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Castle Rock – Make Your Own King Universe

King fans were super excited to finally get an actual trailer for the upcoming Castle Rock show on Hulu.  Do we have any idea what it’s going to be about?  No.  Are we any less excited?  No.  It’s full of King references we’re excited to see pay off in a weekly series and I personally and wishing the year would hurry up so we can get into 2018 and get closer to the premiere.

While we wait I have constructed a list below that makes it so we can sort of create our own Castle Rock universe with movies that are already available.  You’ve probably seen them all but may not have noticed that they are all actually connected accidentally just by adapting the source material that is connected.  So here is your list in viewing order.  And spoiler alert I’ll be giving a quick synopsis of the movies and also how it’s connected to the rest in the list and possibly the books they are based on.  Just be warned.

Stand By Me (1986)

One of the more sentimental Stephen King movies.  A group of boys go to find a dead body of one of their classmates and along the way each comes to terms with their place in the world.

This movie sort of sets the stage.  It’s summer in 1959 so we get to see a more quaint version of Castle Rock.  The town is only really our starting point and stopping point but all of our characters live there.  There’s not much crossover here for our movie universe other than this happened in our main setting for this viewing session.  In the book Kiefer Sutherland’s character Ace Merrill actually plays a big part in the book NEEDFUL THINGS as he gets out of jail and returns to Castle Rock just as things are starting to break down in Castle Rock.  But we’ll get to that in a bit.

The Dead Zone (1983)

One of my favorites on the list.  After getting into a car crash and being in a coma for 5 years Johnny Smith finds out he has a gift.  If he touches you he can see your future.  Good or bad.  Once he shakes the hand of Greg Stillson he sees a future filled with death.  What can he do to stop it?

Here we start to see the dark side of Castle Rock.  For part of the first half of the movie we see that a serial killer is stalking the streets attacking women.  Sheriff Bannerman (played awesomely by Tom Skerritt)  is at the end of his rope trying to find the killer so he turns to Johnny to see what he can find.  They find their killer and from there Johnny moves on to stop nuclear armageddon.  This section of the film though will feature heavily in our next movie.

Cujo (1983) –

Simple concept.  A woman and her son are trapped in their car at a lonesome farm by a rabid Saint Bernard.

Again we’re present in Castle Rock.  Here we find a pretty simple story.  Woman in the car with the dog right?  Well here’s where our connections come in.  In the beginning of the movie Tad is afraid of the monster in his closet.  In the book that monster he’s afraid of is the boogeyman that the serial killer from The Dead Zone had become around town.  People whispered about it and Frank Dodd has become sort of an urban legend around town.  So Tad is afraid of the killer from The Dead Zone.  And later in the book it’s sort of just thrown around (not seriously but Tad sort of thinks about it while trapped) that the evil that possessed Frank Dodd has now gone into Cujo.

The other big connection we have is that the sheriff that ends up out at the farm is none other than our friend Sheriff Bannerman (not awesomely played by Tom Skerritt).

The Dark Half (1993)

Thad Beaumont is a successful writer who’s pen name has just been outed.  He decides to publicly kill off his alter ego rather than paying a blackmailer.  Bad news is his alter ego doesn’t want to be dead.

In this George Romero directed movie Michael Rooker plays the sheriff Alan Pangborn (who is supposed to be a main character in the new Castle Rock series).  He’s Bannerman’s replacement.  He’s now in charge of the strange things that happen around Castle Rock.  Also we meet his deputy briefly Norris Ridgewick.

Needful Things (1993)

A new shop opens up in Castle Rock.  It claims to be able to give you whatever you desire . . . for a price.

Max Von Sydow plays the devil and has shown up to reek havoc in Castle Rock.  This time out our main character is Sheriff Alan Pangborn (this time played by Ed Harris).  He tries to keep Castle Rock from destroying itself but it’s a hard task.  Helping him is his trusty deputy Norris Ridgewick.  In the book we actually visit a lot of the famous locations from these previous movies/stories.  Some old characters come back.  Ace Merrill plays a big part.

 

So there you have it.  That’s your cinematic journey through Castle Rock.  I will say you could also do The Shawshank Redemption but it doesn’t feature in our journey here.  It does seem that it will play a part in the new Hulu series.

 

A King’s Journey

Just about everyone that knows me knows how obsessed with Stephen King I am.  It’s not just that I enjoy his work but I obsess over it.  It probably came from the 4th Dark Tower book where we find out that everything he’s ever written is connected some how.

My mom was a big King fan back in the day.  She had a bookcase full of King books.  I’d pull them out and look at the covers.  I knew I’d always be too scared to read them, but they sat there and I’d stare at them.

It finally happened when I was 10.  The IT miniseries was on TV and even though it looked scary I still watched it.  I’m sure my parents regret that.  I couldn’t sleep without nightmares for awhile.  Then suddenly the urge came over me.  I had to read IT.  I needed to know more about this evil clown.  How I convinced anyone to let me buy a copy of IT I’ll never know but they let me.

I read it within 6 months.  I know but it’s over a thousand pages and I was 11.  Give me some slack.  From that point on I pretty much devoured every King book I could get my hands on.  My mom seemed encouraged by my interest and even let me borrow books from her collection.  Now the very books I used to get scared just looking at just the covers I was reading one after the other.

I give King credit for a lot of things with me.  I feel there is a point in every person’s life where they make the decision “do I keep reading for fun or do I just read because I have to for school and I move on to other things for fun?”  He kept me reading.  I would keep up to date on his current books.  Getting them for Christmas and Birthday presents from family members.  I read other authors  as well but nothing could bring me to a screaming halt like King.

Then I discovered within this collection of books The Dark Tower.  I had avoided it because I’m not really into fantasy novels.  But decided to give the first one a shot.  I enjoyed it enough I wanted to see where it would go so I got the second book.  Then the third.  After that the 4th book would change everything.

I was used to seeing references to other King works in his books. Castle Rock of course was a big nexus point but things like The Stand and some of his other short stories like The Mist (yes more a novella), The Jaunt, The Long Walk, etc. took place in worlds that there was no way could be in the same reality as Castle Rock.

In the 4th Dark Tower book a character whom I thought was a stand alone character told another character that he was trying to win over to his side “I once had a man that would pledge ‘My Life For You!'”  Everything changed.  Suddenly this quest for the Dark Tower now had resonance across every word King had every put to paper.  It all mattered.

I continued on the journey to the tower and was sad to say goodbye to the friends I had made in that world but never stopped making friends with his new characters.  Some books are better than others as that is with any story.  I never quit.  King has kept me reading and dreaming.  Most importantly King has kept me writing.

I had dreams of being a big novelist.  I also had dreams of being a big filmmakers.  Age has let me look at the realities of this world and I let myself be content to just write and make movies because I want to with no goal of hitting it big.  I’d actually like to avoid that if possible.  I just want to enjoy doing it.

This Friday I finally close a circle as I’ll be heading up to the Chicago area to see King and his son Owen talk about their new book Sleeping Beauties.  I’ve been holding out going to one of these because I always hoped there would be a chance to meet him at a signing so I could extend my hand and say “Thank you for everything you’ve given me.” It doesn’t look like he does many straight up signings anymore so this may be the only chance I’ll have to at least be in an event with him.  I’m going to take it and enjoy every minute I can of him and his son sitting on stage telling stories and talking about weaving stories together.  There are worse ways to spend a Friday.

Geek Nerdery: IT (2017)

When IT was first announced as being up on the remake slot (or re-adaptation if you want to approach it that way) I was not really that thrilled with the idea.  I once met the director of the 1990 TV miniseries version of IT.  I straight up told him that I blamed him for the reason I didn’t like clowns.  Anyone in my age range will tell you that Tim Curry pretty much ruined the ever enjoying a clown again.  For me there was no way anyone could ever do Pennywise justice.  Tim Curry had terrified a whole generation with some grease paint and a wicked smile.

The longer it went on I hoped more and more that IT would be put in the old development hell section of Hollywood where things like Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash or such gems as a sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep seemed to live.  I wouldn’t get my wish.  I began my crusade of denying this movie.  Hell no we won’t go . . . . to the cinema to see a new IT!  The chant was awkward so I dropped it but I kept saying there was no way a new IT would be good.  Then the first trailer hit.  Suddenly a slight crack in my facade began to show.  I was still adamant that Pennywise wouldn’t be nearly as good as Tim Curry’s but damn did the footage look pretty good.

Trailer 2 hit.  The cracks were really showing now.  IT actually looked scary.  As much as I love the 1990 TV movie version because it scared my 10 year old self senseless it has lost some of the scary luster it once held and now I just appreciate it for how it USED to scare me.  These trailers had made it look actually scary again.  Yeah but still he was no Tim Curry.  What I learned this weekend is that he didn’t need to be.

I’d been waiting to hate on this movie since it was first announced and now here I sit opening weekend telling you I can’t.  Don’t get me wrong, it still has some quibbles with me, but I actually can say I really enjoyed it.  They took a story I’ve loved all my life and gave it a loving tribute to it’s source material.  The time frame is updated to 1989.  Making the kids pretty much the same age I was when I saw IT for the first time.  Suddenly I’m caught in a nostalgia loop.  I’m reliving my childhood through these characters and they were also about to get the piss scared out of them by a killer clown.

The casting is about spot on perfect for me.  I have no complaints what so ever.  Bill is great as an awkward leader consumed by his brother’s disappearance.  Eddie is one sneeze away from being put into an iron lung by his over bearing mother.  Richie is the foul mouthed class clown we all wished we could have been.  And there’s Bev.  Poor poor Bevie.  I worry about her a lot.

These kids feel like friends.  It’s no stretch of the imagination to see these kids hanging out.  The chemistry on screen is near perfect.  Henry Bowers has traded in his duck tail hair cut and leather jacket for a mullet and sleeveless t-shirts fitting right into the 1989 setting. Pennywise.  Oh let me tell you about this Dancing Clown.  Bill Skarsgard brings a new twist onto King’s terrifying shape shifter.  He doesn’t try to do what Tim Curry did.  He didn’t do an impression.  He creates something new.  Which is exactly what you need in a remake like this.  Something new.  This evil clown doesn’t lure you in with his innocent clown tricks.  No.  This clown lures you in with his smile and then keeps right on smiling as he rips your guts out.  If Tim Curry gave 10 year old me nightmares then Skarsgard is going to give the almost 40 year old me some sleepless nights for the next few days.

I am pleading with you if you have been on the fence to give the new IT a try.  And this is from a fan who denounced it from the start.  Give it a chance.  You might just get a few night terrors of your own.

I actually have seen IT twice this weekend.  First with a few friends I had made plans with a few months ago and then just today I got a chance to go see IT with an invitation for free passes to try the 4DX version.  A new 4DX theater had opened in Illinois and I was curious to check it out so I gladly accepted.  With 4DX you get an immersive experience.  Your seat will move and vibrate along with the movie.  You’ll get fans blowing when the characters are riding their bikes so you can feel the wind rushing past your head.  New smells will enter the theater during every scene.  There was strobe lights to help accentuate the lightning.  Mist and air from the seats in front of you to bring you into the wet and surprising scenes.  Seems like a great idea . . .

. . .unless you’re trying to watch an atmospheric horror film.  Sadly it didn’t help with this movie.  The audience also didn’t help.  Lots of talking and people checking phones.  Part of me thinks the 4DX didn’t help with this.  When you have air blasting in your face and your friends are laughing it seemed to open up the idea that you could just talk about it at full volume.  Many times during the film my seat was shaking and moving all over the place and making it hard to pay attention to what was going on on screen.  I looked over at my friend Scott who came with me to see him almost a foot higher than me because our seats were moving at such a weird pace.

Also I didn’t smell anything.  Nothing seemed to change during the movie.  I felt bad as this was Scott’s first time seeing the film and what was supposed to be an immersive experience seemed to be distracting him from actually enjoying the movie.  I don’t think it’s a bad idea overall.  If I saw Jurassic World in this theater I probably would have enjoyed every second of it but for a movie like this it seemed to make it harder to enjoy the film.  I say YES to 4DX but not for something like this.

Outside of that GO SEE IT!  From the box office it would seem like a lot of you did which means we will probably see more R rated horror films and more Stephen King in the theater.  Both of which can be good things.

On the way home from the theater me and Scott decided to break out the recorder and talk about our experience.  There was a lot of road noise so I did best I could to get rid of it but you may hear some bleeps and bloops.  Sorry.

Music provided by The Fantastic Plastics.

New Poster And Trailer For Upcoming IT Remake

I’m a huge King nerd.  That’s not a secret.  I’ve been on record that I just don’t know about this IT remake.  Not that I don’t think they could improve on it with a higher budget and less restrictions but the big point of contention with me is Pennywise.  I mean how do you even come close to living up to Tim Curry’s performance?

Well we got our fist look at the new trailer and while everything looks good and it has a creepiness to it there is still no real look at the Pennywise performance.  We see some flashes of him and such but no dialogue and no real interaction with the characters.  But I know I’ll still be there opening weekend as since I’m a constant reader I have to.  Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think.

Hulu Brings The King With Castle Rock Series

WHAT IS GOING ON!!?!??!?  As a certified King nerd imagine my mind exploding on Friday when the below teaser trailer was dropped online by J.J. Abrams company Bad Robot.  Anyone who has listened to me babble about King for years knows I’ve always wished that a cinematic Stephen King universe was a thing but with the rights to his books being spread across multiple big name film studios it was never going to happen.  Well maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe.

They haven’t come right out and said what this is other than it’s a 10 episode series on Hulu that will cover multiple stories across King’s works.  No word on which stories or novels.  The fictional town of Castle Rock was first shown to us constant readers in The Dead Zone and would then go on to be the setting for many of King’s biggest stories.  The Body (Stand By Me), Cujo, The Dark Half, Needful Things, and multiple short stories take place there.  Also such books as Christine, IT, and The Tommyknockers make reference to the town.  So it’s connections are vast.  Until we know more about what this is going to be all we have is the all too short teaser below.  I am beyond excited.

Dark Tower Tie In Charlie The Choo-Choo Now Available

I’m a huge Stephen King nerd.  To anyone that knows me this is not a surprise.      In the sub-set of this I am a big Dark Tower fan as well.  Reading through his books and finding the connections was a giant thrill.  Even before getting into the Dark Tower set of books knowing that in Needful Things we revisit the farm from Cujo made me excited.  Reading and seeing that the monster that Tad is afraid lives in his closet in Cujo is Frank Dodd from The Dead Zone blew my mind.

While today shared universes are abundant in films and even some in books back when these books were coming out it wasn’t nearly as common.  So getting a reference to another book you had read was like a new experience.

Later I got into the Dark Tower books and found out that everything King has written is connected to this one set of stories.  Every character and every plot can be traced back to the Tower through any amount of small to large references.

When it was announced that at Comicon that they were actually printing up versions of the childrens book Charlie The Choo-Choo as exclusive items I tried to get anyone I knew that was there to grab me one.  Sadly it was not meant to be.  Luckily Simon and Schuster saw there was a demand for this so they decided to make it a mass market book.

I was lucky enough to get sent a review copy and I was jumping up and down with glee when it came in the mail.  It serves as a basic meta prop from the Dark Tower book.  Jake finds a copy of Charlie The Choo-Choo in a book store in the Tower books and now there is a real version you can hold in your hands.

With the movie coming up it’s a fun item to have.  I read through it and it is presented with great artwork from Ned Dameron as it tells the tale of old Charlie as he is seen as obsolete next to the more modern diesel engine, who looks like I imagine Blaine The Mono looks from The Wastelands.  It’s a fun thing to own if you’re a big King fan like I am.  I have it sitting on my shelf with the Dark Tower books.