Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yet Another Look at Some Vintage Magazines

Let's continue our magazine-palooza:

No offense to director Jack Clayton, but that surely must rank as one of the most boring covers of Cinefantastique's history.

Not much King-related in this issue, apart from a single-page piece on the upcoming David Cronenberg film The Dead Zone.  The director had initially been approached by Carol Baum of Lorimar Pictures, who had been impressed by The Brood and wanted him for The Dead Zone, but the negotiations hit a snag soon thereafter.  "I read the book as soon as I got back to Toronto," says Cronenberg.  "But before I had a chance to react, she called me apologized because, just about the time she had talked to me, Lorimar signed Stanley Donen to direct it, with Sydney Pollack producing."  That iteration of the project later fell apart, however, and he was approached again, this time by Debra Hill.  "It seemed very fateful that the offer would come full circle.  Dead Zone really appealed to me, and there were connections I had with King's work and Dead Zone in particular that seemed unwilling to be denied."
Cronenberg also discusses some of the differences between the novel and the movie, beginning with the "dead zone" itself, which in the book is a blank spot in Johnny's visions, but in the movie becomes a more metaphorical idea signifying the drain the visions take on Johnny's lifespan.  More interestingly, Cronenberg speaks to the elimination of the novel's contrasting Johnny (as a "true seer") with Stillson (as a "false seer"), and dropping the parallel storylines of the two: "Since Johnny and Stillson are no longer paralleled, there can be no contrast.  It's obvious that the characters can't have the same dynamics between them.  I must say, we tried, but we couldn't find a way of duplicating what the book did in terms of paralleling.  We had to 'reinvent' the book; condense it without worrying about being faithful to it in any literary, bookish way.  Still, I think we have been faithful to the book in terms of sustaining its tone."

I would agree, and much-belated kudos to you, sir, for actually putting thought into adapting the novel.
I nominate Cronenberg as a potential director for a Duma Key adaptation.  Any takers, Hollywood?

The obvious draw here is the Stephen King / Peter Straub interview, and this seems like a good opportunity for me to complain about something: it's merely the first part of a two-part interview.

This is something the publishers / editors of Starlog and Fangoria seemed to do pretty frequently back in the day, and I find it to be rather galling, as it is obviously designed to boost circulation and get people to buy multiple issues as opposed to buying merely a single issue.  Which is an understandable ploy, but a ploy nonetheless, and I find stunts like that to be annoying and exploitative.

Yes, I am aware that I am complaining about something done in a 29-year-old magazine.

Let's move on, and have a look at some highlights from part one of the interview (which was conducted by Stanley Wiater and Roger Anker):
  • Straub on the genesis of the collaboration between himself and King: "We talked about The Talisman for a long time before we got started -- for years, actually -- and a couple of times we got together and talked about the events.  We sort of had the basic notion from a dream that Steve had.  Then we thought of the 'Territories' and after a long, long time, we made up an outline.  We had an extremely long outline.  Someday, people ought to read this weird outline because it's not much like the book!"
  • King on what might be different about The Talisman as opposed to the authors' own novels: "The major surprise is going to be that it isn't a horror novel per se -- it's a fantasy.  And I think that people are going to be surprised at how sort of cheerful the book is.  I mean, it's gross in places and it is horrifying in places.  But on the whole it has a tone that is a little bit delirious and sort of crack-brained, and I think it's a lot of fun!  And I think that coming off Floating Dragon and Pet Sematary that it's going to cheer our little buns up."
  • Straub on the melding of the two authors' distinct voices: "Steve or I can hardly tell who wrote what!  I think that just sort of happened.  We started off trying to write a kind of neutral style and then we just gave that up and let ourselves rip.  But somehow it did make a kind of neutral style, here and there.  There are certain things that Steve does and that show up, and there are certain things I do . . .  In fact, the book is full of little tricks between us where we're trying to fool the reader into thinking that the other guy wrote it.  And if you come along something you think is a dead giveaway, the thing with a dead giveaway is a trick!"
  • King on the status of the movie adaptation, which had been purchased for Steven Spielberg by Universal: "One of the reasons the negotiations for the film with Universal were as long and arduous as they were -- and I'm sure that even Steven Spielberg would agree it was true, so I don't have any problem with you printing it -- is that Spielberg has expressed interest in things as diverse as Michael Jackson in Peter Pan, Schindler's List, and remaking A Guy Named Joe.  He's like a kid in a candy store at this point in his career."
  • Straub on whether he still has a ready supply of new ideas: "Certainly I think Steve and I both have many, many ideas yet.  I'm conscious now that I'm in a different stage in my own approach, and maybe working on The Talisman had something to do with this.  That is, I'm much more level-headed about it and I rewrite and revise much, much more than I ever did before."

I also can't resist throwing this in:

If you asked me to create a list of the things I might expect to find while leafing through an issue of Fangoria from the '80s, this would probably not have cracked the top 10,000.

We played a version of this game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when I was I was growing up.  Except that we didn't have a name for it, and we skipped most of the intermediary steps.  Instead, our deal was that we formed the circle with our fingers and then tried to trick somebody else into looking at it, and if they did look at it, we socked 'em on the shoulder.

Life in Tuscaloosa.  Boy, boy...

Anyways, let's move on to the second part of the King/Straub interview:

It's a good interview, naturally, so here come a few highlights headed atcha face:
  • King is asked if his publishers are afraid he might someday not want to scare his readers any more.  King answers, "No.  No, I don't really think so.  I do think that it's true that 'if we give you enough rope you'll hang yourself.'  I think now I have enough rope so I can hang myself in Times Square at high noon with three-network coverage.  If I told somebody I wanted to rewrite The Bible in common prose, I could probably get six figures for it at this point."  The Truth Inside The Lie confesses that it would read the, um, hell out of that book.
  • King continues: "I wrote this book It that's going to be published in about two years, and it's really -- as far as I'm concerned -- it's my final exam.  I can't say anymore about monsters.  I don't have anything else to say about monsters; I put all the monsters in this book!  I'm working on a novel now and it's a really scary book, but it's not supernatural.  It's not a supernatural story, at all."  This, I would tend to assume, must have been Misery that King was talking about.
  • Straub and King are assured by Fangoria that they could publish their laundry lists if they saw fit, and are then asked if they are ever tempted to sell something that they don't actually think much of.  Straub fields that one: "No, because that would be immensely self-destructive!  I did something similar, though not as extreme as that, in that I more or less used my clout at Putnam to publish the second novel I wrote, which has been turned down by Putnam 25 years ago.  I don't think it's a great novel, but it's okay.  It's entitled Under Venus.  It's worth reading, if you care about me.  If you care about seeing what I did and when.  So that was as far as I went in the direction of abusive power.  I felt it deserved to be out there."  King chimes in, agreeing, and says, "It does."
  • Asked if their success has opened other doors for them, King answers, "Guys like me, you know -- and I won't say guys like us because I won't presume for Peter -- but guys like me, we were duds in high school . . .  Writing has always been it for me.  I was just sort of this nerdy kid.  I didn't get beat up too much because I was big, played a little football and stuff like that.  So mostly I just got this, 'King -- he's weird.  Big glasses.  Reads a lot.  Big teeth.'  I've thought about stopping -- sometimes it seems to me I could save my life by stopping.  Because I'm really compulsive about it.  I drive that baby..."
  • Straub picks up from there: "I don't want to be a school teacher.  I've escaped being a school teacher!  I don't want to be an IBM manager, because that's boring.  One advantage to this position that we have, is that we can meet people we like, whose work we admire.  Steve can hang around with rock 'n' rollers and I can hang out with jazz musicians that I just cherish.  Somehow we've got a mysterious access, and they sort of believe in us!"
  • King on the subject of his infamous American Express commercial: "They did take after take after take!  Boy, I got slammed a couple of good ones by that sliding bookcase -- and I had diarrhea that night, so I got slammed in the knee and simultaneously thought I was going to crap in my pants."

Which seems like a good place to depart.  Not without posting a couple of photos of the two authors, though:

Ah, but that interview is not the only King-related article to be found in this issue of Fangoria!  Nope, there are also two articles about the upcoming film Cat's Eye, one focused on the production and the other on director Lewis Teague.  What can be learned from these?

  • "Long before shooting had finished," writes Donald Farmer, "Cat's Eye even managed to land itself in the Guiness" [sic] "Book of World Records by having the world's 'largest bed and largest pillows.' "  If Google has not led me astray, it appears that the production no longer holds those records.  Still, that's pretty cool.
  • "Taking a quick tour through this oversize set," writes Farmer, "I noticed that the film's prop department had included a group of children's books for Drew" [Barrymore, the film's star] "that could even dwarf a New York telephone directory.  And prominently displayed in Drew's collection of five-foot high record albums was the motion picture soundtrack to Ragtime . . . naturally a Dino De Laurentiis production."
  • Says Jeff Jarvis, a special effects artist, "The guy who's trying to quit smoking has an illusion with a six-foot cigarette that looks like a man.  There's a picture which he imagines is following him with its eyes, and he looks up and this portrait is smoking a cigarette and blowing smoke.  There's also a tray of deviled eggs with eyes that follow him."
  • In response to this, Farmer writes, "Regrettably, I never got a peek at those deviled eggs during my visit, but I found one of Jarvis' 'human cigarettes' leaning against a wall in his workshop.  Jeff had built a roughly six-foot high cigarette costume with a human face positioned just beneath a smouldering headful of ash.  I didn't get close enough to see if this fellow was regular or menthol."
  • Talking to David Everitt, director Lewis Teague had this to say about his previous King film: "I was a little unhappy with Cujo because it was devoid of any humor.  It was unrelieved grimness -- that made it kind of grueling for the audience.  I liked Cujo and I was glad that I did it, and I enjoyed the people I was working with.  But, for me, Cujo was more of an exercise just to see how suspenseful I could make it, since I knew there were problems with the story that I couldn't do anything about.  When I came in I replaced another director and the picture was already budgeted and scheduled; the major story decisions were irrevocable at that point.  All I could do was work within that framework, and try to make the last third of the picture, in which the woman is trapped in the car, as suspenseful as possible."
  • Teague on the film's visual effects: "Even though extraordinary things have been done with opticals in the recent years they are usually identifiable; audiences are usually sophisticated enough to spot them.  In a total fantasy film, you can accept opticals; in Return of the Jedi you know there are opticals so if you identify a particular shot as a process shot, you'll accept it.  But Cat's Eye, which is a fantasy in a contemporary, realistic setting, I tried to make all the effects as realistic as possible.  So I'm avoiding blue-screens and matte shots like the plague."

Speaking of which, here are a couple of great photos of those ginormous oversized sets:

The magazine also contains an article about special effects wizard Carlo Rambaldi, who worked on Cat's Eye and would soon be turning his attentions to Silver Bullet.  Frustratingly, it is -- you guessed it -- only the first part of a two-part article.  I don't have the next issue, so I'm going to opt to not read this one.

For now.

Sonofabitchin' publishers...

Confession time: I've never seen The Return of the Living Dead.  There, I said, let's move past it.

The most interesting thing in this magazine for King fans is a six-page piece about Cat's Eye, page one of which is this delightful image:

I've got a few other fine behind-the-scenes photos to show you, but first, a selection of choice quotes:
  • Director Lewis Teague (who also helmed Cujo) on the differences between his two Stephen King films: "They're very different.  Cujo is rooted in reality.  It's really a film about ordinary fears, the threads of fear that twine through our lives.  This" [Cat's Eye] "is more of a fantasy, a lot more fun."
  • Cat trainer Carl Miller on the approaches used to coax a performance out of the various kitties used to portray The General: "We use conditioned response training.  You place an animal in a situation ans he responds a certain way.  When it's what we want we give a noise signal -- a clicker, a buzz, or a bell -- which is signal for a food reward and the animal realizes he's done right.  He'll go back and do the last thing he got rewarded for."  This has its limitations, of course, especially when it comes to cats: "Cats are not as anxious to please man as dogs are, and with cats, unfortunately, they have small stomachs and when they're full they stop working for you.  That's why we have so many photographic doubles."
  • Miller's answer to the question of what is the most difficult thing to get the cats to do is "look untrained.  Everyone has a cat that will scratch, a dog that will yawn, a bird that will talk, but they do it when they want to do it.  We train animals to do those things on cue, and usually that means you loose" [sic] "that little touch of personality the animal has when he does it on its own.  When the camera rolls and you cue the cat it looks like the cat is taking cues.  So what we do is condition the cat to do it.  It's not really brainwashing, but boy it's right on the margin."
  • King has a comment about the unnamed villain of the final segment, and it's sure to fascinate fans of his short story "The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet": "As far as I'm concerned it's a fornit," he says.  Clarifying, he says that "Flexible Bullet" "has almost everything to do with almost every monster story I've ever written.  I decided that whether it's under the bed, or in the closet, or in the wall, it's all the same creature, you know?  'Who's that trip-trapping on my bridge?'  It's the scariest story I know."  This comment serves to link "Flexible Bullet" to not only Cat's Eye in a thematic sense, but also to It, which similarly sprang from the desire to collect all the monsters into a single entity and began with the troll under the bridge as a jumping-off point.  Fascinating!

And now, more photos:

I imagine the one cat hollering at the other one, "Hey, don't blame ME for this bullshit!"

I don't know what it was about Cinefantastique during this era, but boy, they put both Starlog and Fangoria to shame in most respects.  Certainly in terms of the photos they used.

This is a fantastic issue of Starlog, and one that Ill be covering much more fully at Where No Blog Has Gone Before.  However, I couldn't let it pass without mention that the editors' list of "the 100 most important people in science fiction" includes a certain Mr. S. King.

How do I feel about that?  In 1985 terms, that is?  Well, I am conflicted.  I think that I think it was probably a bogus inclusion in some ways, given that King was then -- and is now -- mostly considered to be a horror writer.  That said, even in 1985, King had written quite a lot of material that could be classified as science fiction: Carrie, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Firestarter, The Mist, and short stories such as "The Jaunt," "I Am the Doorway," "Beachworld," and "Word Processor of the Gods" all qualify.

But does that really qualify him to be on a list of sci-fi luminaries alongside Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and the like?  I'm not sure.

Starlog clearly felt that it did, though, and here's the page to prove it:

You will have noticed that Starlog did not rank its 100 luminaries.  Probably a good call on their part.

Elsewhere, there are interviews with King peers such as Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison, the latter of whom talks about his gig on the then-upcoming television revamp of The Twilight Zone.  He mentions having scripted an episode that will adapt King's short story "Gramma," and also mentions that it is going to be directed by William Friedkin!  Friedkin's involvement never came to pass; the episode was eventually directed by Bradford May.  Bit of a step down from Friedkin, but such is Hollywood.  I'd never heard about Friedkin's potential involvement until I read this.

See?  Even when you think a magazine is going to have zero relevance to Stephen King fandom, this is what you get.  The guy was ubiquitous in the '80s.  Speaking of which...

No, there's no Stephen King essay about the longevity of Star Trek.  Oh, if only.

Instead, have a gander at the inside back cover:

I believe I was aware -- dimly, somewhere in the back of my mind -- that this existed.  But I don't think I had any clear idea of what it was, or that I'd ever seen a photo of it.

Did I just log onto Amazon and buy a used copy for $4 plus shipping?  I sho the hell did.

But you see?  See what I'm sayin'?  In 1985 or thereabouts, you simply can't be in genre fandom and avoid Stephen King.  Even in a Star Trek anniversary issue, he shows up; via an advertisement, yes, but still, there he is.  Amazing.

This issue of Omni (the February 1987 one) includes a one-page piece titled "What's Scaring Stephen King" that is, essentially, an opinion piece.  King's subject: censorship.

As far as King's nonfiction of the eighties goes, I would not rank this as one of the best.  Still, there are a few good quotes we can pull out an examine:
  • The piece begins, "Every book that I've ever published, with the exception of two, has been banned from one public-high-school library or another."  What two books do you suppose King is talking about?  My money is on Danse Macabre (a nonfiction book, it'd be unlikely to have much that folks found objectionable) and The Gunslinger (which, if I am not mistaken, had still not been published in a mass-market edition in early 1987, and would therefore be in few, if any, libraries).
  • "There are bumper stickers that say, YOU'LL TAKE MY GUN WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS.  I'd like to have one that says, YOU'LL TAKE MY BOOK WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS.  Nobody tells me what to read; nobody tells me what I can look at."  Hear, hear.  There is a semi-famous image of King in college with long hair and a shotgun and a wildman's grin; it was a student poster exhorting people to study, if memory serves.  Methinks it ought to be repurposed with this slogan.  Somebody make that happen and sell it as a t-shirt on Cafe Press.  Make sure size 4X is available for us fatties.
  • "I remember seeing Night of the Living Dead at a Saturday matinee, in the company of a large number of four- and five-year-olds.  There we were, watching people eat each other and a watching a little girl kill her mother with a trowel and eat her intestines.  The kids left the theater white-faced and crying.  It was wrong to let those kids see that movie.  On the other hand, when little E.T. dies, the reaction is just as bad -- if not worse."  Well, I was with you right up until that last sentence, Steve.  Not that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial hasn't scarred a few kids in its time; I'm sure it has.  But I think I think the idea of it being "just as bad -- if not worse" than Night of the Living Dead is . . . incorrect.
  • "I feel sorry for parents who can't or won't exercise any kind of judgment or who won't spend the time to make responsible decisions about what their children may see and what they may not see.  I don't want those decisions taken out of my hands."
  • "There's always been a cutting edge.  Let's say you have a magazine that shows two women making love.  May people find that objectionable, but I say it's got to stay.  If we start censoring material like that, we've got problems.  What's down the road for us?  On 'Crystal Night' in 1939, when people started getting rid of the decadent literature in Berlin, they ended up burning all the philosophy books and then went on to destroy all the bookshops run by Jews; and from there they decided they might as well go for the music shops and all the rest of it.  That's what's always down the road when you begin to censor: Crystal Night."

Lots of debate to be had about some of those points, I'd imagine.  Most of what King is saying holds just as true in 2014 as it did in 1987.

I have not looked through the rest of the issue, but scanning the contents page reveals two names familiar to me: Dr. Michio Kaku and Norman Lear.

Here we are looking at another Star Trek cover on a Stephen King blog.  What a ripoff!

Joke's on you, hypothetical person who said that!  This issue also contained a page-long piece about Maximum Overdrive, complete with extensive -- and awesome -- quotes from Stephen King himself.  I'd transcribe 'em, but I'm lazy, so fuck it; here's the whole page:

There's also a review of Maximum Overdrive, which is . . . well, I don't want to mislead you into thinking it's a positive review, but it does at least manage to seem positive in comparison to most contemporary reviews of the film.  "Low road, yes," reviewer Allen Malmquist sums up the movie's trajectory at one point, "dead end, no."  Succinct, and easy for The Truth Inside The Lie to agree with.

However, this is not to say that Malmquist escapes heckling from yours truly.  He doesn't, which is the fate of anyone who makes a ludicrous claim like this one, which seeks (via the connection of AC/DC having done the music for the movie) to draw a comparison between the movie's just-for-kicks goofiness and . . .well, you'll see:

Stephen King has finally made his mark upon American cinema . . . and it's not very pretty.  His directorial debut, Maximum Overdrive, like the buzzing of its AC/DC soundtrack, has energy but no direction.  Where heavy metal music lacks the musicianship, introspection, and range of true rock and roll, so too this film lacks the purpose, goal, and flow of a real piece of fiction.

Speaking of the phrase "real piece of," would you care to guess what substance I'd describe Malmquist's comments about heavy metal as being a real piece of?  Sample guesses include: brie; soap; heaven; steak; and chocolate.

Those guesses would be wrong, though; the correct answer is "shit."  We will also accept "crap," but prefer "shit."  "Shit" is more metal than "crap."

And whereas you'd think that snark would be the end of the subject, no, not so; I've got more to say.  Here it comes:
  • AC/DC's music has plenty of direction.  Same direction as an erection.  Might not be a direction that's entirely to your liking, but it is nevertheless a direction.  And a consistent one; their songs -- in my experience (I'm no expert, granted) -- may be a lot of things, but aimless ain't one of 'em.
  • AC/DC is not heavy metal.  AC/DC is hard rock.  Black Sabbath is heavy metal; Metallica is heavy metal; hell, even Mötley Crüe is heavy metal.  AC/DC?  Not so much.  Or at least, that'd be my argument.
  • Heavy metal lacks musicianship?  Eh . . . okay, that's a maybe.
  • Heavy metal lacks introspection?  Oh, I think you'll find that to be bullshit in a great many cases.
  • Heavy metal lacks the range (as well as the above two qualities) of "true rock and roll"?!?  Well, I think I've figured out the problem here.  Allen Malmquist was almost certainly a Rush fan.  
  • What THE FUCK is "true rock and roll"?  I'll tell you what it isn't: Rush.
  • Heads up:

THAT, sir, is heavy metal.  I think you'll find it has musicianship, introspection, and range.  (That video is also still one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen.  Mostly thanks to the movie footage; ain't never watching that movie, nosir, uh-uh.)

It beats Rush to a bloody fucking pulp, that's for sure.

[Side-bar on the subject of "One": that's right up there with my favorite rock songs of all, and the part where the band starts really letting it rip -- "DARKNESS...!  IMPRISONING ME...!" -- never fails to stir up a massively complicated set of emotions within me.]

Rant ends.

As you can see from the cover, there are all kinds of notable genre movies being discussed in this issue of Cinefatastique.  For our purposes, though, the main attraction here is the one-page look at the soon-to-be-released Pet Sematary.

There are copious quotes from director Mary Lambert (pictured above with King and several unidentified crewmen), so let's have a look at a few:
  • "There are certain aspects of this story that take it beyond just another horror movie.  There is no villain; no horrible supernatural creature.  The villain is basically fear -- your own fear that will come back in its most awful form and destroy you unless you destroy it first."
  • Of King, Lambert said, "He's a workaholic.  He writes all the time.  But Stephen is also very much a child at heart, and I mean that in the most beautiful way possible.  The book incorporates so much of his spirit.  We talked on the phone whenever we could.  Often I would have questions for him or would want his input or suggestions.  It was an ideal relationship with a writer."
  • Lambert elaborates, "When I needed to rewrite things because, for instance, we couldn't find a location that would work or an actor couldn't say a bit of dialogue convincingly, Stephen would be more than willing to rewrite things on the spot or help me change scenes.  A great creative relationship is when two people hit a chord on the gist of a story, or understand the direction or shape of what they're working towards.  I think I definitely had that with Stephen."  That bit about an actor not being able to say a bit of dialogue convincingly stood out to my eyes.
  • On the subject of the MPAA being a bit difficult about awarding an R rating, instead of an X: "As a woman, it's always a mystery to me how they pick the things they find offensive.  Female nudity is not offensive, but male nudity is.  Cutting the breasts off a woman isn't offensive, but this little boy coming back from the dead is.  It just makes me wonder.  I've made some concessions that I'm hoping don't detrimentally affect the film.  Blood gushing seems to be a problem with them.  I trimmed a bit of that, though I hated to do it."
  • "I know that there are some studio heads at Paramount who thought that a young woman was unable to deal with the more horrific aspects of this film, and I had them pleading for mercy in the dailies."

 Let's stick with the Pet Sematary theme for a bit:

Eww.  Gross.  Great makeup, but . . . gross.

What else would you expect from a magazine called Gorezone, though?  The mag was published by the same folks who published Starlog and Fangoria, which makes the claim about Gorezone being "America's #1 Horror Magazine" a bit on the bemusing side.

More quotes from Mary Lambert:
  • "My first duty was to capture Stephen's vision, and that's not exactly the easiest thing to do.  Look at how many filmmakers have tried and failed.  Basically, he and I agreed on what direction Pet Sematary should take."
  • Responding to rumors of the supernatural elements of the novel being downplayed in the movie, Lambert says, "I guarantee that the people who love Steve's book will not be upset by what we've done.  The only changes have come directly from the pen of Stephen King himself.  It's practically impossible to transfer a book directly to the screen.  Some things are bound to be lost, but in our case, a few are gained."
  • "Pet Sematary is a classic horror piece.  The film's got top-notch scares.  It isn't some vague spiritual adventure, and we don't pull any punches.  There's a message,  I believe entertainment can comfort as well as instruct."
  • On the subject of George Romero (who famously was hired as director only to have to depart due to post-production issues with his film Monkey Shines): "I knew George was originally supposed to direct Pet Sematary.  When I was approached, he'd already left, and I had nothing whatsoever to do with his decision.  I've tried to put my own stamp on this film.  I admire George greatly, but we're different artists and have vastly different ideas."
  • "One of the wonderful things about Stephen King is his wild storytelling ability.  The man is absolutely fascinating, and we got along famously.  There was so much I could do with his screenplay.  It had a ton of characterization and conflict.  And I thought Maine was beautiful.  We tried to catch the local color -- the eerie surroundings, the isolated, quiet beauty."
  • On the subject of the mostly-Hollywood-based crew having to work in the semi-wilderness of Maine: "The entire company was professional, right down to the tiniest detail.  We were in a place unequipped for moviemaking.  There were no" [production] "facilities, and we had to do the best we could.  We became like family.  That's the sad thing about going on location: You all grow so close, and then suddenly, it's time to say goodbye."
  • About (very) young actor Miko Huges, who played Gage: "He was verbal, intelligent, precocious, and everybody enjoyed being around him.  There were a few instances when I asked Miko to be an adult, but we shielded him from the blood and all the dirty deeds.  He had to have constant attention and would tire easily, which made for delays on certain scenes.   Still, he surprised everyone.  He gives an incredible performance."
  • "People will be disturbed by this film.  It should leave them feeling slightly uneasy.  Death, after all, is our greatest fear."

Speaking of feeling disturbed and slightly uneasy, here is a photo from the magazine of Lance Anderson in makeup as Zelda:

I maintain to this day that Zelda is the creepiest thing in the entire movie.  You are welcome to disagree, of course.


This seems like a good place to take a break.  I'll be back at some point soon with another such retrospective, possibly (?) the final one.  Until then, if you're inclined to do so, hope over to Where No Blog Has Gone Before, where there is a more sci-fi-centric version of this post.  Sort of a parallel universe version, if you will.


  1. How I'd love to see Cronenberg adapt Duma Key.

    Odd idea segue: "Burn Notice" was on the other day, and it randomly occured to me that Duma Key would have made a really wild (and liberally adapted, naturally, with Bruce Campbell playing the Wireman role) season-long story. If I'm ever in the same room with anyone involved with Burn Notice, I'm going to pitch this as an homage in the form of a movie/ reunion for the cast.

    That revelation of the troll in Cat's Eye being a fornit is pretty wild. There is a fornit / creatures of the Deadlights / Todash connection, I'm sure. The monsters that circle the Yggdrasil of the Kingverse.

    Your distinctions regarding heavy metal are all seconded by me. AC/DC is a good example. A lot of people wouldn't even consider that there is a fine line between hard rock and heavy metal, never mind mapping out where it might lie. But when you look for it, you indeed discover AC/DC (and KISS) are on one side of it, and Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and all points metal lie on the other. And ditto for prog rock lines and faultlines. Absolutely.

    That "One" video, man. Metal indeed. I remember it not being in heavy rotation, but I taped a lot of Headbanger's Ball from the time period and watched it on VHS loads and loads. Had to visual-scroll through a lot of other crap, of course, but always worth it.

    1. There is certainly some overlap between rock / hard rock / metal / whatever-comes-next, so I can sort of understand how somebody can and would confuse the things. I can't abide it coming from a smarty-pants who clearly has no clue what he's talking about and yet continues to talk anyways, though. Melting people's faces off with musical instruments (a.k.a. "rocking") is not a straight line; it's a curve, one that begins somewhere in the realm of swing jazz and then slopes gradually up and up and up and up until eventually you wind up with Cannibal Corpse. And there's probably more curve beyond that that I just can't see, what with my face having been melted off long since.

      On a different subject, I have never seen a single episode of "Burn Notice." I've got friends that are big fans, though, so I'm sure I'd enjoy it. Maybe some day.

  2. That King comment on the Cat's Eye Gremlin (at least that's what I thought it was) and Fornits is amazing!

    Believe it or not, even before this revelation, after reading "Ballad of the Flexible Bullet" I always thought "This would have made a much better lead in to the final segment of Cat's Eye". That said, I do think it would be wrong to rob the film of The Ledge. Still, in an alternate-verse, Cat's Eye would feature as it's three segments "Battleground", "Ballad", and "The General". It would also feature the jettisoned prologue centering around the death of a young girl. In my mind, this prologue is set in (where else) Castle Rock, and would even feature an appearance by a character from Needful Things, Norris Ridgewick (it would have been one of his officers who lost their child and the prologue would end with the distraught wife cornering the cat in an alley and getting ready to rip it a new one with her husband's police issue, one the husband, accompanied by Norris, would arrive and try to take it away from her. The gun would go off but miss the target, allowing the cat to escape, and the prologue would end on a rather somber note with policeman cradling his wife in an alley, while Norris looks on, glumly. This version really wouldn't give the Rock a break). Also. I could see the cat not taking part in the main action of Ballad, but sitting among the dinner guests at the barbecue and listening attentively to the narrator's story, trying to pick up hints and clues about it's quarry (i.e. the gremlin/fornit).

    Also, I'd really like to see that "weird" outline that Straub and King made for the Talisman.


    1. You and me both, Chris; maybe it'll be published in some future edition.

      I like "Cat's Eye." It's a goofy movie, but it's fun. I hope it'll be upgraded to Blu-ray eventually.

  3. For those interested (and may not know), the movie the Metallica video ONE borrows heavily from is called JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN (1971). It is out on blu-ray in France and Spain.


    1. That video creeps me out; I'll never be able to watch "Johnny Got His Gun" for that reason.

      Thanks for the info, though!

  4. Replies
    1. Absolutely! Book and movie, and hopefully the upcoming remake, as well.