The other night out of desperation and a lack of any thing else scheduled, we watched the movie made for TV that was adapted from Stephen Kings book” Desperation”. I have positively come to the conclusion that Stephen King is a hack.
First of all, we have our standard cookie cutter cast of characters. The young idealistic boy who seems to have a pipeline directly to God. His whiney, annoying parents, represented by some skinny bucky toothed harridan and the guy who played Max Headroom. By the time the parents inevitably get taken over by the resident evil sprit and die, they have made themselves so intolerant, whiney, ineffectual and obnoxious that you don’t care. In fact you are glad they are gone. We have our young ruggedly handsome hero type and a younger empty headed ditzy heroine, who we just know really has a heart of gold. There is the young handsome yuppie husband and his pretty wife. Since we can’t have two ruggedly handsome stereotype characters of the same age in the same film, because we might get them confused, we kill off the husband in the first few minutes of the film. There is the older and slightly alcoholic crusty town character the Veterinarian who is there to give us some back ground on the town history, and then die. And of course the jaded burned out older ruggedly handsome Vietnam Vet with his obligatory psychological baggage. Is there ever a Vietnam Vet who didn’t come back from “Nam” and just get on with his life?
So, now we have our group of main characters who bumble into a town that has been taken over by evil, personified in a witty, entertaining (albeit evil) and pretty much rotting sheriff. This character actually has the best lines in the film and we are kind of sorry to see him go.
We are treated to a series of formula scenes. Everyone in town including the domestic dogs are dead. Do our characters do what any other sane person would do when they get free, which is jam boogie split? Hell, no!!. They stand around debating deep thoughts such as Good versus Evil, Free Will versus Destiny and Mayonnaise versus Miracle Whip ( Ok….. I added that last one just to change it up a bit. Something Stephen King seems to be unable to do.) We get treated to a lengthy “loaves and fishes” analogy in the form of canned sardines in a brown paper bag and a sleeve of rye cocktail bread. We get it, already!! At this point our crusty old town character spins a yarn about the town history. Something to do with a mine, Chinese workers and a mysterious discovery that led to a cave in or something. My husband said…..well that was about 150 pages in the book.
We have howling wolves and prowling mountain lions all we were missing at this point was the gratuitous snakes. Ooops, spoke to soon. A snake comes slithering out of a dead woman’s mouth and tarantulas are crawling over the dead bodies. The only other icky wild life I think they left out was scorpions and panhandlers.
Crusty old guy decides to go sneak a drink …..alone naturally… in a bathroom. We all know he is toast (Oh Noooo. Don’t go off alone you dope!) and yep, he is eaten by a mountain lion who is also the spirit of an evil Chinese guy.
More deep thought discussions and an epiphany on the part of our “Nam” Vet where he realizes just what scum he was in Vietnam and they decide that as long as they are there and half the group is dead anyway, they might as well go ahead and blow up the mine and destroy the evil. The movie keeps going downhill deeper than the Chinese mine from here. The upshot is that the ruggedly handsome, now nice guy, Vet will sacrifice himself for the better good. Seems there is a teeny tiny hole in the bottom of the mine and if he can pour some handily found explosives and set it off with a 12 gauge shotgun shell that conveniently fits into the hole…and the world will be saved. Our Vet suddenly is an explosives expert. The coinkidink is incredible. In a scene with a flat voice hilariously similar to Hal the computer negotiating with Dave, the Evil tries to bribe the Vet. “Come on guy. Don’t kill me. I’ll give you anything you want. Pretty Please??”
Somewhere in the first third of the film, we began to amuse ourselves by catching the technical flub ups. Things like: the kid has a gun and walking across the room he doesn’t but at the other side of the room he does again. Ooooh…. look the Sheriff’s face is rotting in different places in the same scene. Hairdos change in mid scene. Collars are buttoned and then not.
My husband very good at spotting these kinds of things (somebody should hire him). With Tivo type recorders we can scroll back and see. Old “B” movies are the best for this. Nick and Nora Charles are drinking, as usual, and Nick’s glass is half full and then suddenly full again. When did he getup and fill it? Maybe he spit some back? One 1950’s movie about a White Hunter in Africa was hilarious. They couldn’t keep track of how many rifle cartridges the guy was wearing in his front pocket. Three. No four. No three again. All in the same scene. Was he dropping the cartridges when he bent over and replacing them? What a klutz. I usually notice the background stuff, like furniture and knickknacks on the table being rearranged. My husband notices the people’s appearances and when they change vehicles in a chase scene. He is a real auto buff and subtle changes really stand out to him Try “catch the technical goofs” game when you are stuck watching a bad movie, like I was last night. It is often more entertaining than what you are watching.
I know that Stephen King is all about the money, and it must be hard to crank out the volume of work he has and keep it fresh….but come on. Try some different plot lines, different dialogue and different characters once in a while.
What a Hack!.