last year before graduating, I read a book about movies called “Adventures in the Screen Trade” by William Goldman and decided I wanted to try to write a screenplay. I liked it and stayed in school for two more years, taking film history classes.
Since then, I have worked as a journalist and film critic while also making short films.

I have written and directed eight short films so far but have neglected by original career plans to be a novel writer. I am changing that now with my non-fiction book about the Stephen King dollar babies as well as a fiction horror novel based on one of my short screenplays.

I am also working on getting my personal website going strong at shawnlealos.net and will keep it updated as I work on the dollar baby book and other future projects.



TSK: As a writer and movie maker, what are some non-King influences on your life? 

Shawn Lealos: As a screenwriter, I am really influenced by William Goldman, who wrote the book that made me start studying film. He also wrote the script for Stephen King’s “Misery.” I am also influenced by PT Anderson, the filmmaker who made “There Will be Blood” and “Magnolia.” I read the script for “Magnolia” at least once a year because I feel it is the perfect screenplay.
For novels, I was always a big fan of Dean Koontz but have not read anything by him in years. I also love the work of fantasy author Neil Gaiman, mystery writer John Sandford and I will read just about any comic book there is.

TSK: You worked for several years as a sports reporter for University of Oklahoma – is it safe to assume you have a deep love for sports? (Any favorite teams? , or are sports reporters supposed to be neutral on such things?) 

Shawn Lealos: Next to movies, football is my biggest passion. I love the Dallas Cowboys and have since the ‘70s when Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett played for them. One of my high school graduation gifts was getting to go to the Cowboys’ practice facility to meet quarterback Danny White in 1988. I am also a huge fan of the Oklahoma Sooners and loved them since I was a kid. Going to OU was a dream come true and a lot of it comes from my love for their athletic program. One of my best memories ever was standing on the sidelines, as a reporter, when OU beat Florida State for the National Championship in 2000. In baseball, I am a Texas Rangers fan and in basketball I have become an Oklahoma City Thunder fan since they moved to the state.

TSK: It looks like you also had a big part in the short film, "Les chansons." Was it difficult to act in a movie you’d written? It seems like it would be frustrating to see things not translating to film the way you imagined them! 

Shawn Lealos: It was actually a pretty small role and I hated my performance in it. I really don’t like anything I have done on film and my only memorable performance was in “Happy Holidays,” which I also wrote and directed (YouTube). That was for my film capstone class at OU. For “Les Chansons,” there was an actress named Anne Haider, who worked with us on an unfinished short film we were shooting. We thought it would be nice to produce some films by some of our cast and crew and she was the first, and only one, that we did. She wrote the script and directed it. I edited it, created the visual effects and commissioned two musicians to create the soundtrack. I am happy with the final result of the movie, especially the music (YouTube).

TSK: You’re obviously very familiar with Stephen King and his work. What has King written that’s most inspired you? 

Shawn Lealos: The book that made me a lifelong fan was the unabridged version of “The Stand.” That remains my favorite book of all time, by any author. It just blew my mind and I would recommend anyone who has not read it to do so. I also love his short story, “The Last Rung on the Ladder.” I considered directing that as my Dollar Baby but felt I could not do it justice. Other than that, other favorites include “It” and “Pet Sematary.”



TSK: You directed the 2005 Dollar Baby, "I Know What You Need." What was that like? 

Shawn Lealos: That was definitely a good experience. I asked for the rights in 1999, way before the dollar babies really broke out. At that time, there were probably under 20 dollar babies. I learned about it from the introduction to Frank Darabont’s “Shawshank Redemption” screenplay, since his dollar baby, “The Woman in the Room,” was the first ever made. Well, I got the contracts in the mail in 2000 and at that time there was no time frame on them (I heard there is a two-year limit now). Well, we tried to shoot it in 2001 and failed miserably. We worked on two more short films and then decided to try it again in 2005. We brought back the same actor we used as Edward and re-cast all the other roles. I also added a character that was not actually in the story to show things happening that were only mentioned in the short story. We hired an experienced director of photography and then I hit up about a half dozen local bands to let us use their music for free. It was definitely a learning experience.

TSK: Were you pleased with the finished results of "I Know What You Need"?
Shawn Lealos: The movie, when finished, was 40 minutes long. I have seen more dollar babies that is about that length (or longer!) but that is way too long. Film festivals book blocks of short films and long films are rejected a lot, no matter how good they are, because they don’t fit into the blocks. We shortened it to 30 minutes and I left it at that. I still think it is too long. I also feel the acting is subpar, to put it nicely. Lilja’s Library reviewed it and said as much. Since we have no time limit to making this film, we have considered remaking it a third time, keeping it around 15 minutes, and hitting the festival circuit again.

TSK: Where can we see the film?


Shawn Lealos: The problem with dollar babies and fans is that we aren’t allowed to show it to anyone outside of festivals. However, there is a film festival coming up on Memorial Day in 2013 at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas, and Stephen King dollar baby filmmakers are invited to enter their films in that festival. There is expected to be over 25,000 people in attendance at Comicpalooza because a lot of the Battlestar Galactica cast members will be there as well. “I Know What You Need” will screen at Comicpalooza in 2013, whether it is the old version or a remade one, along with hopefully a total of four hours of other Stephen King dollar babies.

TSK: I see you plan to write a book about Stephen King dollar babies. Tell me more about this! Obviously you have some firsthand experiences with this kind of work, what kind of a book do you envision? 

Shawn Lealos: I studied novel writing extensively in college but have not put that knowledge to use since I graduated because I have been so busy writing quick journalism for money. However, I decided it was time to get off my butt and write something. The book will be formatted to allow each chapter to focus on a specific filmmaker. While I cannot see their movies (unless I already saw them at a film festival), I am interviewing each filmmaker about making their movies and will tell their stories, including what the dollar baby led to in their careers.

I’ll also be talking to Bernd Lautenslager, who runs stephenkingshortmovies.com and maybe one or two other people outside of the regular filmmakers. This is not a book so much about the movies as it is about the fans who made them. I hope to give regular fans who never got a chance to see a dollar baby a chance to see inside the making of them. While I cannot ask to see the movies, Mr. King’s attorneys have let me know they don’t mind the book written in this format.

TSK: The dollar babies are certainly some of the lesser known trails of the Stephen King universe. Do you have a favorite? (Other than I Know What You Need – of course!) 

Shawn Lealos: My favorite that I have seen is “Umney’s Last Case” by Rodney Altman. Here is how good it is. There was a TV show called “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” which was a series that featured Stephen King short stories turned into films. These were not dollar babies but were big budget TV episodes. “Umney’s Last Case” was one of the episodes and it starred the wonderful William Macey. I saw that and Altman’s dollar baby and the dollar baby is the better version of the story out of the two. That movie will also screen at Comicpalooza and I am working on getting Altman to attend and join me for a question and answer panel for the fans.

A couple of other great dollar babies include “Paranoid” by Jay Holben (2000) and “The Last Rung on the Ladder” by James Cole and Dan Thron (1987). I am hoping both of those screen at Comicpalooza as well.

TSK: I really enjoyed your posts about the importance of a well developed villain to the overall strength of a novel. Of course, Stephen King is well known for creating all out scary villains. Who are some of your favorite Stephen King bad guys? 

Shawn Lealos: I’d say my favorite is Randall Flagg from “The Stand.” That character has been in so many different King stories under different names as well. He was in “Eyes of the Dragon” and was The Man in Black in “The Dark Tower” series. He was also Leland Gaunt in “Needful Things.” The guy is just the ultimate evil. Of course, there is also Pennywise, one of the scariest clowns in history.

For minor characters, I loved Trashcan Man in “The Stand.”

TSK: So, tell me – what’s next?  What projects do you have coming up?  

Shawn Lealos: There is the Dollar Baby book as well as my first horror novel, “The Devil’s Playground.” I am self publishing both books because I just don’t want to deal with publishing houses and agents. However, I guarantee they will be the best they can be and I won’t spare expenses when it comes to copyeditors and designers.

After that, we are looking at remaking “I Know What You Need.” My next book after the Dollar Baby book is about the history of comic book movies and then I will be at Comicpalooza in 2013 in Houston, Texas, if anyone wants to come out, see my movie, check out my books and talk to me about Stephen King, comics or anything else really.

TSK: Thank you so much for taking time to do this!  I really look forward your novel
Shawn Lealos: Thanks for the interview, David.

McCammon Graphic Audio Books


Robert McCammon's website has posted news that The Wolf’s Hour and The Hunter from the Woods. are being turned into "graphic audio books."

Billed as "a movie in your mind" the site explains: "GraphicAudio produces audiobooks that combine a narrator with cinematic music, sound effects, and a full cast of actors." (Check it out at www.robertmccammon.com)

McCamon is a fantastic author!  He's also very familiar with Stephen King's work.  He was interviewed by author Stephen Spignesi for his massive work, "The Shape Under The Sheets."  You can check that interview out HERE.

THANKS TO BRYANT BURNETTE.  Check out his blog at Ramblings Of A Honk Mahfah

DREAD CENTRAL: Stephen King Films Head To Blu-Ray


Right on the heels of Aaron Dries article  on the under appreciated Stephen King movies (HERE) -- come your opportunity to own a few  of them on Blu Ray.

This is from Dreadcentral:

Three Stephen King movies will be bowing on Blu-ray in the coming months. Starting with the one that I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb to say is the least anticipated of the trio, Olive Films will give the 1996 King adaptation Thinner a digital upgrade on August 21st. Well, at least as much of an upgrade as one can give to a movie about a fat man who runs over a gypsy while getting a blowjob and then gets cursed to physically waste away unless Joe Mantegna can help him brutalize the gypsies into letting him pack on the pounds once more. Blu-ray extras will include the pride you will experience knowing you actually bought Thinner on Blu-ray.
On September 4th, Image Entertainment will bring Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers to Blu-ray. The 1992 Mick Garris feature written specifically for the big screen by King starred Alice Krieg, Brian Krause, and Madchen Amick in a twisted tale that involved incestuous, vampiric werecats that feed on the life forces of virgins and whose greatest weakness is the scratch of a little kitty. I’ll always remember it for being one of the few films where someone gets fatally stabbed to death with a corn on a cob.


They Live, Pet Sematary, The Devil’s Advocate, Arachnophobia, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and more Blu-ray Release Dates


Paramount has just announced that the 1989 adaptation of King’s best seller Pet Sematary will be getting the Blu-ray treatment just in time for Halloween. We'll have more details on the disc specifics when they’re announced - It just better include the music video for The Ramones' awesome theme song.
THE FULL DREAD CENTRAL ARTICLE IS HERE.

Batman #400: BATMAN or SUPERMAN



REPOST: IN HONOR OF BATMAN, DARK KNIGHT RISING COMING OUT TODAY

Batman #400 was issued October, 1986.  It features a special introduction by Stephen King.  King's topic of choice. . . Batman or Superman.

This special introduction its on inside front and inside back covers.  

QUESTIONS THAT MATTER:

King writes: "When I was a kid there were certain questions which came up and had to be answered. . . or at least aired, if finding a conclusive answer proved impossible.

He then offers us a quick list of questions that had to be answered:
  • Whether or not Don Larsen's World series no-hitter was skill, fate, or just dumb luck.
  • What was at the center of golf balls.  
  • Why all the Disney characters wore gloves.
  • Was there such a thing as a complete set of green Davy Crockett trading cards.  King writes, "The red ones were easy, but the green ones were weirdly scarce."
  • Here's one I've given some time to: Would you come out in China upside down i it was really possible to dig all the way through the earth to the other side.  (And, may I add. . . at what point are you upside down?)
"These were questions asked and answered after you were too tired to swim out to the raft anymore and had to crash out on the beach, or when you were walking home from the baseball field in summer's sweet dusk with your feet burning inside your sneakers, or before you fell asleep on camp-outs."
Of course, this is exactly what we are treated to in the movie Stand By Me.  Questions kids ponder.  And. . . if Mickey is a mouse, Pluto is a dog. . . what's Goofy? 

And then there was this question: Who do you like better, Superman or Batman?

Before I tell you King's preference -- I took an unofficial poll.  I discovered a little generation gap.  Teens and adults pretty quickly choose Batman.  Children were divided, but Superman was still pretty popular with the kiddos.  We, it turns out, are a house divided!  The nine year old was offended anyone would think Batman was better than Superman.  She had not considered that anyone might hold a varying opinion.

King's vote: Batman.  (Come on, no surprise there, right?  He's writing the intro in the Batman comic.  I guess he would have had to do some more soul searching if D.C. had asked him to write an introduction!)

He assures us that he still "digs" Superman, because he's the "good" guy.  However, King explains that Superman is a little removed from the rest of us.  He can't be beat!  There's Kryptonite, even red and yellow Kryptonite, but "Batman was just a guy.  A rich guy, yes.  A strong guy, granted.  a smart guy, you bet.  But. . . he couldn't fly.  I think that formed my preference more than anything else."

FLIGHT: 

King discusses the first Superman movie, and the tagline, "You'll Believe A Man can Fly."  He didn't!  He didn't believe it in the movie or the comic books.  "Ironically, the closest I ever came to believing it was in the TV series."  Interesting!  I love that old TV series.  And so do my kids.  We've watched them all, over and over.  "DON'T CALL ME CHIEF!"

King says the Batman TV show was "unpleasantly campy."  I must agree!  I saw it recently, and it pained me.  But, the actors were awesome.  They were trying to make it feel like a comic book; but in that vein, the Dick Tracy movie leads the pack, I think. 
"But when Batman swung down into the Joker's hideout on a rope or stopped The Penguin from dropping Robin into a bucket of boiling hog-fat with a well-thrown Batarang, I believed.  These were not likely things, I freely grand you that, but they were possible things.  I could believe in a Caped Crusader who swung on ropes, threw boomerangs with deadly accuracy, and drove like Richard Petty getting a pregnant woman to the hospital." 
(He also says he had trouble believing in Super-breath.)

SHERLOCK HOLMES

Batman, King explains, really was a detective.  
"He had to be a detective.  He couldn't rely on super-breath to return Gotham city to its proper place after the crime had happened; he had to catch The Riddler or whomever the villain might be before he could jump start those nuclear jets.  Like Sherlock Holmes, Batman looked at the tracks the crooks left; he took finger prints; he picked up hairs from the scene of the crime and took testimony.  He kept files -- also a la Homes -- on the modus operandi of various criminals. He searched for patterns, knowing -- as all the great detectives have -- that if a pattern can be found, you can be there waiting for the criminal at his next stop."
THE DARK SIDE

So what's really up, Mr. King?  What's the bottom line?  

"Maybe the real reason that Batman appealed to me more than the other guy: There was something sinister about him.  That's right.  you heard me.  Sinister."

And this is where the article gets real sweet, my friends.  Because, remember, I love old radio, right?  And King now compares Batman to The Shadow.  I loved the shadow! 

Batman, King says, is like a vampire -- because he is a creature of the night.  All the more a comparison, as we now know that Superman gets his power from our sun.  Thus, making Superman all the more a day creature, and Batman a night creature!
"Oh, yeah, you saw him fighting crime in the day once in a while, but mostly he was a shape in the shadows or a grim-faced man-thing crashing through a window at some small hour of the morning, his cape floating around him like a great shadow.  In those Batman-busts-in-panels, you almost always saw a horrid species of fear on the faces of the hoods he was about to flush down the toilet, and I always flet a strong sense of identity with those expressions.  yeah, I thought (and still do think), sitting under a tree in our backyard, or maybe in the tub, or on the john (or, as a kid, under the covers with a flashlight).  Yeah, that's right, they should look scared, I'd sure be scared if something like that busted in one me.  I'd be scared even if I wasn't doing something wrong."
As if to give great credibility to this line of argument, the last page of the comic -- the page facing this exposition of Batman, is a series of night scenes,w tih Batman's cape wavering around him.  The Bat signal flashes in the sky. . .
"The night was his time; the shadows were his place; like the bat from which he took his name, he saw with his hands and feet and ears.  as Bruce Wayne, he was cheerful poshy, full of savoir faire and bonhomie, a fellow easily imagined in front of the fire in his book-line library with a balloon glass of brandy and a bowl of Cheez Doodles near at hand.  But when the Bat-Signal floated against one of Gotham's skyscrapers (or perhaps the underside of a handy passing cloud) a grim and unsmiling creature emerged from the Bat-Cave.  You could shoot him and he would bleed. . . you could crank him a good one on the head and he would fold up (at least for a while ). . . but you could never, never stop him."
STEPHEN KING CONGRATULATES BATMAN

King closes by noting that Batman was on the rise (1986) and he writes:
"I'd like to congratulate the Caped Crusader on his long and valiant history, thank him for the hours of pleasure he has given me, and wish him many more years of heroic crime-busting. 
Go get'em, Big Guy.  May your Bat-Signal never fall, your Batmobile never run out of the nuclear pellets it runs on your utility belt never come up fatally under-stocked at the wrong moment. 
And please, never come busting through my skylight int he middle of the night.  You'd probably scare me into a brain hemorrhage. . . and besides, Big Guy, i'm on your side.
I always was.
--Stephen King"
That's nice, it's really really nice.  Even sweet.  

I'll weigh in on my opinion -- Batman or Superman -- in the comments section, and invite you to do the same.

Question is: WHO DO YOU PREFER, BATMAN OR SUPERMAN?

Dries: The Under-Apprecaited Films Of SK




You gotta check out Aaron Dries blog post, titled, "The Under-appreciated Films Of Stephen King." It's great!  

Dries opens things up by saying:
 When you’re as prolific as Stephen King—and when the ravens of Hollywood have picked at your bones for over forty years—you’re bound to hit some home runs. Take Carrie (1976) or The Shawshank Redemption (1994) for example, films so superbly crafted they’ll garner Oscar attention.

And then there are those other films. The not quite so polished gems.

But here’s the thing… I actually like a lot of those flicks that folks discredit. In fact, I like some of them quite a bit. 

Dries gives us his list of favorites, and a short explanation as to why each one holds a special place in his heart -- and DVD collection.  With each movie, he also includes a paragraph that reveals what he thinks is the best scene.

Here's Dries list:
1995, The Mangler
1990, The Graveyard Shift
1991, Sometimes They Come Back
1996, Thinner
2006, Desperation
1992, Sleepwalkers
1985, Silver Bullet (YES!)
1993, The Dark Half (YES, YES!)
1983, Christine
1997, The Night Flier (Oh -- now you're talking!)

Humm, he had me up until Sleepwalkers! But, honestly, it is refreshing to find someone who will defend this movie. For Sleepwalkers, Dries suggests, "My advice is unplug your brain, tap into your inner child and indulge in some EC Comic-inspired thrills."

Was Christine really "under appreciated"?

Now when it comes to The Night Flier, I'm a fan. A big fan! I love the movie, the tone, the darkness, the grittiness -- everything. I think it's all out creepy,and a delight. Dries declares the best scene is -- from beginning to end! He writes, "The film is a welcome alternative to the anemic vampire films of late, with one foot grounded in the modern world and the other in traditional Bela Lugosi lore. And unlike a lot of horror films (some of which are on this list), The Night Flier earns its deliriously gory finale."

Check out the full blog post, it's wonderful! aarondries.com

Thanks to Star Jameson

How Important Are Ebooks?

Joe Wikert has a blog post titled, "Can You Force a Customer to Buy Print Instead of E?"  

For some popular books, the idea has been that the ebook would follow the hardcover much the way a paperback does.   Wikert points out that Stephen King's JOYLAND will first appear in print only.  However, he notes concern that this approach could lend itself to piracy.  

Wikert writes:
I wonder how long it will take for someone to scan King's Joyland and post it on all the torrent sites. I'm not encouraging that, of course, but I do believe that you can reduce piracy if you offer your content at a reasonable price in all the popular formats. Although King's intent is to provide a reading experience from the old days I'm convinced it will only increase piracy of the title and cause him to complain that ebooks and ebook customers are evil.
Speaking of ebooks. . .

Do you use Scribd? It's a document sharing site that some colleges are looking to as a platform for publishing books.
I saw this interesting note in a recent article: In 2009, Simon & Schuster signed a deal to use Scribd as a potential Kindle competitor, offering excerpts and complete works from Stephen King and others. (HERE)
Check out the Los Angeles Times article from June 2009 (HERE)

Ya know, I really like books on good ole paper.  Hey, give me a scroll, I'm happy!  I remember King once saying he didn't like his word-processor because he felt like his words were under glass.  I like to be able to mark a book.  The words do feel more real in print.  But that doesn't change the fact that the e-book is so much easier!  They come to us quickly,  they're a lot cheaper and they allow us to have access to all kinds of tools inside the book itself -- like "search" and text to speech (something King, for reasons unknown to me, usually disables.) 

Walter Discusses Classic Batman Comics



I enjoyed Lauren Walter's short article "Classic Batman Comics."  (HERE) She highlights several great  moments in the classic batman series.  She says it is in honor the the upcoming Dark Knight Rising movie -- but really, do you need an excuse? Batman is just cool!

About the Stephen King Batman comic, she writes:
In celebration of "Batman Issue #400," author Stephen King wrote an introduction to the twelve-chapter storyline that has Gotham City villains kidnapping five people close to Batman, including Commissioner Gordon and Alfred.
Check out my article about Batman #400 HERE.

5 Stephen King Movies




Kellie Haulotte has a short, fun, article at examiner.com titled, “5 Stephen King Movies.”

Her choices:
5. Salem’s Lot
4. Pet Sematary3. Carrie
2. The Dead Zone
1. The Shining.

About The Shining, Haulotte wrote: “I'm never really sure why I love this movie so much. The feeling of claustrophobia and living in a so called haunted hotel, just adds to a good plot. The movie is slow at times but that adds to the suspense. Watching Jack Nicholson go slowly crazy is what makes the movie and Shelly Duvall trying to keep things smoothly. It's creepy.”

Those are all good choices – so good, every one of them has been (or is being) remade.  Salem’s Lot has been made into TV miniseries twice.  There was also “Return to Salem’s Lot” – which I have not seen.  Pet Sematary has a sequel and there has been talk about remaking it.  Carrie got a sequel, a television remake and now a new movie treatment.  The Dead Zone was turned into a TV series.  And, of course, King and Garris remade The Shining as an ABC mini-series.

My current 5 favorites:
5. Misery
4. The Green Mile
3. The Dark Half
2. Stand By Me
1. The Stand

Why The Stand?  That’s another blog post, but primarily because: 1. It kept the bigness of the story.  2. The plot was essentially intact.  3. The acting was great.  I particularly liked Flagg and Stu.  What the Stand failed to do was scare!  The scene in the tunnel wasn’t as scary as it was reading it.  However, I don’t know that was possible.

HERE is a list of all Stephen King movies.

Okay, your turn!

Lealos writing "Dollar Deal"




Shawn S. Lealos is writing a book about the Stephen King dollar babies titled "Dollar Deal."  Sounds interesting, and an area that has been long overlooked.

Lealos’ website states:
He is currently writing a book based on the Stephen King dollar babies, telling the stories of filmmakers from all over the world who used this program to get their foot in the door and further their careers.  (Check it out HERE)
Lealos is also covering Comic-Con 2012 for examiner.

He recently wrote this interesting note about the strength of King’s evil characters as part of a blog entry titled, “Writing Tips: The Importance of a Fleshed Out Villain” :
Here is something to keep in mind when writing your villains. If a bad guy is boring or weak, your heroes will not have to work so hard to beat him. If the Crimson King was not so powerful, would the heroes from Stephen King’s “The Stand” be so interesting? If Pennywise was not such a scary, evil creation, would we care about the kid’s who had to face him in “It?” Sure, you can write wonderful characters but if your bad guy does not pop off the page, it is all for naught.
Check it out HERE.

Pet Sematary Rises On Blue Ray


DVD file has posted news that we can expect Pet Sematary to hit Blu-ray and include a commentary track as well as special features.
2 October will bring the Blu-ray release of Pet Sematary. This Stephen King cult classic will arrive with a 1080p transfer, a DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix, a commentary track, and a slate of featurettes. SRP is $22.98 (Check it out HERE.)
This is exciting  news to me,as  I think this is one of the best Stephen King adaptations out there.  It is both scary and faithful to the plot and mood of the novel.

CARRIE goes to Comic-Con


image credit: Dread Central  HERE


Dread Central's Uncle Creepy posted today:
The first artwork for the remake of Carrie is ready to stare down all who dare to walk through the doors at this year's Comic-Con, and we have a shot of it right here for all those not around to meet her gaze! Dig it!
The Dread Central article is HERE.

Makes me wonder what the scene would look like if Carrie actually did go to Comic-Con.  She'd make a mess of those exhibits, that's for sure.  Actually, a whole series of posters comes to mind.  Carrie goes to congress would be nice.  How about Carrie goes to Disneyland.  Carrie goes to Time Square.  How about Carrie goes to the Stanley Hotel. Carrie visits Haven.

Drew Struzan Still At Work


image credit: HERE


You've seen Drew Struzan's work, even if you haven't heard his name. He is the artist who has made posters for movies such as The Shawshank Redemption, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and more.


He retired after 40 years, but didn't stay out of the game for long! slashfilm.com reports:
Struzan allowed Mondo, the poster boutique of the Alamo Drafthouse, to screen print and release some of his previously created art for Frankenstein and The Thing. Each poster was a massive success and Struzan was extremely happen with the results. So happy in fact, they’re now working on screen printing his work for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Still, this is all art he’d previously created. Save for offering some help on Cowboys & Aliens and The Walking Dead, he remained retired.
Check out the full article HERE.


CINEFANTASTIQUE 1977 review of Star Wars



I'll be posting an article in my 10,000 magazines series about the May, 1977 Cinefantastique which featured several of the original Carrie interviews. However, in reading through the magazine, I came upon a short review of Star Wars.

Star Wars and Carrie have a lot in common:
1. DePalma and Lucas shared cast tryouts to save time and money.
2. Both would launch the careers of several movie stars.
3. Both would be landmark films for their directors.
4. Both starred a lot of young unknowns.
. . . still trying to decide if Carrie was a good Jedi or bad. . .
Like a certain lead character in Star Wars, she needed to learn to control her anger and use it for good, not revenge. But all that would come later, in the super incredible prequels!

It's interesting to read what people thought about movies when they first came out. Often the lore of a film slants any new reviews. Would anyone now, knowing what we know, give Star Wars a bad review? I mean. . . a really bad review? Well, there it is! Cinefantastique, 1977 crucified it!

Sense Of Wonder
editorial remarks by Frederick S. Clarke
The big news as we go to press is the opening of Star Wars to what appears to be broad acceptance and popularity. The film is a unique achievement in special effects, but beyond that there's not much more to add. If you ever wondered what Flash Gordon would be like with decent special effects, you now have the answer: Just about the same. I had hoped director George Lucas would add some dimension to the film's bald adventure storyline, but what you see is all you get. Most viewers seems too in awe of the amount and scope of the visual effects to realize that behind the pretty pictures and slap 'em, zap 'em action there is nothing, no theme, no intellect, not even an idea.

Lucas has wisely avoided calling his film science fiction, and as a hedge against criticism admits it's just juvenile fantasy, nothing more. But juvenile fantasy can be great stuff, though not in Lucas' hands. For a film that takes place in a "galaxy, far, far away," there is a sad lack of that sense of wonder and mystery that comes from penetrating the unknown, that supreme prickly tension that makes young eyes and minds open wide in good juvenile fantasy films like Journey to the enter of the Earth and The Time Machine. This lack in Star Wars results from Lucas using all the props and window dressing of the genre without capturing its essence.

In Star Wars, a laser sword might just as well be a broad-sword and the outer space battles merely the World War II dog fights they are patterned after, because all this film amounts to are bits and pieces of westerns, swashbucklers,  and sundry adventure genres that Lucas has traced over into the costuming of space opera.  What a disappointment.
On the other hand, we still have Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to look forward to, in the hope that its popularity will prevent the science fiction film boom from heading off in the pointless direction of Star Wars.  
That's wonderful!  I mean it.

Clarke was the owner/creator of Cinefantastique.  Just note how interesting it is to see through the eyes of the moment, instead of the eyes of history. When you see something for the first time, with no cultural influence -- unfiltered -- you might come away with a different impression than someone who has 30+ years of history telling them, "This is going to be a good film!"

Funny thing -- Star Wars  would end up helping Cinefantastique.  The website has a great history of the magazine, noting, "With the advent of STAR WARS in 1977, science-fiction became big business, and the circulation of Cinefantastique expanded." Check out the history of Cinefantastique (HERE)

Cinefantastique was a wonderful magazine that not only was filled with very informative articles, but original artwork and a lot of photo's; in fact, a lot of color photo's for the time.

The New York Times quoted The Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction in Clarke's obituary, writing:
Cinefantastique ''is by far the most useful U.S. fantastic-cinema magazine, being less juvenile in orientation and (apparently) less dependent on the studios for pictorial material, and thus more independent in its judgments'' than other such magazines (HERE)

The Amazing Spider Man can't escape Stephen King


I thought the new Spider Man movie, “The Amazing Spider Man” was off the hook awesome! And, it had a couple of nods to some people I like.

First, there is a quick nod to Stephen King. Did you catch it? During the fight scene in the library, a set of books is knocked over. The only name that stands out is the one – white on brown – “STEPHEN KING.” Come on, you saw it, right! That could only be the side of Desperation. I’ll leave it for you all to tell me why Desperation, or Stephen King, get a second in The Amazing Spider Man. By the way, you may have missed it because it’s right after the scene where Stan Lee was walking through the library.

Second, there was a nod to Alfred Hitchcock. This one is more obvious, as it comes in the form of a poster in Peter’s room. There is a large Rear Window poster that gets several shots.

MISERY JOURNAL #1



I've never read Misery.  I saw the movie, many many many times.  It is supposed to be so faithful to the book, that I think I kind of felt like I knew the matereal.  But, alas, I have jumped in to this neat little book.  Originally Misery was slated to be a Bachman book, but King was exposed before that could come to fruition.

Just a few initial observations:

1. As Paul comes into consciousness, thoughts from Genesis flood his mind.  "Let there be light, and there was light."  Thus Misery opens much the same way the the creation account begins.  Misery will be the story of a creator -- writer -- struggeling for his life.  Cast into a dark place, Paul will have to fight to really find the Light.  And, like Adam and Eve, Paul Sheldon quickly meets the devil!  King wastes no time letting us meet Annie Wilkes.  King is even kind enough to inform us early on that she is crazy.

2. King makes mouth to mouth resuscutation delivered by Annie Wilkes seem like something close to respiratory rape.  You just have to read it -- but it is sickening and powerful.  Strong writing, because it evokes disgust.  And this isn't King going for gross out -- it is a powerful picture of being helpless as another person tries to breath life into you.  (By the way, there is another creation refernce in the breath of life stuff.  But that one is not intended by Mr. King, so I will not press it.)

3. In the early pages of Misery, Kings writing has some of the dreamy quality I associate with Ray Bradbury.  I like it very much.

4. Annie expresses frustrationt hat Pual doesn't write Misery novel's fast enough.  She has to re-read the novels she already has, and anxiously awaits each new novel.  In hindsight, the Constant Reader is left wondering if there is a little Dark Tower resentment on Kings part here!  Fans would express frustration at the pace of the Tower novels release.

5. Lindsay Crouse, the reader of theaudiobook transitions smoothly between narration and the voice of Annie Wilkes.  The voice of Annie is so familiar the listener is left wondering if the reader is purposefully mimicking Kathy Bates performance -- or is there is only one way to read Annie Wilkes?

Dwight Allen Is Not A Constant Reader

photo credit: dwightallen.com

Dwight Allen recently published a rambling article in Salon titled, “My Stephen King Problem.” Allen admits to being a “snob.” That’s not exactly what comes across in the article. Try, self absorbed. Does Salon have editors? Actually, Salon notes that the article originally appeared in the L.A. Review Of Books.

A GENRE WRITER

Throughout the article Allen called King a “genre” writer. This alone reveals that Mr. Allen knows absolutely nothing about Stephen King! In fact, even though he read 11.22.63, Mr. Allen didn’t get that the book is ultimately a romance! That King writers much, much, more than horror is evidenced in The Body, The Eyes of the Dragon, Bag of Bones, The Dark Tower series, From a Buick 8, The Talisman and so much more. To keep beating that old drum really reveals the box Allen is in, not King.

Allen does not consider King to be a good writer at all, saying, “By bestowing rewards on writing that is not all that good, has not the literary establishment lowered standards and pushed even further to the margins writing that is actually good and beautiful?” Of course, Allen does not discuss some of King’s greatest works; The Stand, IT, Salem’s Lot, Carrie, The Shining, Misery, The Green Mile. Personally, I think by bestowing rewards on King, the literary establishment has heightened the standards of what is good.

IT’s ALL ABOUT DWIGHT!

Instead of discussing King’s work, Allen takes us on his life journey. Really, this is about him! He tells of the many times he didn’t read Stephen King. He tells about the times people told him he should read King. He discusses the times he almost read, but alas. . . did not. This is a 4,500 word essay!

Reading this article introduced me to Allen’s favorite authors (not King), Allen’s wife (she works in the medical profession) and Allen’s adult son (he’s 24)  (His name is George). I feel like I know all about Dwight Allen! Maybe that was what he really wanted. The article could have been titled, “Introducing all things Dwight Allen, who happens to not like Stephen King.” In fact, I’m surprised Salon put a picture of Stephen King at the top of the article instead of Allen’s family photo.

CHRISTINE

Finally Allen let’s us know he did read a Stephen King novel. The reader wants to applaud and hug him, “thank you, Mr. Allen! Thank you for at least getting to a Stephen King book.” So what book did he read? He dove right into Christine. Great starting place, eh?

I loved Christine, but Allen found the characters hollow. I didn’t. I thought it accurately portrayed teens, their struggles and in particular their relationship with their parents and cars. But Allen admits he’s a snob, and I’m not sure snobs always identify well with teens.

AIMING AT THE FANS

It’s not just Stephen King who is set neatly in Allen’s crosshairs, it’s those who love Stephen King. Allen writes (and note the name-dropping here):

“My wife felt it was wrong to stand in judgment of people who read fiction in order to escape from life, and I said she was right: I didn’t feel morally superior because I read John Cheever or David Foster Wallace or William Styron or Zadie Smith or Mary Lee Settle instead of Stephen King.”

So the constant reader of Stephen King is just reading to “escape” life. He wouldn’t think about judging those poor souls! The statement itself is a judgment. I don’t read Stephen King because I need to escape life! I read King partly because he stirs my imagination, and his characters seem quite real.

Hold on, because Allen is not done insulting the Constant Reader – which consist of much of the reading American public. He writes,

“I did feel, however, that I demanded something different (something more?) from a novel than I guessed most of the readers of Stephen King did. (Not that this made me morally superior, just more demanding, a high-maintenance reader.)”

So it’s actually Allen who needs a book to escape life! He doesn’t read for entertainment or the joy of reading, he needs it to somehow sustain him. And yes, he is acting “morally superior” to other people. At the end of the day, we’re just people reading a book! People like Allen make reading no fun at all.

11.22.63

About 11.22.63, a novel I enjoyed quite a bit, Mr. Allen writes: 
“The characters are tinny and flat, and the period detail is slathered thickly on, as if to hide some vacancy.”
Actually, though Jake is not a particularly complicated character, I found Sadie to be very multi-faceted. And the period detail was delightful! The detail was certainly not there to “hide some vacancy.” The novel had lots of plot, lots of character – there was nothing to try and hide! In fact, the first time Jake stepped back into the past, I felt like I’d gone with him. I understood my parents better!

I came away from 11.22.63 with a deeper appreciation of the sixties, the effect John Kennedy had on a generation, and what life was like in another era. King did what no history book could have done – he transported me there!

Erik Nelson Speaks Up:

Erik Nelson gave a fantastic response to Allen, published at Salon on July 6th. He wrapped up by saying to Allen, “Stephen King has written a series of treasures that will endure the slings, arrows and rusty hatchets of envious writers whose faces are bitterly pressed against the glass of that Cultural Temple. You ain’t getting in, and Stephen King already has a far beyond-his-lifetime membership.” (Salon, HERE)

Dwight Allen’s article, “My Stephen King Problem” can be found HERE.

Haven will have to wait



SyFy has posted that Haven will return September 21.  This is a delay, since it was originally supposed to come back in the summer of 2012.

Lee Overviews Children Of The Corn



Wow, I really enjoyed Joseph Lee's article at 411 Mania, which offered a breakdown on the Children of the Corn series. What's really helpful -- really, really helpful -- is that he didn't like the series.  Ahhh, what sweet relief!  But he tries hard to find what he does like about the films.

Did you know there are nine (9) entries to the Children of the Corn franchise?  Nine times someone put up money to keep these stories going.  I wouldn't be offended, but we only need seven (7) entries to the Dark Tower series, and no one can dig deep enough in their pockets to find the moola to make that happen.  I know, I know, DT is a bigger project and stuff like that.

More on the mark, Lee asks, "How come The Night Flier wasn't the one to get a ton of sequels?"  Now there's a wise man!

About the original Children Of The Corn movie, Lee says that there is something "lost in translation" between written word and movie screen.  Indeed!  He cites bad acting and a "lazy" ending.  (Lee explains what a "lazy" ending is, but you'll have to check  out his article, I'm not giving it away.)

Lee takes us on a journey through the various films that popped their heads up after it, as if this was the Friday the 13th franchise.  One of my favorite observations is Lee's simple note that Children of the Corn II's title, "The Final Sacrifice" was a lie.  Indeed!

What would make this entire series special -- really special -- is if it were handed over to Mystery Science Theater 3000.  That would make it a joy.

Here are his insightful notes on Children of the Corn 666

I don't believe the last three films had any effort at all, including the remake. It's hard to find anything memorable or enjoyable in any of them, and it's going to be even harder to write short summaries of the three films. But I'll try. This one already is off to a bad start when you realize that it's set in Omaha, Nebraska, but the apartment complex is said to take place where the original film happened. Problem #1: The original film is set in Gaitlin. This film mentions that fact but never really establishes a connection between the two. 
Problem #2: This is definitely the worst of the series. I mean, hands down it is the worst acted, the worst direct and the worst written of all the films. There is just nothing to like about it at all. I've tried to sit through it and while I did finish, I can't tell you a thing that happened. It's uninspired, dull, and an obvious cash-in on a franchise name that wasn't that successful to begin with. The original film was only a minor hit, remember?

The full article is HERE.  You have to scroll down a bit to find it.

RAGE article by James Smythe




I’m LOVING Stephen King enthusiast James Smythe’s articles as he rereads King’s works in chronological order.  This week is particularly good – RAGE.

Smythe points out that Rage is the only King novel you can’t buy in a local bookstore.  That’s because King had it pulled from publication.  He chronicles some copy-cat events, including 14-year old Michael Carneal’s December 1997 rampage.

Smythe writes:
Carneal wasn't the first: Jeffrey Lyne Cox held a class of students hostage at gunpoint in 1988, inspired by the novel; Dustin L Pierce did the same in 1989, down to the detail of imprisoning his algebra class; in 1996, Barry Loukaitis killed his algebra teacher and two others, before holding the rest of the class to ransom. At his trial, Loukaitis even said that he tried to model his life after Decker. All three had read the book, and they were young and impressionable. (Crucially, though less sensationally, they were also all bullied and tormented at school.)
Smythe makes personal connections to the novel, discussing his own struggle with being bullied.  He concludes by telling us,
“In the best possible way, I hate Rage: I hate it because I hate Decker, and he is the book in its entirety.”
The full article is great! Check it out HERE.

Honk's Review of McCammon's BAAL



I enjoyed Bryant Burnette's post at Ramblings of a Honk Mahfah of Robert McCammon's book Baal.  The novel was McCammon's first.  My favorite McCammon book is -- just lip sink with me -- Swan Song.  McCammon's book Boy's Life and Usher's Passing are both interesting.

Check out Bryant's blog, Ramblings Of A Honk Mahfah.


A Brief Review: "Baal" [by Robert R. McCammon]

by Bryant Burnette 



When I discovered Stephen King in the summer of 1990, I quickly became obsessed by the man's work. I eagerly bought and read all of his books I could get my hands on. When I'd done so, I then re-read them all, and next began looking around for something similar. I have very fond memories of spending a lot of time in a used bookstore called The Book Rack, which is where I got most of my King books. So when it came time to try to find similar books, The Book Rack was my first stop. Looking around those shelves, I found Peter Straub (whose work already interested me, thanks to The Talisman), and to Dean Koontz, and to Clive Barker, amongst others.

However, of all the other writers who I turned to as methadone in the lack of new heroin from Stephen King himself, I enjoyed Robert R. McCammon the most.



Some of this, undoubtedly, had to do with the fact that (as I learned) he was an Alabama native who had gone to school at the University of Alabama, in my hometown of Tuscaloosa. That was only part of it, though; I also felt then that McCammon was simply the most imaginative of the authors I adopted while looking to supplement my King fixation.

I bought all of McCammon's books, and read all of them, from the epic Swan Song to the only slightly less epic The Wolf's Hour to the superb Boy's Life. McCammon published a dozen novels plus a collection of short stories between 1978 and 1992, but after Gone South -- published in '92, the year I graduated from high school and began attending the same college McCammon attended -- he stopped publishing for a full decade.

During that decade, I sorta just mentally lost track of his works. My devotion to King never wavered in all that time, but I stopped reading Straub and Barker simply because other interests crowded them out; as for Koontz and some of the others, I lost all interest and got rid of my collections of their books.

I kept all of my McCammon books, though, and in and of itself, that is meaningful; I went through a lot of phases in terms of what books I collected, and at various points between then and now I have found it necessary to undertake great purges, divesting myself of all of my Star Trek novels, or all of my Star Wars novels, or all of my (mostly never-read) classics. A serious Heinlein phase came and went, and so forth.

But I never got rid of a single one of my Robert McCammon books. Not one of 'em. They got packed away in boxes, and never made it onto shelves, and never got re-read ... but they survived each move where other books did not; I never gave even the slightest thought to dumping my McCammon. It was almost as if I knew I'd be returning to them someday.

And here someday is.

Since I'm already revisiting the works of Peter Straub, I thought it might be acceptable to revisit some of those other authors whose work I was led to by King. So you will see reviews of Clive Barker pop up here, and reviews of the novels of Tabitha King (which I've always wanted to read but never have) ... and reviews of McCammon's work as well. The main reason is simply because I feel like rereading them, and since my discovery of his work is inextricably linked -- in my mind, if nowhere else -- with my discovery of Stephen King, it seems like fair game for this blog.

Let's get started with a look at McCammon's debut novel, 1978's Baal.





Baal is a mixed bag of a novel, and it's one of several -- his first four (Baal, Bethany's Sin, The Night Boat, and They Thirst) -- that the author no longer allows to be reprinted. He apparently feels that they are a poor representation of his works, and in the case of Baal, at least, that's hard to argue with.
Baal is a sloppy novel, one that -- arguably -- doesn't introduce its main character until nearly a third of the way into the narrative. (I say "arguably" because it's possible to see Baal himself as the novel's main character, in which case he's there from near the beginning.) The prose is very weak in places, and the novel suffers from a seeming reluctance on McCammon's part for one particular character who has a lot of knowledge about Baal to explain to certain other characters what is going on. On the one hand, this is okay, since we're in possession of most of that knowledge ourselves, making it unnecessary for it to be repeated; on the other hand, when a knowledgeable character tells an unknowledgeable character things that we already know, it keeps everyone -- reader and protagonists alike -- on equal footing, which is valuable from a narrative standpoint. Also in the demerits column: a plotline set in the Middle East becomes extremely interesting at a certain point, and the narrative shifts to a completely different locale and to a completely different set of concerns when that happens, and the transition from one thing to the next is, to say the least, unsatisfying.

For all of those flaws, though, this is an imaginative and involving novel. One of its sins is that it simply isn't long enough; this feels like it wants to be a true epic of the type McCammon later crafted in Swan Song, but is instead merely the standard 350 or so pages. That's a demerit, too, but one that is wrapped inside a plus: if a novel feels short, that means the story is involving, because why else would I want to read more of it?

The setup: a young woman in the sixties is raped by a stranger in an alley, and unlike the vast majority of rapists, this one's flesh burns hand prints into his victim's skin. Nine months or so later, out pops a baby, which is, of course, a demon. Both parents die, and the baby ends up in a series of orphanages; when he's old enough to talk he begins calling himself Baal, and creeps everyone out. If this reminds you at all of The Omen, it's probably no accident; but McCammon delivers a few scenes that are as good as anything in that semi-classic Richard Donner movie, and the story ends up going in very different directions.

As soon as possible, Baal escapes from the orphanage into the world, taking similarly orphaned disciples with him, and when we next encounter him, a number of years have passed; he's all grown up, camped out in Kuwait, and spawning a truly frightening cult. Coming out as it did during the Carter administration, the Middle East sections must have been effective at the time, and they are still rather effective over thirty years later.

Eventually, an elderly theology professor -- ostensibly the novel's protagonist -- finds out something of the nature of this "man," and becomes allied with a mysterious man who is hunting Baal. The rest of the novel plays out as the forces lined against Baal try to end the threat he poses. If I told you this all ends up, in quasi-Frankensteinian fashion, near the North Pole, would you believe me? Well, it does, so you should.

All in all, this is a novel that I probably ought to be harsher toward. And yet, I like it. The scenes in Kuwait are oppressive and effective, as are the scenes in Greenland and further north; these things ought not to mix at all, and kinda don't, and yet their individual powers are significant enough that I give this novel kudos where kudos are perhaps not entirely deserved. Obviously, McCammon himself has no great love for the novel. I think it still works, though; I'd forgotten almost everything about it in the two decades since I first read it, but as I reread the book, I'd get to certain sections and remember them in advance. "Oh," I'd think, "this the part where _____," or "here's when _____ bites the dust."

It's an amateurish novel in some respects, but a powerful one, and one that was obviously written with great passion, and glimmers of genuine talent.

If you've never read McCammon's work, this is perhaps not the best place to start, but it's well worth circling back to once you've digested some of his more mature works.