Archives for posts with tag: Stephen King

Grade B+

 

Adapted from Stephen King’s lesser known story, “Gerald’s Game” stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood as a couple who go away for the weekend to try to mend their nearly broken marriage.  A quiet, nearly secluded area, good food and wine, Viagra and handcuffs are all present to spice things up and help the couple get back on the right track again.  What could possibly go wrong?  An open front door, a heart attack, and a large, hungry dog.

Chained onto the bedposts, Gugino’s panicked mind plays tricks on her, seeing her dead husband and an alternate version of herself walking around and speaking to her and each other.  As her mind wanders from the present to the past, from consciousness to dream state, she must glean bits of valuable information that the voices in her head are trying to give to her so that she can find a way to escape.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Gerald’s Game” is the scene when Gugino wakes up at night, peers into one corner of her bedroom, and sees a large creature who looks like it belongs in one of hell’s labyrinth.

“Gerald’s Game” is a well made suspense/thriller that quickly ramps up the tension after minute 5 and doesn’t let up.  Mysteries are set up at the beginning and the truth slowly revealed as Gugino’s life and possibilities of escape fade.   It’s a tale not just of survival of the body, but also of the mind.

— M

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Grade B-

 

Stephen King’s novella of the same title gets a decent adaptation in “The Mist.”  After a strong storm, a large mist quickly surrounds a town, trapping dozens of people in a supermarket.  Terrifying creatures roam within the mist, hunting and killing anyone who ventures outside.  But danger also lurks within the refuge of the supermarket.  As the hours slowly tick by, the people form opinions on what is happening and how to survive it.  Three separate groups start to form, and one will overpower the others, ushering in a new level of violence and bloodshed that will rival the horrors within the mist.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Mist” is the scene when 5 survivors trapped in a vehicle make a shocking decision.  More on this below.

I have read the novella and thought it a brilliant piece of writing.  But the movie version is…far from brilliant.  Two things prevented it from being great.  First: Thomas Jane is completely wrong for the part of the main character.  His superhero looks had no place in this story.  The main character was a regular person forced to do extraordinary things under a tremendous amount of pressure and fear.  Jane was completely out of his element as he wasn’t believable at all when he tried to look afraid.  I was expecting him to suddenly walk around with his Punisher shirt on, blasting the creatures with a large, automatic rifle and saving the whole world.  Second: the ending.   I understand some of the logic that went to the decision that was made in the vehicle; but there was another option.  And the aftermath of that decision?  Depending on your values and point of view, you will either be horrified and stunned, or start to laugh.   And the fact that the ending can produce laughter tells me that it was the wrong ending to put in this movie.

The creatures were great though.

— M

Grade B

 

Adapted from a Stephen King novella, “1922” stars Thomas Jane who plays a farmer who will do whatever it takes to hold on to his farm, his son, and his way of life.  Standing in his way is his wife, played by Molly Parker, who has fallen out of love with Jane and wishes to sell her part of the farm and start a new life in a big city.

The idea of losing all that he loves in this world keeps twisting in Jane’s mind and gut until he becomes twisted enough to manipulate his son into helping him kill Parker.  The murder is slow and violent, and Jane has crafted a story that may keep people from asking too many questions about his wife’s disappearance.  But sometimes, the dead don’t stay dead.

My most memorable, movie moment of “1922” is the scene when Parker’s spirit — covered in blood and showing the wounds she suffered at the hands of her husband and son — first comes to Jane.

“1922” is a well-crafted ghost story, moving slowly and methodically, building up the suspense and horror.  It doesn’t rely on cheap scares.  The horror comes from what people can do to those they love because of greed, and the guilt and damnation that results from the evil that people do.

— M

Grade B

 

River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, and Corey Feldman play best friends in Stephen King’s coming of age story, “Stand By Me.”  In the 1950s, four boys leave their rural town to search for the body of a missing boy who is rumored to be rotting near train tracks.  Their two day adventure will test their bonds of friendship as they encounter a vicious junkyard dog and his owner, killer trains, wild animals roaming at night, leeches, bullies, and of course, themselves.

My most memorable, movie moment is **SPOILER ALERT** the scene when Wheaton points a gun at Kiefer Sutherland.  Sutherland asks if Wheaton is going to shoot him and his whole gang.  Wheaton answers “No, Ace, just you.”

Director Rob Reiner does a good job with this non-horror story from King.  Add to this a very young and talented cast with some breakout performances by Phoenix and Sutherland, and the result is a very entertaining movie in a subgenre that is usually boring and predictable.

— M

Grade B

 

A famous writer (played by James Caan) gets into an accident while driving through a blizzard and is rescued by his “number one fan” (chillingly played by Kathy Bates).  With an injured shoulder and badly broken legs, Caan is bedridden and is cared for by Bates, who at first comes off as a guardian angel; but as time passes, she proves herself to be quite the opposite.  Caan utilizes all the imagination of a brilliant writer to find an escape, but it may not be enough to counter Bates’ devious mind.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Misery” was the “hobbling” scene.  No matter how many times I’ve seen it, it still makes me cringe.

Rob Reiner does a good job of directing this Stephen King story.  All the elements of a good suspense tale is here, and Bates’ performance takes this movie to a higher level of quality.

— M

Grade A

Based on the novel by Stephen King, “It” is a story of seven children who are considered outcasts in school, their everyday fears overshadowed by a creature that has awakened, taking the form of a clown (played by Bill Skarsgard).  Summer is supposed to be a time of fun for children.  Not so for the seven outcasts — calling themselves the Losers — who have to fight a war on two fronts: the terrors that most children face; and the supernatural entity that threatens to kill them one at a time unless the Losers Club bands together and takes the fight to the creature.

My most memorable, movie moment of “It” is the scene when the girl member of the Losers is attacked by her father who has been molesting her.  This scene alone makes the movie unfit for young children, and disturbing for most people to watch.

“It” should bring back many childhood memories of those who watch it.  The best of times (summer days of playing, hanging out with friends and teasing each other, first crush on a girl) and the troubling times (being a loner, feeling like a loser, the start of a girl’s period, being bullied, the mental/verbal/sexual abuse that some parents inflict on their children) are vividly and sometimes graphically exposed in “It.”  Although most of the lead actors are children, “It” is meant for adults, and adults will have a great time watching this movie that is horrifying, funny, and very, very well made.

— M

 

 

B –

Manny’s Movie Musings: “Firestarter” adapts Stephen King’s book of the same name, and stars Drew Barrymore playing the title role and David Keith as her protective father.  Both father and daughter have super powers (Barrymore can set almost anything on fire) due to a government experiment, and now they are hunted down for more experimentation and ultimate disposal.  My most memorable, movie moment of “Firestarter” is the scene when Barrymore walks out of a burning barn, ready to kill and burn everything and everyone she sees — a little girl with an adorable face but with the power of the devil.  Although “Firestarter” has the feel of a movie of the week and has several shenanigans (e.g., the bad guys make the laughably bad assumption that Keith has lost his powers and therefore doesn’t need that much supervision), overall it is very entertaining (mostly due to Barrymore’s adorable portrayal of her character), and the part when Barrymore goes off on the bad guys is very satisfying.

— M

Grade B –

Manny’s Movie Musings: based on the novel by Stephen King, “Cujo” is about a rabid Saint Bernard who terrorizes a mother (played by Dee Wallace) and her young son (played by Danny Pintauro).  Trapped in a small, Ford Pinto that doesn’t start, Wallace and Pintauro spend several agonizing days in the heat inside their car, unable to escape with Cujo just waiting for them nearby.  No cell phones, no neighbors…if Wallace doesn’t make a desperate attempt to flee or kill Cujo, she and her son will surely die in the car from heat exhaustion and dehydration.  My most memorable, movie moment of “Cujo” is the scene when Wallace has her car door open and trying to take care of Pintauro, and Cujo appears behind her and goes in for the kill.  Although “Cujo” feels at times like a made for tv movie (most of the director’s work is in tv), it is still a good horror/suspense movie that continues to be relevant today with all the reported dog attacks against humans.

— M

Adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same title, “Christine” is about a 1958 Plymouth Fury car that is alive and evil.  Rusted and falling apart in a yard since the previous owner died, Christine is spotted by a High School geek played by Keith Gordon.  It’s love at first sight, and Gordon buys her from the dead owner’s brother.  Gordon’s new toy quickly becomes an obsession, changing his life for the better and for the worst.  Better because he becomes more confident, dresses better, stands up for himself, and gets a hot girlfriend.  Worst because he alienates and angers the people who care for him: his best friend (John Stockwell), his parents, and his hot girlfriend; and Gordon takes on Christine’s evil personality as driver and car feed off each other, their souls getting more twisted as they get stronger.

One of my memorable, movie moments of “Christine” is the scene when Christine is being torn apart by Gordon’s bullies.  Any car lover would cringe and feel a twisting in his stomach watching this part of the movie.  Any one who has a beautiful car always has the fear of some jealous jackass damaging his ride.  This is a crime that should bring the death penalty.   I’m not kidding here.

Another memorable moment of this movie is the scene when Christine repairs herself in front of Gordon after Gordon assures Christine that both of them will show the bullies what they can do if the two of them stick together.  How many of us have wished we had a car that can do this!  Minus the evil part, of course.

And now, for the most memorable, movie moment of “Christine”: the scene when Christine is patiently waiting in the dark as Moochie, one of the bullies who vandalized her, crosses the street.  Her windows are tinted a deep black, and the song “Little Bitty Pretty One” plays from inside her, echoing dully against the buildings and streets.  Revenge…it can be so sweet.

I’ve watched this movie at least 15 times, so yeah, there’s a lot here for me to like.  Number 1: I love cars, and I know what it’s like to be a teenager who just can’t wait to get a driver’s license and a car of his own; and once getting your own car, to be a bit obsessed with it, spending lots of time and money on your wheels.  Number 2: I know what it’s like to be bullied — and to be a bully, I’m ashamed to say — and have revenge fantasies against those bullies.  Number 3: I like music from the 50s.  Number 4: “Christine” is simply a well-made, horror movie directed by master filmmaker John Carpenter, whose many movies I have enjoyed as a child, a teenager, and adult.

— M

The first car I ever drove: my dad's '72 Chevy Nova.  My first "Christine."

The first car I ever drove: my dad’s ’72 Chevy Nova. My first “Christine.”

 

 

My current "Christine," although she has her own name.

My current “Christine,” although she has her own name.

 

Based on a Stephen King short story, “Sometimes They Come Back” is about a man (played by Tim Matheson) who moves his family back to his childhood town — a town where, many decades ago, his brother was killed by the local bullies, and those same bullies were killed partly due to one small action of Matheson.   Why would he move himself and his wife and young boy to a place that holds so many bad memories, memories that still haunt him?  Because his bad memories produce bad tempers, and during his last teaching job, he lost it and may have hurt a student; and now the only teaching job that is offered to him is at the high school of his hometown.  The problem is: when people die, and their spirits are not at rest, sometimes, they come back.

One by one, Matheson’s good students are killed by the spirits of the dead bullies, and for each student killed, one of the dead bullies comes back to life.  And they manage to get themselves transferred to Matheson’s class.  Matheson, of course, remembers the faces of the bullies, and begins to question his sanity after seeing these bullies come to his class one by one.   He soon realizes that he is not insane, and these bullies from the past have somehow come back to life, and that the bullies want one thing: to relive that moment when Matheson’s brother was killed, leading to Matheson’s action that initiates the deaths of the bullies.   Why all the theatrics by the bullies?  Because the bullies want the chance to do in Matheson, as they had originally planned decades ago.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Sometimes They Come Back” is the scene when the 3 bullies reveal to a student they are about to kill what their faces really look like.  A scary scene this is not…it’s more in the shock and disgusting department.  Yup, that’s about it.  That’s the most memorable moment of this movie.   Then again, this is a made for t.v. movie, so we shouldn’t expect much — which is good, because we don’t get much.

By the way, these ghosts aren’t that creative.  If I had the chance to come back to life after I died, I’d go to Europe and sample its legalized prostitution in the red light districts.  I always wondered about those places after my buddy, Ed, came back from the Army and told me tales of women behind windows for the customers to see from the street.  If the curtains were closed, she’s occupied.  If it was open, then she is available.  For those who are shocked and think this is horrible and it should be done away with…it’ll never happen.  There’s a reason why prostitution, drugs, gambling and alcohol are so prominent in our lives: people want it!  And yeah, your man most likely wants it, too.  Maybe not the drugs and gambling and alcohol, but definitely the prostitutes.  He either had a prostitute, continues to see prostitutes, or thinks of being with a prostitute.  “Oh, no, not my man” you object.  Yes, your man, too!  So get yourself tested, because when it comes to the Johns, most times, they come back.

M

 

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