King Discusses Changes To Under The Dome

Stephen King's letter to constant readers about the differences betweenthe TV series and the book versions of Under The Dome.  I am glad the "solution" to the Dome has been changed.  I am among those who did not think the answer to the mystery was that good in the novel.  Now the mystery is fresh and new!  

Here's Kings letter:

For those of you out there in Constant Reader Land who are feeling miffed because the TV version of Under the Dome varies considerably from the book version, here’s a little story.

    Near the end of his life, and long after his greatest novels were written, James M. Cain agreed to be interviewed by a student reporter who covered culture and the arts for his college newspaper. This young man began his time with Cain by bemoaning how Hollywood had changed books such as The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. Before he could properly get into his rant, the old man interrupted him by pointing to a shelf of books behind his desk. “The movies didn’t change them a bit, son,” he said. “They’re all right up there. Every word is the same as when I wrote them.”

    I feel the same way about Under the Dome. If you loved the book when you first read it, it’s still there for your perusal. But that doesn’t mean the TV series is bad, because it’s not. In fact, it’s very good. And, if you look closely, you’ll see that most of my characters are still there, although some have been combined and others have changed jobs. That’s also true of the big stuff, like the supermarket riot, the reason for all that propane storage, and the book’s thematic concerns with diminishing resources.

    Many of the changes wrought by Brian K. Vaughan and his team of writers have been of necessity, and I approved of them wholeheartedly. Some have been occasioned by their plan to keep the Dome in place over Chester’s Mill for months instead of little more than a week, as is the case in the book. Other story modifications are slotting into place because the writers have completely re-imagined the source of the Dome.

    That such a re-imagining had to take place was my only serious concern when the series was still in the planning stages, and that concern was purely practical. If the solution to the mystery were the same on TV as in the book, everyone would know it in short order, which would spoil a lot of the fun (besides, plenty of readers didn’t like my solution, anyway). By the same token, it would spoil things if you guys knew the arcs of the characters in advance. Some who die in the book—Angie, for instance—live in the TV version of Chester’s Mill…at least for a while. And some who live in the book may not be as lucky during the run of the show. Just sayin’.

    Listen, I’ve always been a situational writer. My idea of what to do with a plot is to shoot it before it can breed. It’s true that when I start a story, I usually have a general idea of where it’s going to finish up, but in many cases I end up in a different place entirely (for instance, I fully expected Ben Mears to die at the end of ’Salem’s Lot, and Susannah Dean was supposed to pop off at the end of Song of Susannah). “The book is the boss,” Alfred Bester used to say, and what that means to me is the situation is the boss. If you play fair with the characters—and let them play their parts according to their strengths and weaknesses—you can never go wrong. It’s impossible.
There’s only one element of my novel that absolutely had to be the same in the novel and the show, and that’s the Dome itself. It’s best to think of that novel and what you’re seeing week-to-week on CBS as a case of fraternal twins. Both started in the same creative womb, but you will be able to tell them apart. Or, if you’re of a sci-fi bent, think of them as alternate versions of the same reality.

    As for me, I’m enjoying the chance to watch that alternate reality play out; I still think there’s no place like Dome.

    As for you, Constant Reader, feel free to take the original down from your bookshelf anytime you want. Nothing between the covers has changed a bit.
Stephen King
June 27th, 2013 

MSN Looks At Stephen King TV The Good And The Really Bad

MSN Entertainment reports that  Under The Dome came out swinging, coming out as the second-highest rated drama debut this year (per Nielsen).  

The article, by Barbara Card Atkinson, goes on to discuss the good and the bad of Stephen King TV.

I found this note on The Dead Zone series interesting:
They did this one right, too -- at least for a while. The series starred Anthony Michael Hall as a psychic loner, and the series premiere broke records for the USA Network at the time, attracting 6.4 million viewers. The series ran six seasons, but viewer numbers had dropped enough that a seventh season was abandoned with no series finale. 
Reading the lists of Good and Worst -- I found out I like a lot of Stephen King TV that no one else does.  I thought both the Tommyknockers  and The Shining were great.  The Tommyknockers felt a bit soap operish at times and too closed in -- things Under  The Dome has avoided thus far -- but I still  like the story.  Oh, and the spaceship in Tommyknockers was a disappointment.  But that moment when the kid does a magic trick and makes his brother disappear. . . and then can't bring him back! -- that was great television.

I also liked the 2002 Carrie a lot. I thought it managed to bring new ideas to the story while remaining pretty faithful to the book.

I do think this note  on Bag of Bones was insightful on Atkinson's part:
"This miniseries ran three hours, which might have been an hour too long, or several hours too short. More time would have allowed for better character development; less time might have forced a much-needed pace tightening."
And also Atkinson gives this interesting explanation to the mediocre  response to The Shining miniseries, "it was another case where the novel was so dense with backstory and internal experiences (and audiences missing those creepy twins and bloody elevators) that it couldn't be roundly brought to the screen."

When it comes to The Shining, I've hoped for a directors cut that would restore some scenes that Garris cut out.

Even with a love  for bad Stephen King television -- I cannot offer and defense for The Langoliers.




Hey, check  out for a fun Tommyknockers Quiz.

The Tommyknockers, published in 1987, saw Stephen King diversify into science fiction, away from his usual horror style; of course, this being King, it still contains more than its fair share of sinister events. 
A story of stumbling upon a long-buried alien spacecraft, which begins to gradually transform people into alien beings, it soon becomes clear to one man - immune from the effects - that something needs to be done to save the town, and the world outside.
See how much you remember from the book by taking our quiz.
(I saw this first at Fans of Stephen King)

After you take the quiz post your score here.  No fibbing, or the Library police will come.

Four Past Midnight Journal #1

Midnight Journal, part 1

I love the three stories from Four Past Midnight that I've read.  The one I have not finished is The Library Policeman, and I started that the other night.  I loved the Langoliers! -- until I saw the miniseries.  What was tight, intense and one great story became absolutely terrible on screen.  It was more  than bad special effects, it was long and drawn out.

As a teen, when I read the first three stories, the title "Four Past Midnight" intrigued me.  What was four past midnight?  Was that four int he morning?  I read the stories, expecting some late night tale of terror.  At some point I realized, with grim disillusion that "Four Past Midnight" was nothing more than a title.  It might as well have been named "Blades of Grass."

For me, the Langoliers was harmed by the television adaption.  It was so bad, it makes me not want to return to the novel -- which I loved.  The opposite is true of Secret Window, Secret Garden.  The movie made the book better, improving on King's ideas and plot and making me more willing to return to the source material.  Though. . . this story also confused me.  I bought it on audio tape and was "sick" the next day.  I stayed home, ate crackers and listened all day to this story, wondering when they would discover a secret garden.

The Sun Dog left  me absolutely breathless.  I loved it.  I later read revers from people who did not like the novel, complaining it was overly edited.  I'm glad I only read all that later, because I was oblivious!  It thought it was creepy and belonged with the Twilight Zone.

In fact, so far all of these stories would have made great Twilight Zone episodes.  That's what the Langoliers should have been --and hour long TZ!  That season when they tried the hour format for Twilight Zone totally bombed!  They stories just didn't work.  And, Langoliers was just too long.  If only. . . Mr. Serling had written the script for an hour long episode of Twilight Zone based on King's story.

The Library Policeman

I started reading The Library Policeman the other night.  I went out running and decided it was time to jump into this short novel --as I enjoyed all the others from Four Past Midnight.  I'm not sure where King is going with this, so he's got my attention.

I've started this one several times, but quit.  I can never remember why I quit, until I start reading again.  This time I'm listening thanks to audible.  And, a good story makes running hurt less.  That's totally not true, but I tell myself that so I won't dread it so much.

It takes a while to get this story off the ground.  What seems like pretty straight forward stuff takes forever to just get moving.

I feels like I know what the early turns in this book are going to be.  Sam writes a speech.  The speech is bad.
He needs a book from the library.  He borrows a book.  He meets a strange Librarian.  He has a sense after seeing the Library Policeman display that he's been here before, as a child.  
And that's where I finally got home from my run.  So I'm pretty sure he'll fail to return the book, and some form of hell will be reigned upon him in retribution for his moral failure.  If it were another author, I'd quit because the story moves so slow.  But I do want to know WHO the Library Policeman is.  What will happen to Sam?  The strength of the other stories in this book make me keep coming back to this one.  Also Stephen King doesn't let down very often, so it's worth sticking with a novel  even when the magic isn't there at first.  I just can't let this be another Talisman!

It is especially cool that this is dedicated to the staff and patrons of the Pasadena Library.  I lived in Pasadena as a teenager and have spent a lot of time at that library.  Does anyone know why the dedication?

Under The Dome Episode One -- Summer Just Got A Lot Better

I liked the first episode of Under The Dome a lot.  It may be that with the book itself I enjoyed themes and big picture more than the details -- so it doesn't bother me a bit when new subplots arise.

The story moves quickly while delivering characters that are believable.  Often mini-series feel closed in, like soap operas.  But things happen quickly, moving scene to scene -- so we don't get the feeling they're purposely dragging this out.  Also, the special effects don't seem cheap; I believed a Dome came from the sky!  And that is the direction it came from -- sky down.

Those of you who didn't like it or were disappointed, I don't know what you were expecting.  Did you read the book?  The first episode did much more than just set things up for more to come -- A GIANT DOME CAME DOWN OUT OF THE SKY!  That was great TV!  Just because you knew it was going to happen didn't mean it wasn't cool when it did.  We were introduced to a killer, a used car dealer who wants to run the world, a compromised sheriff and our main character seeming to bury a body.  Did I mention a cow got cut in half?  (yes, easily entertained)

I don't even have commercial TV -- because I think it's pretty lame.  But this was good stuff.

My notes:

1. I like this bit of dialogue:
"What is this thing?  Do you think the government  built it?"
"Why not?"
"Because it works."

2. The cow cut in half. . . not quite ground beef.

3. The kids think the name Barbie is funny.  Explaining doesn't help.

4. The story has enough characters and scenes to keep things moving.  My biggest fear was that this would be like the Tommyknockers -- big story which ends up feeling a little closed in.

5. Junior is once again a character the audience an both empathize with and hate.  I think we feel for him and his strained relationship with his dad -- but cringe at his very naughty deeds.  His desire for his dads affection is communicated well but not blatant.


7. The night shot on the town is great!  The dome lit up is pretty awesome.

8. Body count: So, that's not really possible.  But, here's a half a try:
Woman in plane.  Buried guy.  Family in mini van.  Cow.  Birds.  Woman with forearm cut off.  Driver of grovery truck.  . . . stopped keeping track.

What DId You Think Of UTD ?

So. . . what did you think of Under The Dome? 

My notes in the morning.

Under the Dome - Wilmington Premiere

Author Richard Matheson Dies

MSN posted news that Richard Matheson had died today.  "Author and screenwriter Richard Matheson, an undisputed giant in the genres of science fiction, horror and fantasy, passed away on Sunday (June 23) at the age of 87."  (

Stephen King dedicated his novel Cell to Matheson.  Clark Collins at EW quotes King, "Without Richard Matheson I wouldn’t be around.”

I first became familiar with Matheson for his work on the original Twilight Zone series (which was in reruns when I saw them).

Famous for several novels and stories, I enjoyed  The Incredible Shrinking Man most.  When the film version was first released, Matheson didn't like it, feeling the movie drifted too far from his novel.

He  told Clark Collins at Entertainment Weekly,
“I wrote about real people and real circumstances and real neighborhoods,” Matheson told me. “There was no crypt or castles or H.P. Lovecraft-type environments. They were just about normal people who had something bizarre happening to them in the neighborhood. I could never write about strange kingdoms. I could never do Harry Potter or anything like that. Even when I did science-fiction I didn’t write about foreign planets and distant futures. I certainly never did fantasies about trolls living under bridges. I had to write about realistic circumstances. That’s the way my brain works. And I think that gave me a sort of place in the field.”

Remembering Under The Dome

Tonight CBS premiers the Summer mini-series UNDER THE DOME.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I loved the book!

Of course, up to this point, all I know about Under The Dome comes from the book.  The images in my mind are formed and built on King's words.  But after I watch the first episode of Under The Dome, everything is going to change.  No longer will my only viewpoint of this story come from Stephen King.  There will now be visual images, new story lines, characters will come to life in a new way.  All of that is good.  I also know that in some ways watching a visual adaptation of a book causes you to forever change your understanding of that book.  So, in some ways, I'm saying good bye today to Under The Dome as I've known it thus far.  (Don't laugh at me, I know this is corny)

A reader builds a special bond with a writer.  Words have the power to move directly from his typewriter where he builds each scene, enacts each sound effect, summons each character -- to my page where I see it all come to life in the theater of the mind.  No middle man needed.  Even though he sells millions of books, each time I read the words it's as if it's just me and Mr. King sitting in a room as he tells me a story.

Under The Dome is a novel that I remember enjoying quite a lot -- but I don't remember a lot of it!  I do not recall each plot turn with the detail I did The Stand.  Probably good, since it will give me some freedom watching the movie.  Has a movie ever irritated you as you watched it because it was making giant turns the book didn't?  What sticks deeply with me is early scenes of the Dome coming down.

Let's have some fun!  I went through some of my Under The Dome Journal entries and collected some of my favorite notes from the novel.

  • Two guys walking along, one inside the Dome, one outside the Dome. Nice!
  • Wow. This book really, really moves. Chopped off hands, dead people, car wrecks. All good stuff. 
In Their Heads
From Dome Journal #3: I'm freaked out by how King can take me inside Juniors head. I don't like it. I don't want to understand him. But that's what makes King such a good writer. I do identify. I liked the part where he woke up and hoped it was all a dream. I've had bad events in life where I woke up and thought -- ahhh! So it wasn't a dream?!

Can You Lick The Dome?

From Dome Journal #6: . . .It seems that little attention is given to the dome itself. Wouldn't little kids try to climb it? Anyone poked it -- with something other than a cruise missile? Licked it? that only comes to mind because it's Christmas time and I just saw that movie where the kid licks the pole and his tongue sticks. I wonder what would happen if you stuck your tongue to that Dome. . .! Get a shock probably.

From Dome Journal #5: The image of people washing the Dome was wonderful! If only we could do that on planet earth. I have this mental picture of those planes that drop water on fires coming over the dome and dropping water on it so they can see exactly where it's at.

Narrative Coolness!

From Dome Journal #7: One of the things I really like is King's easy, conversational narration. In fact, I find myself saying: "Oh, I didn't know you could do that!"

For instance, the main paragraph on page 474 is wonderful. Notice how King is acting like a tour guide. He suddenly moves to present active tense and speaks directly to the reader. It is as if the constant reader has been transported inside the Dome and is sitting a-top the store roof with Mr. King as he points out what's going on.
  • "There is a pause, a moment of in-drawn breath. think of a cat teetering on two wheels, deciding whether or not to go over."
  • "See Rose Twitchell looking around..."
  • "See Anson put his arm around her waist."
  • "Listen to George Roux howl through her hanging mouth..." (yuck)
  • "See the reinforcements."
  • "Next comes Linda Everett.."
  • "See Julia arrive just behind Linda and Marty..."
  • "See frank DeLesseps kneel down beside Mel just in time to avoid another rock..."
  • "Then... then someone yells. . ."
This is all stuff your English teacher will tell you not to do. But it's stuff readers love! Now, it's annoying when a writer stays in that mode for an entire novel. King doesn't even stay there for one whole page. But when he uses this narrative style, it is very powerful.


From Dome Journal #1: Having read the first 120 pages of the Cannibals, I can honestly say that this version is much, much stronger. In the Cannibals people simply spent their time trying to open the door. Interesting, but not superly superly interesting. But the dome coming over an entire town opens the story up. The problems here are going to be much bigger than doors that won't open.

King doesn't take the long build up he did with Needful Things and other books. The action is immediate. The payoff's start coming quickly.

From 2009 Review of The Cannibals: talkstephenking.blogspot: The mystery revolves mostly around doors not opening. I'm sure this is explained much uller in the rest of the text. I only caught one reference to what was happening outside. "Daylight was starting to come out there, but Pulaski could not remember ever having seen a daylight quite like this one -- thin, watery, almost wavery. For a moment he was struck by unreality, by a sense that somehow his eyes were deceiving him. . ." p.42 Then we drop into a flashback.

King cut off on a pretty good line: "for the first time he felt something pierce his confusion and harried annoyance at being late. He found nothing welcome about the new emotion. It was fear." p.61 hehe -- that's good!

What's brutal is what a good read this is. There's a lot oo energy to it. Just straight story! King explains the apartment, moves to his character, speeds through a normal morning, and then slams the whole story into a great problem. No one can get out. I assume by the title that they won't be going to Vons anytime soon. Who gets eaten? Who does the eating? Gosh, my appetite is indeed wetted, Mr. King!

(Unfortunately, Under The Dome never caused the characters to become the Donner Party)

Monsters On Maple Street

From Dome Journal #9: This book is starting to remind me of that Twilight Zone episode, "The Monsters are due on Maple Street." One of the things I like about King's writing is that he develops themes we are familiar with in new ways. Some seem to see this as a weakness, I enjoy it very much. Besides, King has the ability to up the ante. And I always believe that King gets his ideas out of his own head -- he's not stealing from The Simpson's or Twilight Zone. Anyway, Serling only gave us a quick "what if. . ." while King gives us the full answer "this is what would happen!"

Perhaps even more pointedly, the book reminds me of Star Trek's "Charlie X." (Because in that episode, the Enterprise and crew and nothing more than an alien child's toys.)  The book has also been compared to an "adult version of Lord of the Flies." Appropriate, since it deals with how people change when there is not a larger body to enforce the rules. (Dome Notes)

  • Does anyone notice that all of the pictures of UNDER the dome are from OUT of the dome? Why doesn't someone draw a picture of Under The Dome?  (Dome Journal #3)
  • Note: The dome traces the exact border of the town. Leading to a question: Is the town a circle? Am I missing something?  (Dome Journal #4)
  • I wonder if Julia Shumway is in anyway modeled after Anne Colter. (Dome Journal #4)
  • So, what stops the dome from reappearing in another part of the U.S.?
  • Is this Science Fiction or Horror?
  • Can I buy one of those boxes somewhere? 
  • Will the bad guys come to a better-bad end?  
  • Did anyone do a body count?  (Anyone want to volunteer to keep the body count for the TV series ?)

News and Notes From King's Live Talk About UTD

CBS has posted the live chat with Stephen King at


  • King said he asked to write an episode next season.
  • He is currently writing a book called REVIVAL.


INSPIRATION: Naturally King is asked what inspired  Under The Dome.  He doesn't know where the idea came from,  but offers some of his first images of what the story would be.  He says, "It was a lot of fun to create that situation."  (King does like to destroy the world, doesn't he?)  He notes  he tried it in 72 and the story was just too big for him at the time.  He put it aside and wrote Carrie instead.

CHARACTERS: Asked what the best part is of seeing his story come to screen, King said it was the opportunity to see characters he created in his mind come to life.  "Sometimes it's fun to see what set designers do with places you made up."

He says that Barbie is his favorite character; however, he also says that he likes whatever character he's working on at the moment -- even the bad  ones.  This explains why his character development is so strong.  He notes the tougher  part is being the women, since he can only do that by observation.  That's interesting, since both my wife and mother have mentioned how amazing it is that he can get inside a woman's head. "It's kind of interesting and challenging to be a woman for a while," King says. He calls it, "Creative cross-dressing."  (Check out my article, Seven Reasons We Read Stephen King, #4 He's A Woman Talk Stephen King seven-reasons-we-read-stephen-king)

He said he does get to have a part in the casting of actors to play his characters.  He also notes that he keeps character lists to help him remember who's who.  This is funny -- King says that after writing Gerald's Game, which is just about one character, his wife Tabitha said his next book would be called "Living Room" and would have no characters at all.

King was asked which character best embodies him.  King quickly responded Gordon Lachance from The Body. "If I've written anything autobiographical in my life, it's that."  He then insists there is not a lot of autobiographical stuff in most of his book.  "Folks," he seems to say to the world, "I'm making this stuff up."

FAVORITE BOOK: King said asking a writer what their favorite book is that's like asking someone who their favorite kid is.  "I like them all," he insists.  He said he really loves the book he is currently working on.  Presently he is writing a book called "Revival."  King said he is abut halfway through with it and totally in love with the book. He also noted a special place in his heart for Lisey's story, because he associates it with a good time in his own life.  He says the most difficult was Pet Sematary.   He also says the character he would most like to meet is Dolores Claiborne.

The Language: When asked about all the short cuts in the language (like in facebook, twitter and when texting) the linguistic prude in King comes out!  He doesn't like using "2" for two, and so on.

MUSIC: King says when he wrote Lisey's story, he switched to listening almost completely to old country music.  "A lot of times what I do these days, when I'm composing, I'm just composing and the room is completely quiet.  When I edit I let it rip.  I have a real weakness for metal, disco." He likes AC/DC, Gloria Gainer, Donna Summer, Metallica, Judas Priest.

The Message Of Under The Dome: King said the message of Under The Dome is that we all live under the dome.  "We're all on planet earth, and we're not going anywhere, not in the next  hundred years.   We have diminishing resources."  There is so much gas, food, medicine and good air -- that's the situation we're all in.

King Told Vaughan To Take The Dome Where He Couldn't

Check  out the Huffington Posts interview with Under The Dome's producer Brian K. Vaughan.

The whole interview is great.  This in particular stood out to me:
I was lucky enough to get to talk with Stephen early in the process. He said, to quote Elvis, "It's your baby, you rock it now." The big thing he encouraged us [to think about] is, when he came up with the concept, he first thought about, "What if these people were trapped under this dome for potentially years, how might society change?" [When writing the book], he was on page 1,200 and thought, "Oh my God, they've only been trapped under here for a few days. I better wrap things up." He said, "Use television to go to the places that I couldn't." 
That gives an interesting insight into the writing of the novel.  So King originally imagined entire society changing. . . but ran out of space.  Of course, in The Stand, he had things pretty torn up by page 300.  Still, a new society never fully developed there, either.  I was always interested in what was going to happen with the Free Zone.

Vaughan also talks about the impact Lost had on Stephen King.  He says, "I will always be happy and honored to have been a part of that world."

When asked what the fun part  of the project was,  Vaughan recalled sitting across from Steven Spielberg with King on speaker phone as they tossed ideas  out.  He called it "geek fantasy camp."  I don't know if I could sit across from Spielberg and not just bug the snot out of him about the Lincoln film.  I know everyone wants to talk Dome and ET -- but I was mesmerized by Lincoln.

Vaughan also said that he hopes the political themes don't feel "heavy handed."  I hope so, too.  I think they did feel exactly that way in the novel.  Of course, the same themes are still on the front page as when Under The Dome was written.

The full interview is great.  Check it out at

Things Get Scary When News Mirrors King

Do news stories ever remind you of Stephen King?  Alexis Shaw's artile, "Dark Sheen on Lake Michigan a 'Strange Phenomenon,' (HERE) reminds me of Stephen King's story The Raft.  In  The Raft, a strange blob  in the water turns out to be a sea creature.

Get this from Shaw's article, "Officials remain baffled as to how a dark, slick substance that forced dozens of swimmers out of the water at a northwest Indiana beach mysteriously vanished."  and, "They checked the beach, and they can't find any evidence of it."

Shaw cites Porter Fire Department Deputy Chief Jay Craig who said that the lake water looked "slick with what appeared to be oil. Upon further inspection, the substance was a gun-metal gray with metal flakes in it."  And  then this line (it's great), "Craig said you could tell how deep someone had been in the water depending on where their bodies were stained with the dark residue."

A conservation officer said she was "completely baffled" and Indiana Dunes State Park Manager said that in eight years they had never had to close the water because of "an unknown substance like this."

Do news stories ever make you think of tales from Mr. King?  Tell me. . .


image credit: Stephen Whitmore from
This is by Alex Smith -- hope you enjoy it, I did.

In the year 1973, society, as we now know it, was shaped in ways that, at the time, were almost unimaginable. Countries around the word experienced a plethora of financial hardships, most notably caused by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) restricting oil flow, which caused gas prices to increase nearly 200%. Roe vs. Wade made abortion a constitutional American right. Student riots caused Greece to fall under Martial Law. American troops withdrew from Vietnam and Watergate hearings began, placing then-President Richard Nixon in the forefront of public scrutiny.

1973 also ushered in a new era of mainstream film, with the release of one of history’s most terrifying and socially-influential cinema masterpieces: The Exorcist.

Inspired by the 1971 novel by William Peter Blatty, and released to $66.3 million in initial revenue, the Exorcist deals with the demonic possession of 12-year-old Regan McNeil. The story was based upon, reportedly, a true-to-life account which took place in Maryland in 1949. Casting Linda Blair, a relatively unknown child-actor, the film established a new “norm” and set the bar for further horror films. To this day, it remains the foundation by which the genre was built and bears the mark of being the standard by which all others are judged.

Upon its release, The Exorcist ignited a firestorm of religious backlash for what many Catholics believed was a brazen attack on their faith. Its gruesome, grotesque and, sometimes, eerily-realistic footage and plotline, dealing with the rarely-discussed topic of satanic possession, caused many Catholics to renew their faith. The movie was so religiously controversial, in fact, that revered preachers, such as Billy Graham and the Pope, himself, were highly critical of its release, going so far as to refer to it as religious pornography.

The Exorcist, at the time, was also seen as a representation of youth rebellion and women’s revolt. The female protagonist, played by Blair, while possessed by the devil, rebelled against parental authority and the commands of moral character, portrayed in the form of Father Karras. Viewing her possession as a kind of manifestation of the ‘70s teenager, Blair’s character displayed strong sexuality, violent rage and feminist traits, which can be seen in overtones throughout the film. This connotation was also mirrored by famed horror writer Stephen King, who stated in his non-fiction essay collection Danse Macabre that it was The Exorcist was very much of its time, being “aptly suited in the wake of the youth upheavals of the late 1960s and early '70s.”

To date, the film which thrust director William Friedkin into movie history, has grossed over $441,071,011, worldwide. It has become known as the “Scariest Movie of All Time,” as selected by several popular trade organizations and has influenced popular culture in ways that continue to reverberate throughout the changing times. Friedkin’s masterpiece was, for lack of a better description, a true work of art. To this day, critics and fans continue to revere The Exorcist as one of film’s most iconic works, and one of horror’s scariest masterpieces.

Author Bio: Alex Smith is a freelance entertainment and film blogger for When he isn’t blogging, Alex spends his free time watching horror films and assuring his neighbors that the screaming is not an actual person in his apartment.

JOYLAND pirated

photo credit:
(From M John Harrison's review of Joyland)

That's just rotten!  And illegal.  . . . oh, sorry, story first:

The LA Times posted an article that Stephen King's novel Joyland has been digitally reproduced and pirated.  Amazing, since Joyland wasn't even published digitally.

Carolyn Kellogg's article, "Stephen King's 'Joyland' pirated as e-book -- like all the rest," notes that Joyland is not alone -- almost all of King's work is pirated in the digital format.  She points out that one site offers "The Shining," "The Stand," "Pet Sematary," "It," "The Green Mile," and "The Gunslinger." Sound like a lot of King?  Kellogg then points out that "and that's all just one bundled package."

King said in May that he was hopeful people would go out to real bookstores and buy a copy of Joyland instead  of downloading the digital version.  Kellog notes, "The problem is that to some people, a pirate site looks like a digital bookstore -- one where everything is free."

The full article by Carolyn Kellogg is at posted Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai full statement:
We’ve seen dozens of websites over the past year purporting to offer pirated downloadable copies of JOYLAND, and so far they’ve all been frauds – if you try to download the file, you get malware or a virus instead.  But inevitably the book will eventually be pirated for real, just as every best-selling book and popular movie or TV show or piece of music is.  As a publisher, you try to prevent it or to stamp it out when you discover it, but it’s like the “war on drugs” – good luck.  Seize a boatload of heroin, and what does it get you?   There are more boats, there’s more heroin. 
But all of that would be equally true regardless of Stephen King’s decision to release JOYLAND initially in printed-book form only.  Books that do have e-book editions get pirated, too, and I’m sure JOYLAND would have been pirated just as quickly either way.  There were pirated copies of HARRY POTTER before J.K. Rowling decided to release electronic editions and there were pirated versions after. 
In the end you have to rely on the good behavior of the vast majority of the audience – I see no reason to think that pirates represent more than a small fraction of all consumers.  That doesn’t mean we don’t care about piracy – we do.  But it’s just one of the many punches you have to learn to roll with in the rough-and-tumble world of modern publishing.

QUIGLEY review of Darkman has posted Kevin Quigley's review of "The Dark Man."  I always look forward to his reviews!  Quigley has an understanding of not only the vast King universe, but the writer himself that is rare.

Quigley writes with enthusiasm for the poem, "When it comes down to it, the work itself is always the most important aspect. It’s good work. Exciting work. No comforting rhymes. No shards of light. It’s the direct precursor to Paranoid, King’s most disturbing collected poem to date. You don’t have to be a collector or a poetry major to love The Dark Man. You just have to like being scared."

Quigley's review is at

Under The Dome Radio Station

check out -- Under The Dome interviewed Dome Music Supervisor Ann Kline.
She says that, for a number of reasons be it cost or otherwise, the music mentioned in the novel won’t always make it to the miniseries. 
“We can’t always use exactly what’s in the book, but the producers, directors and writers are totally cool and open-minded about using new and independent bands. It’s great to hear music that you know, but it’s also exciting to discover something new. But the story comes first.”
So what specific songs can we expect?  She didn't say!

Stephen King TV Getting Re-Released

Several Stephen King television shows are getting re-released in anticipation of Under The Dome. posted that among the titles getting a new release are “Stephen King’s Golden Years” which is also releasing “The Langoliers” and “The Stand.”  The only good one in that lot is obviously The Stand.

About The Golden Years, the article says:
“Golden Years” was King’s first original television series, followed years later with “Kingdom Hospital” and mini-series such as “Storm of the Century,” “The Langoliers,” or “The Stand.”
Check out Bryant Burnette's reviews of The Golden Years at THIS GUY IS FULL OF GREEN LIGHT

Pennywise At Work At The Bangor Library?

In article titled, "Stephen King’s scary library needs $9 million repair,"  Esmé E. Deprez at notes that the Library is one of Stephen King's favorite haunts -- literally and fictionally.

Fictionally: "Readers of Stephen King’s novel “It” know the Bangor Public Library as a hiding spot for the title character, a deranged clown on a murderous rampage. In real life, the library is falling apart."
Literally: "The Kings, who are both authors, met in the library at the University of Maine in Orono, just a few minutes up the road from the Victorian mansion they now own, according to his website. Both are avid users of the Bangor library, and Tabitha King served on its board for 12 years, McDade said. First editions of all of Stephen King’s titles are stored in the vault."

Joyland Journal 5: On The Bright Side

I finished reading Joyland the other day.  Some short notes, none of them giving any deep spoilers -- I don't think.   However, I will simply remind you that the blog is generally dedicated to those who READ Mr. King and want to discuss what they read -- so the comments section can be a free for all.

King has said previously that a novel has to answer the question, "Why not just call the police?"  King tackles that issue head  on, and does it quite nicely.

Not so dark!

I've read some reviews that would make you think the book is almost an emotional black hole.  I disagree.  The novel has a somber tone, is full of heart break, death and betrayal -- but the sheer energy of the story being told drives it forward with a certain exhilaration.  The plot doesn't get lost in an emotional pit.  While Devin is given space to explore his feelings, the plot is never far away.  Who killed Linda Grey?  

That is to say -- while Joyland is dark, I did not find its darkness to be contagious.  I think John Knowles A Separate Peace has a similar dark tone, and I found myself depressed the entire time I read it!  Not so with Joyland.  The story isn't just about boarding school or friendship -- it is driven by a question, WHO KILLED LINDA GREY?! -- and is therefore driven by more than just the emotions of the characters.

There were moments when the tone  of the novel reminded me very much of Duma Key.  Running up and down the shore, meeting and waving at strangers just reminded me of those early pages of Duma Key -- which was also a dark heavy novel told in the first person. But Duma Key took us almost too deep inside the minds of the characters.  It rambled a bit, while Joyland stays more focused.

Mystery: King spares the reader the typical "who done it" -- even though that is a central part of the book.  There is no running around, room to room trying to put clues together.  When the end came, I really was surprised by who the killer turned out to be.  Was this because King did not give me enough clues to put it together myself?  Yes.  But I didn't want those clues anyway.  I was happy letting the story unfold under King's guiding hand instead of me getting ahead of the novel.  At no point did I say, "AH!  I know who the killer is!"  I had some ideas -- but was wrong.

I lot of the mystery novel's I've read play out like a game of Clue.  King doesn't play that game!  There is mystery, there are suspects and there are clues. . . but there is no bouncing about from room to room and suspect to suspect to lay out the evidence.

ROMANCE: The novel focuses on first love -- and next love.  The love we find in the midst of a broken heart.  Can that love be trusted?  Is it real?  Can we really love when we're on the rebound?  This is actually a pretty complex emotional equation King sets up for a short book.  Kings skill at depicting relationships is superb.  He is able to take me back to feelings I had forgotten I once had.

There are moments in King's writing that I feel  like I am meeting my younger self -- a self I had almost forgotten.  After years of the sweet safe love found in marriage, we can forget the pain that first love brought us.

Sharon holding Joyland
Summer, 2013
I Liked:

  • Annie's line, 'My son isn't goods in a trading post" when speaking of the need to forgive her father.  I lot of parents -- especially in a custody battle -- would do well to heed that note form Mr. King.  
  • The theme park setting. 
  • The new little language King lets the readers in on is a lot of fun!  
  • The return trip to the 1970's.
  • The narration.
  • The length.  The story is a quick read -- but it's not a lightweight novel.  King jumps in to the story without wasting much time.  The novel can be broken into two parts: Summer and Fall.
  • I liked the Tolkien references.  Because Tolkein was popular then and now it makes a connection to a reader years away. 
  • The ghost in the novel -- all of them -- are just wonderful.
  • I loved the climax at the theme park.  And I liked Devin's quick thinking to keep Annie out of trouble.

What I didn't like:

Some short whining, and then I'll move on.  I don't think King portrays religious characters well -- and in particular preachers.  Talk about typecast.  King typically presents these men (be they Rev. Coggins in Under The Dome or Annie's pop in Joyland) as hardshell, mean, unbending cruel, unforgiving, self righteous hypocrites.  I'm certainly well aware that there are plenty of preachers who fall right in that bulls eye, but someday it would nice to see a little more depth when dealing with men of the cloth.

Is Joyland Like Vintage King?
No.  Joyland is not like Carrie, Salem's Lot, The Dead Zone or any other King novel.  It's stronger.  Much stronger.  The characters are deeper and the story is told with a depth of maturity King could not bring to earlier novels.  So it may have elements we saw in King's younger work, this is ultimately the work of a seasoned writer.

Man Of Steel rocks. . . then dries up

I took my daughters -- and wife -- to see Man of Steel yesterday.  We loved it! -- mostly. 

Krypton is great!  In fact, I felt like I'd taken a step inside the Star Wars universe.  The references to Christ and parallels are numerous -- and it seems they are there on purpose. 

One big  complaint we all had, it gets kinda boring watching endless fight scenes where you know the outcome.  Typical Superman set up is that he comes to earth, deals with lots of minor problems and criminals -- and you cheer him on all the way -- then in second half of the movie he deals with one final problem.  In Man of Steel, we didn't get all those little extra scenes where Superman confronts petty criminals and fights for truth, justice and the American way.  Instead we have a long (LONG) fight scene with General Zod. 

I did not catch any Stephen King references.  -- but, not to be hindered. . . I whispered to my wife that a young Clark Kent reminds of Carrie White with the right parents.  Superman is what Carrie could have been (well, Supergirl).  Instead of making him miserable about his powers, his parents fill Clark with a sense of purpose and mentor him through some pretty tough situations. 

Also, in the world of SK -- we did catch a big screen preview of Under the Dome.  I actually don't know if I've seen that preview before, but it was great!  Something about the big screen and surround sound made it really powerful when that dome came down and planes began smashing into it.  Good stuff!

The storyline is excellent.  I liked t he changes to the Lois/Clark romance and both of his fathers.  Keven Costner is a great Jonathan Kent.  This father  is a man of real conviction, willing to give up everything for what he believes is right. 

Superman's boyhood is told in flashback, which is a creative way of keeping the main story flowing.  I like Superman's joy when he first flies -- and the viewers are taken on that ride with him. 

I'm ready for the next episode in this series.  Hopefully, more story and less buildings getting knocked down!  The movie makers have proved they can tell a good story, build strong characters and move  the audience.  My hope is that next time they trust their story telling abilities a little more.

And, one last question. . . why isn't his red undies on over his tights?  Did he throw  them in with papa Kent's white's and turn them all pink?  Am I the only one sitting there wondering, "Dude, where's your underwear?"

Rock n King

Corey Deiterman at Houston Press posted an interesting article, "Stephen King's Five Best Rock and Roll References."

Deiterman explains, "With the release of Joyland, I decided to look back at some of King's best rock references and fixations throughout his legendary bibliography, and even his best-forgotten foray into directing films."

5. Pet Sematary (Ramones)
4. Lisey's Story
3. Christine
4. Nightmares and Dreamscapes 
("You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" is a pure rock story about a husband and wife who wander into a perfect town inhabited by the spirits of dead rock stars. On an unfortunate note, the story, first written in 1992, was updated for the 2006 teleplay to include George Harrison and Kurt Cobain, both of whom had died in the intervening years.)
1. Maximum Overdrive (AC/DC)

I especially like the entry for Chrsitine: 
King's Christine is about three things: a haunted car, a love triangle between three all-American teenagers, and 1950s rock and roll. Each chapter of the novel begins with a lyric from a '50s rock song about cars, a ubiquitous lyrical subject of the era, and its plot roughly mirrors a typical "car crash song"; though with a lot more supernatural stuff included. 
Ultimately, Christine can be read as a tribute of sorts to not only the era itself but the music of the era. King grew up in that time and no doubt absorbed a great deal of that early rock into his psyche, which is evident all over the novel.
The full article is at

King: Under The Dome Will Be Riveting

Check out the video at and bit from King about the upcoming series Under The Dome:
"I think 'Under the Dome' is going to be riveting TV.  That's what we're really trying to do -- we're trying to make a show where people become really involved with the fates of the characters, really asking themselves what's gonna happen next." 
"I love stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, to see how some people will rise to that situation and some people will crumble from it." 
"So the situation draws you in, and the characters keep you coming back. And if we're very, very lucky, people will also start to discuss, 'Well, what is this dome? What does it mean? What's the purpose of it?'"

Pennywise On Google Maps !

Stephen King's facebook page posted this:
Pennywise on Google Maps.

Examiner's Stephen King Bibliography

Hey, check out David Finniss' series of articles "Stephen King bibliography."  (So far all I see is Skeleton Crew).

The articles are light, chatty and fun.  Finniss notes on the mist that he likes the film version better, and with each story takes a moment to explain its position within Skeleton Crew.  I never thought about this!  Of course the stories are put in a certain order for a reason.

I like his over-thinking The Monkey:
This is one of those stories where you find yourself armchair quarterbacking, imagining what you would do in such a scenario. My first thought was just to light the thing on fire. Fire can be pretty effective, even against supernatural elements. Heck, even shooting the thing with a gun might be effective as the bullet damage would disable the internal mechanisms. Maybe smashing it with a hammer? 
There are options, but at the same time, a direct assault is tricky as the monkey can drop you instantly if it wanted to. It's made clear that simply muffling the cymbals isn't enough. Much like Pinhead, it isn't the hands that summon death, it's desire. That doesn't mean that you couldn't cut off its arms though, right? It's an interesting hypothetical to ponder.
Skeleton Crew part 1: The Mist
Skeleton Crew part 2: Here There Be Tygers
Skeleton Crew part 3: The Monkey
Skeleton Crew part 4: Cain Rose Up
Skeleton Crew part 5: Mrs. Todd's Shortcut
Skeleton Crew part 6: The Jaunt

LA Times Review Of JOYLAND

I really liked David Unlin's (LA TIMES) review of Joyland.  Titled, "In Stephen King's new horror house, it's the everyday eeriness that grips," Ulin takes simple delight in the new novel.

In particular, I liked Ulin's note that the book is "written with a lighter touch, an air of if not nostalgia then wistfulness."  I totally agree.  Though I've read some reviews that said the book was so heavy, so dark that they would  not read it again.  I do think there are dark overtones, but it mostly remains true to the hard boiled crime imprint.

Read more here:

Here's a great line -- "Joyland has a patina of the supernatural."

Read more here:

What I Miss About Digital Books

I am loving every bit of Joyland -- all of it! -- except  that I  can't get it on Kindle.  I don't even own a Kindle, but I have  the app on my computer and can probably read it also on my iphone.  So what's to miss? 

1. I miss my growing relationship with the language.  I would  submit to Mr. King that digital books are more than simply a convenience -- they give us a deeper access to words themselves.  Though under glass, I actually feel a bit closer to the language.  In fact, if a word is confusing I can look it up quickly without worrying  if I am spelling it correctly.  I do this often with theology books.

2. I miss being able to search the text quickly and accurately.  This is an amazing feature I use constantly in work.  Being able to find a specific line, or the exact wording of a quote, or even the ability to count the number of times a certain word is used all requires a search feature. 

SEARCH would be particularly nice to be able to search "talk" -- as in Carney talk.  The word won't appear too often in Joyland outside that reference, so it would allow me to find all the times King gives us those new words.  The only other way to make this happen is to take copious notes as I read.  It also requires I decide  ahead of time what words I'm going to mark and note.  With a search feature, you can realize mid novel that something was important and grab up the earlier references.

Finding things is particularly difficult in Joyland, since there is no numbering!  You can't make the mental note, "Okay, we're in chapter 7 -- so I need to look up things I just read in chapter 6."

3. I miss the "anywhere" feeling that digital gives.  I don't have to decide to take a book with me, if I"ve got it digitally downloaded, it is with me.  This is really nice when dealing with lots of cumbersome theology commentaries!

4. I miss seeing others highlights.  Kindle allows you to spot passages other readers have marked.  This can actually cause me to slow down and go back to a narrative and ask, "now why was that important?"  And I see things I'd run right by.  This feature is like walking around Disneyland.  There is so much to enjoy, you're not always sure what to take in.  But when you see a big crowd gathered in on place,  you might hover close just to see what the excitement is about.  (Actually, at Dland, you thank God the crowd is all mesmerized by something else so you can make a B-line to Space Mountain.)

5. I miss the ability to quickly and correctly quote.  Holding a book open (a paperback) is difficult as you try to get each line, each punctuation right.   And those of you have read this blog enough know that I often struggle with typos and misspellings.  The last thing you want to do is mess up a quote out of a book!

6. I miss spelling.  That's right!  I miss being able to quickly look up something and see exactly how  King punctuated or spelled something.  I'm listening to the book at the moment, and the reader read an abbreviation.  I wondered if in the book King had abbreviated and the reader just read it out for the sake of the audio book, or if King had written it out also.  Of course, I can dig through the paper copy and find it.  I've already read over  that part in print.  But finding is the issue sometimes, right? 

7. I miss being able to bookmark several places at once without dog-earing my copy up.  Also miss the ability to mark quotes without marking the book itself.  But, alas,  I broke down and  just highlighted the daylights out of this thing!

8. I miss being able to play fruit ninja and subway surfer and look like I'm reading.  (This is the same as when we were kids, hiding comics in our school books.  Which  I never did.  never.)

Joyland Journal 4: Darkness

I am well into the second half of Joyland.  Yes, it breaks  neatly into two parts, though no outlined as such by King.  As Summer ends and Fall sweeps over the theme park, the novel itself darkens with the changing season.  With Summer gone, the park attendance drops the summer workers go on to college and new characters enter  the story.  In many ways this is where the novel really begins.  The early chapters set the scene tone and backdrop for what will happen in later chapters.

By the way, King does a lot of highlighting and hinting throughout the beginning of the book.  He likes to tease readers.  I know this gets under some peoples skin, but I really like it!  He likes to say things like, "I asked her to do me a favor, and she said she would."  Of course, this leaves the reader in the dark as to what the favor is!  It is King's gentle nudging to stay with him, and a reminder that ultimately he's in charge of the flow of information.

At the second half of the book, characters who were just in the shadows step forward as the primary cast trickles back into the darkness.  The focus is now on a crippled boy who is dying.  He wants to visit Joyland.  The boys beautiful mother is bitter at life, the only thing bringing her any kind of joy is her ailing son.  Her father is a religious zealot -- a hell fire and brimstone preacher.

At the real center -- I think -- of this novel is the mystery of Linda Gray.  Is this a romance novel?  Is Dev falling in love with an older woman?  Is this a coming of age tale?  I'm actually not sure!  What I can say is that the book rightly bears the logo of Hard Case Crime.  It is dark -- but not unbearably so.  I like the fall season and the heavier tone the book takes.  I like the new characters, and I really like the deepening mystery.

JOYLAND compared to nostalgia of The Green Mile

Christian DuChateau at CNN offers notes on several books considered to be "hot reads."  In the non-King literary world (there is one), he reviews 'The Son' by Philipp Meyer, 'A Serpent's Tooth' by Craig Johnson, 'The Shining Girls' by Lauren Beukes and 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane' by Neil Gaiman.

He takes a moment to highlight Joyland and then offers this insight:
 While the story is at times dark and intense, there's less of King's trademark horror and more of the wistful nostalgia and emotion that will remind fans of "Stand by Me" and "The Green Mile," especially for its bittersweet and moving conclusion.
The full CNN article, Hot Reads For June, can be found at


Talking about Ghost Brothers, Stephen King recently said:
"I've taken calls from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wanted me to write 'the scariest devil-worship movie ever made,'" Stephen King says with a chuckle. "And there was a call from David Bowie, who wanted about the same thing. What I'm trying to say is, a lot of times, very talented artists have very bad ideas."

So, if Arnold had it his way, Stephen King and he would team on a scary devil worship movie.  See, the problem here is where the ideas are coming from.  By the way, as a Californian where Arnie was our Governator, I can say that particular very talented artist had more than one very bad idea!  What works best is when King is given  the freedom to develop good ideas and actors who fit the role dive into the part.

I think some of the King movies that have failed did  so because of either poor choices in casting or too many changes to the King storyline.  Of course, Arnold starred in The Running Man.  Was it good?  No.  But then, it didn't stay within a hundred  miles of the original story.

Makes me wonder what King work Arnold would fit well in.  What wouldn't work is for directors to try and convince us that Arnold is an author.  Perhaps that was the problem with Bag of Bones, it was hard to see Pierce Borsnan as an author -- he's better as, well -- James Bond!  Richard Thomas was convincing as an author in the mini-series IT.

So  what role would Arnold be convincing in?  Here's my pick, but tell me yours. . .
Wilfred James, 1922

Stephen King visits David Letterman


Stephen King’s Joyland Online Carnival Tour

This is great news from
Roll up! Roll up! Talk “the Talk” @Titan Books to Win Money-can’t-buy Prizes!
Best-selling author Stephen King returns with a breath-taking tale of love – and loss – set in a 1970s North Carolina amusement park. 
Celebrating the release of this bittersweet coming-of-age novel, Titan Books and Hard Case Crime are teaming up with a series of digital partners to host competitions to win a free copies of Joyland and ONE-OF-A-KIND Joyland canvas prints of the Robert McGinnis art designed especially for the limited edition of the book. 
Who dares enter the world of Joyland to win these unique prizes? 
Playing the game is simple. Follow the carnival as it tours across websites… Each website will post two definitions of carny “Talk” used in Joyland or Stephen King trivia each day for three weeks.  
To be entered into a competition to win copies of the book (hosted by each site) as well as THREE EXCLUSIVE CANVASES copy and paste the right answer to a tweet @titanbooks 
eg. BANG SHY means a shooting gallery…I think. Find out in Stephen King’s #JOYLAND @titanbooks 
The more unique carny terms that you share with the world, the more likely that you are to win books and prizes. There’s three canvases in total.
Roll up! Roll up! Talk “the Talk” @Titan Books.
Check it out at

Just for fun, I just learned what "DOG HOUSE" means. Anyone. . .

First Page Of Kings THE SHINING Script

image from

THE SHINING -- There's the Kubrick version -- there's the Stephen King mini-series version -- there are  endless parodies, but did you know that King himself wrote an early script for a movie version of The Shining that Kubrick chose not to use.

Mike Bracken at posted:
What’s interesting is that King wrote his own draft of the script back in the '80s, and while we’ve never read the whole thing, we can share the first page with you. How different might The Shining have been if they used King’s script? Would it have been better? 
We’ll never know the answers definitively – however, we can say that we think Kubrick’s opening sequence featuring the drive up through the mountains to the Overlook is better than King’s opening here. We can also say that we think Kubrick’s film’s climax (which differs radically from the novel) is significantly better than the ending to King’s book.
Wait a minute . . . what did he say?  The Kubrick end is better than King's novel?  More climatic?  Did he miss the part where the thing BLOWS UP! ?  And Wendy is racing against time. . . and. . . and. . . oh well, maybe some people just need to read with more intensity.

Joyland Journal 3: Dead Body In The House Of Horror -- FOR REAL!

The mystery in Joyland regards a woman who was murdered in the House of Horrors.   Her body was only discovered  later.  

This plot theme reminded me of a conversation I had with my mother some time back.  She related total terror she had going through a funhouse at a local California theme park.  She described what she felt sure was a dead body in the funhouse.  Later I saw a program called Autopsy in which they discussed a case where a dead body was discovered in a California house of horrors.  I called my mom, and she was stunned.  "I saw that body!" She said.

Turns out the ride was Laff in the Dark and the park was The Pike.

She wrote me this:
When I was a kid, my cousin and I rode Laff in the Dark at The Pike, an amusement zone in Long Beach.

We were absolutely terrorized.  We felt spider webs.  A green monster popped out of the wall, almost hitting us.  We vowed to NEVER go again.

The following year, we thought we were too mature to be frightened.  When the ride was over, I had my hands over my eyes and my cousin had his arms over his head in my lap.

One of the things that scared me the most was a hanging body.  I thought, "What if it's real and no one knows!  I should tell someone!"  But I was just a kid and thought surely they knew if it was real or not.

Decades later I saw a report on tv ... the body was real! has a great article on the Laff in the Dark ride at The Pike.  It says in part:
It seems that McCurdy's body popped up everywhere after that, in places such as an amusement park near Mount Rushmore, lying in an open casket in a Los Angeles wax museum, and in a few low-budget films. He continued to tour with carnivals until 1976 when he was finally discovered by mistake hanging in a California fun house as a wax dummy. The Six Million Dollar Man crew discovered this prop to be a corpse, McCurdy had been hanging in a Long Beach fun house for four years. 
In 1976, Laff in the Dark, a dark attraction located in Long Beach California, leased their location to Universal Studios to film an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. While making adjustments to the set, one of the workers attempted to move a "prop," a mummified man that had been painted several times with phosphorous paint and was suspended from the ceiling by a noose around it's neck. Grabbing the hanging figure by the arm in an attempt to loosen the noose, the prop man was startled when the lower portion of the man's arm hit the floor! 
Long Beach police were called in, and the following is an excerpt from the police report filed December 8, 1976. "The Laff in the Dark located at 210-A-A-A West Pike Avenue was entered, and their attention was drawn to the human-like display, which was hanging from a rope. Criminologist E. Williams and filing officer examined the display, and noted beneath the outer covering there appeared to be bone-type structure having bone like joints. There was also noted to be a small trace of hair on the back of a leg. The display remarkably resembled a human cadaver in size and proportion."

The website goes on to say that the corpse was taken to the Medical Examiner's office, where an autopsy revealed that it was indeed human remains -- A DEAD BODY!  And not just a dead body -- the body of a murdered man.  The body was identified as Elmer McCurdy.

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