Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stephen King is a Hack

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!.

17 comments:

  1. Sounds like Dumbplumber could make a fortune as a Continuity Director for movies (He/she is the one who is responsible for keeping the same number of shells in the hunter's (probably Alan Quartermaine's) vest). I am not a Stephen King fan, but don't blame the writer for all the flaws in a movie. I have writer friends who routinely tear their hair at what has been done to their stories when they were put on film.

    (Well, okay King WAS responsible for a lot of the hackneyed plot)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am always amazed that he (Dumbplumber) can spot such small details. When we scroll back the discrepencies are obvious and I wonder why didn't I see them? He is also incredible at knowing the names of many obscure actors.

    Yes!! It was Alan Quartermaine. I just love those old movies. Especially the Nick and Nora stuff from the 30's. All of the items in their scenes, even down to the dresses Nora wears, are desireable collectable antiques now. They were just stuff then.

    ReplyDelete
  3. King IS a hack - but hacks often write stuff that makes good B movies or TV fare. Still he is mostly a waste of time - I never felt enlightened by him; not even once.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sometimes it's not about enlightenment. Sometimes it's just entertainment that counts and I am still quite entertained by King's imagination. I guess if he can "take you there", he's done his job.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You hit the nail on the head there. I can't stand his books, although some of the stories themselves are good, he is a poor writer. In fact, most of the film adaptations were better than his novels.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think you are all deluded. Stephen King is regarded as the best novelist alive. I put it down to jealousy. Ste King has written some gripping stuff, some of which have been made into films that won oscars. Please, spare the hack stories, the guy is a literary genius!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow. All I can say is: "Where are your books?"

    Have you written a book? Your point comes across as a frustrated guy who is jealous of Stephen's success.

    ReplyDelete
  8. No one who has read more books than they have fingers considers Stephen King the best novelist alive!!! Hahah come on.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post Steven King is a douche. And to the Anonymous June 29 by that logic in the you shouldn't be able to criticise dictators like the recently deceased Gadaffi unless you have taken over a country and killed your own person. On a side note I consider King as bad a person a Gadaffi.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I only read one king book,the shining.I did it mainly because of my love for kubrick's film.The book starts out great,then becomes a melodramatic,tedious fantasy.The whole book comes across as optimistic,in an unintentionally comedic way.Great horror stories are uncompromising that leave you with a feeling of dread and mystery.King has to explain everything,because his fans want it that way.King's fans can't use their imagination,they want king spell everything out.The fact is,he's just jealous of kubrick,because he took his crap book,and made a thought-provoking masterpiece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I hear one more person laud Kubricks slasher trash, I'm going to punch a hole in my wall.
      The novel is about a decent man struggling with addiction and slowly losing the battle.
      The movie is about Jack Nicholson being Jack Nicholson, and killing the black guy.

      Delete
  11. I only read one king book,the shining.I did it mainly because of my love for kubrick's film.The book starts out great,then becomes a melodramatic,tedious fantasy.The whole book comes across as optimistic,in an unintentionally comedic way.Great horror stories are uncompromising that leave you with a feeling of dread and mystery.King has to explain everything,because his fans want it that way.King's fans can't use their imagination,they want king spell everything out.The fact is,he's just jealous of kubrick,because he took his crap book,and made a thought-provoking masterpiece.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I haven't seen the movie, but I did enjoy the novel. However, in general, King has gotten much worse as a writer (not that he was ever all that good to begin with). His latest few have been all but unreadable: "Bag of Bones," "Lisey's Story," "Duma Key," "Under the Dome," and the time traveler thing about killing Kennedy. Yes, he is a hack, for sure, and a self-indulgent one, at that, always trashing Republicans and conservatives and anyone or anything else that he doesn't personally like or agree with. Adios, Stephen.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I used to like reading Stephen King. Then I turned 11, and realized how incredibly crappy he actually is. Like Nickelback, his overrated drivel is targeted for a certain audience: dullards, of which there are many. That's why you see nothing but 2-dimentional, black-or-white characters, and simple, formulaic plots. His actual lack of talent and imagination is revealed with his uber-weak endings which he simply slaps onto the ass-end of whatever latest load of crap he is currently subjecting his hoards of idiotic fans to. It's really too bad that truck didn't finish him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I consider myself a fan, but in some regards you're right.
      However, just because the guy has a dozen or so crappers doesn't make him a "hack". Anybody who's read "The Long Walk" or "The Shining" can tell you he has a strong grasp of symbolism and character development. Brilliant style can be found in the "Dark Tower" series as well as his short story "Jerusalem's Lot".
      That being said, he's written some straight up garbage (*cough cough* "Carrie") and his fans, with some exceptions, are dullards.

      Delete
  14. While I agree with the conclusion, the "logic" is faulty.

    It's utterly ridiculous to base the belief that King is a hack on the bad films that have been made from his works. Only slightly more ridiculous than assuming he's a good writer because some good films have been made from his works.

    King's a hack, but this author's hatred for him appears to be almost entirely drawn from watching films. Dumb.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wait, how can you call him a hack if you've only seen the movie? I mean, the Fahrenheit 451 was garbage, but the book remains a classic. King has strengths and weaknesses as a writer, but his character development, stylistic range, setting building, and sheer volume of work is enough to say he's far from a hack.

    ReplyDelete