“Stephen King Collection” (2016)
This new blu-ray Stephen King Collection contains four of King’s novels adapted to film in one box set. These movies run the gamut from excellent to passable, but overall they are all very entertaining and feature some top line talent in each film. Below is each film, a description and their relevant special features and synopsis.
“The Dead Zone” (1983)
Directed by David Cronenberg
Featuring: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt
Johnny Smith: “Do you know what God did for me? He threw an 18-wheeled truck at me and bounced me into nowhere for five years! When I woke up, my girl was gone, my job was gone, my legs are just about useless… Blessed me? God’s been a real sport to me!”
This is the first of David Cronenberg’s foray into the US studio system, and it was an adaptation of the Stephen King novel “The Dead Zone” that drew him in. Up until this time he had been making features and shorts in his homeland of Canada and was lured to Hollywood with this horror/thriller which was viewed as a bit of a disappointment at the time, but I believe it has actually aged very well, and it eventually spawned a long running TV show based around the novel and parts of the film.
The movie revolves around Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken), who is a schoolteacher in Maine and after surviving a terrible road accident, emerges from a five-year coma cursed with psychic powers, which enable him to see into the future. When he then meets Presidential candidate Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen), Johnny has a vision of the apocalyptic disasters, which would befall the world if this man should ever win office, and realizes that it is his destiny to prevent such a thing from ever happening.
“The Dead Zone” is pretty tightly plotted and moves along at a brisk pace and ends with a bang – in fact there could have been more plot in the end – and in fact I can see why a TV show was so appealing. This is a must watch in particular for Cronenberg fans who can start to see some familiar commonalties between this and his future works.
Audio Commentary, Memories from the Dead Zone Featurette, The Look of the Dead Featurette, Visions and Horror, The Politics of the Dead Zone
Directed by: John Carpenter
Featuring: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
George LeBay: “My asshole brother bought her back in September ’57. That’s when you got your new model year, in September. Brand-new, she was. She had the smell of a brand-new car. That’s just about the finest smell in the world, ‘cept maybe for pussy.”
John Carpenter had been making movies for a number of years before this project came his way, and this film came in the middle of his historic 1980s run where everything he directed has now become a classic – it fell in between the amazing and timeless horror “The Thing” (1982) and the Sci-Fi “Starman” (1984) which earned Jeff Bridges an Oscar Nomination for Best Actor.
“Christine” revolves around the car of the same name, which has an otherworldly aspect to it and latches onto a young new owner who becomes obsessed with the new car. The film follows the standard trope of a killer following and finding victims, the twist in this case is the killer is a car.
This again is a very good film that has aged quite well and is directed with skill and ease by Carpenter who at the time was one of the better directors around. The film becomes pretty dark and anyone that has a friend that becomes interested in someone else can feel the pressure that the antagonist feels in this and why ‘Christine’ seems on the surface the answer to his prayers,
Audio Commentary, 20 Deleted Scenes, 3 Exclusive Featurettes
Directed by: Mick Garris
Featuring: Brian Krause, Mädchen Amick, Alice Krige
Captain Soames: “Look, you got one hysterical girl with a very vivid imagination and all that girl needs is a good smack on the butt and her mommy and daddy won’t do it, I’ll be happy to volunteer.”
Mick Garris has a long history with King and has either written or directed a number of King’s books, and this was his first crack at a King property and was successful enough ofr them to become very close.
This a classic horror story that takes a perfect Norman Rockwell town and turns it inside out. Brian Krause and Alice Krige star in this terrifying tale of modern-day vampires who prey on virtuous young women.
This was a theatrical release and was a small hit and it is a good film that has a very good cast which helps a twist on a familiar subject and it is even better if you like cats.
“Pet Sematary” (1992)
Directed by: Mary Lambert
Featuring: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne
Jud Crandall: “The soil of a man’s heart is stonier, Louis. A man grows what he can, and he tends it. ‘Cause what you buy, is what you own. And what you own… always comes home to you.”
Mary Lambert was and has been one of the few woman directors working in horror and looking back this is her most successful film both critically and commercially – which is a shame as she has been pushed to the sidelines and her career seems to be halted in a way.
The film revolves around the Creeds who after moving to an idyllic home in the countryside, their life seems perfect but not for long. Louis and Rachel Creed and their two young children settle in to a house that sits next door to a pet cemetery – built on an ancient Indian burial ground. Their mysterious new neighbor, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne), hides the cemetery’s darkest secret…until a family tragedy brings the secret to life.
This is a pretty good horror and out of the four this is the third best as it covers all the creepy thngs that King is known for and once again is one of his works dealing woth animals, but is more satisfying than both “Cujo” (1983) and “Sleepwalkers” (1992).
Audio Commentary, Stephen King Territory, The Characters, Filming the Horror