Tag Archives: Stephen King

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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“Doctor Sleep” (2019) was ABSOLUTELY ****ING FABULOUS.

“Doctor Sleep” (2019) was ABSOLUTELY ****ING FABULOUS. I had high hopes for this movie after seeing the trailer — yet it exceeded my expectations. I’d easily rate this a 10 out of 10.

This is a story-driven horror film just brimming with blackly creative ideas and weird world-building — I haven’t read Stephen King’s source material, but I feel certain this was a loving adaptation of the 2013 novel. It is also genuinely touching at times. (I was trying to explain to a dear friend recently about how King’s work can surprise the uninitiated — the monsters and devils typically occupy only a portion of his imaginary landscapes. The remainder is inhabited by good people who are bravely doing the right thing.)

All of the movie’s story elements are painted vibrantly by Mike Flanagan’s beautiful screenwriting and nightmarishly trippy directing. The film’s action and often incongruously bright visuals are reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s visions in “The Shining” (1980), to which this film is truly a worthy successor. (Flanagan was the director and screenwriter for last year’s fantastic “The Haunting of Hill House.” The qualities that you loved about the Netflix show can also be found in “Doctor Sleep” — in some ways, they are very similar stories.)

Rebecca Ferguson is mesmerizing as the story’s antagonist, Kyliegh Curran is pitch perfect as the young anti-hero, and Ewan McGregor is predictably terrific.

The only quibbles I had were minor — there was one plot device (presumably from the novel) that didn’t translate well to the screen. It concerns how the bad guys replenish themselves … I’ll bet it worked well in King’s prose, but it seemed corny and cliche when visualized on film.

You could also argue that “Doctor Sleep’s” constant references to “The Shining” were pretty heavy-handed. But that didn’t bother me too much … I arrived at the conclusion that “The Shining” and “Doctor Sleep” were really two halves of an epic supernatural road trip. Your mileage may vary.

One final caveat — this film does portray violence against children. It isn’t extremely graphic, but it’s still especially disturbing. (It technically isn’t gratuitous, I suppose, because there is an in-universe reason why Ferguson’s tribe of villains targets the young.)

This is easily the best horror film that I’ve seen in years. Go see it.

 

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