Mostly forgotten by fans, the original film made by Fraser Heston (Charleton’ son) suffers from being almost too literal. Instead of expanding on the core concept—a stranger opens up a novelty store in a small Maine town, offering items that customers cannot resist—and turning it into a treatise on desire and its devilish downfalls, we get characters cut from the novel doing things we know because of our already established familiarity with the book. Imagine someone like Gore Verbinski stepping in and taking charge. He could make this otherwise forgettable King entry into something akin to a classic.
Vampires. Will they ever be scary again? Some suggest that Twilight and all of its diamond sparkling stains can never be removed from the legendary neckbiters, but if any movie could make a difference, an adaptation of King’s second novel sure could. Tobe Hooper’s TV film remains a masterwork, but it would be nice to see the story broadened (and beefed up, scare/blood/gore wise) for the movie going crowd. Even better, the character of Barlow has all the makings of a post-modern horror icon. Just drop the whole drippy romance claptrap and let Nosferatu be mean again and everything will be fine.
We like Mary Lambert’s adaptation of this controversial King tome (his wife supposedly rejected it as “too scary” while psychiatrists got complaints from distressed parents over the whole “killer kid, kid killing” finale). We even dig The Ramones’ theme song. What we miss, however, is the depth. The original narrative was filled with the kind of frightening details that allowed the ending to really deliver. The film? Not so much. While there was a lot of buzz last year about a possible remake, nothing solid has occurred. We tend to agree with Jud Crandall that “dead is better,” but not when it comes to another shot at this story.
Why Warner Bros, why? Why couldn’t you make a Ben Affleck directed multi-film adaptation of this monumental King masterpiece work. The 1000-plus page story is even split up into easy to achieve separate story paths for easy movie merchandising. While the well-liked TV miniseries suffered from surreal casting (who in their right mind would have picked Corin Nemec as psycho-nerd Harold Lauder?) and a lack of real post-apocalyptic brutality, this update could be just the ticket to reintroduce the book to a whole new generation. Now if the studio would just stop interfering and let the true moviemakers make their movie.
All alien spiders aside, this is an amazing read. It perfectly blends nostalgia for the past with the dysfunctions of the present, all within a narrative that could easily comprise two or more films. Again, the TV miniseries was serviceable. It even included one of the best visualizations of a King villain ever in Pennywise the Clown. However, the rest of the effort lacked the scope and loss of innocence that the book provided. Of course, there is that ending, and the great big turtle of the universe to contend with. Still, someone with skill could easily make most of the problems part of a larger mythology. As long as they provide the scares, we are there.