September 2014

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ICFIFC: The Sidney W. Pink Horror Films

Sidney W. Pink (March 16, 1916 – October 12, 2002) was an American movie producer and occasional director.  He has been called the father of feature-length 3-D movies.  He is also noted for producing early spaghetti westerns and low-budget science-fiction films, and for his role in actor Dustin Hoffman's transition from stage to screen.

Sid Pink was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  After playing the film producer in his high school's production of Merton of the Movies, he realized this was the profession he would ultimately pursue, calling it his life's ambition.  He worked as a projectionist in a movie theater owned by his wife's family and earned a degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

In 1952, Pink produced Bwana Devil, a feature-length color film that was the first widely-shown 3-D film to use the polarized 3-D method1 rather than the red-and-blue-glasses anaglyph 3-D2 occasionally used for short films.  It was made using the Natural Vision system, which employed two separate but interlocked cameras and required two specially modified projectors.  The film premiered in late November and started a brief but intense 3-D fad that peaked in mid-1953, faltered in the fall, rallied, then faded away almost completely during 1954.

In 1959, Pink produced The Angry Red Planet, using a new film processing technique he named CineMagic3 to create an unreal, otherworldly "Martian" effect in some sequences.  In 1961, he supplied the original story for Reptilicus, a giant-monster-on-the-loose film he co-produced and co-directed in Denmark at Saga Studios.

In 1966, Pink discovered the young Dustin Hoffman in an off-Broadway stage production in New York City and cast him in the lead in Madigan's Millions, which was filmed in Italy and Spain.  The film was not released until 1969, two years after Hoffman achieved stardom with his role in the 1967 film The Graduate.


 

The Angry Red Planet (1959)

  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Ib Melchior
  • Produced:
    • Norman Maurer 
    • Lou Perlof  
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Written:
    • Ib Melchior 
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Starring: Gerald Mohr, Naura Hayden, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen, Paul Hahn, J. Edward McKinley, Tom Daly, Don Lamond, Edward Innes, Gordon Barnes, Jack Haddock, Brandy Bryan, Joan Fitzpatrick, Duke Norton
  • Music: Paul Dunlap
  • Cinematography: Stanley Cortez
  • Editing: Ivan J. Hoffman
  • Studio:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Sino
  • Distributed:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • MGM Home Entertainment  
    • Timeless Media Group
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 23 November 1959 (USA)
  • Running Time: 83 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

The Angry Red Planet (aka Invasion of Mars and Journey to Planet Four) is a 1959 science fiction film starring Gerald Mohr and directed by Ib Melchior.  Melchior was only given 10 days and a budget of $200,000 to make the film.  This necessitated the use of a CineMagic technique, which involved using hand drawn animations together with live action footage, and was used for all scenes on the surface of Mars.  Although this process was largely unsuccessful, producer Norman Maurer would attempt the same technique again in The Three Stooges in Orbit.  American International Pictures released the film as a double feature with Circus of Horrors.

The rocketship MR-1 (for "Mars Rocket 1"), returns to Earth after the first manned flight to Mars.  At first thought to have been lost in space, the rocket reappears but mission control cannot raise the crew by radio.  The ground crew land the rocket successfully by remote control.  Two survivors are found aboard: Dr. Iris Ryan and Col. Tom O'Bannion, the latter's arm covered by a strange alien growth.  The mission report is recounted by Dr. Ryan as she attempts to find a cure for Col. O'Bannion's arm.

While exploring Mars, Ryan was attacked by a carnivorous plant, which was killed using a freeze ray (nicknamed 'Cleo') fired by weapons officer Jacobs.  They also discover an immense bat-rat-spider creature, after mistaking its legs for trees, which is later repelled, again by Jacobs.  When they return to their ship, the crew finds that their radio signals are being blocked and the MR-1 is grounded by a force field.  O'Bannion leads the crew to a Martian lake with a city visible on the other side.  They cross in an inflatable raft, only to be stopped by a giant amoeba-like creature with a single spinning eye.  The creature kills Jacobs and infects O'Bannon's arm.  The survivors escape to the MR-1 and commence liftoff.  The survivors then return to Earth, where O'Bannon's infected arm is cured using electric shocks.

When the mission scientists attempt to examine the expedition's data recorders, all they find is a recorded message.  An alien voice announces that the MR-1 crew were allowed to leave so they can deliver this message to Earth.  The Martians have been watching human development throughout history, believe our technology has outpaced cultural advancement, and accuse mankind of invading their world.  They warn humanity to never return to Mars or Earth will be destroyed in retaliation.


Reptilicus (1961)

  • Genre: Action – Horror - Sci-Fi
  • Directed:
    • Poul Bang  
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Produced:
    • Samuel Z. Arkoff 
    • Sidney W. Pink 
    • Johann Zalabery
  • Written:
    • Ib Melchior 
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Starring: Bent Mejding, Asbjørn Andersen, Povl Wøldike, Ann Smyrner, Mimi Heinrich, Dirch Passer, Marlies Behrens, Carl Ottosen, Ole Wisborg, Birthe Wilke, Mogens Brandt, Kjeld Petersen
  • Music:
    • Sven Gyldmark (Danish Version)  
    • Les Baxter  (US version)
  • Cinematography: Aage Wiltrup
  • Editing:
    • Sven Methling 
    • Edith Nisted Nielsen
  • Studio:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Cinemagic 
    • Saga Studio
  • Distributed:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Home Video Hellas  
    • Orion Home Video  
    • MGM Home Entertainment  
    • Emerald  
    • Timeless Media Group  
    • Cinefear  
    • World Beyond Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 20 February 1961 (Denmark) 
    • 20 January 1963 (USA)
  • Running Time: 82 minutes
  • Country:
    • Denmark 
    • USA
  • Language:
    • Danish 
    • English

Reptilicus, a giant monster film about a fictional prehistoric reptile, is a Danish-American co-production, produced by American International Pictures and Saga Studio, and is—upon close examination—two distinctly different films helmed by two different directors.

The original version, which was shot in Danish, was directed by Danish director Poul Bang and released in Denmark on February 25, 1961.  The American version, which was in English with a nearly identical cast, was directed by the film's American producer-director Sidney W. Pink; this version was initially deemed virtually un-releasable by American International Pictures and had to be extensively reworked by the film's Danish-American screenwriter, Ib Melchior, before being finally released in America in 1962.  Pink was angry at the changes and wound up in a legal dispute with AIP.  After Pink and others viewed the English-language version, the lawsuit was dropped.

Danish miners dig up a section of a giant reptile's tail from the frozen grounds in Lapland, where they are drilling.  The section is flown to the Danish Aquarium in Copenhagen, where it is preserved in a cold room for scientific study.  But due to careless mishandling, the room is left open and the section begins to thaw, only for scientists to find that it is starting to regenerate.

Professor Martens, who is in charge of the Aquarium, dubs the reptilian species "Reptilicus" (upon a reporter's suggestion) and compares its regeneration abilities to that of other animals like earthworms and starfish.

Once fully regenerated from the tail section, Reptilicus goes on an unstoppable rampage from the Danish countryside to the panic-stricken streets of Copenhagen (including one of its famous landmarks, Langebro Bridge), before finally being killed with poison by ingenious scientists and military officers.

However, the monster's foot is not destroyed and sinks to the bottom of the sea.  The movie is left open-ended, with the possibility that the foot could regenerate.


Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)

  • Genre: Action – Adventure – Fantasy
  • Directed: Sidney W. Pink
  • Produced:
    • Samuel Z. Arkoff 
    • Sidney W. Pink 
    • Johann Zalabery
  • Written:
    • Ib Melchior 
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Starring: John Agar, Greta Thyssen, Carl Ottosen, Peter Monch, Ove Sprogøe, Louis Miehe-Renard, Ann Smyrner, Ulla Moritz, Mimi Heinrich, Annie Birgit Garde, Bente Juel, Julian Burton
  • Music:
    • Ib Glindemann (Danish Version)  
    • Ronald Stein (US version)
  • Cinematography: Aage Wiltrup
  • Editing:
    • Tove Palsbo 
    • Thok Søndergaard
  • Studio: Cinemagic Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Astral Films  
    • Columbia Pictures  
    • Home Video Hellas  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • LK-TEL  
    • MGM/UA Home Entertainment  
    • RCA/Columbia Pictures Video  
    • Tapes of Terror
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 10 March 1962 (USA)
  • Running Time: 77 minutes
  • Country:
    • Denmark 
    • USA
  • Language:
    • Danish 
    • English

Journey to the Seventh Planet is a 1962 science fiction film.  It was directed by Sid Pink, written by Pink and Ib Melchior, and shot in Denmark with a budget of only US$75,000.  The seventh planet of the title is Uranus, and a crew is being dispatched there by the United Nations on a mission of space exploration.  The film's ideas of astronauts exploring outer space only to confront their inner mindscapes and memories precede the similar-themed 1972 film Solaris by a full decade (although the novel Solaris precedes this film by a year).  The film is also reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's 1948 short story Mars is Heaven! that appeared in the 1950 book The Martian Chronicles.

During their journey to Uranus, an alien presence briefly assumes control of the crew's minds.  They awaken safely but notice that a long - and unexplained - period of time has passed by.  Upon landing, the crew finds a forested land oddly like Earth's, rather than the cold, bleak world they were expecting.  This forest is surrounded by a mysterious barrier.  One of the crew pushes his arm through the barrier, only to have it frozen.

New features and forms begin to appear each time they are imagined by the crew.  A familiar-looking village appears, complete with attractive women the various male crew members have known in the past.  Soon, they must face a series of strange beasts including a giant bi-pedal cyclopean rodent and a lobster-like insect.  The crew realizes that they have been the victims of mind control by a gigantic one-eyed brain living in a cave.  There, they are confronted by the "Being," whose mysterious brain cuts to the inner thoughts of the explorers and causes their thoughts to appear as seemingly real.  The brain-Being plans to possess the astronauts' bodies and have them take it with them back to Earth where it will implement a plan for global domination.  The crew gradually come to realize their peril and start to fight back against the presence, even eliciting aid from the sympathetic women.  They must then confront the Being in its lair while it assaults each with monsters spawned from their fears.

 

Notes:

1.  A polarized 3D system uses polarization glasses to create the illusion of three-dimensional images by restricting the light that reaches each eye, an example of stereoscopy.  To present stereoscopic images and films, two images are projected superimposed onto the same screen or display through different polarizing filters.  The viewer wears low-cost eyeglasses which contain a pair of different polarizing filters.  As each filter passes only that light which is similarly polarized and blocks the light polarized in the opposite direction, each eye sees a different image.  This is used to produce a three-dimensional effect by projecting the same scene into both eyes, but depicted from slightly different perspectives.  Several people can view the stereoscopic images at the same time.

2Anaglyph 3D is the name given to the stereoscopic 3D effect achieved by means of encoding each eye's image using filters of different (usually chromatically opposite) colors, typically red and cyan.  Anaglyph 3D images contain two differently filtered colored images, one for each eye.  When viewed through the "color-coded" "anaglyph glasses", each of the two images reaches the eye it's intended for, revealing an integrated stereoscopic image.  The visual cortex of the brain fuses this into perception of a three-dimensional scene or composition.

3CineMagic is the name of a film process invented by Norman Maurer and 3-D movie producer Sid Pink for the 1959 science-fiction film The Angry Red Planet to cast a red glow over scenes depicting the surface of Mars.  The low-cost process made the actors look similar to cartoon drawings so they would fit in with low-budget, less realistic sets and props.  To achieve this effect, a black and white film negative was first processed with solarization (a process which partially reverses the negative making some areas of the image appear positive).  The resulting film was then tinted red.  Making a film positive was not necessary.  At the time The Angry Red Planet was produced, black and white film cost less than color film and processing.  The combination of using black and white film for all scenes depicting Mars and not needing to produce a film positive lowered production costs for the film.

 

Sources:

All Images Found Via Google Image Search

Friday, September 26, 2014

DNDF: Sexually Transmitted Terror

She walked into my office and I knew she would be trouble.  She had cables and coolant pipes that went from her neck all the way to China.  She was the kind of Divine Search Engine™ that a man could plug all his queries into and she would just come back asking for more, all the while knowing you’re the one who needs her.  She asks if I know why she’s there.  Oh course I do, all artificial humanoid random structure interfaces want the same thing.  I quickly reach for the stack of words I keep in the upper desk drawer, next to the bottle of ‘Stoli’ and my great equalizer, the Smith and Wesson 50 caliber revolver my mother gave me for graduating mail order detective school.  I tell her any work I do will cost her a weeks worth of connecting keywords in movie plots.  She lets me know that she is prepared for the hefty price tag but before I can enter my data she needs to know one thing first.

She leans in close, uncomfortably close, close like the way those black market yoga pants you can buy out be the docks can fit.  She whispers in my ear that I need to do something for her first, something only shared between good friends and angry lovers.  Something that could change the way I look at the world.  Something that could alter the fundamental nature of physics.  She wants to know if I can wrap my manly meathooks around her shiny, supple lever and as hard as I can muster, if I could…

-   S P I N   T H E   W H E E L   -


Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and venereal diseases (VD), are illnesses that have a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex.  Some STIs can also be contracted by using IV drug needles after their use by an infected person, as well as through any incident involving the contact of a wound with contaminated blood or through childbirth or breastfeeding.

Not all STIs are symptomatic, and symptoms may not appear immediately after infection.  In some instances a disease can be carried with no symptoms, which leaves a greater risk of passing the disease on to others. Bacterial STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.  There are several viral STIs including herpes simplex, HIV, and human papillomavirus (HPV).  There are also parasite STIs, including the crab louse.

Safer sex is a method of decreasing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections during sexual activity. Prevention is key in addressing incurable STIs, such as HIV and herpes.  The most effective way to prevent sexual transmission of STIs is to avoid contact of body parts or fluids which can lead to transfer with an infected partner.  Not all sexual activities involve contact: cybersex, phonesex or masturbation from a distance are methods of avoiding contact.  Proper use of condoms reduces contact and risk.  Vaccines are available that protect against some viral STIs, such as Hepatitis B, and some types of HPV.

Warning: These two films should be considered disturbing, watch at your own risk.


Thanatomorphose (2012)

  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: Éric Falardeau
  • Produced:
    • Patrick Brissette 
    • Éric Falardeau 
    • Marie-Josée Lamontagne 
    • Benoît Lemire
  • Written: Éric Falardeau
  • Starring: Kayden Rose, David Tousignant, Émile Beaudry, Karine Picard, Roch-Denis Gagnon, Eryka Cantieri, Pat Lemaire, Simon Laperrière
  • Music: Unknown
  • Cinematography: Benoît Lemire
  • Editing: Benoît Lemire
  • Studio:
    • Black Flag Pictures 
    • ThanatoFilms
  • Distributed:
    • Bounty Films  
    • Monster Pictures  
    • Unearthed Films
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 4 October 2012 (Spain) 
    • 21 January 2014 (USA)
  • Running Time: 100 min
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English

Thanatomorphose is a French word meaning the visible signs of an organism’s decomposition caused by death.

Thanatomorphose is a 2012 Canadian horror film directed by Éric Falardeau and his directorial debut.  It was first released on October 2, 2012, in Spain and has been shown at several film festivals since then, including the Fantasia Film Festival.  Thanatomorphose stars Kayden Rose as a young woman that finds her body slowly rotting from a mysterious ailment.

The film follows Laura, a young woman that is incredibly unhappy with her life.  Her career as an artist is going nowhere and she's trapped in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend.  After one night of incredibly rough sex, Laura discovers several bruises on her body that begin to spread.  She initially pays them no more heed than she would the bruises her boyfriend otherwise gives her, but as time passes the bruises begin to spread over her entire body.  As her body begins to decay at an ever increasing rate, Laura begins to isolate herself and experience dreams filled with decay.  The film culminates with Laura killing her abusive boyfriend as well as a neighbor that had been hitting on her.  At the film's end the rot takes over her entire body, which disintegrates into only her bones.

Critical reception for Thanatomorphose has been mixed, and since its release the film has been compared to Contracted, a similarly plotted film that released in 2013.  Ain't It Cool News gave a mixed review that praised the film's special effects but warning that the film would not appeal to all audiences due to its content.  Fearnet gave a similar review, saying that it was "not the kind of horror film I'd want to watch every week – and I may even find it difficult to recommend – but I'd be lying if I said Thanatomorphose didn't fascinate, aggravate, and impress me at the same time."  Dread Central panned the movie, giving it one and a half blades and criticizing it as "all grue1, little substance".

There may be a reason it took two years to get screened in the US.



Contracted (2013)

  • Genre: Drama – Horror – Thriller
  • Directed: Eric England
  • Produced:
    • Eric England 
    • J.D. Lifshitz 
    • Raphael Margules 
    • Matt Mercer 
    • Joshua Petrino
  • Written: Eric England
  • Starring: Najarra Townsend, Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald, Katie Stegeman, Matt Mercer, Charley Koontz, Simon Barrett, Ruben Pla, Dave Holmes, Celia Finkelstein
  • Music: Kevin Riepl
  • Cinematography: Mike Testin
  • Editing: Josh Ethier
  • Studio:
    • BoulderLight Pictures 
    • Southern Fried Films
  • Distributed:
    • IFC Films  
    • Bounty Films  
    • Koch Media  
    • MPI Home Video  
    • New Select  
    • Première TV Distribution
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 22 November 2013 (USA)
  • Running Time: 78 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

Contracted is a 2013 horror thriller film directed and written by Eric England.  It was first released on November 23, 2013, in the United States and stars Najarra Townsend as a young woman that finds herself suffering from a mysterious sexually transmitted disease after a rape.  It has been compared to the 2012 film Thanatomorphose, with which it shares similarities.  Twitch Film has criticized the movie for its marketing, in which England describes the character Samantha's rape as a "one night stand".

The film opens with a man, later revealed to be named BJ, having sex with a corpse with a biohazard symbol on the toe tag in a morgue; and handling an empty test tube while washing up afterwards.  Later, at a party, Samantha unsuccessfully attempts to contact her ex-girlfriend Nikki and meets with her friend Alice, who encourages Samantha to drink to forget about her recent break-up.  Riley, who has an unrequited crush on Samantha, and Zain attempt to flirt with her, but Samantha brushes them off and excuses herself.  She eventually gives in to Alice's peer pressure and becomes drunk.  BJ introduces himself to Samantha under an assumed name and hands her a drink that he claims she dropped.  Samantha, too drunk to know whether it's her drink or not, accepts it.  Although she says she's a lesbian who is already involved in a relationship, she agrees to have intercourse with BJ.  From inside his car, Samantha begs BJ to stop and eventually blacks out.

Samantha wakes up in her house.  She shows symptoms beyond that of a severe hangover but irritably tells her mother that she is fine.  At the restaurant where she works, Samantha has trouble eating and performing her job.  Alice reveals that the police are seeking a man named BJ who appeared at the party, and Alice later becomes worried when Samantha is ill in the bathroom; Samantha explains it away as bad cramps and a lingering hangover.  After many attempts, Samantha finally meets with Nikki, but Nikki seems bored and distracted.  When Samantha finds an important letter that Nikki had casually tossed aside, she becomes upset and leaves.  As pressures mount on Samantha, her condition worsens, and her denial gives way to fear.  Although reluctant to seek medical assistance for fear that Nikki will find out that she has contracted a sexually transmitted disease from a male, she eventually visits her doctor, who believes her to have a rash and infection.  While eating lunch with Samantha, Nikki expresses her disdain for flirtatious males and dismisses a man who insists that he has seen Samantha before.

Samantha's symptoms continue to worsen, which alarms her friends and mother, who accuses Samantha of being on drugs again.  However, Samantha keeps the worst of it hidden, and she avoids seeking further medical attention.  When her eyes turn bloodshot and hair falls out in clumps, she decides to return to her doctor, but she is called in to report to work.  Frustrated, she agrees to postpone her doctor's appointment until someone can cover for her.  Although taken aback by her sickly condition, her boss forces Samantha to prepare food. Samantha's rotted fingernails fall off, horrifying customers who find them in their food.  Samantha flees the restaurant and returns to her doctor, who advises her to avoid contact with other people until tests can determine the nature of her disease.  Instead, Samantha visits her mother, who attempts to stage an intervention, and Zain, who gives her heroin and reveals that he sold Rohypnol to BJ at the party.  Concerned for Samantha's health, Alice contacts Nikki, and, when Samantha attempts to turn to Nikki for help, Nikki flatly rejects her and calls her sexually confused.

Enraged, Samantha breaks in and chokes Nikki to death.  She then drives over to Alice's in a rage, eventually murdering her as well.  In desperation, Samantha turns to Riley and invites him to Alice's house.  Although confused, Riley goes along with Samantha's overtures, and they begin to have sex.  Midway through, Riley becomes repulsed by Samantha and discovers that she has hidden the extent of her decomposition.  Highly disturbed, Riley runs to the bathroom and inspects himself.  While there, he discovers Alice's body.  Riley freaks out, and Samantha flees the house.  In her car, Samantha fades out of consciousness, and she is involved in a car crash.  As she steps out of the vehicle, she is revealed to have transformed fully into a zombie.  Her mother, who has arrived at the scene, begs the police not to shoot Samantha.  As the police caution Samantha against moving, she lunges at her mother.  The film fades to black and ends with her mother's screams.

That is one messed up trailer!

 

Notes:

1.  Grue (monster), a predator invented by Jack Vance and featured in the Zork series.

 

Sources:

All Images Found Via Google Image Search

CC: Stephen King Short Story Adaptations

Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947 – Happy belated birthday Stephen) is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.  His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many of them have been adapted into feature films, television movies and comic books.  King has published fifty-five novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and six non-fiction books.  He has written nearly two hundred short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections.  Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.

King has received Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and British Fantasy Society Awards.  His novella The Way Station was a Nebula Award novelette nominee, and his short story "The Man in the Black Suit" received the O. Henry Award.  In 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  He has also received awards for his contribution to literature for his entire oeuvre, such as the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (2004), the Canadian Booksellers Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2007) and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America (2007).

Tonight we will have very specific and simple rules to keep from being bogged down by the over two hundred short stories and fifty-five novels not to mention screenplays and e-reader only writings.

  1. A film or TV movie based on a short story.
  2. That film or TV movie has to suck, or at least deviate greatly from the source material.
  3. I will be summarizing both writing and film so this may get wordy, grab a drink.

Although the World Fantasy Award meets the Lovecraft quota here is something to push it over the line.

Gramma (1984)

"Gramma" is a short story by Stephen King first published in Weirdbook magazine1 in 1984, and collected in King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew.  Certain characters/creatures/unearthly powers featured in the works of H.P. Lovecraft also appear in this story, making it a story set in the Cthulhu Mythos.

An 11-year-old boy named George Bruckner is at home with his mother when the two find out that George's 14-year-old brother Buddy has broken his leg playing baseball.  George's mother must go into the city, an hour away, to visit Buddy in the hospital, but someone must stay home to watch her own mother, a huge, cantankerous, ancient, bedridden woman.  George reluctantly volunteers.

As George sets about the kitchen after his mother leaves, he begins to think about his "Gramma" and recalls the first time she came to the house.  He had been six years old, and the old woman demanded that he come to her that she could "give him a hug."  George was terrified by the idea and cried endlessly.  His mother eventually pacified Gramma, promising that he would hug her "in time."

George waits for his mother to return.  As the hours pass, strange thoughts - events he had witnessed earlier - begin to surface in his mind.  He recalls overhearing his mother's siblings begging her to care for the old woman: "You're the only one who can quiet her down, Ruth."  Eventually, Ruth was forced to leave San Francisco and move to Castle Rock, Maine to care for their mother.  George also recalls that Gramma had been kicked out of her church for owning particular books.  He finally remembers that the woman had been infertile for a long while, any pregnancies she did achieve ending in miscarriages or stillbirths and it was only after being excommunicated that she became pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child.

George suddenly hears a scraping sound on sheets; he imagines Gramma's long, ragged fingernails rubbing against her bed.  He enters to check on her and watches the obese, white, almost formless woman for a few moments.  Quite suddenly, he recalls other memories: his Gramma uttering strange words one night, and relatives dying the next morning.  George abruptly realizes that his grandmother is a witch, having gained dark powers from reading the forbidden tomes.

As George makes this realization, he realizes that his Gramma has died.  Though terrified, he checks her pulse and holds a mirror before her nose, making sure.  Once he is convinced, he prepares to make a phone call to the doctor, only to find that the phone is dead.  George opts to wait for his mother to come home, and thinks of the praise he will gain for handling the situation so calmly...until he realizes that he did not cover his grandmother's face.  He imagines his brother tormenting him endlessly for this "cowardly" action.

Determined, George enters the dead woman's room and places a sheet over her flabby face.  As he does, her hand suddenly wraps around his wrist and holds it for a few moments.  George flees the room, injuring his nose in the process.  As he tries to rationalize the movement, he hears groaning from the next room, as though the corpse was trying to get off of the bed.  He then hears his Gramma calling him: "Come here, Georgie...Gramma wants to give you a hug."

George is terrified and races from the room.  He hears the enormous woman stumbling after him, and even guesses that as a witch, she waited until she was alone with him to die.  His Aunt Flo calls, and he tries to explain the situation as Gramma enters the kitchen.  Aunt Flo tells him that he must invoke the name of Hastur and tell Gramma to "lie down" in his name.  Gramma knocks the phone from his hand, and George screams the phrase repeatedly: "You have to lie down! In Hastur's name! Lie down!" Gramma wraps her arms around him.

The story jumps to an hour later, with George sitting calmly at the kitchen table.  When Ruth returns, George runs to her, explaining that Gramma died.  His mother fearfully asks if "anything else happened."  George denies it and goes off to his room to sleep.  It is implied that Gramma has possessed George, turning the boy into an evil warlock, as he used a spell to strike down his Aunt Flo with an aneurysm.  The story ends with George grinning wickedly, imagining the kind of torture he will be able to inflict on his brother.

The story was made into an episode of The New Twilight Zone in 1986; the screenplay was written by Harlan Ellison.  Some of the voice over for "Gramma" was done by Piper Laurie, who had previously starred in the first film adaptation of King's novel Carrie.  As of October 2012, the story is being developed into a feature film for Universal Pictures titled Mercy.  Chandler Riggs is set to portray George in the film.


Children of the Corn (1977)

"Children of the Corn" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the March 1977 issue of Penthouse, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.  The story involves a couple's exploration of a strange town and their encounters with its denizens after their vacation is sidelined by a car accident.  Several films have been adapted from the short story and it spawned a horror franchise beginning in 1984.

In one final, desperate attempt to save their marriage, Burt and Vicky, a bickering couple, are driving to California for vacation.  As they drive through rural Nebraska, they accidentally run over a young boy who ran into the road.  Upon examination of the body, Burt discovers the boy's throat had been slit and he was bleeding to death before he was hit.  After opening the boy's suitcase, they find a strange-looking crucifix made of twisted corn husks.  Knowing they will have to report this to the authorities, they place the body in their car's trunk.  After arguing over where to take the body, Burt decides to go to Gatlin, a small, isolated community which is right down the road.  Vicky wants to take the body to Grand Island (which is 70 miles away), but Burt argues that it would not be a good idea to take the body so far away.

When they finally arrive in Gatlin, it appears to be a ghost town. As they explore the town and visit a gas station and an empty diner, the couple notice that many things about the town are out-of-date, such as gas prices and calendar dates.  Vicky starts to get a bad feeling about the town and wants to leave, but Burt insists that they keep going until they find the police station.  When they finally locate the police station, they find no one there either.

Burt then sees a church with a recent date on the sign out front.  In stark contrast with the rest of Gatlin—which has been neglected for years—the church is reverently cared for.  After telling Vicky he's going to have a look inside, they get into another argument.  After Vicky threatens to drive off and leave him stranded in Gatlin, Burt grabs her purse, and takes out her car keys.  Vicky, on the verge of hysteria, begs him to leave Gatlin and find another place to call the police.  He ignores her and walks away.

Inside, Burt finds that someone has torn the lettering off of the walls and created a strange mosaic of Jesus behind the altar, as well as ripping out the keys and stops of the pipe organ and stuffing its pipes full of corn husks.  At the altar, Burt finds a King James Bible (with several pages from the New Testament cut out), and a ledger where names have been recorded, along with birth and death dates.  While reading the ledger, he notices that twelve years ago all names were changed from modern to Biblical ones, and that everyone listed as deceased died on their 19th birthday.  Burt comes to the horrifying realization that twelve years ago the children of Gatlin massacred the town's adults and that members of their community are sacrificed on their 19th birthday.

After hearing Vicky blow the car horn, Burt runs from the church to find that a gang of children dressed in Amish-style clothing and armed with farm tools have surrounded the car.  Vicky tries to fight back, but the children drag her out of the car and slash holes in all of the tires.  Burt tries to intervene, but a red-haired boy runs up behind him and stabs him in the arm with a knife.  Burt pulls out the knife and stabs the boy in the throat, killing him.  The children step back in shock and watch him die.  Burt then realizes that Vicky is gone.  When he asks where she is, one of the children holds up a knife and makes a slashing motion.  Upon command from an older boy, the children begin to chase Burt through Gatlin.

Managing to outrun them, Burt ducks into a cornfield and hides while his attackers search for him.  He notices several odd things: there are no animals or weeds anywhere in the cornfield, and that every stalk of corn is free of any blemishes.  As the sun begins to go down, Burt becomes lost and wanders around until he stumbles onto a circle of empty ground in the middle of the cornfield.  There he discovers Vicky's dead body.  She has been tied to a cross with barbed wire, with her eyes ripped out, and her mouth stuffed with corn husks.  Gatlin's previous minister and police chief, who are now skeletons, have also been crucified.  As Burt starts to flee, he notices that every row in the cornfield has closed up, preventing him from escaping.  Burt soon realizes that something is coming for him.  Before he can do anything, he is killed by a giant red-eyed monster that comes out of the cornfield.  Shortly thereafter, a harvest moon appears in the sky.

The next evening, the children of Gatlin (all members of a pagan cult that worships "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" a demonic entity who inhabits the cornfields that surround the town) meet where Burt and Vicky were slain.  Isaac, their leader, tells them that He Who Walks Behind the Rows is displeased with their failure to kill Burt, an act that the demon was forced to commit on its own, as it did with the former minister and police chief.  As punishment for their failure He Who Walks Behind the Rows commands that the age limit be lowered to eighteen years old.

As night falls, Malachi (the killer of the boy that Burt and Vicky ran over) and all of the other eighteen-year-olds walk into the cornfield to sacrifice themselves to He Who Walks Behind the Rows.  Malachi's pregnant girlfriend, Ruth, waves goodbye to him and begins to weep.  It is revealed that she has a secret hatred for He Who Walks Behind the Rows and dreams of setting the cornfield on fire, but is afraid to actually do so because He Who Walks Behind the Rows can see everything, including the motives inside human hearts.  The story ends by saying that the corn surrounding Gatlin is pleased.

 

Children of the Corn (1984)

Children of the Corn (also known as Stephen King's Children of the Corn) is a 1984 supernatural horror film based upon the 1977 short story of the same name by Stephen King.  Directed by Fritz Kiersch, the film stars Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton.  Set in the fictitious rural town of Gatlin, Nebraska, the film tells the story of an entity referred to as "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" which entices the children of the town to ritually murder all the adults to ensure a successful corn harvest, and a couple driving cross-country that get caught up in it.  King wrote the original draft of the screenplay, which focused more on the characters of Burt and Vicky and depicted more backstory on the uprising of the children in Gatlin; this can be seen in the 2009 adaptation.  This script was disregarded in favor of George Goldsmith's screenplay, which featured more violence and a more conventional narrative structure.  Eight sequels have been produced.

In the fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska, Job tells the story of how the town became haven for a group of young cultists.  The economy of the town is mostly agricultural, and the town is surrounded by vast cornfields.  One particular year the corn crop fails and the people of Gatlin turn to prayer in an attempt to ensure a successful harvest.  A boy preacher, Isaac Chroner, takes all the children of Gatlin into a cornfield to speak to them about the prophecies of a strange, bloodthirsty incarnation of the Abrahamic God called "He Who Walks Behind The Rows".  Isaac, through his lieutenant Malachi, leads the children in a revolution, brutally killing all of the adults in the town.  Over the ensuing years, the children take any adults passing through as sacrifices.

Three years later, Burt and his girlfriend Vicky pass through Nebraska while driving cross-country to Burt's new job as a physician in Seattle, Washington.  As they travel in their car they hit a small boy out on the highway.  This boy was one of the Gatlin children who tried to escape the iron hand of the syncretistic death cult.  The couple place his body in the trunk.  They encounter an old mechanic, who is no help, as the children of Gatlin have employed him to lead all adults passing through to the town, but they betray him and kill him anyway.

Burt and Vicky finally end up in Gatlin, after searching for several hours for a phone.  A struggle ensues between the couple and the children as the couple are chased through the city.  Burt and Vicky rescue Job and his little sister Sarah, who do not wish to be part of the cult.  Vicky is captured by Malachi, and is prepared as a sacrifice before they track down and capture Burt and the children.

Meanwhile, Malachi and the others have grown wary of Isaac's arrogance.  Assuming command over the children, Malachi orders Isaac to be sacrificed in Vicky's place, though Isaac warns them that they will all be punished for this affront, as by sacrificing him they will have broken their covenant with He Who Walks Behind the Rows.  Night soon falls and Burt enters the cornfield to rescue Vicky.  The sacrifice begins and He Who Walks Behind The Rows (in the form of a writhing, amorphous, pale-glowing light) seemingly devours Isaac.  Burt arrives and battles Malachi, telling the children that their minds have been poisoned and their humanity sacrificed in the name of a false god.  As Malachi tries to regain control of the children, Isaac's re-animated corpse (possessed by He Who Walks Behind The Rows) appears and kills Malachi, breaking his neck.

Soon, a terrible storm gathers over the cornfield and Burt and Vicky gather the children inside a barn to shield them from He Who Walks Behind The Rows' wrath.  As the storm intensifies all around them, Job shows a Bible verse to Burt and Vicky that indicates that they must destroy the cornfield for the evil to cease (it is heavily implied that He Who Walks Behind The Rows is not the God of the Bible but an aspect of the Devil).  While filling the irrigation pumps with gasohol fuel, He Who Walks Behind The Rows (this time in the form of both a burrowing underground shape and a demonic red cloud) lashes out at Burt, and prepares to destroy the barn.  However, Burt is able to spray the fields with the flammable liquid and lights a Molotov cocktail, tossing it into the field, burning it and seemingly destroying the demon.

Burt, Vicky, Job and Sarah survive and are able to leave Gatlin as the cornfields burn.  As Burt grabs the map they used to get there, a teenage girl who is a member of the cult jumps out at him from the back seat and attempts to stab him.  Vicky knocks her out with the passenger door, and the four walk off into the distance to parts unknown.


Trucks (1973)

"Trucks" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the June 1973 issue of Cavalier magazine2, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.

The story's narrator and a handful of strangers find themselves trapped together in a freeway truck stop diner after semi-trailers and other large vehicles are suddenly brought to independent life by an unknown force and proceed to gruesomely kill every human in sight.  The six survivors hiding in the diner include the narrator, as well as an elderly black counterman, a trucker, a young man named Jerry, his girlfriend, and a salesman named Snodgrass.

As the story begins, the counterman and the trucker attempt to radio any other survivors, but the two-way radio fails for unknown reasons.  Snodgrass, cracking under the strain, attempts to flee across the stop's parking lot and is hit by a truck.  Snodgrass gets propelled into a drainage ditch, taking hours to die from internal bleeding.  The situation worsens when the diner's power goes out.  The counterman instructs the survivors that they will need to consume the perishable meats and collect good potable water from the restrooms.  While the employee's restroom is inside the diner, the men's and ladies' room are by the outdoor gas station, and the narrator's attempt to gather fresh water from those places nearly costs him his life when the trucks realize what he is trying to do.

Some time later, a note of hope appears when the trucks begin to run out of gas and a few literally stand still from lack of fuel.  An enormous semi-truck noses up to the diner and starts blasting its horn at erratic times.  Jerry remembers from his time in the Boy Scouts that the horn blasts are Morse Code and translates that the trucks are demanding humans start pumping fuel, to which the trucks assure they will not attack people who refuel them.  The narrator is out-voted when he suggests they comply with this, and a bulldozer arrives and proceeds to attack the diner.  The narrator and Jerry destroy the dozer with improvised Molotov cocktails, but the diner is half-destroyed and Jerry and the trucker are killed.

The remaining three humans surrender and, taking turns, start pumping the gas into the mile-long string of waiting trucks.  When the narrator exhausts the fuel reserve of the truck stop's gas station, a fuel tanker arrives to replenish the fuel cisterns.  When the narrator is at a point of collapsing, he is relieved by the counterman, who starts pumping gas for his "shift".  The narrator says that he will have to show the girl how to handle a fuel pump, and that she had better stop being so dainty.  The narrator thinks to himself that perhaps this will last only until the trucks rust and fall apart, but he then has a grim vision of forced assembly lines churning out new generations of trucks, and the trucks doing great efforts such as draining the Okefenokee Swamp and paving much of the wild backcountry, where much of the world, maybe even the oceans, will be flattened out and remade in its new masters' image.  The story ends as a pair of planes fly overhead, and the narrator laments "I wish I could believe there are people in them".

 

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Maximum Overdrive is a 1986 American horror film directed by Stephen King, his only directorial effort.  The film stars Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Laura Harrington.  The screenplay was inspired by and loosely based on King's short story Trucks, which was included in King's first collection of short stories, Night Shift.

The film contained black humor elements and a generally campy tone, which contrasts with King's somber subject matter in books.  The film has a mid-1980s hard rock soundtrack composed entirely by the group AC/DC, King's favorite band.  AC/DC's album Who Made Who, was released as the Maximum Overdrive soundtrack.  It includes the best-selling singles "Who Made Who", "You Shook Me All Night Long", and "Hells Bells".

King himself described the film as a "moron movie" and stated his intention to never direct again soon after.  In a 2002 interview with Tony Magistrale for the book Hollywood's Stephen King, King stated that he was "coked out of [his] mind all through its production, and [he] really didn't know what [he] was doing".  King considers the film a learning experience.

As the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, previously inanimate objects (ranging from vehicles to lawnmowers to an electric knife) start to show a murderous life of their own.  In a pre-title scene, a man (King in a cameo) tries to withdraw money from an ATM, but it instead calls him an "asshole," he whines to his wife (King's real life wife Tabitha).  Chaos soon begins as machines of all kinds come to life and begin assaulting humans; a drawbridge inexplicably raises during heavy traffic, resulting in multiple accidents most notably the black AC/DC van and a watermelon truck, while at a Little League game, a vending machine kills the coach by firing canned soda point-blank into his groin and then to his skull and a pilot-less steamroller flattens one of the fleeing children.

The carnage spreads as humans and even pets are brutally killed by lawnmowers, chainsaws, electric hair dryers, pocket radios, and RC cars.  At a roadside truck stop just outside Wilmington, North Carolina, a waitress is injured by an electric knife and arcade machines in the back room electrocute another victim.  Employee and ex-convict Bill Robinson begins to suspect something is wrong when suddenly marauding big rig trucks, led by a black semi-truck sporting a giant Green Goblin mask on its grille, run down two individuals and trap the rest of the civilians inside the truck stop's diner.

Robinson rallies the survivors; they use a cache of firearms and M72 LAW rockets stored in a bunker hidden under the diner and destroy many of the trucks.  The trucks fight back, and at one point several human fatalities result from an M274 Mule firing its mounted M60 machine gun into the building.  The vehicles then demand, via sending Morse Code signals through their car horns, that the humans pump their diesel for them in exchange for keeping them safe; the survivors soon realize they have become enslaved by their own machines.  Robinson suggests they escape to a local island just off the coast, on which no vehicles or machines are permitted.

During a fueling operation, Robinson sneaks a grenade onto the Mule truck, destroying it, then leads the party out of the diner via sewer hatch to the main road.  The survivors are pursued to docks by the Green Goblin truck, which manages to kill one more trucker while he is in the midst of looting a ring from a female corpse in a car before Robinson destroys the truck once and for all with a direct hit from an M72 LAW rocket shot.  The survivors then sail off to safety; a title card epilogue explains that the machines are stopped with the destruction of a UFO by a Soviet "weather satellite" equipped with nuclear missiles and a laser cannon.


Graveyard Shift (1970)

"Graveyard Shift" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the October 1970 issue of Cavalier magazine, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift. It was adapted into a 1990 film of the same name.

A young drifter named Hall has been working at a decrepit textile mill in a small town in Maine when his boss, a cruel taskmaster, recruits him and others to assist with a massive cleaning effort.  The basement of the old mill has been abandoned for decades, and over the years, a monumental infestation of rats has taken hold.  This rat empire, cut off from the rest of nature, has allowed the animals to evolve into a strange and varied combination of creatures; complete with its own bizarre, self-sustaining ecosystem.  There are large, armored rats, albino, weasel-like rats that can climb up walls or burrow through the ground; and bat-like rats that have evolved to pterodactyl-like sizes. 

The men eventually come across a sub-basement, locked from the inside.  Hall's boss then enlists Hall to go down and investigate the sub-basement and that he may take who ever he likes.  Hall chooses his boss who while trying to keep his cool attempts to prevent them from entering, but Hall presses him on.  As they make their way through the sub-basement they discover that the basement harbors something more terrifying and hideous than any of them could have dreamed—a cow-sized queen rat with no eyes or legs, whose only purpose is to endlessly breed more rats.  Hall then knowing he will die sprays his boss towards the queen with a hose they were using to attack the rats.  The queen devours his boss and he makes his way towards the exit while spraying the rats but he is overwhelmed and eaten alive by the hordes of mutated rats while laughing and screaming.

Meanwhile, the other team of workers on the surface wonders what has happened to them and, with no idea what kind of horror awaits them, prepares to descend into the basement.

 

Graveyard Shift (1990)

Graveyard Shift is a 1990 film directed by Ralph S. Singleton, written by John Esposito and based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King; First published in the 1970 issue of Cavalier magazine, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.  The movie was released in October 1990.

When an abandoned textile mill is reopened, several employees meet mysterious deaths.  The link between the killings being that they all occurred between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.—the graveyard shift.  The sadistic mill foreman has chosen newly hired drifter John Hall to help a group clean up the mill's rat-infested basement.  The workers find a subterranean maze of tunnels leading to the cemetery—and a bear-sized, hairless, bat-like creature that hunts at night.

The movie was filmed in the village of Harmony, Maine at Bartlett yarns Inc., the oldest woolen yarn mill in the United States (est. 1821).  The historic Bartlett mill was renamed "Bachman" for the movie, an homage to King's pseudonym, Richard Bachman.  The interior shots of the antique mill machinery, and the riverside cemetery, were in Harmony.  Other scenes (restaurant interior, and giant wool picking machine) were at locations in Bangor, Maine, at an abandoned waterworks and armory.  A few other mill scenes were staged near the Eastland woolen mill in Corinna, Maine, which subsequently became a Super Fund site3.


The Lawnmower Man (1975)

"The Lawnmower Man" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the May 1975 issue of Cavalier, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.  Depending on the publishing process this story runs between four and six pages, needless to say but a feature length film requires many more pages than that to remain faithful to the source material.

It's summer and Harold Parkette is in need of a new lawnmower and boy to help.  The summer before, a neighbor's cat was accidentally killed when another neighbor's dog chased the feline under the mower.  Harold has been putting off hiring new help for the summer, but when he sees an ad for a mowing service he calls.  A van reading "Pastoral Greenery" soon pulls up to Parkette's home.  The man working for the service is shown the overgrown back lawn and is hired.  Harold is enjoying a rest as he reads the paper, when he hears the lawnmower outside.  Startled, he races to the back porch and sees the lawnmower running by itself and the naked lawnmower man following it and eating the grass.  Harold faints.

When Harold revives, the lawnmower man explains that his behavior grants substantial benefits, and that he makes sacrificial victims of customers who can't appreciate the process.  Parkette, though unnerved, allows the lawnmower man to return to work.  As soon as the man is out of sight, Harold desperately calls the police, but is interrupted by the lawnmower man.  The lawnmower man briefly chases Harold with the lawnmower before brutally slaughtering him.

When the police arrive, they conclude that Parkette was murdered by a schizophrenic sex maniac.  As they leave, the scent of freshly cut grass hangs strongly in the air.

 

The Lawnmower Man (1992)

The Lawnmower Man is a 1992 American science fiction action horror film directed by Brett Leonard and written by Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett.  The film is named after a Stephen King short story of the same title, but aside from a single scene, the stories are unrelated.  The film stars Jeff Fahey as Jobe Smith, a simple-minded gardener, and Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Lawrence Angelo, the scientist who decides to experiment on him.

The film was originally titled Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man, but King successfully sued the producers for attaching his name to the film and stated in court documents that the film "bore no meaningful resemblance" to his story.  As a sidenote, my wife claims that this film does not actually exist and that there has never been a film version of the King short story.  If you can’t tell she REALLY hates this movie.

Dr. Lawrence Angelo works for Virtual Space Industries, running experiments in increasing the intelligence of chimpanzees using drugs and virtual reality.  One of the chimps escapes using the warfare tactics he was being trained for.  Dr. Angelo is generally a pacifist, who would rather explore the intelligence-enhancing potential of his research without applying it for military purposes.

Jobe Smith, a local greenskeeper with an intellectual disability, lives in the garden shed owned by the local priest, Father Francis McKeen.  McKeen's brother, Terry, is a local landscape gardener and employs Jobe to help him with odd jobs.  Father McKeen punishes the challenged Jobe with a belt whenever he fails to complete his chores.

Dr. Angelo realizes he needs a human subject to work with, and he spots Jobe mowing his lawn.  Peter Parkette, Dr. Angelo's young neighbor, is friends with Jobe.  Dr. Angelo invites both of them over to play some virtual reality games.  Learning more about Jobe, Angelo persuades him to participate in his experiments, letting him know it will make him smarter.  Jobe agrees and begins the program.  Dr. Angelo makes it a point to redesign all the intelligence-boosting treatments without the "aggression factors" used in the chimpanzee experiments.

Jobe soon becomes smarter, for example, learning Latin in only two hours.  Meanwhile Jobe also begins a sexual relationship with a young rich widow, Marnie.  However, Jobe begins to display telepathic abilities and have hallucinations.  He continues training at the lab, until an accident makes Dr. Angelo shut the program down.  The project director, Sebastian Timms, employed by a mysterious agency known as The Shop4, keeps tabs on the progress of the experiment, and discreetly swaps Dr. Angelo's new medications with the old Project 5 supply (reintroducing the "aggression factors" into the treatment).

Jobe develops telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers and takes Marnie to the lab to make love to her while in virtual reality.  Something goes wrong in the simulation when Jobe's virtual avatar becomes violent, attacking her mind directly; Marnie is driven insane, laughing endlessly at nothing.

Jobe's powers continue to grow, but the treatments are also affecting his mental stability, and he decides to exact revenge on those who abused him when he was "dumb":  Father McKeen is engulfed in flames, a bully named Jake is put into a catatonic state by a mental "lawnmower man" continually mowing his brain, and a lawnmower invention of Jobe's runs down Harold, Peter's abusive father.  Jobe uses his telepathic abilities to make the investigating police attribute it all to "bizarre accidents" in front of Dr. Angelo.

Jobe believes his final stage of evolution is to become "pure energy" in the VSI computer mainframe, and from there reach into all the systems of the world.  He promises his "birth" will be signaled by every telephone on the planet ringing simultaneously.  The Shop sends a team to capture Jobe, but they are ineffective against his abilities and he scatters their molecules.  Jobe uses the lab equipment to enter the mainframe computer, abandoning his body to become a wholly virtual being, leaving his body behind like a husk.

Dr. Angelo remotely infects the VSI computer, encrypting all of the links to the outside world, trapping Jobe in the mainframe.  As Jobe searches for an unencrypted network connection, Dr. Angelo primes bombs to destroy the building.  Feeling responsible for what has happened to Jobe, Angelo then joins him in virtual reality to try to reason with him.  Jobe overpowers and crucifies him, then continues to search for a network connection.  Peter runs into the building; Jobe still cares for him and allows Dr. Angelo to go free in order to rescue Peter.  Jobe forces a computer-connected lock to open, allowing Peter and Dr. Angelo to escape.  Jobe escapes through a maintenance line before the building is destroyed in multiple explosions.

Back at home with Peter, Dr. Angelo and Peter's mother Carla (who has become a romantic interest) are about to leave when their telephone rings, followed by the noise of a second, and then hundreds of telephone rings, all around the globe.


The Mangler (1972)

"The Mangler" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the December 1972 issue of Cavalier magazine, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.

"The Mangler" is set in an American town, and the action largely takes place in an industrial laundry.  Stephen King has stated that, among the many jobs he took to support his family before he became famous, he worked in an industrial laundry.

A police detective investigating a sudden rash of grisly deaths caused by an industrial laundry press machine discovers that, through a series of unfortunate coincidences that lead to certain ingredients (blood, herbs etc., used in an old spell to summon demons), the machine has become possessed by such a demon.  The story ends after the detective and his friend underestimate the demon's power; and in seeking to exorcise the machine, they instead goad it into ripping free of its moorings and prowling the streets in search of fresh prey.

 

The Mangler (1995)

The Mangler is a 1995 American, Australian and South African horror film, directed by Tobe Hooper and based upon the Stephen King short story of the same name.  It stars Robert Englund and Ted Levine.

The Mangler, in Gartley's Blue Ribbon Laundry service, is a laundry press owned by Bill Gartley.  The trouble starts when Gartley's niece, Sherry, cuts herself on a lever connected to the machine and splashes blood on the Mangler's tread while trying to avoid being crushed by an old ice box some movers are clumsily carrying past.   Sparks and light streams occur when both the blood and the ice box come into close contact with the Mangler. Later, an elderly worker, struggling to open a bottle of antacids, spills them on the moving tread of the Mangler. When she attempts to collect them, the safety shield inexplicably lifts up and traps her hand inside, followed by her entire body getting pulled into the machine.

Police officer John Hunton, with the help of his brother-in-law Mark, investigates the incident and the ones that soon follow.  As the plot progresses, Mark tries to convince Hunton that the machine may be possessed, and the only way to stop the deaths is to exorcise the machine to dispel whatever demon is inhabiting it.

With the help of Sherry, the two men attempt to exorcise the demon before it strikes again by reciting a prayer and administering holy water.  The machine gives one last groan and shuts down.  As the three sigh with relief, Hunton takes some antacids, admitting to Mark that they belonged to Frawley.  Mark suddenly realizes that the key ingredient in the antacids is deadly nightshade, also called "the Hand of Glory" as outlined in his occult book. Since the machine was accidentally fed the same antacids, Mark realizes that not only was the exorcism rendered useless, as the demon is still alive, it is now stronger than ever.  The machine bursts to life and now appears to have a mind of its own, shedding off pieces of metal and rising up in the manner of a wild beast.  The three run through the warehouse as they are chased by the now-mobile Mangler.

The Mangler kills Mark while John and Sherry descend a flight of stairs.  In their hurry to escape, they fall through a large manhole into the sewer below, the machine struggling to get to them.  Suddenly, something falls from the machine into the water, and a mechanical wail ensues.  The machine draws back and becomes still.


The Night Flier (1988)

"The Night Flier" is a horror short story by Stephen King, first published in the anthology Prime Evil: New Stories by the Masters of Modern Horror, and then in King's own 1993 Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection.

The story centers on Richard Dees, a deeply cynical reporter from a trashy supermarket tabloid called The Inside View.  Dees' current subject of investigation is the Night Flier, an apparent serial killer who travels between small airports in a Cessna Skymaster, gruesomely killing people in a way that leads Dees to think the man is a lunatic who believes himself to be a vampire.

After only a few days of interviewing witnesses and following the killer's trail in his own Cessna, Dees overtakes the Night Flier during a violent thunderstorm at Wilmington International Airport, and quickly learns that he is badly mistaken about his would-be quarry: it is, indeed, a vampire that is doing the killings.  After Dees watches the Night Flier casually empty the bloody contents of his bladder into an airport urinal (or as much of this act as he can see reflected in a mirror), the creature warns off his "would-be biographer", destroys his photographic evidence, and leaves the mortally shaken reporter amidst a scene of carnage to be arrested by the police.

The movie adaptation follows the original plot fairly closely (and maintains Dees' deeply unsympathetic nature), except for adding a rival in the form of up-and-coming female reporter, and changing Dees' ultimate fate.

 

The Night Flier (1997)

The Night Flier is a 1997 horror film based on the short story of the same name directed by Mark Pavia and starred Miguel Ferrer and Julie Entwisle.

The story follows a reporter named Richard Dees as he follows, attempting to catch up with, a murderer who kills his victims in a vampiristic style.  The killer flies to each murder scene in a black Skymaster airplane.  At one point, Dees does catch up with the plane and finds dirt inside and the interior covered in blood, heightening the suspense of the film.  The plot culminates in Dees' confrontation with 'The Night Flier' and his own loss of sanity.

Dees' secondary conflict involves a young female reporter who joins the staff at the exploitative magazine "Inside View", where Dees ranks as senior reporter.  At first he dismisses her as naive and, at best, a "Jimmy" (as in "Jimmy Olsen") and actively abuses her.  She ultimately survives him and writes about Dees' death, her article prominently featured on the title page of the magazine "Inside View".

The Night Flier contains many references to Stephen King's larger mythos, most of which were not present in the original story.  In the scene where Katherine looks at some of Richard's previous Inside View articles, we see that most of the bylines relate to other Stephen King stories. 'Springheel Jack Strikes Again!' refers to 'Strawberry Spring', 'Headless Lamaze Leads To Successful Birth!' refers to The Breathing Method, 'Kiddie Cultists in Kansas Worship Creepy Voodoo God!' refers to 'Children of the Corn', 'Satanic Shopkeeper Sells Gory Goodies!' refers to Needful Things, 'Naked Demons Leveled My Lawn!' refers to 'The Lawnmower Man', and 'The Ultimate Killer Diet! Gypsy Curse Flays Fat Lawyer's Flesh' refers to Thinner.

The film also features a scene where the characters discuss a schoolteacher who murdered a group of five-year-olds because she thought they were plotting against her; a reference to the story 'Suffer the Little Children', where this occurs.  Richard Dees, the protagonist of The Night Flier, also appears in The Dead Zone, where he attempts to interview the psychic Johnny Smith for Inside View.  In his afterword to Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Stephen King states that he thinks the vampire in the short story Popsy (another short story included in his short story compilation Nightmares & Dreamscapes) is the same vampire that appeared in 'The Night Flier'.


1408 (2002)

"1408" is a short story by Stephen King.  It is the second tale in the audiobook collection titled Blood and Smoke, released in 1999.  In 2002, it was collected in written form as the 12th story in King's collection Everything's Eventual.  In the introduction to the story, King says that "1408" is his version of what he calls the "Ghostly Room at the Inn", his term for the theme of haunted hotel or motel rooms in horror fiction.  He originally wrote the first few pages as part of an appendix for his non-fiction book, On Writing (2000), to be used as an example of how a story changes from one draft document to the next.  King also noted how the numbers of the title add up to the supposedly unlucky number ‘13’.

As in many of Stephen King's works, the protagonist of the story is a writer, Mike Enslin, who writes non-fiction works based on the theme of haunted places.  His book series, Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Houses, Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Graveyards and Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Castles, prove to be best-sellers, but Enslin internally reveals some guilt and regret at their success, privately acknowledging that he is a believer in neither the paranormal nor the supernatural elements he espouses in these books.

Nonetheless, he arrives at the Hotel Dolphin on 61st Street in New York City intent on spending the night in the hotel's infamous room 1408, as part of his research for his next book, Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Hotel Rooms.  At first Enslin is unfazed by 1408's morbid history.  According to the hotel's manager, Mr. Olin (who has purposely left it vacant for over 20 years), room 1408 has been responsible for at least 42 deaths, 12 of them suicides and at least 30 "natural" deaths, all over a span of 68 years.  While remarking that he doesn't believe there are ghosts in 1408, Olin insists there is "something" that resides inside, something that causes terrible things to happen to people who stay within its walls for anything but the briefest periods of time, something that affects various electronic devices, causing digital wristwatches, pocket calculators, and cell phones to stop functioning or to operate unpredictably.  Mr. Olin also reveals that due to the superstitious practice of never recognizing the 13th floor (the room is listed on the 14th), it is a room cursed by existing on the 13th floor, the room numbers adding up to 13 making it all the worse.  Mr. Olin pleads with Enslin to reconsider, believing that a skeptic such as he is even more susceptible to the room's curse.  Enslin is shaken, but his determination to follow through with his research and to not appear frightened before Mr. Olin wins out.  Olin reluctantly leads him to the 14th floor, unwilling to accompany him farther than the elevator.

Enslin's problems with Room 1408 begin before he even sets foot through the door; in fact, the door itself initially appears to be crooked.  He looks again and the door appears to be straight - then again, and it appears to be crooked again (though this time leaning to the right instead of the left).

As Enslin enters and examines the room, and begins dictating into a hand-held tape recorder, his train of thought immediately takes unwelcome and chaotic turns - he compares it to "being stoned on bad, cheap dope".  He begins experiencing what may or may not be hallucinations; the breakfast menu on the night-stand changes languages; first it's in French, then Russian and then Italian.  After that, it simply turns into a picture of a wolf eating the leg of a screaming little boy.  That picture then shifts into the menu again, this time in English.  When this ends, Enslin sees that the pictures on the walls have shifted into frightening visions (a still life of an orange becomes Enslin's severed head, Enslin sees pictures disappearing and reappearing, Enslin's feet sink into the carpet like quicksand, paintings come alive, etc.), and Enslin's thoughts become bizarre and incoherent.  He tries to make a phone call, but only hears a nightmarish voice on the end of the line chanting bizarre phrases, for example, "This is nine!  Nine!  This is nine!  Nine!  This is Ten!  Ten!  We have killed your friends!  Every friend is now dead!  This is six!  Six!"

Enslin finds a book of matches and sets himself on fire, which breaks the spell of the room long enough for him to escape.  As he collapses, on fire, outside the room, another hotel guest who is getting ice from the ice machine sees him and is able to put out the fire.  The other guest looks inside the room and something about it is tempting him to enter, but Enslin warns him not to.  When Enslin mentions that the room is "haunted," the door to 1408 slams shut.

In the aftermath, Enslin gives up writing.  He has various problems stemming from his night in the room.  These include sleeping with the lights on "so I always know where I am when I wake up from the bad dreams", removing the house's phones and closing the curtains at sunset, because he cannot stand the shade of yellow-orange that reminds him of 1408 before he saved himself.

 

1408 (2007)

1408 is a 2007 American psychological horror film based on the Stephen King short story of the same name directed by Swedish director Mikael Håfström, who earlier had directed the horror film Drowning Ghost.  The movie stars John Cusack, but also includes Samuel L. Jackson and Mary McCormack.  The film was released in the U.S. on June 22, 2007, although July 13 is mentioned as the release date in the trailer posted on the website.

Mike Enslin is an unprosperous, skeptical author who, after the death of his daughter Katie, writes books appraising supernatural events in which he has no belief.  After his latest book, he receives an anonymous postcard depicting The Dolphin, a hotel on Lexington Avenue in New York City bearing the message "Don't enter 1408."  Viewing this as a challenge, Mike forces the hotel to allow him to book a stay in the room, referring to a law that any hotel room in New York can be requested as long as it is up to standards.  The hotel manager, Gerald Olin tries to dissuade Mike from checking into the room, explaining that fifty six people have died in the room over the past ninety five years, and that no one has lasted more than an hour inside it.  Mike, who does not believe in the paranormal, insists on staying in the room, and asks Olin if he thinks it is haunted; Olin replies that it's not haunted; it's just an evil room.

Once inside the room, Mike records on his mini-cassette the room's dull appearance and its unimpressive lack of supernatural phenomena.  During his examination, the clock radio suddenly starts playing "We've Only Just Begun", but Mike assumes this is a trick of Olin's.  At 8:07, the song plays again and the clock's digital display changes to a countdown starting from "60:00".  Mike begins to experience supernatural events, including the window slamming down on his hand, the hotel operator calling about food he didn't order, and spectral hallucinations of the room's past victims as well as of his family, particularly his daughter.  Mike's attempts to leave the room are in vain; the doorknob breaks off the door, climbing through the air ducts prompts an escape from the corpse of a former room victim, and climbing onto the window ledge reveals the windows of the other rooms are gone.  The ledge scenes have a lot of similarities to King's short story "The Ledge".

Mike uses his laptop to contact his estranged wife Lily, but the sprinkler system shorts out his laptop.  The room temperature drops to subzero when the laptop suddenly begins to work again, and Lily tells him the police have entered 1408, but the room is empty.  A doppelgänger of Mike appears in the chat window and urges Lily to come to the hotel herself, giving Mike a diabolic smile.  The room shakes violently and Mike breaks a picture of a ship in a storm, flooding the room.  He surfaces on a beach, the result of a surfing accident earlier in the film, and after returning to a normal life and reconciling with Lily, he assumes it was all a dream.  Lily persuades him to write a book about it, but when visiting the post office to send the manuscript to his publisher, he recognizes a construction crew as the hotel staff, and they destroy the post office to reveal Mike is still trapped in 1408, the walls now burnt and broken.  A vision of Katie appears to Mike, and after some reluctance, he embraces her before she crumbles to dust.  Mike hears the clock radio begin to play and looks for it in the rubble, seeing it count down the final seconds.  When the countdown ends, the room is suddenly restored to normal, and the clock radio resets itself to 60:00.

The "hotel operator" calls Mike again after the clock resets.  When Mike begs to be released, she informs him that he can relive the hour over and over again, or utilize their "fast-checkout policy;"  Mike sees a hangman's noose and has a vision of himself hanged, but refuses.  Mike uses a bottle of cognac he received from Olin to make a Molotov cocktail and sets the room on fire.  The hotel is evacuated and Lily is prevented from entering.  Mike then throws an ash tray at the window, causing a backdraft.  Fire fighters enter the scorched room, and pull Mike to safety.  In his office, Olin quietly says, "Well done, Enslin. Well done."  As Mike recovers with Lily at his bedside, he tells her about Katie, but Lily doesn't believe him.  The two reconcile and Mike moves back in with Lily.  During the move, Lily finds a box of items retrieved from the rubble of 1408.  Mike retrieves his tape recorder and after some tinkering, gets it to play.  As Lily unpacks their stuff, he replays the conversation with him and Katie.  Lily overhears the recording and drops the boxes, staring at Mike in horror.  Mike stares at her grimly, as the scene blacks out.


Sometimes They Come Back (1974)

"Sometimes They Come Back" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the March 1974 issue of Cavalier and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.

In 1957, nine-year-old Jim Norman and his twelve-year-old brother, Wayne, are off to the library to drop off Jim's books when they are attacked by a gang of local greasers.  Wayne is stabbed to death by two of the greasers while Jim escapes.

Now in 1974, Jim is married and has accepted a job as an English teacher at Stratford High School in Stratford, Connecticut.  All seems to go well until after the Christmas holiday when Jim finds out one of his students is killed in a hit and run.  When a new student arrives, Jim recognizes the boy as Robert Lawson, one of the greasers who killed his brother.  Lawson appears to be the same age now as he was in 1958.

Another student falls to her death a week later, and another of the greasers, David Garcia, joins Jim's class, also appearing to be the same age as he was in 1958.

When a third student disappears - after expressing his concerns about the suspicious new arrivals to Jim - the third greaser, Vincent 'Vinnie' Corey, is added to the group.  Now terrified, Jim calls an old acquaintance, a policeman who knew him and his brother, named Donald Nell, for information on the greasers.  It is soon revealed that the three boys died in a car accident soon after Wayne's murder; they were electrocuted when they crashed the car into a telephone pole.

Not long after Jim finds this out, his wife Sally is killed by the greasers.  Jim takes justice into his hands by calling forth a demon to defeat the dead greasers.  Before the greasers can try and kill Jim, the demon arrives in the form of Jim's dead brother and proceeds to vanquish the greasers.  However, the demon (still in the form of Wayne) warns, "I'll come back, Jim," which leads Jim to realize that the demon he has just summoned may be more difficult to rid himself of than the three greasers.

 

Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

Sometimes They Come Back is a 1991 made-for-TV horror film based on the short story by the same title by Stephen King.  The short story itself was planned to be part of the stories featured in Stephen King's Cat's Eye, but producer Dino De Laurentiis felt that the story would make it on its own.

Jim Norman, 36, a high school history teacher, moves back to his old hometown to teach after being offered a job there.  He moved from the town after he witnessed his brother, Wayne, murdered by a gang of greasers in 1963.  The murderers themselves were killed shortly afterward by an oncoming train, having parked on the tracks.  Jim has nightmares about his brother's murder as he starts teaching in the town.  Students that are close to him start to be involved in various accidents that look like suicides.  One by one, students are slain so the greasers, disguised as living teens, can return to class.

The greasers plan to kill Jim the same way they murdered Wayne to keep themselves out of Hell.  They intend to have a child witness the event, leading them to try to kidnap Jim's son Scott.  Jim finds out that there is a way to let his own brother return.  The gang also needs the remaining living member of their gang, Carl Mueller, who left before the train struck.  Jim finds Carl, who panics, thinking Jim wants revenge.  He runs back to town, fulfilling the gang's plan for a reunion.

The gang harasses Jim's family to ensure Jim's compliance in reenacting the murder.  After the gang releases the family, Jim hides them inside a church, which the demonic gang cannot enter.  Jim tries to bring his brother back in the church's graveyard as the gang lures his wife and son outside and hold them hostage.  Jim finds that something is blocking Wayne's return, and must cooperate with the thugs in reenacting the murder.  It also reveals that when Jim was a boy, Jim took the murders' car keys that lead to their deaths.  Jim recovered the keys.  He returns to the train tunnel in which the first murder took place, though both he and Carl change their dialogue and actions from those taken 27 years before.  Frustrated, the gang leader stabs Carl, which allows Wayne to come back.  Wayne distracts the gang while Jim gets his family out of the gang's car.  Jim gave the gang back their car keys.  The gang tries to escape in their car, only to have it struck by a ghost train that resembles much like the one that killed them years ago, which sends them back to Hell.

Wayne offers to have Jim come with him to the afterlife, which Jim refuses.  Wayne says he can move on to heaven and see his parents because the greasers are no longer a threat.  Wayne goes back to the afterlife as Jim's family heads home.

The TV movie was followed by two straight-to-video sequels in 1996 (Sometimes They Come Back... Again) and 1998 (Sometimes They Come Back... for More).  Both of which are abominations and should never be watched.

 

Notes:

1.  Weirdbook is basically an amateur magazine of the old school, produced more out of love for magazine production than for any possible commercial or artistic achievement.  The dedication with which the magazine is compiled has long been recognized, resulting in Weirdbook being twice (1987, 1992) recipient of the World Fantasy Award.  It has always striven to follow in the footsteps of Weird Tales, but initially without pretensions to match quality.  Its early issues were filled mostly with short-short Horror stories, many by aspiring writers, although the presence of Joseph Payne Brennan and H Warner Munn, plus previously unpublished work by Robert E Howard, forged links with Weird Tales.

2.  Cavalier is an American magazine that was launched by Fawcett Publications in 1952 and has continued for decades, eventually evolving into a Playboy-style men's magazine.  It has no connection with the Frank Munsey pulp, The Cavalier, published in the early years of the 20th century.  In its original format, Cavalier was planned by Fawcett to feature novelettes and novels by Fawcett's Gold Medal authors, including Richard Prather and Mickey Spillane.

3.  Superfund or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) is a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances as well as broadly define "pollutants or contaminants".  Superfund also gives authority to federal natural resource agencies, states and Native American tribes to recover natural resource damages caused by releases of hazardous substances, and it created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).  CERCLA's broad authority to clean up releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or welfare or the (natural) environment was given primarily to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to states (though most states now have and most often use their own versions of CERCLA).

4.  The Shop is a fictional, top secret United States government agency in the writings of Stephen King.  It is similar to the Syndicate in The X-Files.  It plays a central role as the antagonist in the novel Firestarter, the miniseries Golden Years, and the film The Lawnmower Man, and is an element of the novel The Tommyknockers.  In addition, an offhand reference hints that it may be at least partially responsible for the events of the novella The Mist.  In the film adaption of The Langoliers, Bob Jenkins tosses out a government conspiracy-based theory for the conditions of the plane and refers to the theoretical agency responsible as 'The Shop.'  In The Stand, The Shop is tasked with stopping the superflu outbreak, which it utterly fails to do.  The Shop is interested in the scientific research of what might otherwise be considered paranormal phenomena, such as aliens, immortality, and paranormal or psychic powers.

 

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