Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

REPOST: IT: Chapter One, based on IT by Stephen King: a Film Review

Synopsis:

In 1986, young Georgie Denburough is out in a storm playing with a paper boat that his older brother, Bill, had made for him.  As he follows the boat along it gets swept into a drain.  Georgie reaches into the drain to try and get the boat when he is confronted by a clown.  A clown deep down in the sewers.  When he reaches for the boat again, the strange creature rips his arm away and drags the poor boy down into the sewers.  Georgie becomes one of the first missing children that would haunt the town of Derry, Maine over the course of the next year.

Summer has finally come for Derry, Maine.  Kids are out of school.  Bullies have free reign of the streets and the “Losers” are trying to stay out of trouble.  As the mysterious disappearance of more kids continues a small group of kids come together, tormented by the local bully as well as a far less tangible but far more dangerous force lurking in the shadows.  This group, known as the Losers’ Club, discover that each have been visited in the last year by a strange clown.  This clown…a force that knows who they are and where they live…is far beyond everything that even their scariest nightmares could have imagined.

As Bill and the rest of the Losers follow the clues, they will be led down the path closer to Pennywise.  Will Bill find his little brother, Georgie, alive and well as he fervently believes?  Or will all of them have to face their darkest nightmares at the hands of a terrifying clown?

General Information:

-Genre: Supernatural Horror

-Creator: based on IT by Stephen King

-Length: 135 minutes

-Rating: R (for supernatural violence, severe violence and gore, severe language, mild sexual innuendo, mild mentions of abuse, some smoking)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube, DVD, Blue-Ray, or look for it at your local library (like I did!)

-Main Cast: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sphia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

Yay.  A real horror film.  As a horror buff I can give credit where credit is due.  While the 1991 version with Tim Curry was perfectly fine (this hurts to say because Tim Curry is a FANTASTIC actor…one of my favorites in fact), it lacks the more modern horror moments.  “Child’s play” as a friend once said, compared to this film and its sequel film.

While I was hesitant at first with the more modernization of the timeline (the book has their childhood in the mid-1950s) I was quite impressed with how this little change really worked with the overall feel of the film.  It definitely allowed for some of the more classic horror tropes to be utilized but also paid a wonderful homage to the real rise and birth of modern horror films.

From practical effects to an honestly terrifying Pennywise the Dancing Clown, this was the film I was hoping for when I watched the 1991 miniseries.

And no offence to Mr. Curry….But Bill Skarsgard’s performance, from costume to makeup to mannerisms, was the clown we should all be absolutely terrified is under our beds.

The story seems to follow the book (and the miniseries) fairly closely with small nods to the miniseries.  The big exception is that Georgie is missing and Bill still thinks he is alive.  It is his desire to find his brother, alive and well, that sends the Loser’s Club down the rabbit hole and into the depths of the horrors that lurk in the Derry sewer system.

I do think this choice was much more believable especially for the 1980s.  the idea that the kids are building a dam in a small creek just doesn’t seem to fit in a world where there are arcade games, movies and a robust set of Television shows.  Going out on an adventure like in The Goonies or fighting demons like in Nightmare on Elm Street or Gremlins is MUCH more convincing than what happened in the book (which was believable and fine for the mid-1950s).

This change in time also allowed for larger conversations and allusions.  Beverly’s abusive father became worse (from physical and mental abuse to actual alluded sexual abuse).  Eddie’s mother is even more neurotic and a bigger hypochondriac (now we may diagnose her with Munchausen’s by Proxy).  Richie’s deep dark secret is covered by his humor and foul mouth (also something that was easier to do in both a theatrical release and in the 1980s).  Bill’s stutter isn’t as pronounced but still there, apparent and more natural.  The rest of the group is just as well.  They join together and make a great team.

Honestly, this is a real horror film.  And if you didn’t know or weren’t familiar with the book is a complete movie on its own.  Which cannot be said of the mini-series.  Very well done and will be one that I will be watching again.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review on IT (novel) by Stephen King

Review on IT: Chapter Two

Review on IT (miniseries)

Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

REPOST: IT, based off IT by Stephen King: a Mini Series Review

Synopsis:

Based on the novel by Stephen King, IT brings the horror to life on television.

The Lucky Seven have finally found friendship and comradery in each other only to find out that they have all been visited by the same entity: a bizarre and terrifying clown named Pennywise.  He can take on their deepest fears and as they begin to uncover the mystery behind these visits they discover that the clown is also responsible for the rash of murders in the area, including their leaders younger brother.  They follow Pennywise deep into the sewers to kill the creature and seem to be successful.

27 years later the murders begin again. The group returns with help from the only member to remain in their small hometown.  As their memories return they must face their deepest fears to fight IT again and this time hopefully rid the world and their lives from the haunting and dangerous presence.

General Information:

-Genre: Supernatural Horror

-Creator: based off IT by Stephen King

-Length: 192 minutes (original) or 187 minutes (DVD/Blue-Ray) split between two episodes

-Rating: TV-PG (episode 1), TV-14 (episode 2) (for mild nudity and sexual remarks, violence and gore, mild profanity, some alcohol and mild drug use, some intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video (rent or buy), iTunes, DVD, Blue-Ray, or find it at your local library (like I did!)

-Main Cast: Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, Annette O’Toole, Tim Reid, John Ritter, Richard Thomas, Tim Curry

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

So…

*blinks*

That was…not remotely scary.

Its supposed to be…I think.  Or at least I remember it being scary… but it was made for TV so maybe I am mistaken.

It could also be that I’m watching it 30 years out from its production.

And it was just…very tame.  Sure there was blood and gore.  The possessed fortune cookies were pretty cool.  IT’s actual form was pretty well done.  But as for scares.  It fell quite flat.

I wouldn’t approved it for young children, but older kids would find this ok…at least by todays standards.  Its campy and over the top (though Tim Curry’s performance was amazing as usual) with very few jump scares or creepy music.

Overall it was disappointing to watch as an adult.  Even one who is terrified of clowns.

Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

(and only because Tim Curry does a great job as always)

For the review on IT by Stephen King:

For the review on IT: Chapter One: https://guntersgamesandgold.com/?p=512

For the review on IT: Chapter Two: https://guntersgamesandgold.com/?p=524

Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

IT, by Stephen King: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

Jumping between the past and the present, the Losers Club has been tasked with defeating a strange force that has caused the local children of Derry, Maine to hallucinate, have incredibly terrifying nightmares and to even go missing.

When Bill Denbrough begins to have nightmares of a mysterious figure, often taking the shape of a clown with a red balloon, things begin to go sideways in his life. His younger brother Georgie is found dead…his arms ripped from his body… when he goes out to play in the rain. Bill begins to realize that the creature in his dreams is what has caused Georgie’s death.

As his small group of friends spend the summer doing what kids do they join together over these nightmares, which have been plaguing all of them. When they discover the cause they do everything in their power to end it.

Ans things seem to have gone well, the creature appearing to disappear.

That is until another sting of vicious child deaths occur in Derry. The Losers Club must face all of their fears, and look into the face of IT again… this time will they defeat the alien force and come out alive? Or will they have to sacrifice everything they hold sacred to save the children of Derry, Maine?

General Information:

-Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror

-Author: Stephen King

-Number of Pages: 1,138 pages

-Main Characters: Bill Denbrough, Ben Hanscom, Bev (Beverly) Marsh, Richie Tozier, Eddie Kaspbrak, Mike Hanlon, Stan Uris, Pennywise/IT, Henry Bowers, Vic Criss, Belch Huggins, Patrick Hockstetter, Peter Gordon, Moose Sadler, Gard Jagermeister, Georgie Denbrough, Eddie Corcoran, Adrien Mellon, Will Hanlon

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock), get or rent the audiobook (on something like Audible or Libby), or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1: 63

Review (contains spoilers):

I just honestly can not with this book. It is WAY too long. You could cut about 400 pages out of the middle and it would be the same story.

There are so many moments in this novel where I feel like King was just putting stuff in to be disgusting. It wasn’t scary… it wasn’t terrifying. It was just disgusting.

This is one of the books I absolutely cannot stand. It is full of homophobia, misogyny, excessive abuse particularly sexual and abuse towards children. And most of the descriptions of these items ARE NOT NECESSARY to build the characters or move the story forward. It is just signature King.

As I have read more of his works I am finding that there is a consistent and excessive need to add in sexual encounters and moments that do nothing to the plot, often come out of no where, and are often incredibly degrading to women.

This books is no different.

The movie (particularly the newer two part film duology) are BEYOND better than this 1100 page novel. I wish I could get the 45 hours of my life back that I listened to the audiobook. Thankfully I was able to do other productive things while listening.

Do not recommend.

Rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central

Misery, based on the novel by Stephen King: a Film Review

Synopsis:

Paul Sheldon is a famous writer, known for his Victorian-era romance novels about Misery.  These novels were so popular that, in order to focus on his “more serious” works he purposely kills off Misery in the final novel just to be rid of her.

After completing his latest novel, an untitled piece that he believes will launch his career in a more serious direction, he celebrates and then takes off for his home in New York City.  When an unexpected blizzard hits the area, Paul runs his car off the road and into a ravine, wrecking his legs…but miraculously not killing himself.

He is rescued by a strange woman named Annie Wilkes, who is a nurse that lives out in the country.  As she claims to want to nurse him back to health and will take him into the hospital when the roads clear things begin to change.  Paul realizes that Annie is not what she seems.  His biggest fan, sure, but what happens when your biggest fan isn’t happy with the ending of your latest book about Misery?  And how much worse can things get when that person…isn’t exactly stable…?

General Information:

-Genre: Psychological Horror, Psychological Thriller, Horror

-Creator: based on the novel by Stephen King

-Length: 107 minutes

-Rating: R (for severe violence and gore, moderate profanity, mild use of alcohol and smoking, mild use of drugs in a medical context, severe frightening and intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: Vudu (for purchase), DVD, Blu-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall

-Page of Reference in RP1: 63

Review (contains spoilers):

I will say it probably as many times as there are Stephen King novels translated into film, but his work is so much better as movies in my opinion.

Now having watched the movie and read the book I can say this.  This film is nearly perfect.  Its one of those situations where you can watch the movie and you’ve basically read the book.  Which, one, doesn’t happen often, and two, when it does the movie is often bogged down in superfluous details and is boring.

Not the case here.

The material that this movie was pulled from was very detailed and the crew and director did an excellent job with everything.  The house, the setting, the characters…all how you would picture them when you read the book.

And Kathy Bates performance is just INCREDIBLE.

She absolutely nails the bi-polar back and forth that can happen in someone who isn’t medicated and can go from very high manic moments to the extreme lows of depression.  She was able to capture the flip on a dime nature of the character of Annie Wilkes.  There are moments where she is sweet as pie….then there is the scene where she hobbles him.  Cool and calm.  Absolutely perfect.

The things I wish the film had kept in which would have given it five stars in my mind:

  • The actual hobbling from the book where Annie cuts Paul’s entire foot off of his leg.
  • More of the hallucinations that Paul has throughout the book
  • The death of the young police officer and then the visits from several police officers to add to the suspense of finding Paul
  • And the final hallucination of Annie in Paul’s apartment with the ax….

Just a few extra minutes and a few extra details would have gotten this to a five-star film.  But as is Kathy Bates performance sealed the deal of this film being a must watch.

Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

Misery, by Stephen King: a Novel Review

Synopsis:

Paul Sheldon is a prolific writer.  He is most famous for his Victorian-era romance novel series: Misery.  The problem is…he hates writing it.  He has passion projects that he would rather be spending time writing (though they often do not even net HALF of what a single Misery installment brings in).  As his final installment of the series, Misery’s Child, is released in which he FINALLY kills off his dreaded main character Paul takes a break to write a new crime novel: Fast Cars.

As he finishes the manuscript in the small town of Sidewinder, Colorado, Paul decides to celebrate with some champagne and a long drive…deciding that he should take his ’74 Camaro to Los Angeles instead of flying back to his empty apartment in New York, recently vacated by yet another ex-wife.

Fate has other plans as a snowstorm pops up outside of the small town and causes Paul to crash on the side of the road.  When he awakes its in a strange environment.  A small room with nothing other than a bed, a side table….and he doesn’t recognize any of it.  When Annie Wilkes comes into the room things go from odd to plain weird. 

It turns out Annie saved him from the wreck.  And being a nurse she has first hand experience, and the resources to take care of Paul as he recovers from his incredibly destroyed legs…but is she really there to take care of him?  Or is something about this “number one fan” even more sinister than what is first presented when Annie brings him back from the brink of death?

General Information:

-Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror

-Author: Stephen King

-Number of Pages/Words: around 420 pages,

-Main Characters: Paul Sheldon, Annie Wilkes

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock), get or rent the audiobook (on something like Audible or Libby), or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1:

Review (contains spoilers):

So I’ve seen the movie a lot and now I’ve read a few of Stephen King’s novels…and I can honestly say this: Stephen King is much better on film.

Maybe its because my imagination (while very clear and my inner eye can create basically anything) knows that it doesn’t have to with books) has decided it doesn’t need to animate what is going on in the novels.  Or maybe it’s the way the prose is written…the books just aren’t’ scarry.

Misery has a few ick moments in it but I didn’t find myself worried or scared.  Honesty the false ending where Paul imagines Annie as having escaped the police and showing up at his apartment to kill him with the same ax she uses to chop off his foot was way worse and would have been a better ending in my opinion that the “everything is fine” ending that was written for Paul.

Overall,

 the book was fine.  It wasn’t too long.  The action was fine.  The depiction of the mental illness that Annie displayed defiantly fit more of the knowledge and views that were known about in the 1980s when the novel was written and published.  There were some slightly misogynistic moments and Annie (while overweight, isolated and mentally ill) was described in a way that was disparaging when all the things she is aren’t necessarily negative traits.  Her being an Angel of Death however was discovered in a very interesting way.

It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve read.  And it wasn’t the best.  The movie is better in my opinion which for me isn’t a common view…usually the books are way better.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, Read Me

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, by Stephen King: a Novella Review

Synopsis:

Around a year after their parents’ divorce, nine-year-old Trisha and fourteen-year-old Pete are in the custody of their mother.  She tries to keep her kids entertained with family trips on the weekend.  But Pete is far from happy about the situation and this often ends in total blowups between himself and his mother.  Arguments that Trisha is getting annoyed hearing over and over again.

As they head out on one of their family trips, this time a hike on a six mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, the argument between Pete and his mother continue.  Trisha is beyond annoyed.  As she tries to get her mother’s attention so she can get everyone to stop so she can go to the bathroom neither her mother nor her brother hear her.  In a bout of childhood irritation, she decides to just step off the path to relieve herself.  How far ahead could they really get?

As she returns in the direction, she remembers the trail is in, Trisha soon realizes that she may be in serious trouble.  The path is no where to be seen.  As she tries to figure out where she should be going the day drags on and she has to resign herself to the fact that not only is she terribly lost but she may have to spend the night outside in the woods.

With only her Walkman for company Trisha is lost.  As she tries to make her way back to civilization, she turns to her favorite Red Sox player, Tom Gordon, for company and strength.  As the days wear on though she cannot shake the feeling she is being watched.  Will Trisha make it home?  Or will It get her deep in the heart of the New England wilds?

General Information:

-Genre: Psychological Horror, Survival

-Author: Stephen King

-Number of Pages: 224

-Where to Read: check at your local bookseller (they can often order items that are not in stock), find it on audiobook, or check out your local library for a copy

-Page of Reference in RPO: 62

Review (contains spoilers):

A quick read, especially when it comes to the works of Stephen King.  I wouldn’t consider it horror by any means though it is labeled as such.  I decided to also categorize it as a survival story as it seems to fit more with several of the novels I’ve read in the last year that are in that genre (surviving plane crashes or blizzards, being lost a sea, etc.)

The story follows that of a little girl who gets lost in the woods.  A seemingly common thing when someone steps off the path especially along the larger and more dangerous stretches of trails like that in the Pacific Northwest or, in this case, the Appalachian wilderness.  The most frustrating part is that it was all preventable if only her mother had paid more attention to her daughter while hiking an unfamiliar trail with a moderate to difficult rating.

The story seems a bit unbelievable for more modern times, as the young girl (aged 9) has a skill set that isn’t taught often anymore.  She knows some foods that are safe and scvangable in the New England wilds.  Some of this was taught in school and others were taught by her mother.  Now it seems that we would only learn these items if our children participated in something like Boy or Girl Scouts or showed a genuine interest in the great outdoors.  Most families today don’t even go hiking on the weekends, let alone teach general survival skills to their children.

Overall, the story is good.  One of a young child, lost in the woods and struggling to survive.  She makes choices, some good and some bad, that even adults often cannot when stuck in similar situations.  But she is a child and therefore some of the things she chooses to do seem more adult and mature that what a typical nine-year-old (even in the 1980s) would chose to do.

Or perhaps I’m just looking at things through a modern lens where we don’t have this knowledge.  Our schools are different.  Our parents work too hard and don’t often have the time to teach their children any of this information (or even know these things themselves).

Frankly the premise of a nine-year-old knowing a lot of this information is kind of out there.  It may have been more convincing if the girl and her brother were closer in age (say her brother being 16 instead of 14 and she herself being 14 instead of 9) where she and her brother may have been exposed to scouting, family camping trips, general exploration and even her own interests.  But for a young child whose only real obsession is that of the Red Sox this just feels contrived.

King does, however, capture the eerie and creepy feeling of a mind who is going slightly feral.  Between the starvation (as she doesn’t know a lot but enough to not die) and being sick, sunstroke and the general fear of being alone and lost, King does touch on how your mind can play tricks on you in this context.  And while I wouldn’t categorize this as horror, the idea that our brains can go into a survival mode turning what would be considered by the rational mind as normal such as animal activity and death, claw marks on trees from bears and general trouble in the woods into something completely sinister and slightly paranormal is disconcerting.

A decent story but nothing that I would commend King on.  If you enjoy survival stories you will enjoy this.

Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.