Tag: dark tower

Dark Tower Re-Read – Part 4: The Mist

Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Mist, a novella originally collected in his Skeleton Crew short story collection.

If you haven't already, be sure to read the previous posts in this series.

Summary

From the back cover: It's a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you're forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?

Screen Adaptions

My first experience with this story was the movie that came out sometime in the 2000s. It was such a great film, and has one of the most gut punching endings I'd ever experienced in film. I won't spoil it for you. Go watch it for yourself, you won't be disappointed. (You can thank me later.)

As for the recent television series, I've only seen the pilot and cannot comment on the quality of the remaining episodes. The pilot did look intriguing, just not intriguing enough for me to sink hours of screen time into.

My Thoughts

This was a fun and fast paced read. I loved all of the creatures and the atmosphere of this story. But the crown jewel of this terrifying tale is one very horrific character: Mrs. Carmody. So, all of these townsfolk are trapped inside a small supermarket together by a mist filled with dangerous creatures. You would think that the man eating bug things from another dimension would be the biggest threat. But nope; Mrs. Carmody handily takes that title in this one.

In the beginning she is just the local crazy lady who just goes around spouting off biblical apocalyptic drivel left and right. This whole story is worth the read just to experience the feeling of her slowly turning the desperate locals against our hero and those that stand with him. She is like a mind controlling evangelical itching to pin the blame for their catastrophes on someone and thirsting for vengeance.

The creatures and all of the monster fighting is fun too, but that crazy lady takes the cake.

The only real problem I had with the book is one scene that felt really out of character for the main character and hero of the story. You'll know it when you read it yourself. (No spoilers here.)

Dark Tower Connections

As per connections to the Dark Tower books,  there only seems to be one. The Arrowhead project (the secret military project that leads to the mist and all of its monsters) is probably the same thing as the 'thinnies' from the Dark Tower books.

Conclusion

This is a great book, worth checking out. As is the rest of the Skeleton Crew collection this novella was originally published. For some classic King, be sure to give these a read.

Dark Tower Re-Read – Part 3: The Talisman

Be sure to check out the previous posts in this series:


Are you ready for the next installment of the Great Dark Tower Re-Read? Right here and now?! (The words echo across the vast plain before you and bounce back from the granite cliffs in the distance. [maximum drama!])

If so, be prepared. For here are my thoughts on The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. For many people, this book is their introduction to Peter Straub, one of modern horror’s most successful authors. This was not the case for me though as this was my first time for The Talisman. My first Straub book was Shadowland. (A totally awesome book, worth checking out. Maybe I’ll do a write-up on Shadowland in the future.)

What is it?!

The Talisman is a story about a teenage boy named Jack Sawyer who moves out to the east coast with his widowed mother trying to hide from Jack’s nefarious Uncle Morgan Sloat. Jack’s mother, a b-movie actress past her prime, is slowly dying of lung cancer and he learns from Parker, an elderly black amusement park repair man, that the only way he can save his mother is to go on a quest for a powerful talisman. To do this he must “flip” to an alternate reality called the territories and travel back to the west coast.

Along the way he comes across many obstacles including the mechanizations of the powerful Morgan Sloat.

Good Stuffs

The Talisman was a pretty good book. All through it you are rooting for Jack to save the day and thwart the bad guys. My favorite character of the novel, by far, is Wolf. He appears about half way through the story and becomes Jack’s companion in his adventures. Wolf is a werewolf and, in the Territories, werewolves are not evil creatures, but shepherds. The do still transform into bloodthirsty wolves under the full moon, and they are very dangerous than. Otherwise, Wolf is very kind and innocent.

Not-So-Good Stuffs

Like many of King’s works, this book was way too long. I’ve only read one other book by Straub, but I’m fairly confident that the blame for the gratuitous length of the book lies on SK. There was a very large portion in the second half of the book that could have been totally cut.

I’m sure this is a controversial opinion but, this means completely cutting a fairly important character from the book: Richard Sloat. Richard is Jack’s childhood friend/cousin and Morgan’s son. He does have interesting story significance, as he creates a nice dichotomy between Morgan/Richard and Phillip(Jack’s suspiciously dead father)/Jack.

There’s some stuff that happens at the end that gives Richard’s character importance, but I feel that the book would be just as strong with Richard completely excised. This would take a good 100 pages or so off of the grand total.

Feel free to skewer my thoughts down below in the comment section.

Dark Tower Connections

So, why did I read this book as part of my Dark Tower Re-Read? Well, I’m not completely sure yet. I can see similarities between Midworld of The Dark Tower and The Territories. I’ve heard that there is more of a connection with sequel (Black House). It was still worth the read though, and would recommend it if you’ve read all of the DT books and need more of something similar.


Do you disagree with my thoughts? If so, let me know below. Let’s talk about it!

Dark Tower Re-Read – Part 1: The Movie

Hello people and porpoises of all the world’s proliferated provinces.

Today, I have something new for you. I’m going to write a movie review. But not just for any movie.

I remember way back in high-school getting the first glimpse of behind the scenes footage of the brand new Lord of the Rings movie. This was a very big deal to me. Those books were my very favorite. I’d already read the Hobbit and the full trilogy at least twice through by that time. What sucks, is that when I saw this footage, it was still another couple years before the movie finally came out. And…

IT WAS AMAZING!

They were able to capture the same feeling of the books and somehow pack the trilogy into 10ish hours of movie over the full trilogy. Since then, I’ve had ridiculously high standards when it comes movie adaptions of books I love.

Another set of books that I came to love back in college were Stephen King’s (SK’s) Dark Tower books. These were great, because they were a mashup of epic Tolkien style fantasy, spaghetti western, and terrifying horror. Really, these books were my first foray into horror. These books were something new and I was hooked from the the first pages until the last.

And guess what…

Holy Saskatchewan! They Finally Made a Movie

There have been rumors on and off over the years of a movie. Everyone in the forums would argue back and forth over who would be the best Roland, who would be a good fit as Walter O’Dim/Randall Flagg. But the conversations would always boil down to the books being too out there. This, apparently, was one of the few unfilmable SK stories.

Some ignored this notion and decided to make a movie anyways. When I saw the first trailer I got really excited. I was ready to see these books brought to the screen. So, the family and I went to see it a day or so after opening; it being a PG-13 movie, my 8 year old was able to go. My son liked it.

Here are my thoughts.

The Good

First let’s talk about the best part of the whole movie. That would be Idris Elba. Putting aside the controversy of his race and any implications that may have down the line if they make future movies or television shows, he was amazing as Roland. SK had been inspired by old Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns, and many of the die hards would have preferred the part to be played by ‘the’ Client Eastwood, but Mr. Eastwood is a lot older than he was in the 60s and 70s; the heyday of his westerns. Idris was the perfect fit. His stoicism and coldness were spot on.

The best scene, hands down, was when Jake took Roland to the hospital just after they left Mid-World and entered New York City. The doctor was amazed at all of the diseases riddling his body, and Roland just brushes it off and, after being stitched up, decides it’s time to go. Rips out the I.V.s and demands for Jake to ‘get my guns.’

Great stuff.

The Bad

One thing I would love is if they had spent the time and the money, as they had done for The Lord of the Rings, and made this into the 10 hour trilogy it truly deserves. The movie was too short. I was only an hour and a half long. This is pitiful considering all of the amazing content they had to work from.

I know that movies are a different medium than books, and that they must be treated as such. For this reason, I tend to avoid all trailers before going in to see any movie. I want the movie to be as much of a surprise as possible. But this movie was just too forced.

Book Spoilers Ahead

The director explained this by using how SK ended the last book. Roland makes it to the top of the tower, and, because he failed at his quest, he is again set back to chasing the man across the desert to try again. The director claims that the movie is Roland’s next attempt on his quest. It is a continuation of where the books ended.

End of Spoilers

I like this idea, but I also feel that it is a real cop-out. It is just an excuse for the script-writers and director to do whatever they want with the movie, leaving us fans still wanting for a real adaptation of the books.

The Fugly

But the worst aspect of the movie with no other competition within miles, is Matthew McConaughey as Walter O-Dim/Randall Flagg/The Man in Black. Now, don’t get me wrong here, Mr. McConaughey is a top notch actor. I absolutely loved him in season 1 of True Detective. But in this movie his character was flat and boring. The Man in Black is supposed to be this dark zany evil wizard that will murder you or crack an inappropriate joke at the drop of a hat. But here he was never funny, and his lines are just delivered with no style. Plus, they put way too much makeup on him. The only thing that would have made is complexion more face would be twilight style glitter.

Takeaway and Inspiration

All in all, I still did enjoy the movie. It was fun, just short lived. Idris Elba as Roland almost makes up for all of the movie’s other lacking qualities. Though, this movie could’ve been something truly amazing if it had been given the same money, time, and love that the Lord of the Rings movies received.

One huge thing that came out of this for me is the inspiration to read the book again. But this time I want to read SK’s other related books as well, since I’ve not read much of SK’s work other than the Dark Tower books and wondered if I’d get a different experience. I found a quality list to follow here: http://thetruthinsidethelie.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-suggested-reading-order-for-extended.html If you’d like to follow along, I’m reading the ‘Essentials Expanded’ list, not strictly in order, and I’ll probably leave out a couple of the more obscure short stories (like Reploids and The Dark Man).

And I want to drag you all along with me. (evil laughter booms across my apartment)

As I read each book on the list I will come here and write up a little review. Next up will be the first Dark Tower book: The Gunslinger. So keep watch, I’ll be posting Part 2 soon.

Until next time,
May you have long days and pleasant nights

Joe

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