Pet Sematary Book Review

“When I’m asked (as I frequently am) what I consider to be the most frightening book I’ve ever written, the answer I give comes easily and with no hesitation: Pet Sematary.”-SK

 

Okay, this book is a classic. Ask anyone about it. But you’re perhaps more apt to hear them talk about the film adaptation than the novel. I guess that’s fair because we’re a society that watches more TV and internet than reading. Although the movie is really good, the novel has a certain dread to it; a somberness if you will. And no matter how many times you read this work it never fails to bring you that aforementioned dread.

blue-ribbon1

Award-Winning Novel

Anyways, Pet Sematary is a bonafide King classic. He hasn’t written anything quite like it since. As far as King’s work goes, this is the scariest novel he’s written to date. I think what makes this novel frightening and unsettling is that King hits hard on every parent’s worst fear: The death of a child. At its core, that’s what this book is about and how those affected in the aftermath deal emotionally. Unfortunately we all know how Louis deals…

Pet Sematary has so many elements within it, it makes for a chiller of a book. Engaging plot? Check. A mysterious and powerful parcel of land that can resurrect the dead? Check. Dead animals and people coming back from the dead when buried in said parcel of land? Check. A decimated and broken family both physically and emotionally? Check again. Creepy scenes? Check and double check.

So why does Pet Sematary work?

 

  1. Pet Sematary works because it deals with mortality. Of course a number his works do but in Pet Sematary that was the main focus. And King posed a profound question to his Constant Readers: If a loved one died and you had a way to bring them back, would you? I think some of us out there would consider it depending on the circumstances. Pet Sematary is an existential journey where we have to ask ourselves, ‘would we do something like what Louis did’?Pet Sematary

 

  1. Pet Sematary works because King wrote two of the best chiller scenes I’ve read from him in a long time. Both of them involved Louis going to the Micmac burying grounds. The first time he was carrying Church in a bag with Jud. The next time he was carrying Gage through the seemingly Wendigo haunted forest. Those scenes chilled me and I haven’t been spooked like that in a long time. I wonder if reading those scenes late at night alone had anything to do with that?

 

  1. Pet Sematary works because death is working OT and each death deepens the novel. You get the story of Zelda’s death, you get Victor Pascow dying in the entrance to the hospital on Louis’s first day, you get Church’s death, Gage’s death of course, Jud’s wife, Jud himself, Gage again, Church again, Rachael, Timmy Baterman…wow that’s a lot of people and one cat. Told you this book was heavy on death.

 

  1. Pet Sematary works because King uses the place beyond the pet sematary and the Micmac burying ground as the nexus for the novel. Everything that happens in the book is directly connected to the Micmac burying grounds; from Jud taking Louis to it to bury Church all the way to the truck driver speeding down the road and killing Gage. That parcel of Micmac Indian land was a great King villain and a great unseen force.

 

  1. Pet Sematary works because King left the ending ambiguous. I’m pretty sure that given the events of the rest of the novel that Louis is killed by Rachael. But who knows really. He could have turned and killed her like he had to do to Church and Gage. It really hinges on how you think in life: Positive or negative. Me? I’m an optimist…one thing is for sure: I’d love to see a follow-up novel with Ellie Creed trying to deal with her past as she goes back to the Pet Sematary. How good of a book would that be?!

 

Pet Sematary is a chilling place to walk through- 5/5

Why Stephen King’s Work Is Better Reviewed Today Than It Was Thirty Years Ago

I thought about this topic for awhile. Reason being is that most reviewers that I read, indie book bloggers or from a nationally known magazine or newspaper or bookstore website (and son of a bitch, even Amazon), the reviews for King’s work has seemingly gotten better and better. It’s almost sacrilege to say anything bad about his work these days. So I started to think about this subject for a little bit.

Why? Why are most of the reviews that I read these days cast King in a better light? Is he a better writer at an older age? Has all the haters from the 70’s and 80’s finally quit, yielding to a younger generation that read and liked King’s work? Or is it simply because there’s more fans able to use technology to tell the world about how good his books are? Perhaps it’s all of these possibilities.

It’s true, back in the day when King was turning out books like The Stand, The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Dead Zone, etc., reviewers would often times rake him over the coals saying this and that and that King couldn’t write and that horror was just a low-brow form of writing. A lot of older reviewers from back in the day that I read said that King couldn’t write at all and that the people that were reading him were just the dregs of society with minimal education. These were some pretty solid hits on King’s work early on. Of course none of this turned any of King’s fans off. King writes for the fans, not the elitist, stuffy book reviewers that can’t and won’t read anything that wasn’t written 80 years ago or someone from current times that writes like the authors they read when they were growing-up. They are entitled to their opinions, however.B-81-363-34 Sitting at Desk with hands coming towards the camera

Obviously these old school Hemmingway, Wolfe type fans can’t get into the modern world with King. While these self righteous reviewers were looking for the next Herman Melville, King was hammering out novel after novel like Christine, IT, Pet Sematary much to the disdain of these reviewers that were already in their fifties and sixties when King was early in his career. The more that King wrote and published, the more some of the reviewers hated his work. Pretty soon there was a dividing line being drawn in the literary world between those reviewers that hated King and couldn’t/wouldn’t accept him in literature and those that did.

The reviewers that loved King told the world through their nationally read book reviews in newspapers or on TV and in the last two decades the internet.  This new school bunch of reviewers were the reviewers that King had hooked way back when Carrie had hit the scene. Some he hooked on The Shining, some on ‘Salem’s Lot and others on The Stand (and as time and books went on, so did his fan base). What I think is great is that some of the reviewers of his work today were the same kids that read King and watched the movies adapted from the pages. You’ll be hard pressed to find a generation X’er that doesn’t like King’s work whether it be all of it or just a portion.

Once King made more fans through his inventive imagination, some of those fans would grow up reading King’s work even today and those same fans took to whatever medium they could get their hands on and review Stephen King’s work, me included. Most reviews of his works are positive today, unlike the stale old book reviewers that expected books to be boring, and about times that no one in the last century could recall. I understand there’s classics out there, I do. I’ve read those same classics that the old school book reviewers can’t let go of. I think the biggest problem that the aging elite book reviewer of King’s work is that they can’t accept that the world has moved on and no longer care for long gone forgotten novels. And I will hazard a guess that as time goes on, most of King’s work will be forgotten save for a few novels and shorts that will probably outlive us all. It happens to all the greats. How many Ray Bradbury novels can you name right now?

Very, very few writers write like writers did 80 years ago. I feel that one of the biggest reasons that older books don’t get looked at much anymore is simply because they just don’t translate well into our vernacular anymore. King still does and has been for decades; for my generation and the one behind me.

I re-read Firestarter not too long ago and that book still translates well into 2017. It helps that I was alive when the book was published and know a lot about the pop culture that King references in the novel. However, in 2020, when a 19 year-old kid picks up Firestarter, are they going to be able to relate to that novel and the pop culture references? No, probably not. Does that mean King then becomes Mark Twain?

Samuel Clemens

The thing that really help boost King was the adaptations of his work to the small and big screens. People that didn’t like to read could watch his work on film and they loved it. Then you had the people who read his books and then watched the films. With this double-pronged attack, it was hard for Stephen King’s name not to be a household one. Even my mother knew who King was even though she never watched a King adaptation or read any of his books but she knew what he was.  He’s the blue collar writer that connects with most of the people that buy his books and goes to the theaters to watch the films because at the end of the day, no matter how much the man is worth, he likes to write and tell stories. I have a strong feeling he’d be writing even if he wasn’t doing it for a living. It’s very rare that anyone gets to turn a hobby into a career.

It’s not to say that all book reviewers from back in the day were harsh on King. Not all of them were. Early on King had a slew of supporters helping him along the way. King has always had his share of supporters and detractors from the baby boomer generation. But in my opinion, the detractors are diminishing in numbers. Why? Several things actually have contributed to his more positive reviews.

One. I think many of King’s early antagonists voices have become irrelevant. These golden oldies don’t like change and with the way the internet is the prime source of news nowadays, no one is reading their tired reviews about writers that no one is going to read except the elite much like them. Like it or not, things in this world have become a niche market. Thing is, these King haters held on as long as they could slamming his work every time King put something out (Harold Bloom comes to mind). But time and technology has slowly pushed their audience, voices and reach to the margins. They don’t have the clout they once had say in the 1980’s. Sure, King still has staunch haters out there that simply do not like his work. And that’s okay, because we are all entitled to our opinions. But let’s be honest here; how many of these elite reviewers over the years really read and gave King a chance? I’d say not many.

I have more respect for a reviewer that has actually read the work he is discussing and give it a chance with an open mind. I think King’s rep forced a lot of these old school reviewers from back in the 70’s and 80’s and hell, through the 90’s, to just look at the jacket synopsis and they’d write a review based off that. Not saying that it happened, but I think it did for those that hated his work that much. I can’t see these stuffy old folks sitting down and reading through Desperation.

Two. Another reason Stephen King’s work isn’t getting the negative feedback as it once did is because his writing has gotten a lot sharper and with deeper meaning. I guess this all came with age. I’d say from Carrie to The Dark Half, King was what I would call a gunslinger (yeah, I went there for all the DT fans). He just wrote like he was on fire and gave us some of the most awesome stories, both novels and shorts and novellas the literary world had ever seen. He was becoming what very few writers become: Successfully prolific. From Needful Things through Desperation, King was still giving us some great novels and shorts and novellas, but there was a maturity in his writing. That maturity I saw came in The Green Mile, Bag of Bones and with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. That’s where I saw King beginning to get some age on him and start to get a little more profound with his work. Then his near fatal accident happened. And then came Dreamcatcher, a seemingly return to the gunslinger King. But as he healed both mentally and physically, he wrote meaningful books afterwards like Lisey’s Story, From A Buick 8, 11/22/63, Duma Key, a return to The Shining with Doctor Sleep just to show us all that he could still bring it, and even Under the Dome with a hardboiled detective novel, his first, Mr. Mercedes. King has shown us all that he can still come up with great stories, unforgettable characters and everyday situations that can turn bad on a dime. To me and I think to most fans and reviewers like myself, King’s best work lies in the last 21 years from The Green Mile to Revival. I love all of King’s work on some level or another, but I think he’s done a terrific job of keeping things fresh and new even though he’s been at this for over 40 years. And if you think it’s easy to keep things fresh after four decades, think again.stephen king pic

Three. I think another reason King’s work is better reviewed nowadays is because more of his fans are out there with technology at their fingertips. Now, thanks to the internet, you don’t have to be a newspaper columnist with your own section in the weekend paper to review things that you like. Now, if you hate or love something you can take it straight to your own blog or social media page and tell the world what you think. Stephen King blogs like mine I think are important because we’re fans first. Why else would you take all this time to write about something if we didn’t like it or that are heart wasn’t into? It’d be silly. Also, I feel that me and all these other Stephen King bloggers are helping to extend King’s past books by reviewing them our way. Let’s be honest here: Will King be popular in 50 years from now? Let’s see, I’ll be 88…ummm. I don’t know. Stephen King himself was asked which of his books he thought would still be popular 50 or 60 years from now. He replied The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot and The Shining. I think there’s more than that that will be popular. But then again I don’t truly know. I bet people back in Mark Twain’s day thought he’d never be forgotten. But he nearly has if not for some of our public schools that still require his books as required reading. Twain isn’t totally gone out of sight, but he has to a degree because time goes on and people die and things are forgotten. It’s people like me and others that do blogs about King’s work, review the books that entertained us for decades hoping that a younger generation that has never read King stumbles upon our reviews and reads what we, the fans, have to say about this prolific and folksy and award winning author. Maybe we’re able to turn someone onto King’s work later on. Hopefully.

People have their own opinions when it comes to things. Stephen King’s writing over his career is not different. At the end of the day it comes down to preference. I got that. But I can stomach someone that reads King and gives him a bad review as long as they read his work, not what’s inside the flap.

I don’t give every Stephen King novel or short I read a rubber stamped 5/5. I can’t do that; because not all his books and stories are that. He knows that and so do all his fans and reviewers. But to me there is something that works in every King tale; something that makes us keep reading on even though it isn’t our cup of tea at the moment. It comes down to trusting his narrative and his voice. I have since I was 12 way back in 1990.

It’s true, King has written some not so good shorts, novellas and novels. In 40 years he’s bound to write some bad ones. However, with that being said, I’d still rather read his worst story than another writer’s best…it’s Stephen King’s voice that has always kept me coming back. He’s like an old friend I sit with that likes to tell stories. And there’s a comfort in that I think; bad reviews be damned…

Stephen King Stories You Ought to Know

Night Surf

 

Originally, this story was published in 1969 in Ubris magazine and was later on collected in King’s first short story collection, Night Shift. What is Night Surf? It’s the short story that served as the jumping off point for The Stand. Not a whole lot of people know this. And I suspect when people read this month’s ‘You Oughta Know’, they’re going to find this story and read it and really like it.

As a standalone story it’s very good. Looking at it now as a sibling to The Stand, it’s even better. There’s more meat on it, more of a point to it; not to say there wasn’t before The Stand. The latter just enhanced Night Surf.night surf

Basically Night Surf is about a group of teens that think they have survived a virus (A2 and then later a more lethal virus, A6 aka Captain Trips) that has wiped out nearly the entire world’s population. As they spend the night at a beach, one of the teens that had joined their group begins to show signs of Captain Trips and the narrator of the story, named Bernie, begins to think about the bleak future of humanity and his eventual demise.

Night Surf comes in at- 3/5 (Very Good)

 

 

The Stephen King Book Tournament 2017

This year I’m doing something a little bit fun on the site…a Stephen King book/novella tournament.empty-brackets

Over on the Google plus, Stephen King Community

https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/116358524459731933858

And over on Stephen King Forever on Google plus community

https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/118018234999179868877

 you can vote for your favorite book(s) to move on in the tournament.  The most votes between the half week’s match-up moves on until a winner is crowned. There’s a field of 64 novels and novellas in this tournament. 17 Novellas didn’t make the cut this year. They are as follows:

  1. The Breathing Method
  2. Fair Extension
  3. Hearts in Atlantis
  4. The Library Policeman
  5. Morality
  6. Blockade Billy
  7. A Face in the Crowd
  8. The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet
  9. The Gingerbread Girl
  10. In the tall Grass
  11. Heavenly Shades of night are Falling
  12. Throttle
  13. Blind Willie
  14. Why we were in Vietnam
  15. The Sun Dog
  16. Everything’s Eventual

The #1 seeded by region Books are followed:

  • The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (Mid World Region)
  • The Shining (The Overlook Hotel Region)
  • The Stand (Captain Trips Region)
  • IT (Derry Region)

 

Mid World Region:

The Dark Tower I vs Blaze

Carrie vs Dr. Sleep

Cujo vs The Langoliers

The Dark Tower II vs Thinner

Insomnia vs The Dark Half

The Body vs Finder’s Keepers

The Dead Zone vs Needful Things

The Tommyknockers vs Dreamcatcher

 

The Overlook Hotel Region:

The Shining vs Cell

Pet Semetary vs Revival

The Dark Tower III vs Misery

The Long Walk vs The Dark Tower V

Desperation vs Shawshank

End of Watch vs Gerald’s Game

Christine vs A Good Marriage

Firestarter vs The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

 

Captain Trips Region:

The Stand vs N.

‘Salem’s Lot vs Under the Dome

Mr. Mercedes vs The Colorado Kid

Apt Pupil vs Roadwork

The Dark Tower VI vs The Green Mile

Rose Madder vs The Dark Tower VII

Big Driver vs UR

Secret Window, Secret Garden vs The Wind Through the Keyhole

 

Derry Region

IT vs The Regulators

Bag of Bones vs Joyland

Rage vs The Dark Tower IV

Lisey’s Story vs From a Buick 8

Gwendy’s Button Box vs 1922

The Talisman vs Duma Key

Riding the Bullet vs Eyes of the Dragon

Cycle of the Werewolf vs The Running Man

 

Stephen King and the Conspiracy Theories

I ran up on something the other night that made me think about how stupid some people can really be. Maybe paranoid would be a better word. Yup, let’s use paranoid here.  We’ve all heard about conspiracy theories in our lives. Probably from someone we know closely or from some random guy sitting beside us in a hospital waiting room. Hell, we’ve all got that one family member that thinks the government places tracking strips in our cash to follow us around and listen in on our conversations. Oh, your family doesn’t have that odd ball?…my bad. I thought that was commonplace. 


Anyways, back to point here. Awhile back I’m surfing the Internet just prowling around looking for obscure Stephen King interviews from decades gone by, when all the sudden I stumbled upon this website about Stephen King and all the wild conspiracies out there that involve him…I never knew such things existed about King. Sure, I’m naive, here I thought King was just a writer, actor, musician, philanthropist, etc., not the topic of someone’s wild and crazy ideas.


I was reading page after page of these people who seriously think this crazy shit about King. At some point I had to make sure that I wasn’t reading a spoof. Nope. It was the real deal, Hollyfield. These people have thought about this for a long time and thanks to the Internet, they have a soapbox. Or had, hell I don’t know…for all I know they can still be peddling their insane ideas with a room full of cats.


Here’s a list of some of the conspiracy theories (Not in order from my memory). I was stunned by some of the craziness I read. And usually I don’t get stunned or surprised that much on the Internet. But by God I did this time…


1. Mind control- WTF?? Mind control? Some out there think that King puts subliminal messages in his books using his words to motivate people to do some of the crazy things he writes about.hyptnotic eyes Granted, they’re some mentally bent people out there that are suggestible, but to say King has some sort of mind control that maybe the CIA was looking into? That’s a little much…come to think of it, after my dog Lucky died when I was 14, I did have this eerie pull to go bury him in an old part of town where it was rumored that Indians had buried their dead…damn you Stephen King and your mind games!


2. The Dollar Baby Deals- Ever heard of this? Well, the Dollar Baby Deals are simply this: If you’re an aspiring film maker and want to adapt one of King’s works for the small/big screen, just send him a dollar for the rights and the finished film.dollar bill However, some crazies out there have theorized that King does this only because he feels badly because he’s stolen so much material over the decades and that the Dollar Babies is his way of setting things right. I’ll say this: Writers are often inspired by other writers, okay? That’s just natural. 


3. King Was Behind the Murder of John Lennon- This is nuts. I mean off the reservation. Supposedly, this crackpot some time after John Lennon was murdered  was sending out 24 page leaflets telling everyone his crazy accounts about who really shot and killed John Lennon. Apparently, somewhere in the book this guy wrote, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon had gotten with Stephen King and arranged the murder of Lennon.john lennon The writer (who I’m not even going to name; you want the name look it up. Pretty easy to locate) also claimed that King had written about his part in the murder throughout his books (there’s those subliminal messages again).  In later years when Stephen King was ran over and nearly killed in 1999, the same writer claimed it was some covert government group that was sent to kill King because he was about to expose not only his role in the murder, but those presidents that told him to do it…I don’t even know how to respond to this one.


4. Ghost Writer Team- There’s one conspiracy claim that he’s got a team of ghost writers who write his books. How else can one man write that much, right? Wrong. All I got to say is look at Agatha Christie; she wrote 66 novels and 14 collections in her career.ghost writers Should I even mention Ray Bradbury’s lengthy work and career?  So that “there’s no way one person can produce that much so he must have a team writing for him” is complete and utter bullshit. I mean come on…I file this one under JEALOUSY 


There’s perhaps more conspiracy theories out there but these were just a few that kind of made me laugh and wonder where our world is. Don’t get me wrong, I like to question things because in questions we find the answers. But I think sometimes people go too far. If I’m Stephen King and read these “theories”, I don’t know if I’d laugh or be afraid. 


The scary thing about all this is: These people think they’re right. They’ve spent time and energy thinking about it. Maybe King needs to write a book about this. Who am I kidding? He should pick someone off his “team of ghost writers” to do it for him because he’s probably busy with writing “mind control” passages in his books and talking with the president on who he should murder next…

Stephen King Stories You Ought To Know

Rainy Season

This Stephen King story you ought to know is a odd little tale called, Rainy Season. First published in the Spring 1989 issue of Midnight Graffiti magazine and then later collected in Nightmares and Dreamscapes, this, as far as I know, is the only King story about toads.

What’s so peculiar about this Stephen King tale you ask? Well, how about it rains toads? Yup, not just your swamp variety toads we’re talking about, but full blown vicious amphibians that can break through glass and chew through wood and they’re nearly as big as footballs with razor sharp teeth. Oh yeah, they can and will kill you as some sort of town sacrifice every seven years in exchange for the town’s prosperity. Kind of a trade off.

This isn’t one of King’s more famous or well-known shorts. In fact most people hadn’t heard of it outside the hardcore King readers cliques. But it is a fun and fast read. I enjoyed it very much.

Sure it’s outlandish. But it’s about toads falling from the sky and eating their way into a couple’s home to chew them apart as per the seven year ritual. Usually you don’t see that kind of behavior from things that go croak in the night.

Overall I like this story and have read and re- read this tale several times. It’s not a long story, but if you’re looking for something to pass the time on a rainy day, then Rainy Season is a must.

Rainy Season rains down at- 3/5 (Very Good)

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Book Review

“If books were babies, I’d call The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon the result of an unplanned pregnancy.”- SK

Bookstore Totals

  • Published April 6th, 1999 by Scribner
  • Debuted #1 on The New York Times Best Seller List on May 2nd
  • In 2004, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was released as a pop-up book
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Blue Ribbon Award-Winning Novel


In under 230 pages, this book doesn’t disappoint at all. In fact, I think that it’s one of his best, top ten material for me. I can’t say enough about this book about a nine-year-old girl getting lost, growing-up and surviving all on her own in the forests and bogs all the while trying to beat the odds as sickness, starvation and the God of the Lost is stalking her along the way.

This is what I would call a “gateway” novel into Stephen King’s Universe for those in the lower teens looking to start reading King’s work.

 

Why does The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon work…

  1. TGWLTG works because King takes a small child and thrusts her into a real situation that any kid could find themselves in. And in that real life horror, he makes a hero out of the girl. I love the underdogs and I loved Trisha’s strong bond with her favorite baseball player, Tom Gordon. Had it not been for the thoughts of him (and the visions and interactions with the Red Sox closer) and her Walkman, she would have died for sure. They were lifelines.
  1. TGWLTG works because it had that “what’s that stalking her in the woods” backdrop. As if her being lost, sick and scared wasn’t enough, King puts in a hidden figure that is watching and keeping pace with the lost girl as she traveled through woods and swamps. I think the thing in the woods kept the novel going to a degree because as a reader you didn’t know what this thing was or what the end game was going to be. All you knew was that the thing in the woods was going to make itself known at some point. And I thought keeping it hidden was a cool idea to build up the anticipation of when it did appear in the final showdown. Sometimes the scariest things are the ones we don’t see.
  1. TGWLTG works because Stephen King didn’t get himself or the story too bogged down within itself. The book could have really, really been tough to read had he stretched it out into something like 600 plus pages. Hell, who am I kidding. He’d find a way to make it work even if it was a 600 pager, right? But nevertheless, I think the length really helped this book. Perfect marriage between length and story.
  1. TGWLTG works because it’s so simple. A girl that needs to pee walks off the path and deep enough into the woods where no one could see her. And then she gets turned around and forgets where she came in at. And that’s real. I’ve been lost in the woods before and it’s scary because everything looks the same pretty much. And to a child? I think King was able to take something that could and does happen every day and make it a scary and interesting tale. Simple things can be very frightening.
  1. TGWLTG works because I have a daughter around this age and as I read it, it made me think of my own child. That’s who I had in mind when I read this novel. What if this was her? Yet again, Stephen King was able to hit home with an emotional connection for his readers; at least with me he did. If you’ve ever been lost then you know how this girl felt and I did. I also felt the pain of the parents trying to find their daughter. I wish that King would have did more on the parents and the thoughts that were running through their heads while Trisha was trying to find her way back out of the woods. I do think that was a missed opportunity. However it didn’t hurt the novel in any way.

All in all, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a great read and one that I will be revisiting soon I’m sure. It was difficult to put down because you just had to find out what other perils that this young girl was going to have to face and overcome. While I read the book in the comfort of my own home, I too, felt lost with her. That’s why Stephen King is a master craftsman at what he does: He’s able to draw you in and make you feel.

I felt all of Trisha’s fears, her cries, her pain, her sickness and her despair and bouts of happiness as she tried to find her way out of the woods. Trisha McFarland is one of the better literary role models out there.

King in this novel was able to capture what it’s like to be a 9 year old girl being lost in the woods from the perspective of a child. He was able to make us, the reader, feel the totality of her being alone, all alone in a place that looked the same at every turn.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon gets a save at- 5/5 (Certifiable Classic)

The Mick Garris Interview

On May 8th, 2015 I had the pleasure of interviewing film director and writer, Mick Garris. If you’re not familiar with his work it includes such movies as : Sleepwalkers, The Shining (1997), Desperation, The Stand and Bag of Bones with an impressive list of many other films and writing credits.

I reached out to Mr. Garris when I was doing my website, then a fledgling blog about Stephen King, and took a shot and asked if he’d like to do an interview for my site. He said yes.

So without further adieu, here’s the interview I did with Mick Garris in 2015 for those that didn’t read it the first go around…

AP:  You directed the made for TV version of The Shining. Which is my favorite. And I know that Stephen King wasn’t too thrilled with Stanley Kubrick’s version. What did you and King decide to do differently than the original? And how did King view this version?

 MG: Well, the decision was made to do a film faithful to the book. We weren’t competing with the Kubrick film, or looking to change the way Kubrick interpreted King’s story. This is a very personal tale for King, and we wanted to get the heart of the book onscreen. To see Jack’s descent into madness, see the guilt he had over hurting his son when he was drunk, to follow the trajectory that King had set for him in the first place.

AP: How satisfied were you with the end result of your version of The Shining as a filmmaker?

MG: It’s impossible to be objective. But in terms of filmmaking, I had the best resources I’ve ever had on any project on THE SHINING, a budget that covered pretty much everything we tried to put on screen, as well as a great cast and supportive network and studio. I haven’t watched it in years, but saw some scenes at the Stanley Film Festival last week, and was very happy with how it stands up. Although there are always things you wish you could have done better, I was pleased with what I saw. I like it.

AP: You’ve done two epic novels of King’s to film. Which was harder to do as a director: The Shining or The Stand?

MG: THE STAND was much, much harder: shooting a cast of 126 speaking roles, in six states, 95 scripted locations, shooting outside in a dying world, trying to hide the living world. By far the most complicated, demanding, and longest-running project I’ve ever had. THE SHINING was very contained, with a very small cast, and we were on our sets or locations for weeks at a time. On THE STAND we were often running to two or three locations a day.

AP:  You’ve done a good share of King’s adaptations. In your mind how hard is it to bring King’s work to film especially a novel like Desperation?

MG: No film is easy. We worked for seven years to do DESPERATION as a feature film. It took that long to turn it into a TV production deal. DESPERATION, like THE STAND, had a lot of location work in desolate—and very specific—locations. And so much of it in the book is internal. It was a huge challenge to make the thrust of what was behind DESPERATION clear cinematically, and to externalize what’s going on inside those characters.

AP: Do you read the books or short stories before you start the film?

MG: Several times.

AP:  Some directors in adapting King’s work stray from the source material somewhat because they have a certain way they want the film to go. You stay really true to King’s work. Is it important to you as a filmmaker to stay on point with not only King’s stories but with other writers as well?

MG: It depends. Movies and books are different media; like I mentioned earlier, books are internal and movies are external. King is the first to understand that they are two different things. If a book is cinematic—as many of King’s are—they can more easily be adapted to film pretty directly. But something like RIDING THE BULLET, which was a 30-page short story, was changed a lot. I changed the time it took place, and basically created a whole new back story for Alan, and the last half of the movie isn’t really even in the book. But the idea is to capture the essence of the story that you wanted to turn into a movie in the first place. I’ve done adaptations of other books by other writers—Clive Barker and others, including my own fiction—and certain things need to be changed because you’re dealing in a different medium. But keep the baby; throw out the bathwater.

AP: When I was a kid I went and saw Sleepwalkers. Had a great time watching it. My question is: how did you get all those cats together in those scenes because it seemed like thousands?

MG: It was only 125, but they were very well trained. The handlers spent months coaching them with treats and Pavlovian buzzers and things. We worked out long before we started shooting what they needed to do, and the trainers were able to humanely coach them.

AP: What’s your feelings on several of the King movie remakes going on right now? Does your version of The Stand really need to be remade? Or do you view the remakes as just simply updating for the times?

MG: Every one is different. You know, the remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS was fantastic, and didn’t take anything away from the original. MALTESE FALCON was a remake. THE FLY was a remake that was superior to the original. I’m not usually a fan of remakes of movies that were good to begin with, but as new generations of filmgoers grow up, there are stories worth retelling. I met Josh Boone, who’s writing and directing THE STAND remake, and I liked him a lot. A very talented guy who knows his Stephen King inside and out. I think it has the chance to be great.

AP: Do filmmakers take exception to their work being remade after a period of time?

MG: A lot of them like it, and profit from it. Like King says about his books: no movie can fuck up a good book. It’s still there on the shelf to read anytime you want to. The same goes for remade movies, I think.

AP: I read somewhere where you’ve been tapped a few times to sit in the director’s chair for The Talisman. Is that King novel ever going to get an adaptation and why hasn’t already you think?

MG: It’s a tough one to handle. I wrote a two-part miniseries script that’s one of my favorite things I ever wrote, and was going to direct it for ABC, but it was just too expensive for them. I have no idea why it hasn’t yet been made. Steven Spielberg’s Amblin has owned it for decades, and they keep announcing it, and then it goes away. Maybe now, in the days of doable visual effects and giant fantasy films, it’s the right time.

AP:  Is The Talisman something you want to do?

MG: I’d love to. Don’t know that that will ever happen, though.

AP: You and Stephen King seem to have a really good relationship together. How did you and him come together in the first place?

MG: On SLEEPWALKERS. Columbia Pictures and King selected me on the strength of my enthusiasm for his work and because they thought PSYCHO IV showed it was something I might be able to handle. We met when he came to the set for two hours for his cameo with Clive Barker and Tobe Hooper in the film. But he was so happy with the version I made that he asked me to do THE STAND. And the rest, as they say, is cinema history… at least in the Garris house.

Stephen King Stories You Ought To Know

The Death of Jack Hamilton

“As a kid, I was fascinated by tales of the Depression-era outlaws, an interest that probably peaked with Arthur Penn’s remarkable Bonnie and Clyde.”-SK


This is one of those shorts ( King’s 2002, Everything’s Eventual, collection) where King showcases that he’s a well-versed writer, not a horror writer like most people outside his fandom like to tag him. So when King writes a story about a member of John Dillinger’s gang slowly dying from a gunshot wound, of course I’m going to read it…and like it.

This story is simplictic. It’s not balls to the wall nor is it chalk full of Depression Era nostalgia. The story is about Dillinger gang member, Jack Hamilton, dying from the bullet that is lodged in his lung during a shoot out. After being refused treatment by Joseph Moran, a Depression Era gangster doctor who operates under the radar, Dillinger and his boys try to find a place to lay low and maybe get Hamilton some help. But the truth of the matter is that Jack is dying and the reality of that is horrible not only for him, but the rest of the gang. They all know that it’s just a matter of time.

The story is about the realities of being outside the law. What happens to men that are wanted fugitives who are mortally wounded and can’t see a straight-up doctor? In this short, we get to hear the accounts of Jack Hamilton’s final hours…

The Death of Jack Hamilton- 3/5 (Very Good)

Cycle of the Werewolf Book Review

“Any dedicated moon-watcher will know that, regardless of the year, I have taken a good many liberties with the lunar cycle-usually to take advantage of days (Valentine’s, July 4th, etc.) which mark certain months in our minds.”-SK

 

Bookstore Totals

  • Published in Nov. 1983 by Land of Enchantment as a hardback limited edition
  • Was published the same year that Pet Sematary and Christine were issued
  • The book was supposed to be a monthly calendar but King thought it would make a better book
  • In 1985 it was re-produced as a mass-market paperback to coincide with the movie adaptation, Silver Bullet

 

I can tell you what this book isn’t: it isn’t a deep and profound thought-provoking piece of fiction that often comes from Stephen King. This book is quite the opposite; it’s straight up entertainment, an escape for about an hour. It’s an in your face, month by month account of the going-ons of the residents of Tarker’s Mills fearing the full moon as a werewolf stalks the night.

This book is short but big on entertainment value. A hidden gem in the King library.

Why does Cycle of the Werewolf work?

1)    Cycle of the Werewolf works because it’s a really cool story about a werewolf preying upon a small town. Everyone is terrified but no one wants to admit what’s really the cause of all the grisly murders. King is not greedy on the gore.cycle of the werewolf

2)    Cycle of the Werewolf works because of Bernie Wrightson’s illustrations that walk us through King’s books. I love his depiction of the werewolf and overall tone he added with King’s words. I think that was a good combination for this book.

3)    Cycle of the Werewolf works because it’s just a fun book. It’s a book that you’d read on a cold night sitting on the couch with the lights dim. It doesn’t insist upon itself and King doesn’t dress it up to be something that it’s not.

4)    Cycle of the Werewolf works because it started out being a monthly calendar. And who else could take something like that and turn it into a book? Stephen King of course.

Cycle of the Werewolf howls- 3/5 (Very Good)