Tag Archives: Stephen King

More from the spooky season watchlist!

I saw three terrific movies during my annual effort to set the tone for Halloween.  All three were book adaptations.

First up was this year’s “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” adapted from Stephen King’s 2020 novella (which I have not read).  It deftly follows the right formula for a successful King adaptation (or any successful horror movie, really) — it methodically portrays characters that viewers can truly like and care about, and then imperils them.  For me, it wasn’t just Jaeden Martell’s personable young protagonist — it was also the great Donald Sutherland’s titular Mr. Harrigan, whose ghost is the story’s putative (?) antagonist.  (I like how the movie leaves that just a little open ended; I’ll bet the novella has a lot more to say there.)

Still, some seasoned horror fans might feel that the film just isn’t scary enough.   By the time its thoughtful denouement rolls around, it feels more like a dark drama with horror movie elements than it feels like a “scary movie.”  (The term “post-horror” was gaining currency a few years ago, and I don’t know if that’s still a thing.)  After all, the ostensible ghost here appears to actually want to aid the protagonist.  The movie might even feel like it is missing a third act — I counted only two victims of the vindictive entity, whose deaths occurred offscreen.  The ending was well written and poignant, right down to its closing line, but it will still feel like an anti-climax to some.

Next up was the new adaptation of Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser.”  This was pretty damn scary.  It should be seen by only more intense horror hounds — it’s a predictably violent gorefest about sadomasochistic demons that literally torture their summoners, along with any innocents who are unfortunate enough to be nearby.  I know it isn’t high art, but it was well executed, with capable acting and some really creative direction.  (Odessa A’zion was quite good in her role, and the van scene was an especially nice touch.)  If you can stomach its ultraviolence, then you might really enjoy this movie.

Finally, I revisited another King adaptation — 2019’s “Doctor Sleep.”  You guys already now how zealously I love this movie,  so I want burden you yet again with my fanboy adulation of it.



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The first three episodes of “Station 11” (2021) are utterly engrossing.

Think of what Stephen King’s “The Stand” would be like if you removed Randall Flagg and all of its supernatural elements — then told character-focused stories with an intertwining mystery in the manner of “Lost” (2004-2010).  And then maybe peppered it with a little “Dead Poets Society” (1989).

I know that sounds weird, but if you pay attention, it totally works.



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A very short review of “Squid Game” (2021)

Capping off the Halloween watchlist this year was Hwang Dong-hyuk’s “Squid Game” (2021) which was (mostly) worth the hype.  Don’t be discouraged by its campy visuals or its familiar premise.  (Deathtrap game shows have been with us since at least the 1987 adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Running Man.”)  This miniseries is truly good enough to be bingeworthy.

After a bit a slow start, there are visceral, inventive action-horror sequences and surprisingly effective character development.  There’s some good acting too — most notably by Yeong-su Oh, as an ostensibly disadvantaged older contestant in the miniseries’ eponymous contest.

The “twists” and “layers” you might have heard about might be a bit overhyped.  I predicted most of the big reveals, and I am no goddam Copernicus.  (Ask anyone.)  I actually wasn’t happy with the final reveal — I thought the story was stronger without it.

But “Squid Game” shines nonetheless, because it expertly capitalizes on the heartrending human drama that its premise allows for.  It’s an unflinching (and occasionally touching) snapshot of its creators’ view of human nature — and that’s why it’s a superior horror thriller.



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‘Tis the (Halloween) Season!

A friend of mine decorated her house for Halloween, and I thought this one shelf looked so cool that it would be an awesome picture with which to start October.  She let me share it here.  (This is the same person who who made me my super-cool Halloween decorations a while back.)

I told her that those bird people reminded me of the Taheen, a unsettling race of beings in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower multiverse.  She couldn’t really appreciate the reference, as she is not a King fan the way I am.  And, if you think about it, the Taheen are kinda hard to explain to the uninitiated.



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What eye think.

Is it me, or does the logo for Vistar Eye Center bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the Sigil of The Crimson King from Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series?

It raises all sorts of questions for Vistar’s patients.

But you and I are on The Path of the Beam, folks.



Cover to Stephen King’s “The Stand,” Don Brautigam, 1980

Paperback edition.  Signet.

I’ve always loved the artwork here, even if it adorned the lesser iteration of King’s opus.  (The author’s original, “uncut” edit of the book would hit the shelves a full decade later.)  Many other people love this artwork too — you can even purchase it as a print.

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“Say hello to my little friend.”

This handemade leather-bound volume is about the length of my forefinger; it was an especially cool Christmas present from a writer friend of mine.  She picked it up for me at a Renaissance Faire.  She told me I could write all my “secret thoughts” here.  (I’ve got a lot of ’em.)

I personally like to think that it looks like something out of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” universe, like maybe the place where Roland inscribes clues about his quest.  (I know he doesn’t need to search for clues in any of the books, but still.)  Or maybe it’s a convenient pocket-tome for the vengeance-driven Arya Stark from “Game of Thrones” to keep her “list.”

I haven’t yet decided precisely what I will record here.  I quite love it, though.  It’s sitting on my desk as a reminder for me to write.  (You know what would fit perfectly on a single page?  All the progress I’ve made on my novel in the past six months.  Maybe I’ll start with that.)

 

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