Misery Deserves Company

Misery

And by that I mean a bigger fanbase. Yes, it’s another Stephen King horror film featuring a mediocre writer as a main character, but it’s got some solid themes going for it. Helplessness, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” antagonist, and some sudden but slightly predictable twists. I won’t say it’s a high-grade movie, but I will tell you that it’s a fun watch when you’re in the mood for a classic horror flick.

Paul Sheldon is our protagonist here, finishing up the latest of his best-selling Misery books in his Colorado lodge. He’s going through his novel-finishing ritual, then ends up crashing his car in a blizzard and being saved by retired nurse Annie Wilkes, who just so happens to be his self-proclaimed number one fan. She takes him into her home, sets him up in one of her beds, and seems generally pleasant at first. She gives Paul Novril, a painkiller, and tells him about how much she loves his books.

MiseryTHEN she finds out that he’s ending the series and killing Misery with the latest book. That’s when she starts tormenting the poor crippled writer. She makes him burn another novel, one about his decadent childhood, though not before threatening to burn him if he refused. She uses a sledgehammer to break both of his ankles when he makes his first wheelchair escape attempt.

Paul’s publisher stirs up the subplot when she calls the local sheriff to ask where her writer lad has been. Sheriff Buster manages to locate the car and discern that someone used a crowbar to pry the door open. Dead end from there until he connects Annie to Paul’s disappearance by reading Misery and finding that the crazed nurse quoted the books for her trial. I say “crazed” because Paul checks her photo/newspaper article album and finds out that she murdered patients and babies back in her old job.

Buster creates one of the better close calls by locating Paul, but doesn’t last long enough to do anything with it. With the inevitability of being discovered by the police growing closer, Annie decides to “be with Paul forever” and shoot him before shooting herself. Some quick thinking saves his life; he says they can’t die together until Misery’s been made immortal. That way, he has time to think of an escape plan while writing “Misery’s Return.” The plan winds up devolving into beating the living crap out of Annie after distracting her by burning his book.

MiseryKathy Bates does a wonderful job of portraying Annie Wilkes though her use of saccharine sadism and childish cuss words. I’m not sure if playing an obsessive homicidal stalker extremely well is something to pride yourself on, but I thoroughly enjoyed her performance regardless.

So should you see this movie? That depends on two things, really. One, if you can stomach Stephen King movies. This one doesn’t contain as much of the Kingly charm, so it should be easier to like than Dreamcatcher. Two, if you don’t mind a little softcore unconventional horror. There isn’t much violence, save for a gaping buckshot wound, some crappy eye-gouging, and several severe head injuries. If you’re game, then by all means.

This lovely review on EricChrist.com better covers the plot and subtle messages that construct this movie. It says Misery is heavy with anti-Christian subtleties, specifically linked to Annie’s psychosis and her religious paraphernalia. I honestly can’t agree with that, because ole Stephie King doesn’t typically touch on many profound topics when he does horror; it’s all viewer extrapolation. Here’s the link, anyway: http://www.ericchrist.com/non-fiction/moviereview.htm

Stephen King’s IT is the Bane of Clown-Phobics

Or the bane of people who hate crappy movies.Stephen King's "It"

There are several things you should know about Stephen King before you read this article. One, just because he writes a truckload of horror books and movies does NOT mean that he’s a good writer. Two, there is ALWAYS a mantra. Storm of the Century: “Give me what I want, and I’ll go away.” Dreamcatcher: “Same shit, different day.” So on, so forth. This time around it’s “I’m the eater of worlds… and children.” Three: The children are always suffering from some form of mental deficit, making them completely stupid, easily excited, and terrible actors.

So let’s talk about IT. A classic, right? I hope you don’t mind if I tear it a new asshole. Stephen King’s IT is a movie about a ghost clown that haunted a group of obnoxious children for some reason, and left them scarred subsequently. Pennywise (clown man) appears every thirty years to feed on souls, spiriting people who believe in him away to his magical world of clowns.

The movie starts off by looking at the lives of the group of kids, all grown up. They’re all very successful, very normal, and pretty happy. And then the only black guy remembers Pennywise, and starts calling everyone to remind them as well. Since they all forgot that sinister clown, he couldn’t hurt them. But not anymore! Hurrah? So they all have to go back to Derry, Maine (the setting for quite possible every single one of Stephen King’s books) and somehow defeat this imaginary circus entertainer.

Stephen King's "It"But not before flashing back to their childhoods and eating up half of the movie with bad acting and deliberate plights for empathy! You see, in this movie, everyone’s life sucked. Their parents abused them, they were picked on by bullies, and/or everyone just went out of their way to slap them in the face and would gladly piss on their graves. The mantra for this movie really should be “Everyone is an abusive mentally handicapped asshole, and one of them happens to be a clown that wants to kill you.”

Half of the movie didn’t even need to happen. I’m sure Stephie just wanted to achieve some sort of milestone for making use of the double-sided DVD. Here’s the ultra abridged version, in bullet point form:

  • The protagonists are living successful lives.
  • They’re reminded of past trauma that must be dealt with.
  • Flashback to past trauma for half the movie.
  • They congregate in, guess where, Derry, Maine.
  • They go underground to the old sewer where they first fought Pennywise.
  • Turns out Pennywise is a giant spider that needs to be stabbed in his glowing weak point. And the movie says, “Fuck you for watching.”

Stephen King's "It"Need I go on? I suppose the main point to draw from all this is that Stephen King movies are only good if you have virtually nothing else to do and boredom has lowered your standards. Stephen King’s IT is by no means a good movie, because it’s dull, repetitive, far too long, and the horror to filler ratio is 1:10.  Go do something else that isn’t watching this compendium of utter crap.

RottenTomatoes has a fair selection of user and admin reviews that should offer a wider perspective. Most people who saw this when they were kids wound up liking it and still do for nostalgic reasons. I am not a kid at the moment, so I bloody hated it. Here’s a cluster of different perspectives. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/stephen-kings-it1990/

Dreamcatcher, One Nightmare of a Film

DreamcatcherThis isn’t going to be a critical review of this movie so much as it’s going to be me pinpointing all the things that bother me and blowing them up so it influences your perspective. Also, doing that will render you incapable of ignoring all the things that I mention. Because of this, you’ll either see the movie to find out just how spot-on I am, or you’ll avoid seeing the movie because I’ve already ruined it for you. Let’s begin, shall we?

Here’s the plot shorty: Four kids save a fifth with Down syndrome who gives them telekinetic powers. They grow up and keep their powers a secret, easing themselves into crappy jobs. Then, they go to a cabin called Hole-in-the-Wall and find that the area has been quarantined by the government. Apparently, aliens have landed and they’re infecting people with what even the movie dubs “shit-weasels.” They gestate in people’s stomachs and come out of their asses when they’re done growing. The main bad guy Mr. Grey comes along and takes over one of the guys, and his plan is inevitably foiled. Another one of the four, along with the Down syndrome guy and a military softie, save the day by preventing Mr. Grey from dumping a shit-weasel into their town’s water supply.

DreamcatcherIs that enough to make you hate this movie? Not enough? Alright, here’s a quick one. Morgan Freeman plays a psychotic military guy who wants to murder everyone who’s even come close to the so-called “Ripley” alien soup stuff. Besides the fact that his character has an annoying personality (like every other character in this movie), it doesn’t seem to me like Morgan Freeman would come within a mile of any of Stephen King’s work. Just saying.

Next up, we have the maturity level of the four main characters. Allow me to illustrate by some of their colloquialisms: Bite my bag, fuck me Freddy, kiss my bender, Jesus Christ bananas, fuckarow/fuckaree, same shit different day, no bounce no play. Apparently, they’ve used these tidbits of stupid slang since they were kids, and it still hasn’t gotten old to them. Is that enough to annoy you? No? … I don’t believe you. But fine, I’ll keep going.

Alright, here’s another. The main baddie, Mr. Grey, has a bright, chipper, and lively cockney accent. I don’t even know where to begin, but I’m thinking that Stephen King personally approved of this. I wouldn’t mind if it made sense, but more likely than not it’s just something they threw in for shits and giggles, which seems terribly befitting of this terrible little film.

DreamcatcherI don’t really have much more to say about Dreamcatcher, really. Overall, it just feels like a bad movie. While those specifics are certainly detrimental to the movie’s quality, the real problems stem from the overwhelming feeling of insincerity that you pick up on when watching. The roles and personalities of the characters seem half-baked yet forced, the plot justifies itself in a very “because I say so” way. The first few times you watch it, you’ll be able to tolerate it; it’s one of those “so bad it’s good” movies. That said, after you finally let how bad it is sink in, it becomes nigh unwatchable.

Long story short, you see a movie by the name of Dreamcatcher, you stay away from it on general principle. It’ll leave one hell of a bad taste in your mouth.

The Shining: Abridged Yet Complete

The ShiningA word of warning to the younger generations: This is an old movie. I mean, REALLY old. Jack Nicholson is pretty young in this one. Also, it’s a Stephen King movie, and those are usually hit or miss, so I just thought I’d let you know.

That said, however, The Shining has got to be one of the best horror novel film adaptations I’ve ever seen. It uses elements of isolation and macabre surreality to create a psychological thriller under the guise of a horror flick. Due to the book to film compression, some of the plot aspects become rather obligatory, thus lose some of their suspenseful thrill. The foreshadowing becomes much more conspicuous when not presented alongside several other secondary plot aspects.

A bit of background on The Shining, though. The story revolves around the illustrious and fictional Overlook Hotel in Colorado. During the winter, a caretaker must remain there in isolation to keep everything fit and functional when guests begin to arrive again in spring. In Jack Torrance’s interview with the hotel manager Stewart Ullman, he discovers that the last caretaker succumbed to cabin fever and murdered his family, then soon after killed himself. That, coupled with the disclosure that Jack is a rehabilitated alcoholic, kind of clues the audience in that Jack’s gonna be the next one to go nuts.

The ShiningHOWEVER.

Ol’ Stephen King’s not so willing to leave it so simple. As it turns out, the Overlook Hotel was constructed on top of an ancient Indian burial ground (King’s answer to all spirit matters) and as such is home to myriad malevolent spirits. To add to that, Jack’s son Danny is gifted with an incredible psychic power called The Shining, that allows him to read minds and see things that normal people can’t see. Addressed in the book though not the movie, the Overlook spirits desire to absorb Danny’s powerful Shining in order to augment their own power for an unspoken purpose.

This leaves Jack’s wife, Wendy Torrance, as the only non-Shining, non insane character left in the Overlook. While Danny begin to notice Jack’s growing madness and the ill will lingering about the hotel with relative ease, Wendy doesn’t begin to notice until Jack is almost entirely gripped. Soon after this point, the spirits begin to manifest and take more direct action against the family, with Jack as their weapon.

The ShiningI’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept of an axe-wielding maniac, and the phrase, “Here’s Johnny!” shouted through a broken door. The Shining was the movie that canonized these little horror flick concepts into fame and glory. It was, after all, a very well known horror movie in its time.

I do have some grievances with the movie The Shining, though. A few things that could have been done better, the book-to-movie negatives already factored in. There was no turbulence shown between Jack and Wendy’s marriage, and the character Dick Hallorann is merely an expendable secondary who gives Danny Torrance a cautionary tale about the evil room 217, and a lesson on his Shining ability. When I say expendable, I mean he dies. You won’t miss him. In the book, his role is pivotal and aids to the conclusion of the tale. In the movie, he’s just another face.

Those negatives pointed out, I don’t think that they’re prominent enough to drag my opinion of The Shining down. For an older horror movie with only marginal effects, everything settles well, from aesthetics to characterization. You really can’t go wrong with horror classics, I think, especially with a “shining” example like th- Hah, sorry. Couldn’t keep a straight face with such a crappy pun. Go watch the Shining and crap yourself when you get to the part with the dead woman in the tub. I saw that part when I was bloody five. Had me scared of bathtubs for weeks. Really great.