Friday, June 1, 2012

Film Friday: Dreamcatcher (2003)

I’ve soured on Stephen King over the years. He steals his ideas from movies and his writing has become pedestrian and packed with nonsense and stereotypes. His movies are worse. Dreamcatcher is a good example of this. Indeed, despite being well-shot by Lawrence Kasdan and packed with solid actors like Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore, Timothy Oliphant and Thomas Jane, Dreamcatcher really highlights the shortcomings of King’s work over the past few decades.

** spoiler alert **

Dreamcatcher is the story of four friends who go to a cabin in Maine to relax. Unbeknownst to them, a hostile alien spaceship has crashed nearby and the Army has come to kill the aliens. While the Army is busy doing this, one of the aliens takes over the body of one of the friends and sets out for Boston to put worms into the water supply. These worms would infect the entire population and produce millions of aliens. But the four friends have a secret weapon. . . they had a retarded friend as a child, and as we all know, retarded kids have special powers. Here’s where this film fails:
The Tired Formulas: Right out of the gates, Dreamcatcher presents us with the incredibly-tired, standard King formulas. You’ve got the evil, out-of-control military commander who decides to needlessly murder people. You’ve got the alcoholic. You’ve got the four friends who’ve been friends since childhood in their idyllic small town just like in Stand By Me and It. And the coup de grace, you’ve got the retarded kid who needs to be saved from the bullies, who then turns out to have special magical powers which are needed to solve the movie.

The Rip-Offs: As you watch the film, you will get a strange sense of déjà vu, like you’ve seen everything in it before. This has become a standard feeling in King movies. Indeed, it seems that the way King writes books now is to rent all the popular movies on a particular topic, e.g. zombies, and then steal the best scenes from each movie and string them together in a new book. For example, when you watch something like Rose Red you can literally call out the movies he’s stealing from scene by scene. Dreamcatcher isn’t as bad as most of his recent work in this regard, but there is absolutely nothing original about the film at any point. King also seems determined to strew this film with references to better movies, like calling the alien virus “Ripley.” And to add insult to injury, he actually has Morgan Freeman tell you, “the men call the red stuff ‘Ripley’, after the broad in the Alien movies,” because you stupid viewers might not get such an incredibly obvious reference.

The Nonsense: Where Dreamcatcher really underwhelms, however, is in all the nonsense at the heart of this film. Consider Duddits, the retarded kid. It’s rather asinine that King always pretends that retarded kids somehow have special powers. It’s like the racist portrayal of the “noble savage” (renamed “the magic negro”), where these non-mainstream individuals are presented as non-threatening, simpletons with a special gift of insight. King is famous for this, but that’s just the surface problem here.
The real problem is that Duddits isn’t human at all, he’s an alien in disguise, but no one seems to realize this -- including his own mother. Huh? The mother, by the way, lets one of the friends take cancer-stricken Duddits away to hunt the bad alien because she’d rather he died somewhere unknown rather than at home. Huh? Worst of all, for this movie to work, Duddits needs to misunderstand one of the other friends (as a kid) when he says “save the world another day.” Duddits hears this as “save the world from Mr. Gray.” So Duddits gives them all special powers which they will need 30 years later to fight against Mr. Gray himself, who crashes on earth by accident. In other words, Duddits knew that the four friends would go on vacation in 30 years near the crash site of an alien ship that just happened to be carrying Mr. Gray, and which would crash unintentionally, and that Mr. Gray would just happened to stumble upon the four friends in the vast Maine wilderness. Yeah, no coincidence there.

This is so far beyond the level of believable coincidence that you have to assume Duddits can predict the future. But if that’s the case, why not just visit them at the cabin and save them? Or tell them what they need to know. Also, how in the world can Duddits be portrayed as a genuinely retarded kid and adult, yet he ends up being more than a match for the highly-intelligent and maniacal Mr. Gray?

Then you have the relationship between Freeman, who plays Colonel Curtis, and Sizemore, who plays Owen, his second in command. These two guys are tight friends who have been fighting aliens together long enough that Curtis plans to retire after this mission and hand over control of the unit to Owen. Yet most of their conversations are spent with Curtis explaining to Owen what the aliens are, what the virus is the aliens spread, and how to combat it. Wouldn’t Owen know this? Why does he treat Owen like he walked in off the street? Curtis even has to tell Owen the name of the virus, even though Owen says he just came from a briefing about it.
At the same time, Owen’s character is given a generic King-style conflict. He has been approached by the General in charge who thinks Curtis is needlessly killing civilians. Being a General, he could pretty much do what he wants to fix that. So he chooses to confide in Curtis’s best friend and send him to spy on Curtis? Huh? Owen, of course, immediately confesses this to Curtis and they share a touching moment of derision for their superiors. Owen specifically tells Curtis that he thinks the General’s theory about the virus “is crap.” Before the scene even ends, however, Owen completely changes positions and tells Curtis that the General’s theory is accurate and neither of them seem to notice this about face. He then betrays Curtis on the word of a guy claiming to be a psychic (Thomas Jane as Henry) after about twenty seconds of convincing. This leads us to another stupid scene where Owen tells Curtis he should come listen to Henry, and Curtis agrees, only to decide he’d rather go secretly shoot Henry for no logical reason whatsoever. Moreover, Henry is warning them that an alien got away. Why in the world would this cause Curtis to shoot him? It’s nonsense.

Then you have the virus. The aliens spread a red powder all over the place. This powder infects people causing worms to grow inside them. Those worms shoot out their rear ends, creating thousands of little aliens. All it takes is a little red dust to make this happen and that dust is everywhere. Yet, to eradicate this threat, the Army sends in 3-5 Apache helicopters to blow up the alien ship with what appear to be anti-aircraft missiles and mini-guns. And to make the viewer think this is effective, they talk about quarantining the area until they can blow up the ship. But think about this. If a single alien is away from the crash site, taking a leak for example, the Army’s plan will fail. And with this virus infecting every animal in the forest, there is simply no conceivable way to quarantine the forest and stop these worms from spreading everywhere short of a nuclear blast. In effect, King has created an unstoppable alien, but then tells us bullets can stop it.

Nothing in this film makes sense. And that’s become the problem with King’s recent works. The scenes play out fine, but the way he combines them is utter nonsense. Moreover, so many of his stories now depend on the most bizarre string of coincidences to put the heroes in a position to win the movie. This is just bad writing.

Finally, it should be pointed out that this film did a lot of damage to Lawrence Kasdan’s career. He admitted that in 2012 and said that several movies he was planning fell through immediately after this one failed commercially. I’m not surprised. Other than Kubrick’s The Shining, how many other directors launched or saved their careers doing a Stephen King film?


shawn said...

I just looked it up on IMDB and found out the script was written by both Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill) and William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride). All I can say is, how did this all go wrong?

Anonymous said...

Lawrence Kasdan managed to return this year with a small film titled Darling Companion and besides, if he had only written Empire and Raiders, he'd still be immortal. :-)

I've never seen this film and since I'm not much of a horror guy, it's not exactly on my priority list. I do, however, HATE when movie plots hinge on a simple misunderstanding. I guess it's different for comedies and even sitcoms but for a serious film like this, it just makes the characters look stupid.

By the way, Frank Darabont launched his directing career with a Stephen King adaptation (The Shawshank Redemption) though he had already been working in the business for years as a screenwriter.

However, from a cursory glance at Wikipedia, directors like Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg has already been directing films for years before doing King adaptations. King didn't exactly launch their careers.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I think the problem was the source material. They tried to stick with a book which was essentially nonsense. In other words, these aren't really flaws in the script per se, they are flaws in the underlying characters and story elements. Yes, they could have done some things like the relationship between Owen and Curtis better, but the problem overall is still the story elements themselves.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Look at the massive number of King films and you will find only a handful of famous directors. And most of them were famous long before they took on King (John Carpenter, De Palma, Cronenberg, Kasdan). None of them became famous for doing the King movie, none of them were heaped with praise about those films, and for the most part each of these films underperformed. And all the best (most memorable, most successful) ones were early in King's career.

I've wondered for a long time why King's stuff is so hard to adapt and the more I watch his films, the more I realize that the problem is the generic factors. He uses the same generic characters, same generic moments, and everything he does has been seen before in other films -- sometimes he flat out steals. It's only his first few films which were relatively unique. At this point, he puts out films which are near-total rip offs of other films.

Dreamcatcher isn't as bad as others on the being obviously stolen from other films (though I dare you to distinguish the childhood relations from his other films It and Stand By Me), but there isn't a moment in this film that feels fresh or where you see new ground.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Let me also add... King gets a lot of praise for Shawshank Redemption. But that's actually the first film to tip me off to him stealing from movies. When I saw that film, I could not believe how closely it followed Escape from Alcatraz in terms of characters, plot points, and even story elements. It was like he decided he could steal the whole EfA film if he just changed the names of the characters and fuzzied the edges. And yet, somehow, no one noticed.

This was the first time I realized what he had done. Since that time, I've seen him do it time and again in film after film, and it's gotten to the point that I can literally go scene by scene and tell you what movies he stole everything from.

Tennessee Jed said...

ah jeez does this sound like it sucked. In this case, I can't truly credit you with saving me from the loss of my valuable time. Since I truly agree with you about King, it is highly doubtful I would have seen this one anyway. Still, there is always the outside chance I could be abducted and tortured by being tied down, having my eyelids sewn open, and vocal cords snipped--then being forced to watch.

Seriously, my feeling about King is there is way too much duplication. If you've seen two or three, you've seen them all. On that basis, there are probably a couple of pretty good stories, but he should have quit while he was ahead abot 30 years ago. If he could write as well as you, Andrew, things might be different.

Oh, and there is the rip-off factor . . . and his horrible liberal politics.

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Thanks Jed!

I agree on King, too much duplication. It wasn't that there was anything really horrible in this film, it just never added up to anything interesting. You know exactly how each scene will play out. You've seen everything it has to offer in a half dozen films already. Time and again you find yourself questioning the film if you stop to give it the slightest moment of thought. And there is no depth at all. Every issue can be raised and solved with the easiest solution.

So while it's not un-enjoyable as you watch it, it's not really enjoyable either.

What I find so amazing about King is that now that he is rich and famous, you would think he would take more time to write the things he really wanted to write. But instead, he seems to have gone the other way and is delving deeper and deeper into formulas and stolen ideas. I don't get it?

(FYI, I'm trying to get my books out next week finally!)

tryanmax said...

An all-around forgettable movie that deserves to be. You summed it up perfectly. I'll just take the opportunity to riff on supposedly sensitive liberal Hollywood types who always go for the highly insulting "disabled kid with superpowers" trope.

I'll admit to never having thought about it before my own child was diagnosed autistic. Why would I? My intent is not to claim victim status in any way, but that trope is about as insulting as it possibly can be.

Think about it this way: What if a movie was premised on the idea that paralyzed people really can walk, but only when the chips are down? That basically makes them fakers--and horrible sympathy mongers--all the rest of the time! Applied to learning disabilities, the message is even worse. It basically suggests there is no disability, but that the person is just lazy.

This isn't to say that any portrayal of a disabled person as also having a superpower is unacceptable. I hold up DareDevil and Gary from Alphas as examples of physically and learning disabled (respectively) superheros that are inoffensive. And while I personally haven't seen Touch, I'm told that it is a very positive portrayal of autism, as well.

The trick is this: the superpower can't negate the disability. If DareDevil was blind but had broad-spectrum vision for a power, then he wouldn't really be blind, would he? Similarly, someone with a cognitive disability cannot also be super-intelligent. Then he's just a faker and makes the real disabled look bad by extension.

Tennessee Jed said...

it's just that in this age when everyone has too much to do, and we live in a world drowning in information and sensory overload, it seems to me that a strong case could be made that "never adding up to anything interesting" could actually be used as an alternative dictionary definition for "really horrible." ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. A film that really offers you nothing memorable isn't a film worth watching in my opinion.

What I find frustrating is that I WANT to like all of his films. They should be right up my alley. But they always turn out so darn bland.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, King does this all the time (as do many others in Hollywood), and I think it stems from the same thing as the Magic Negro.

What I think is going on, is that these people are very uncomfortable with those who are noticeably different, e.g. blacks, retarded kids, foreigners, etc. So they turn them into these harmless "noble" creatures as a way to cope with them being different.

In other words, blacks are intimidating to white liberals because they aren't like other white liberals. They have cultural beliefs the liberals don't, they like music and food the liberals don't, and they don't react like other white liberals do. This makes them uncomfortable to liberals who assume that everyone must be like they are. To alleviate that discomfort, they turn blacks into a sort of mascot -- cute and harmless. That is why they make them powerless simpletons (see The Green Mile as the classic example). But to make themselves feel better about their blatant racism, they give these simpletons magical powers or "insight" (typically things the liberal already knows but which the character has conveniently forgotten). Thus, they effectively "domesticate" the wild man and simultaneously feel smug about doing.

I think the way they use retarded/autistic/handicapped people is the same. These liberal writers are made uncomfortable by people who clearly are not like them. They don't know how to respond to them. So they make them harmless ("de-threaten" them) by showing them as useless, defenseless beings who need us to protect them and give their lives meaning. Then they give them wisdom or magic powers as a way to hide what they've done. That way they can kid themselves that they didn't rob these people of their dignity (which they did) they enhanced their dignity by making them mystics, e.g. more powerful that the rest of us.

It's a rather nasty impulse and King does it over and over.

DUQ said...

Andrew, I've watched this movie many times and I can't tell you why. I think I keep hoping to find something worthwhile in it. It's beautifully shot and I like the actors and it feels like it should be a good movie, but it just isn't.

DUQ said...

tryanmax, I never noticed the way Hollywood deals with disabilities until a guest on O'Reilly went off on the same point you are making. They said it makes people see them as fakers or downplay the problems they experience because they assume disabled people have these other gifts. In particular, the guy said that with blind people, many people now wrongly believe because of Hollywood that blind people get special hearing which is as good as having vision, so they downplay the problems associated with being blind.

tryanmax said...

DUQ, well there went my praise for DareDevil. Except that in the story, I believe it is understood that his hearing is a superpower.

DUQ said...

tryanmax, The guy had a good point. Once you start paying attention you'll see that almost every film with a blind person in it shows them having super-hearing to compensate at some point. And it seems to be the same with people with other permanent disabilities too.

ellenB said...

This film was just dull and as Andrew says "workmanlike." Everything happened by the numbers as you expect with absolutely zero surprises.

T-Rav said...

I didn't watch a whole lot of Dreamcatcher, but it was enough for me to roll my eyes and change the channel. Not even Morgan Freeman could save this turd.

Regarding Daredevil, there are two main problems with that movie:

1. They didn't explain the powers thing.
2. Everything else.

ScyFyterry said...

I'm going to go against the crowd a bit. I enjoy this film in the same way I enjoy the other schlock on the Sci-Fi Channel -- it's a pleasant timewaster.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I know what you mean. It's the kind of movie that feels like it should be a good movie because it has a lot of the necessary elements. But it just doesn't come together because "there's no there there."

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I'd heard that as well a long time ago and it does seem to be true. Hollywood is big on making it appear like disabilities are no big deal and you constantly see them including scenes in films or television shows where the disabled person gets to use super hearing or some magical insight which not only compensates for the problem, but actually sounds like a better deal.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I didn't see it as offensive precisely because it was meant as a superhero film, so it was meant to be unrealistic. Plus, in that case, it seems more like he lost his sight to compensate for his superhearing, rather than the other way around.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Yep. The one exception is when a main character temporarily loses their sight or hearing or something. Then you get the weepy episode where they just can make it and basically give up until they "bravely" learn from someone like a nearby child that they can indeed continue living. Then their lost sight/hearing/etc. will magically return once they've proven they can do whatever the big task was without their lost ability. They do this all the time too with main characters who get paralyzed as they learn they can walk by just doing it.

AndrewPrice said...

Ellen, I think the flaws go beyond the film just being workmanlike, but you are correct in using that term to describe the direction -- there is nothing creative or unexpected, just an efficient presentation of each scene.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Your diagnosis of the problems with Daredevil are on the money, especially number 2.

Dreamcatcher is a film which just doesn't give you anything to really care about. There's no fear the alien might win, you don't really care about the characters, and everything is so blandly black and white that even the few conflicts they include are obvious and dull.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, It's not a horrible film in the sense that you will hate it. It's just not a memorable or fun film. It is, as you describe, a time-waster. It is just like the Sci-Fi schlock in that you can waste an hour or two watching a giant shark smack around a giant octopus and you don't hate yourself for watching.

ScyFyterry said...

Andrew, That's a good way to put it -- you don't hate yourself for watching it, even though you know it isn't going to be a film you care about. In fact, it's the kind of film I can turn off halfway through and not feel like I robbed myself of anything.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, There are a lot of films like that, but it just seems wrong that a film done by Kasdan based on a story by King should fall into that category. But a lot of his films do.

NightcrawlerER said...

Andrew, I would say most of King's fall into that category. The good ones are few and far between and as time passes they don't really continue to stand out.

AndrewPrice said...

Nightcrawler, I am forced to agree. I pulled up a list of movies based on his book and it was stunning how many there have been. And yet, when you go down the list, there aren't very many good ones. There are several that I enjoy, but few that really stand out as great films or even great horror films.

It makes me think that King is destined to be forgotten a generation or two after he dies.

NightcrawlerER said...

Here is a list of his film:

1976 - Carrie
1979 - Salem's Lot
1980 - The Shining
1982 - Creepshow (Five short films: "Father's Day," "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill," "Something to Tide You Over," "The Crate," and "They're Creeping Up On You")
1982 - The Boogeyman (short film)
1983 - Cujo
1983 - The Dead Zone
1983 - Christine
1983 - Disciples of the Crow (short film)
1983 - The Woman in the Room (short film)
1984 - Children of the Corn
1984 - Firestarter
1985 - Cat's Eye (Three short films: "Quitters, Inc.," "The Ledge," and "The General")
1985 - Silver Bullet
1985 - Stephen King's Nightshift Collection (Two short films: "The Woman in the Room" and "The Boogeyman")
1985 - Word Processor of the Gods (episode of Tales from the Darkside)
1986 - Gramma (episode of The Twilight Zone)
1986 - Maximum Overdrive
1986 - Stand By Me
1987 - Creepshow 2 (Three short films: "Old Chief Wood'n'head," "The Raft," and "The Hitchhiker")
1987 - A Return to Salem's Lot
1987 - The Running Man
1987 - The Last Rung on the Ladder (short film)
1987 - Sorry, Right Number (episode of Tales from the Darkside)
1989 - Pet Sematary
1990 - The Cat From Hell (short film)
1990 - Graveyard Shift
1990 - It (TV mini-series)
1990 - Misery
1990 - The Moving Finger (Monsters episode)
1991 - Golden Years (TV miniseries)
1991 - Sometimes They Come Back
1992 - Sleepwalkers
1993 - The Dark Half
1993 - Needful Things
1993 - The Tommyknockers (miniseries)
1993 - Chinga (episode of The X-files)
1994 - The Shawshank Redemption
1994 - The Stand (miniseries)
1995 - The Langoliers (miniseries)
1995 - The Mangler
1995 - Dolores Claiborne
1995 - Stephen King's Nightshift Collection
1996 - Thinner
1997 - The Shining (TV miniseries)
1997 - Ghosts (music video)
1997 - The Night Flier (HBO Movie)
1997 - Quicksilver Highway (segment Chattery Teeth)
1997 - Trucks (TV Remake of Maximum Overdrive)
1998 - Apt Pupil
1999 - The Green Mile
1999 - The Rage: Carrie 2
1999 - Storm of the Century (TV miniseries)
1999 - Llamadas (short film)
2000 - Paranoid(short film)
2001 - Hearts in Atlantis
2001 - Strawberry Spring (short film)
2002 - Rose Red (TV miniseries)
2002 - The Dead Zone (TV Series)
2002 - Night Surf (short film)
2002 - Rainy Season (short film)
2002 - Carrie (TV movie remake)
2003 - Dreamcatcher
2003 - The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (TV movie)
2003 - Autopsy Room Four (short film)
2003 - Here There Be Tygers (short film)
2003 - The Man in the Black Suit (short film)
2004 - Secret Window
2004 - Kingdom Hospital (TV series)
2004 - Salem's Lot (TV miniseries)
2004 - Luckey Quarter (short film)
2004 - The Secret Transit Codes of America's Highways (short film)
2004 - All That You Love Will Be Carried Away (short film)
2004 - Riding the Bullet
2005 - I Know What You Need (short film)
2006 - Desperation (TV miniseries)
2006 - Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the stories of Stephen King
2006 - Suffer the Little Children (short film)
2007 - 1408
2007 - The Mist
2007 - No Smoking (Bollywood movie)
2009 - Dolan's Cadillac
2010 - The Haven (TV series based on the characters from The Colorado Kid)
2011 - Bag of Bones

NightcrawlerER said...

I would say there are 1-2 hits, a couple medium hits, and then a whole lotta crap.

AndrewPrice said...

Nightcrawler, He's had a couple more hints than leap to mind -- The Shining, Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption, and Running Man.

Then he's got a good number of enjoyable, but hardly "strong" films like Carrie, Christine, Needful Things, Salem's Lot, Silver Bullett, and The Stand. But most of the above is garbage.

NightcrawlerER said...

That's about how I'd see it too, though I don't think Running Man has any staying power and I'm not sure Stand by Me does either.

Tennessee Jed said...

seing the full list makes me realize that a couple of them I did see and sort of liked, (Misery and Delores Clairborne) helped kick start the career of Tennessean Kathy Bates. Bates is my contemporary and makes a pretty good character actress of a certain type. I've already discussed The Shining during your review of that film. It may have been the only King book I ever read. Saw it restored recently in 1080p and gained more respect for the film as a result of those discussions.

AndrewPrice said...

Nightcrawler, I'm actually not sure about those either. They were big at the time, but I can't say I've seen a lot of call for them being remembered.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I like Bates for the most part. It kind of depends on the role.

What's interesting to me is that he's managed to make so many books into films despite the abysmal track record. If I were a producer looking at this list, I would think that my chances of having a genuine hit are very, very low and I would go for something safer.

Ed said...

Nice review! I agree completely. This film works on a scene by scene level, but it really falls apart once you start trying to connect the scenes. There is so much that you need to take on faith that it makes sense because it really doesn't if you pay attention. For example, how the heck do they quarantine what appears to be hundreds of square miles to make sure no single animal gets through? Not to mention, what good is the quarantine if they don't then go through the area and purge it? What's to stop a dear or rat or snake from just staying in the quarantine zone until the army leave again and then destroying the world? Basically, to believe this plan by the army will work, you need to believe that all the animals will rush to the checkpoints where they can be short. That's stupid.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I've soured on King, much like you. But Dreamcatcher was on TV a couple of days ago, and since I like all the major actors and a few of the minor ones, I thought I'd give it a chance. Frankly, the commercials were more interesting than the movie. Terrible waste of talent. I gave up about three-quarters of the way through it and switched to another channel.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, "terrible waste of talent" is a great way to put it. This movie has so much going for it, from the cast to the director to the filming locations. The only thing it didn't have was a story that made sense and which kept your interest.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Thanks! I have the exact same thought about the "quarantine." If this stuff can travel on any animal, as we're told and shown repeatedly, then a couple of checkpoints on the roads leading out of the forest are not a quarantine. And when you start with that weak of an attention to detail, everything else follows and you go downhill fast.

T-Rav said...

I have to say, I think I can count on my fingers the number of King films I've seen, and the only one that actually freaked me out was you-know-what. I haven't seen It, though, nor do I have any plans to do so.

I saw 1408 not long ago, and while I wouldn't say it's a strong film, necessarily, it's better than I expected. Kind of disjointed, but it has a good ending.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, As someone who loves horror films and has seen a boatload, 1408 offended me left and right because every single moment in it was stolen from other films.

It is pretty good. I personally wouldn't say it was scary, but it was enjoyable. Although, I like all the actors from my childhood, so you may not have the same reaction.

I'd say his scariest book (of the ones I've read) was Pet Sematary and the scariest film by far was The Shining.

CrisD said...

Never got to the movie. The book was horrid. I threw it out and would not pass it along due to embarrassment that I had even read it!

Stephen King: Carrie and The Shining....

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, I suspect the movie isn't much better than the book, if at all. It really strikes me as an idea he had which he never bothered to flesh out before writing the story.

In terms of King himself, I get the feeling he had a couple of neat ideas when he first started -- with things like "The Shining" and "Carrie" and a couple of the other early ones. But over time, he seems to have run out of ideas. And rather than stop and come up with ideas, his response has been to just keep turning out more and more books.

Individualist said...

So let me get this straight.....

The aliens have red dust that if you come in contact will give you worms that will become more aliens when they evacuate your bowels......

Is this a story about the terrible horrors for the humans or the aliens ....

cause d@^#!!! I would not want to be those aliens especially if the humans eat a lot of spicy Mexican food....

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Yep, this film is a metaphor for eating at Taco Bell. ;)

Actually, there are quite a few fart jerks early on and a fairly gross toilet scene. Blech.

DUQ said...

tryanmax, I have no problem with Daredevil for the same reason you mention.

Doc Whoa said...

I've seen this a couple times when there was nothing else on, but I barely remember it, which should tell you something. I don't think it's horrid, but it's not good either. It has brief moments where it feels like it is about to become a good film, but then they kill those moments pretty quickly.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, If you've seen it twice and can't remember it, that does indeed speak volumes! LOL!

Individualist said...

To date the best Steven King movie I have seen is Maximum Overdrive.

Carrie was never my cup of Tea but Christine was passable. I also liked Pet Cemetary.

The rest I could take or leave although some have been out right bad.

How much of MAximum Overdrive was King's short story and how much was good writing and directing added on.

Soonertroll said...

At least Maximum Overdrive gave us a nice AC/DC song. King began his decline after It.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Christine was passable, but that's because it was totally a John Carpenter film and all of his films hit a solid B.

I didn't care for Maximum Overdrive because it just had too much implausibility. I don't mind the concept, it's just the way it was executed required too much suspension of disbelief for me.

AndrewPrice said...

Soonertroll, That is an excellent AC/DC song!

I agree that she started his decline somewhere around It.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew, since I haven't seen this film, I would like to comment on King's films and add to the discussion of King as a writer from your post last year about "The Dome." (With your permission, Sir)

1. As a writer, before I gave up on him, a college room mate of mine observed that King is "The Master of the Mundane." No one can describe everyday life like King. I tend to agree. I loved "The Body" and "The Shawshank REdemption" for these reasons, and as far as IT goes, I thought the horror parts were laughable and boring, but I can pick up that book and read and re-read his description of AMerican life when we raced our bikes home to see the Lone Ranger or the Apocalyptic Rock Fight.

King did have some good chops in the early days, and he did have a great talent with words. Pick up The Stand and re-read that awesome chapter where the introduce the Dark Man, and you can practically hear "Sympathy for the Devil" in the background as Flagg traverses the dark side of 20th Century America (from both the left and the right interestingly enough)

I know I am in the minority here but I think "Different Seasons" is probably his best book. NO werewolves, apocalypic flus or killler dogs, just four well rounded human(ist) stories. INterestingly enough those stories have produced two of the best films, based on King (Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me) and one mediocre one, Apt Pupil). I'm surprised TAles of the DArk Side or one of the Twilight Zone retreds of the last cople of decades didn't tackle the fourth tale, which is to brief to be a full-length film.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Always feel free to speak your mind! :)

I personally think that King's early stuff was quite good. I don't know that his story ideas were ever all that special, but it was always very readable and I enjoyed the books. And that comes through in films like Christine and It, where you have an enjoyable look into people's lives before the horror aspect take over.

But somewhere along the way, he really lost it in my opinion and his stories just became pure formula supporting undeveloped and rushed ideas. I also get the sense he lost his editor at some point because it seems they no longer take out any thing from the stories, which makes them full of fluff.

It is interesting that Shawshank, Stand By Me and Apt Pupil all came from the same book, and have little to do with the horror stories for which he's famous. Perhaps he should have written more non-horror stories?

I've often wondered which of his books will be remembered in the future and I can't think of that many that will. I would say "The Stand" and "The Shining" most likely will, possibly "Different Seasons" and maybe "It".

What do you think?

Anthony said...

I like Stephen King, though he's often derivative and wildly uneven. Sometimes what he does is just amazing. Even his best books have their bad spots, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't really enjoy the likes of The Flexible Bullet (a short story out of Skeleton Crew IIRC), It, Stand By Me, The Stand, 1408 and the Dead Zone.

Anyway, Dreamcatcher the book was pure garbage and put me off reading King for years so I'm not surprised the movie sucks.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, Several of King's early books really were great. I enjoyed them a lot. I haven't enjoyed any recently, but he definitely has talent when he chooses to use it.

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