Bad Dreams Journal #1: Mile 81

I'm reading the Bazaar of Bad Dreams and liking it very much.  I'm not a huge fan of Mile 81, but enjoying it just the same.  It's corny, okay?  But the nice thing about a short story is that it gives the writer opportunity to play and be goofy without committing himself or the reader to hundreds of pages.  It can just be a "hey, what if. . ."  What if a car ate people?  Not ran them over, like Christine -- what if it actually ate them?

Many of these stories are what we just love about King -- raw, fun horror.  He's not trying to be "deep" in Mile 81; though he can't help but be perceptive concerning human character -- he's just having fun.  And for that reason, we have fun with him.  The reader feels his joy as he tells us a quick story, whispering it in our ear before we get caught.

Mile 81 is a bit ADHD for a short story.  What I mean is that there is a lot of character shifting to keep up with.  Because King means to pile the bodies up, he wants to first introduce us to each victim.  Of course, the advantage of that kind of story telling is that it causes the reader to be screaming at the characters, "Don't touch the car!"  Because w know what they know.

I do like it that in Mile 81, King does something that horror writers usually avoid -- he calls the police.  King himself has said that one thing every writer has to address is: Why not just call the police?  Well, in Mile 81, he brought them right onto stage.

I've heard some whining in the Stephen King community that these are all -- mostly all -- stories previously published.  I like having them all together (with the exception of Blockade Billy, once was enough for me on that one.)  But, what's really nice is that King gives a chatty introduction to the stories, and I like that very much!  I now know that Mile 81 was written twice.

Tim's Stephen King Collection

I'm enjoying reading my friend Tim's new Stephen King blog.  Check it out at

It's like sitting in the library of a super serious collector as he takes his prized pieces off the shelf and lets you have a look.  I love it!

Not convinced he's serious about collecting?  Check this photo out:

Would you like to hang out in that room?  Of course yo would!  I may need to drive to Canada some time just to wander around this room.  Wall to wall Stephen King.  And, in a way, by starting the blog, Tim is letting us all in to play with the toys.

By the way, Carrie in "doll house size" is pretty cool.  -- just check it out, I liked it.

Oh, wait, before you go, I've got to tell you that Tim has been a huge encouragement to me personally over the years.  When a blog article hits him right, he's known to email me and tell me it's right on.  Always upbeat, always a joy to talk Stephen King with, I thankful he is now adding his voice to the Stephen King community.  Welcome my friend!

Dollar Deal and A Face Among The Masters SALE

Greetings gunslingers!

Thou art invited to dig a little deeper into the Stephen King graveyard this Thanksgiving.

Good news, I got word from Shawn Lealos that Amazon will be doing a countdown promotion of his book, Dollar Deal from Tuesday through Friday of this week. (No rush, but the best price is Tuesday, at $2.99.)

And inspired -- I decided to follow suit and offer a countdown deal on my book, Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters. My countdown deal goes from Wednesday November 25 -- November 29.

Here's what's cool: Both books look at a part of the Stephen King universe that's often overlooked. Dollar Deal focuses on oft unknown movies based on Stephen King's work. Stephen King, A Face Among The Masters looks at the literary works that infuse the Stephen King universe.

Each of the books has 4 amazon reviews, all giving them 5 stars.
(If you like the books, rate them.)



NINETEEN SIXTY THREE: The Day Kennedy Was Shot

One of my favorite books is Jim Bishop's "The Day Lincoln was Shot" by Jim Bishop.  He also has a wonderful book titled "The Day Kennedy Was Shot." 

In honor of the release of 11/22/63 , here is a taste of what that day was like. . .

YAHOO gives us: An Oral History of 'Stephen King's It'

This article from Yahoo is a great insight into the making of the mini-series, IT.  (

Ethan Altar writes in his introduction to a series of interviews, "Twenty-five years later, Stephen King’s It still has the power to push its way into your slumbering mind in the dead of night, filling it with nightmarish visions of fortune cookies stuffed with eyeballs, balloons filled with blood and clowns with razor-sharp teeth."

Well, unfortunately -- not really.  But I wish that's how it was, so let's pretend that's reality.  (The truth is, the second half of the film is terrible.)

The Participants (In Alphabetical Order)
Dennis Christopher (Eddie Kaspbrak)
Larry Cohen (Screenwriter)
Stephen King (Author)
Bart Mixon (Special Makeup Effects Supervisor)
Annette O’Toole (Beverly Marsh)
Emily Perkins (Young Beverly Marsh)
Tim Reid (Mike Hanlon)
Marlon Taylor (Young Mike Hanlon)
Tommy Lee Wallace (Director)
Gene Warren Jr. (Special Visual Effects Supervisor)

A few of my favorite insights:

  • ABC was always nervous about It, primarily the fact that it was in the horror genre, but also the eight-to-ten hour commitment. They loved the piece, but lost their nerve in terms of how many hours they were willing to commit. Eventually, they were agreed to a two-night, four-hour commitment and at that point, a couple of things happened. 
  • His script for Night 2 wasn’t nearly as successful, in my opinion. For reasons of his own, he had completely moved away from the plotting of the book, and created a much smaller story, a very interior melodrama focusing on Beverly’s husband as the ultimate bad guy, or something to that effect. (That explains a lot)
  • Most of the adult casting was “telephone” casting, which is, “No need to audition so-and-so for the role, they’d be brilliant.“
  • Casting the kids came after casting the adults.
  • Obviously the piece of casting that worked the best in the show was Tim Curry as Pennywise. (King)
  • The movie, really, is only as good as its villain, and Tim carved out a place for himself as one of the great movie villains of all time.
  • Filmed over two to three months on location in Vancouver, It proved a demanding shoot
. . . a lot more interesting stuff here.  Check out the article.  You'll like it.

Lealos Delivers DOLLAR DEAL

Think you know every dusty corner of the Stephen King universe?  You don't.  And I'll bet I know at least one dark corner you know very little about -- the Dollar Baby.

I'm really enjoying Shawn S. Lealos' book, Dollar Deal: The Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers.  This is a project I've been following for some time, so the finished product is a real treat for me.  I interviewed Shawn a couple years ago, and I'm really happy to say that the finished book is a slam dunk.  I love it!

What's a Dollar Baby?  It's a Stephen King film that is made for purposes other than profit.  That's right -- they are made not to make money.  They are sheer art.  A story is given away (sold for one dollar) and the artist is allowed to work with the story all they want to make it the best movie they can.  But the movie will not appear on DVD or digital download, as the filmmakers agreed from the get-go not to make it a money making enterprise.

Those of us that have seen Dollar Babies know they are a special brand of film.  They are actually an uneven lot.  Some are great.  Some aren't.

In July 2012, Shawn told me,
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 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.  (talkstephenking: interview-shawn-s-lealos
Lealos writes in Dollar Deal, "This book includes stories of people who used their Stephen King Dollar Baby films to launch successful careers as a sci-fi film director, a television showrunner, a published true crime author, a stage show performer, an actor, and much, much more."

Here's an insight I never picked up on until Peter Sullivan (Night Surf) pointed it out in chapter 9:
Stephen King’s writing style sort of started to evolve after The Stand ,and a lot of his books afterwards became less and less about one or two characters and more about this big huge cast of characters, much the way The Stand was.
Table of contents:
Chapter 1: Frank Darabont, “The Woman in the Room”
Chapter 2: Jeff Schiro, “The Boogeyman”
Chapter 3: Jim Gonis, “The Lawnmower Man”
Chapter 4: James Cole, “The Last Rung on the Ladder”
Chapter 5: The Good and Bad of Film Adaptation by James Cole
Chapter 6: Jay Holben, “Paranoid”
Chapter 7: Shawn S. Lealos, “I Know What You Need”
Chapter 8: Doveed Linder, “Strawberry Spring”
Chapter 9: Peter Sullivan, “Night Surf”
Chapter 10: Robert Cochrane, “Lucky Quarter”
Chapter 11: Nick Wauters, “Rainy Season”
Chapter 12: James Renner, “All That You Love Will be Carried Away”
Chapter 13: James Cox, “Grey Matter”
Chapter 14: Mikhail Tank, “My Pretty Pony” and “Willa”
Chapter 15: Rodney Altman, “Umney’s Last Case”
Chapter 16: Juan Pablo Reinoso, “Flowers for Norma”
Chapter 17: Warren Ray, “Maxwell Edison”
Chapter 18: J.P. Scott, “Everything’s Eventual”
Chapter 19: Derek Simon, “A Very Tight Place”
Chapter 20: Damon Vinyard, “In the Deathroom”

Lealos describes his journey:
Not only am I a Dollar Baby filmmaker, as well as a huge fan of Stephen King and movies, but I have become a big fan of the men and women who have made Dollar Babies. These filmmakers know they may never have a chance to screen their movies for a large audience, but they made their films because they love King’s works, and wanted to create something of their own based on the worlds that he created before them.
What's fun is the behind the scenes glimpse at movie making.  It's a fast read, with each chapter offering an introduction and then interviews with the films directors.

By the way, I'm so enthusiastic about this book -- I should tell you up front: No one pays me anything to run the blog.  I did not get the book for free, I purchased it.  No one pays me to say nice stuff about their book -- I could write nasty stuff if I hated the book.  So this is the truth: Dollar Deal belongs in your Stephen King collection. It's about a part of the Stephen King universe most of us know very little about.