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Monday, October 26, 2015

The Lawnmower Man

Since taking a break, I've read the short stories Sometimes They Come Back and The Lawnmower Man as well as Carrie, King's first published novel, which has already been adapted twice for film and once on television (as a pilot for a TV series that never materialized).

Before I get to today's casting, I want to talk a little bit about Carrie. It's a pretty good book, if marred by some hall-marks of a young writer still not entirely in control of his talent. It's funny to think that King's repertoire was already as large as it was; Thirty-seven short stories (some of them nearly long enough to almost be novellas) and five novels which would end up being published later; Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, The Running Man and Sword in the Darkness, a novel that King himself has prevented from ever seeing publication. There's also Blaze, which he wrote after Carrie but wasn't published for several decades.

So, really, Carrie is not a freshman effort. It's the work of a man who'd been in the writing game for some time.

Now, granted, a majority of those forty-nine stories were written when he was still a teenager. Many, if not most, are not up to par, professionally speaking, and seventeen of them weren't even professionally published. Of those that were, most of them were in his university magazine. Twenty-eight of them remain uncollected and thus, commercially unavailable except in the odd periodical, to this day.

Of the six novels, on of them King considers so bad that he won't let anyone publish it. Of the five that were, most King fans will admit they're not very strong works, with the possible exceptions of The Long Walk and Roadwork. So, really, Carrie marks another mile on the road to becoming a truly exceptional author.

There are moments of brilliance that crop up in Carrie, but there's stuff that's kinda bothersome as well. To this day I cannot believe the character of Sue Snell, or her to-good-to-be-true boyfriend Tommy Ross. When I first read this book, many years ago, I had a huge problem with the character of Margaret White, but not Tommy or Sue. Today the opposite is true. Margaret White is clearly mentally ill. Sue and Tommy exist in a world of perfect teens.

I also remember feeling a bit like this book wasn't scary, mainly because I empathized a great deal with Carrie herself. I was bullied throughout my school years, and I understand that girls get it worse, as girls can be cruel on a level boys could only dream of. So, I was fully on Carrie's side when she finally snapped and went on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

This time, though, the true horror came from me realizing that Carrie just plain took things too far. I know that if I had her powers, I would have used them, but I would have been subtle and I only would have gone after people who had personally done something to me. And it wouldn't have been fatal. Carrie, however, starts slaughtering her entire school, then her entire town, and throughout, she feels nothing but joy, even finding it funny, and knowing unquestionably that it's all deserved. Yikes. I kept thinking at her, "Yeesh, Carrie, enough! Most of these kids didn't even do anything to you!" Or, if they did, we didn't see it.

I mainly bring up Carrie because it kinda sucks that I'm skipping it. Because the perfect Carrie has yet to play the role, and likely never will, at least on film. Her name is Bel Powley, she's 21 years old and she's the star of the film Diary of a Teenage Girl. She has the uncanny ability to go from plain-jane-verging-on-ugly to stunningly beautiful depending on make-up, hair and costuming. The chief complaint about both theatrical Carrie films is that the actress playing Carrie White (Sissy Spacek in the 1976 film in an Oscar-nominated performance and Chloe Grace Moretz in the 2013 film) the second time out are too beautiful from the start to be believable as someone who gets bullied mercilessly.

So what about a Carrie who goes from this:

 To this: the span of one film?

Too bad it will never happen.

Also, I'm going to say a few short words about Sometimes They Come Back. Simply put, this story isn't scary enough to work as a horror film, nor would it work as presented any other way. It's clearly a horror story, about gang members who return from the dead in physical form and terrorize a young teacher (whose brother they killed when he was a child), killing his wife and finally coming to kill him. How does he defeat them? Dark arts. He raises a demon to take them down, and the story concludes with his realization that he might have created a worse problem for himself.

This was already filmed once, as a TV movie starring Tim Matheson and Brooke Adams, and it wasn't all that great, but I think it's because this is one of King's stories that just won't work on film. The horror aspect is more about how the hero touches knowledge that man was not meant to tamper with in order to get rid of the gang members; sort of like setting fire to your house to kill a spider. The implications of the ending likely won't translate all that well to film, especially as the villains seem to have so little in the way of motivation, so this is one I think should stay in story format.

I was initially thinking that today's offering, The Lawnmower Man, would be the same.

As most of you know, this story was supposedly adapted to film already. The film in question, 1992's The Lawnmower Man, was directed by Brett Leonard and starred Jeff Fahey as Jobe Smith and Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Lawrence Angelo. If you've read the original story but haven't seen this film, you're probably scratching your head right now going "who?". That's because the film and the short story have nothing to do with each other. The film is a completely unrelated story about a man who can control machines with his mind. The only thing it has in common with King's story aside from the title is a scene where a lawnmower attacks a man by itself. In fact, King sued to have his name removed from the film (he won, but the damage had been done; there are still people who think The Lawnmower Man is a Stephen King film), and in fact, there are rumors that this film was an existing script which only became The Lawnmower Man after some suit realized they had the rights to the King story, resulting in some hasty re-writes. That sounds quite likely.

King's short story is far stranger. It may be one of the strangest stories I've ever read from King. It concerns a button-down conservative suburban dad, Harold Parkette, who just wants his dang lawn cut, but the kid who used to do it also used Harold's mower, which he got rid of after a dog chased a cat under the mower, causing his wife and daughter much grief. Now he's got to hire a boy and a mower, and finds a reasonable one in the Yellow Pages. Next Saturday, he's greeted by a grossly fat man at his door, ready to mow his grass. He leaves the fellow to it and settles down for an afternoon nap. Next thing he knows, a hideous-sounding mower has started up, and he goes outside, and is met with the sight of...of...I'll just let this illustration from the 1981 comic edition tell you:
Yeah. The really off-putting thing about this is how easy-going the lawnmower man remains even after Harold witnesses this. I should mention that the LM (as he'll be known from here on out) eats everything that comes out the back end of that mower. Everything. Including a mole that pokes its head out of its hole at the wrong moment. Gotta wonder if there were any dog turds on his lawn.

But the LM himself remains folksy, chipper and ready to start the front lawn. He even explains himself, behaving the whole time as though nothing is wrong. He's already made an offhand comment to Harold about the Greek goddess Circe, so it's less than surprising when he announces that his boss is the god Pan. This opens up a whole world of implications that I don't even want to get into.

The ending I won't describe except to say that things don't end well for Harold. Even knowing that doesn't really spoil the ending. It's one of those "you've got to read it to believe it" moments.

How do you film that? What do you do to expand that into a feature-length film? Well, I kept thinking about it, and decided that it might work very well as a black comedy.

Seriously, get a guy known for doing really dark comedies, Joe Dante would be my choice, and let him loose. Set it in the late 70's, mainly because that's the flavor of this story. Make it the story of a guy who just wants his life to be what he considers normal, but he's blocked at every turn by a wife who is embracing modern ideas, a daughter who's turning into a slut, neighbors who poke fun at him every chance they get and a yard that's getting more out of control because of how often he's stymied in finding someone to cut it. Basically, Harold can't figure out that his life isn't really all that bad, and if he'd just relax and not be so uptight about everything, he might even start feeling happy. But he can't let himself be happy because he obsesses over little things that don't matter.

This culminates in his growing obsession to have the perfect lawn, but without, you know, dirtying his own hands.

The first hour or so of the film would focus mostly on Harold's home life. We would have several uncomfortable but darkly humorous scenes where he and his wife argue over changing times and their respective roles in their marriage, his neighbors poke fun at him and he admonishes his daughter to cover herself up more and stop seeing so many boys. This would be punctuated by scenes where he tries hard to get his lawn taken care of, first hiring the boy, losing his mower, being unable to hire the boy and mower together, then finally finding Pastoral Lawn Care, the company the LM works for.

I also think there should be a few earlier scenes establishing Pastoral as a new, slightly sinister business in town, maybe having a prologue with someone else walking into the business and being creeped right out at what he or she finds there.

Rainn Wilson strikes me as a good Harold. Maybe it's that Harold has so much in common with Dwight Schrute; a need to have everything his way, arch conservatism, a prickly nature and apparently not widely liked.
Harold's wife Carla, who he married thinking she'd be his little '50's homemaker, but is turning into a bit of a modern feminist, annoying him to no end, will be played by Melissa McCarthy. She could practically do this without a script. In the story, she doesn't actually appear, but she apparently was so horrified by the cat incident that she had nightmares and wouldn't submit to her husband sexually, which is where I get the whole "modern woman" thing.
His daughter Alicia is another non-character in the story, mentioned only twice, but in both cases it seems that Harold doesn't approve of her slatternly behavior. He thinks she's turning into a little strumpet, evidently, considering how he doesn't like the way she dresses or the parade of boys who come to call on her. I'd like to script it so that Alicia isn't really a slut, just a bit of a free spirit, but Harold interprets this to mean she's sleeping with all these boys. I picked Natalie Alyn Lind for this role, because she balances cute and innocent with a sort of sultriness that will worry Harold.
Harold's neighbors on both sides of the fence are men who have sort of moved more on with the world, both of them apparently Democrats while Harold is a staunch Republican, and he hates them both. They don't appear to think much more kindly of him. In one funny scene, Jack Castonmeyer, who is implied to be close to the same age as Harold, even thinks the LM is Harold himself, naked and eating his grass. Don Smith, on the other side, is implied to be younger, as he has a young daughter. I see a few scenes similar to what goes on in The 'Burbs with the neighbors in that film as well. Nice opportunities for more comedy and more sense that Harold is out of sync with the rest of his neighborhood. I want them to be played by Jon Favreau and Dax Shepard.
Jon Favreau

Dax Shepard
Moving on, I'd like to get inside Pastoral itself, maybe imply that it's a branch of a weird operation that's got its fingers in all kinds of pies. In this case, Pan, in a Hawaiian suit, smoking a cigar and having numerous sexy ladies about, will be played by Lee Arenberg. Can't you just see him excessively hairy with a goat snout and horns?
And finally, the LM himself. He wouldn't appear until about halfway through, but damn, once he appears, how quickly things will go from uncomfortably funny to weird to horrifying. The LM is fat and relentlessly agreeable, talking in a matter-of-fact way about the wacko shit he's committing and never losing his folksy ways even as he prepares to commit murder. Despite being the title character, he's not the lead, and I think he should be billed third with an "and" credit.

With Hollywood actors obsessing about staying thin, it took me a bit to find a suitable LM. John Goodman is too old (and thinner now, plus I used him already), John Candy is too dead, but would also be too old if he wasn't. Chris Farley, who I pictured while reading the story, is also dead. I also considered lesser-known actors like Paul Vogt and Eric Stonestreet, but it came down to two names.

I initially considered Jack Black, but I think he would be too tempted to make the LM deliberately creepy. What makes the LM creepy is how nice he is, even when asking Harold where he keeps his "sharpest butcher knife", which he has already stated he plans to sacrifice Harold with. Black would turn him sinister in scenes like that.

Instead, I went with Kevin James. James tends to play unassuming nice guys, everyman types, and it would be a real twist to have him play someone so horrifying. Also, he's put back on the weight he lost.
So what do you think? Would a dark comedy-horror work for this? Is it better to leave it unfilmed? Let me know.

I just started 'Salem's Lot, one of my favorite King books, which, like Carrie, has been adapted before, twice in this case but in both cases as TV mini-series. I think it could work as a movie, and I think I've already chosen a director. Let us say my choice will be...controversial.

Next up (sometime in the next month or so): 'Salem's Lot!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Gray Matter

For some reason, I really like this story and was excited to get to it on this blog. I'm not 100% sure why but it's possibly because this is the first honest-to-god creature feature we've gotten to thus far. And the way this story was written has always given me the creeps (in a good way).

And before you say anything, no, I Am the Doorway is many things, but a creature feature it is not, since the creatures stay hidden. Neither is The Boogeyman, since a large portion of it is focused on its narrator Lester talking enough rope to hang himself, and there's still the possibility that the monster in that story is entirely imagined.

Here, that's definitely not the case.

Gray Matter is an old-fashioned spook-fest about a slobbish single dad with a drinking problem who starts mutating into a monster. That's the long and short of it. Most of the tale is related to us thanks to his son, who one night walks into Henry's Nite-Owl during a snow storm to beg owner Henry Parmalee to take his father the case of beer because he's too scared to go back into their house.

Richie Grenadine is the father in question; a notorious drunk who gets to sit at home and drink all day thanks to a workers-comp-for-life setup after a permanent back injury on his job site. Being able to sit at home and get paid for it has turned Richie's drinking into a real problem. He used to be a fun drunk who could hold it pretty darn well. Now he's a sad drunk and shut-in who never leaves his home.

One night, while Henry Parmalee, our unnamed narrator and some others sit around Henry's stove at the back of his store, keeping warm and telling stories, Richie's son Timmy comes in, scared out of his mind, and tells Henry a story that seems hard to believe, except the kid's shook up awful bad (oh, geez, now I'm talking like the geezers in the story), and the money he hands Henry is covered with grey goop.

So, they set out for Richie's house and what they find there...

You might even be able to guess.

Gray Matter is a pretty short tale, but there's ways to lengthen it. I'd like to see this become the tale of a lazy alcoholic and his kid, with the geezers at the store as supporting characters. We can start off with Timmy explaining to our narrator character about how he's on full time workman's comp, and most of the story would focus on Richie, sinking deeper into his alcoholic slump, becoming progressively shorter of temper until he's borderline abusive, having him drink the "bad beer" that changes him early in the film, and then begin literally turning into a monster.

Meanwhile, Timmy goes on, pretending everything is normal so that no one comes any closer to his house than they have to. We'll see his school performance start to slip, making his teacher want to talk to his dad, which of course is a fate worse than failing. We'll see Timmy start to push his friends away in order to protect them, try to warn off an over-interested cop, etc.

This will all be observed by our narrator, who will finally become an active character when Timmy can't stand it anymore and asks Henry to take the beer to his father instead.

Henry, the narrator and a third character named Bertie Connors, are the three who go to confront Richie, and I think those three should be the most developed. There are other geezers present; Bill Pellham and Carl Littlefield are their names, but they don't really have an active presence in this story. Maybe their roles will increase a bit in the film.

I think the film should probably include a lot of "after" as well as a lot of "before" concerning the story. It ends pretty abruptly, with the impression that things are going to get a lot worse. Would a good writer be able to show us what happens next? Or how about more of the "before"? Maybe even just a hint at where the "bad beer" came from? I'm not saying reveal it to be toxic waste or something like that, but perhaps imply that a horror that man was not meant to know of was involved and, seeking a host, invaded a brewery, realizing it would be ingested.

Whatever the case, time to cast this bitch.

First off, the central protagonist, Timmy, is a preteen and therefore I'm not casting him. There's not much to the character in the story. He seems to be an ordinary little boy who puts up with quite a bit before breaking, so it will require a good child actor.

So let's cast Richie, dear old dad. This almost seems like a good opportunity to take an actor known mostly for comedy and make him the lead in a monster movie. Comedy actors are usually more ordinary-looking people, and I wouldn't ever want Richie to look like a movie star. I'm gonna pick Will Ferrell, because he's proven he can play dark when he needs to, plus a majority of his characters are unlikable.
The rest of the cast is a bunch of interchangeable old guys, with the exception of Henry Parmalee, who is more of a man of action than the others and will probably be considered the second lead. We could make him an army vet, and have an older tough guy play him. I'm thinking Ving Rhames.
Our unnamed narrator, like I said, is kind of a non-character, more observer than action man. That should probably change in the movie, and I see him becoming more of a voice of reason, maybe even having him live near the Grenadines so that he says hi to Timmy on his way to school every morning, to establish that he cares about the kid and wants to know what's going on. I'm going to use this opportunity to give Dan Aykroyd a good role after years of fading from the limelight. He would narrate the film in voice-over (we wouldn't overuse it) and take an active role in the story.
For the two who stay behind, I'm gonna cast Dirk Blocker as Bill Pellham and Charlie Scalies as Carl Littlefield. These guys might end up food in the story, but I'd like a pair of dependable character actors in these roles.
Dirk Blocker

Charlie Scalies

And now for that previously mentioned break. I'm presently half-way through a first-time read of It Grows on You and to be honest, it isn't striking me as all that filmable. It could be, in the right hands, but I'm not sure it would be worth the effort. It's a pretty dry story even with the occasional snippet of horror. After that it's Sometimes They Come Back, which has already had an adaptation, though it's not well-regarded. Is it worth a better incarnation? We'll see.

Then I'm going to be reading Carrie, then The Lawnmower Man and then on to 'Salem's Lot. In other words, this blog is going to be pretty dead for a while. I apologize in advance.

Next up: Not sure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Boogeyman

I can't be the only one who thinks of the old Henry Hall novelty song when they hear the title of this story. You know the one I mean:

"Hush, hush, hush
Here comes the Boogeyman!"

That might take some of the horror out of things...until you're done reading it.

This short story, which, like every other story I've cast thus far, was collected in Night Shift, was the basis for one of the better-known Dollar Babies that arose in the early 80's. Jeff Schiro, who would later have a career mostly as an editor on some TV movies and documentaries, was the director, writer and editor for this one, and for a long while, possibly still today, it was commercially available, usually packaged with Frank Darabont's The Woman in the Room.

Since then, numerous short films have been made. I don't even know how many because a couple that I know exist don't show up on the IMDB. One of them even stars Game of Thrones actors Miltos Yerolemou and James Cosmo.

But a feature length theatrical film has never, at least as far as I know, been even talked about, and I don't understand why because much like I Am the Doorway, this would be very easy to stretch to feature length and would make a great film. I'm still having trouble believing that a feature film has been made out of The Mangler, but not this one.

Now, before I get started here, I'm going to make a confession. I am now using this blog as an excuse to read through literally every word King has written, in the order that it was initially published. Some of his stories I've never even read before (most of what he's written in the last decade, plus a few early works that escaped me). This will include many works that I'm skipping as far as blog posts. As I recently re-read several short stories that I won't be posting about, I thought I'd mention a few of the stories I'm skipping, and why.

Firstly, most of the ones I'm skipping are short enough that I don't know how they would work as a feature film. I included Night Surf despite feeling that way about it, as well, mainly because I thought it would make a nice companion piece to The Stand, as I mentioned, but none of these others have works they can be paired with, and thus, don't stand up on their own. A couple of them might make nice episodes of an anthology TV series, and in fact, two of them already have (The Fifth Quarter and Battleground, both adapted as episodes of the anthology series Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King). I really love The Fifth Quarter because of how it was written; those last few scenes had me genuinely on the edge of my seat. I haven't seen the episode based on it, but I can't imagine it was as spine-tingling as reading it was.

Second, a couple of these early stories were already made into feature-length films (Graveyard Shift and the aforementioned The Mangler) which were not generally well-received, but then, I personally find both stories to be somewhat silly and inconsequential themselves. Therefore, I don't see how one could make a decent film out of either, especially considering that in both cases, imagining the scenes as I read them were far scarier than watching the scenes play out in the movies, and they weren't even all that scary in the books.

Third, a lot of early King stories are just plain unfilmable. I don't see films ever being made, even as TV episodes, of Cain Rose Up, Here There Be Tygers (a truly odd short story with one of the weirdest unexplained euphemisms I've ever seen) or The Reaper's Image. Then there's some early short stories that are commercially available, but in a limited capacity, meaning I haven't read them. These include Jumper and Rush Call, both of which were written by a teenaged King, and also The Glass Floor, his first professionally published story, which, from what I have read about all of them, probably aren't high on the lists of stories ripe for adaptation.

This isn't to say that I would mind if someone tried to film them (I would love to see a filmed version of Suffer the Little Children, provided the appropriate budget is involved), just that I don't consider them apt fuel for this blog. So, past all that stuff, we move on to The Boogeyman.

This story would lend itself quite well to adaptation, considering that, much like I Am the Doorway, a good part of it is just a guy talking about his experiences with someone else. In this case, our "protagonist", for lack of a better word, is talking over what's been happening to him and his family with a psychiatrist. This means we have a nice framing story, but we can actually show the story he's telling the doctor, and add some much-needed detail.

See, our protagonist, Lester Billings, is a horrible man. As he talks to Dr. Harper, he seems at first to be genuinely remorseful about his children's death (that's not a spoiler; it's in the first few lines) but the more he talks, the more you can see what an utter shitbag he is. He has many openly sexist, racist, homophobic things to say, as well as ideas on parenting that were considered over the line even at the time this story was written. Without any apologetic tone whatsoever, he casually speaks of verbal and physical abuse he committed against his wife, and even children.

What's more, as he tells the story of how his children died, one begins to suspect that he's also more than a bit crazy, or at least, wants Dr. Harper to think he is. We keep shaking our heads saying "Dude, you killed your kids, not some imaginary monster!" But then there's a twist, one that I genuinely didn't see coming, and therefore will not spoil, that puts a new spin on it.

We'll need an unlikable lead actor for this, and my first thought was Joe Pantoliano or Steve Buscemi, but both of them are just too old at this point. The actor should be mid-forties at the oldest (Lester is 28 in the story, but looks much older). I came up with Peter Sarsgaard, because really, he's always got that slimy, untrustworthy vibe, even when he's playing characters you're supposed to like (which is probably why he's not usually cast as such).
His wife, Rita, isn't much of a character in the story since we only see her through Lester's eyes, but we'll need someone young, pretty and perhaps believable as a long-suffering, abused woman who maybe feels like she should leave her husband but can't (at least, not until the last straw). For a multitude of reasons that I'm not going into here (but you can probably guess), I'm casting Katie Holmes.
There aren't really any other main roles in the actual story aside from the Billings's kids, but as they're all very young, there's no point in casting them. This really is an ideal way to tell the story of the Billings' marriage. You can start with Lester as a younger man, perhaps being abused by his father as well, and his early childhood fears of the Boogeyman, and sew the seeds of the idea that perhaps even as a child he created an imaginary monster that committed all kinds of horrible acts so that he doesn't have to believe it was him doing it. Or...maybe the monster is real, but only Lester can see it. The film doesn't have to tell us immediately. After all, Lester will also serve as our narrator, and every scene we'll see comes from his point of view alone.

From there, we'll explore his relationship with Rita, meeting her, dating, having an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, marrying, having another kid, having an "accidental" kid, all while Lester grows more and more openly abusive. And then the Boogeyman starts coming for his kids.

Side note: Stories where kids are hurt or killed affect me on an extremely deep level. I have a really hard time with it. I'm a father myself. My oldest daughter is in college, my son is in high school and my youngest daughter just turned one. I can't read a story about kids getting hurt or killed without picturing it happening to my own kids. This makes me really hate Lester on a level that even other readers might not feel it on.

It won't make a very long movie, but that's probably a good thing. But there's a final role to be cast, one that cannot be left out; the kindly old shrink who hears Lester's tale, Dr. Harper.

For Harper, you want the opposite of Lester; someone the audience instinctively likes, instinctively trusts. Kinda like Morgan Freeman, except there's no way I'm wasting Morgan Freeman on a film this relatively low down in King's canon, so instead I'm gonna go with Albert Brooks. Come on, everybody likes Brooks! He's like everybody's favorite uncle.
As for a director, I'm gonna go with James Wan, because this film, which focuses on a marriage and what's going on with the kids, reminds me to some degree of his Insidious, and I also liked his Dead Silence. The guy knows how to create a mood. Another option includes Iain Softley, who showed he can do horror with The Skeleton Key.

So at this point I should probably warn you of an incoming slow-down in posts. I have four short stories to read, only two of which I think I'll be blogging about, then there's Carrie, which I've already said doesn't need a fourth adaption, but I'm reading anyway. After that is another short story which I'm undecided about whether a film adaptation would work, then 'Salem's Lot, which I'm happy to say will be the first of King's full-length novels I'll be blogging about. I'm excited about getting there, but it might take some time, since I'm re-reading everything before I blog about it. So far that's not been a problem as it's all been short stories, but when I read, I tend to try and think of actors to fit the roles as I'm reading, plus I try and visualize everything, rather than just reading what's on the page, so I read very, very slowly.

Still, I can guarantee that posts will come. One will likely be up in the next day or two, regardless. And this next one is one that I'm for whatever reason really excited about.

Next up: Gray Matter!

NOTICE OF SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION: If you like this blog, I'm gonna guess you're a horror fan. If that's the case, I urge you to have a gander at my other blog, consisting entirely of original short horror stories by yours truly. If you're a reader of online scary stories, some of them may already be familiar to you, as a couple of them have almost reached viral stage, but this is the blog that started it all: Please Help Me!

Monday, October 19, 2015

I Am the Doorway

I Am the Doorway is so cinematic I honestly don't know why we haven't gotten a movie already. But then, maybe it's a good thing, since I'm not sure the effects to properly do this movie existed until the last decade or so.

Yes, this is the story that inspired the image on the cover of the 1979 paperback edition of Night Shift, which is the first short story collection of King's works. It's also the book that all these stories have come from so far.

If you're a King fan, chances are good you've at least seen this book before. If you haven't read it, I bet you didn't know that this was a representative cover, and not just a creepy image for the jacket, did you? Well, it is. This here is the story of the man with eyes on his hands.

Not much psychological horror that's hard to translate to film this time, unlike Night Surf. In this case, the story is pretty simple. An astronaut goes on the first manned mission to scan and photograph Venus (which hasn't even happened yet, so we don't have to use fake science!). The trip there is successful, but Arthur is decidedly creeped out by the sight of Venus up close, saying it feels like looking at "a haunted house in space". Man, what images that conjures up. Venus actually is a little creepy-looking, kind of like how we tend to picture Hell, so a visual artist could really do wonders making that look like something that might stay with us after we've left the theater.

The trip back doesn't go so well; Arthur and his fellow astronaut Cory learn that future funding has been cut, but then bad goes to worse as re-entry is a disaster, destroying the shuttle and killing Cory, leaving Arthur paralyzed.

We've already got a pretty interesting movie, don't we? Not scary, but interesting and visually engaging. But hold on, things are about to take a turn for the decidedly weird.

A few years after retiring to a beach (what is it with King and beaches? This is the second post featuring one!), making friends with the locals and assuring the Navy that he's not revealing classified information, his hands start feeling itchy, and start developing little bumps. Before he can get to the doctor, the bumps reveal themselves to be closed eyes; eyes that begin opening and they do not like what they see.

Whoever these eyes belong to, and however they came to use Arthur as a doorway into our world, they see our world the way that we might see a twisted Hell dimension. They look at something we consider mundane and decide it's monstrous, evil, and needs to be destroyed. Arthur can feel what they feel and even see what they're seeing; in a particularly harrowing passage he says that when he first sees the eyes, he screams, but not because he sees his hands; he sees through the eyes his own face. The face of a monster.

The eyes are capable of acts of destruction, and can even "drive" Arthur's crippled body without his permission. Most of the time they just observe, but when he needs to go out in public, he wraps his hands in bandages, both to keep others from seeing the eyes, and to keep the eyes from seeing anyone else. One day he's lax about it and waves at a local boy on the beach, collecting shells with a sieve. The eyes see the sieve and its "geometrically impossible right angles" and they take over, killing the boy in a gruesome fashion.

This is all told in retrospect, as Arthur relates his story to Richard, an elderly beachcomber who has become his friend. He's willing to help Arthur go look for the boy's body, but he's not sure he believes the story.

I'm not sure who would direct this. Someone who can do great with visuals and make them seem both horrifying and mundane at the same time. I'm tempted to say Frank Darabont, but that's a bit cliched. Nah, why not. Darabont.

As for the cast, well, that's a bit tougher because only Richard is described in detail. Arthur himself is an astronaut who's been grounded for about five years, so he'd have to look middle-aged, and like he could be a physically strong person if he weren't in his wheelchair. Because the role is sorta nondescript and I have nothing against this actor, but don't see him as one of King's other major characters, I'm gonna cast Brad Pitt. I mean, why not?
For Richard, I imagined Bill Cobbs while reading it, but a bigger name is needed since he's the second biggest role. So I chose Danny Glover.
Joel Kinnaman can step into the role of Cory, the other astronaut, whose role will be bigger since we're gonna show the Venus trip in far more detail.
And Michael O'Neill would be fine as the investigator, Creswell, whose role would be expanded since it's he that Arthur thinks to call when he wants to do something about his hands. He's pretty good at playing reasonable authority figures.

And that's that for this story, as it's pretty simple and straightforward. I know there's a temptation to add a love interest, but in this case, I don't think that will be necessary as she would likely take the place of Richard, which I wouldn't prefer.

Next up: The Boogeyman!

Night Surf

Probably the thing that most people remember about this short story is its link to The Stand; this is the first time King brings in the superflu, the Captain Trips.

Which isn't fair because there's a lot more to this story. It's one of those that's more horrifying the more you think about it.

In the short form, it's about a group of young people (I'd guess somewhere in their early twenties) living on or near Anson Beach after the world has essentially been wiped out by Captain Trips.

Side note: am I the only one who's noticed just how fucking weird a name that is for a flu, even as a colloquialism? We just accept that's what it's called, and no one that I know of has called out just how odd it sounds. Its name doesn't suggest anything about an epidemic, and if you apply an illness to it, I think of a fainting-spell type of disease, not a superflu. Oh, well, I guess it's not that much more odd than "Hoof in Mouth disease".

These youngsters, including our narrator Bernie, his erstwhile girlfriend-cum-fuck-buddy Suzie, psycho rich boy Corey, fairly nondescript Needles and young couple Kelly and Joan, all believe they're immune from the virus, mainly because all of them once were infected with its previous strain, A2, or the Hong Kong virus (Captain Trips is officially A6). Because of this, they've started to pretty much do whatever they want. It's pretty clear they don't really even like each other, but they've banded together mainly because...well, I'm not even sure they know why. The need for human companionship. A sort of tribal survival thing.

Bernie is the one through who's eyes we see this whole story. He narrates with a sort of robotic detachment; he doesn't really feel much about what's going on unless it affects him directly. He seems to hate Suzie, and finds her unattractive, repeatedly going on about how fat she is, both in his mind and out loud, yet is still okay with having sex with her. Something about Bernie's character makes me think Suzie isn't really fat at all, just that a guy like Bernie, who's starting to feel the entitled attitude of a young man who answers to no one, focuses on her flaws to a crazy degree, even deciding a woman who has hips must be fat. The fact that Corey later bears her on his back with relative ease makes me think I'm right; Suzie is of average size, which in Bernie's increasingly sociopathic mind, is not good enough for him.

Suzie, however, is not sane at all. She starts off clingy, desperate to know if Bernie loves her, which he openly says he doesn't, and she flies into a rage, threatening to kill him, and I think she means it. Then Corey chases her off up the beach and she's all smiles again. We'll need someone who has a good crazy look to play her.

The others aren't really focused on that much; Corey seems to be as far gone as Bernie in terms of realizing the rules no longer apply and they can do pretty much whatever they want. The others have even less characterization, which is fertile ground for a movie to develop.

At the beginning of the story, they're burning a guy. Yeah, Bernie just sorta says "After the guy was dead..." and proceeds to describe the rest of the day as if they just did a grocery run. The burning guy, Alvin Sackheim, was so far gone with the disease that he thought Suzie was his grandmother and didn't even notice he was burning until he was close to dead. Burning him was Corey's idea; a sacrifice to the beach. Bernie doesn't seem to care about the whole thing, Suzie is turned on by it, and Kelly's only response is "Some fire."

And then, Needles reveals he's sick. He's got the Captain Trips, and he'll be dead soon. This makes Bernie realize that none of them are really immune, that in fact they might all be dead soon. This makes him remember flashes of his life before A6 hit, and we realize he was a pretty normal guy. And there's where the real horror comes in; Bernie has started shedding all the elements that made him fit in with polite society, apparently less than a year after society crumbled. In The Stand, we watch a community get built up that is trying desperately to hold on to what they figure makes them human. Here, we see what happens when all societal niceties get stripped away. Bernie's not a monster, and that's what's scary about him. We could be him.

Anyway, I'm not sure how this would work as a full movie. There's a lot going on in this story, but most of it is in the mind of our twisted lead. However, it might work as an extra feature on a BluRay release of The Stand.

There's already been a Dollar Baby short film of this story and...I should stop for a moment and explain what a Dollar Baby is because if I don't I'm sure I'll pay for it later. A "dollar baby" is a term coined by King in reference to a select group of students and aspiring filmmakers or theater producers whom he has granted permission to adapt one of his short stories for $1.The list of Dollar Babies is very long, and grows nearly every year. They've been around since the 70's and are still around today. Some of the filmmakers behind the Dollar Babies have gone on to have professional careers, including Frank Darabont, who made The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist and is considered one of the greatest King-adapters there is. Some Dollar Babies, such as Darabont's The Woman in the Room, are available on home video. Some can be found on YouTube. I probably should have mentioned this in my last post; Strawberry Spring is getting its first Dollar Baby sometime this year or next.

Despite that, I'm not considering Dollar Babies the same thing as previous adaptations. This is mainly because at the end of the day, they're just short films, and not even short films meant to be seen by a wide audience. There are tons upon tons of short films adapted from King's works, and this blog is about feature-length adaptations. I'm making something of an exception here because of Night Surf's connection to The Stand. In fact, I toyed with the idea of including it as a sub-plot of The Stand as part of a maxi-series, but that wouldn't work because while it includes the disease, it doesn't have anything to do with the plot of the novel. Instead, I think it will make an hourish-long film that focuses on the character of Bernie and the question of: is he losing his humanity, or has the stripping away of social mores exposed what humanity really is?

This film, as I said, can expand more on Bernie's friends as well, not to mention giving more attention to Alvin Sackheim, showing him, say, watching the news, deciding to flee town before he gets sick and driving across the country, gradually getting sicker.

For the role of Bernie, I'd like to cast a young guy who looks like he used to be the kid next door but now seems more sinister. Kier Gilchrist did exactly that; growing from a cherubic child actor to a scarecrow-like adult actor. Compare the two shots below and you'll see what I mean.
Gilchrist a few years ago

Gilchrist today
 I mentioned how Suzy is shown to be losing her sanity, and I picked actress Halston Sage to play the character, because, as pretty as she is, she has a quality to her face that suggests she could do madness quite well.
I went with Cal Barnes for the role of Corey, the kid used to privilege who is the first to suggest something truly over the line; burning Alvin. He looks like a rich boy who could turn evil on you.
Needles is a name that suggests "drug addict" to me, and I think it was intended to, so I wanted a guy who's thin and looks strung out. I ultimately went with Alex Shaffer, though there's probably tons of guys who fit this role.
Then there's Kelly and Joan, who don't really do or say much, and I just chose a couple of blandly pretty people for them. Again, they'll likely get fleshed out a bit; one idea I had is that the two of them are co-dependent, needing each other more as lifelines for each other, and showing that if they're separated just for a few moments they start acting like heroin users in need of a fix. Logan Miller and Ciara Renee are the couple I chose.

Finally, for the non-role of Alvin Sackheim, I decided on Damon Herriman because he's just good at playing guys who are aren't all there. I want Sackheim to start off looking relatively normal and grow increasingly mad as the disease ramps up in him.
So that's Night Surf. We'll be blowing through several more short stories here in the next few days. We've got five more before we get to the first full-length novel I'm covering.

Next up: I Am the Doorway!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Strawberry Spring

I chose Strawberry Spring as my first casting project because it's one of the first professionally-published short stories Stephen King wrote that I think lends itself perfectly to being adapted into a 90-or-so-minute Halloween release. In fact, by the time this was released, King only had five short stories that were published, and to be honest, none of the others struck me like this one did.

It's a pretty straightforward slasher story, narrated by an unnamed college student, detailing a series of women being murdered on his campus during the false spring of 1967. The title refers to said false spring, which causes thaws and melts throughout the day and billowing fog by night. It's in this fog that the murderer, dubbed "Springheel Jack" by the press, takes his victims.

The narrator describes each murder and the campus's reaction to it, and though all the victims are female, it never specifies that the killer won't go after men as well. In a scene that could actually be pretty funny if handled right, a panicky cop comes across the body of a boy who is very much alive, but hadn't been feeling well and passed out in the parking lot. In his state of panic, not thinking to check for a pulse, or, you know, a wound, he bundles the kid into his car and is halfway to the station when the kid wakes up and scares the shit out of him by asking where he is.

As for the narrator himself, he describes how he'll get headaches that are helped by walking through the fog at night, and how the others in the fog start to look like faceless phantoms to him. He talks about how he starts analyzing faces he passes in the hallway, studying them to see if a killer is hiding beneath their facade, and knowing that others are doing the same to him. His roommate comments that he now suspects everyone but "me and thee" and then adding "and I'm not entirely sure about thee". He talks about driving a car load of other students home for early spring break but it's a tense ride because as far as everyone is concerned, Springheel Jack might be in the car with them, and...I'm sure you see where this is going. M. Night Shyamalan, eat your heart out.

So, this won't be a terribly great film, but it could be a cool one, especially because it will be heavy on atmosphere. King lovingly describes the thick fogs and how they erase the modernity of the campus and turn it into something out of time, almost causing one to expect Frodo, Sam and Gollum to walk by. In the right hands, that could look really cool, especially since that's when the bad stuff happens.

James Watkins (The Woman in Black) or Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) would both be great choices to direct this. That's the easy part. But now for the hard part: expanding this bitch to feature-length and casting it.

The expansion will likely be easier than you think. Each murder in the story is just talked about. Here it can be shown. Also shown can be the aftermath; twice someone is arrested who didn't do it and once a couple is caught "necking" after curfew. But mainly, we can expand this by expanding on the characters.

There really aren't any in the story, beyond the narrator, who get fleshed out. His roommate has one scene with him, which I liked, and feel the roommate character could be examined a little more. Maybe make him a theorist on who's committing the murders, which could lead to some semi-serious comic relief. Also, the narrator gets married shortly after he graduates, and that's an opportunity to flesh out the wife, who's a non-entity in the books, into a real character as well, present for the murders and causing the lead character to be worried for her safety. Finally, while a police presence is very real in the story, the film has an opportunity to have a police sergeant or lieutenant in charge of the patrols and the man responsible for catching the killer. I see him getting somewhat close to the three young leads and there being a sad scene where he's ordered to pull the patrols and clear out so that plainclothes can come in, and him apologizing to the lead that they never caught the killer.

Now, for casting. For our unnamed narrator, we'll need a guy who can pass for college-age, but also pass for being a young married. He'll need to look a bit vulnerable and somewhat nerdy, but capable of going dark. I had initially thought of Eddie Redmayne, but I don't think this is the sort of project Redmayne would go for. Instead, I'm chosing Andrew Garfield.

For the police lieutenant, I'd like a dependable character actor that everyone who's seen him likes. As this isn't going to be Shakespeare, we don't need to worry if he seems stereotypical. To me, I could see John Goodman making a pretty good impression.

For the girlfriend/wife, we need another performer who can pass for both a college student and a young wife. Alison Brie is over 30, but could pass for 20, and she's a cutie who would naturally capture the audience's sympathy.

Finally, the roommate. Like I said, this is an opportunity for a role that's a little bit funny without being distractingly so. Since the character doesn't appear in the post-college sections, he can be a bit younger. For whatever reason, I think this might give Jay Pharoah an opportunity to grow beyond his SNL persona.

There are other minor roles; the murder victims, the initial suspect(s), the couple caught necking, the jittery cop and the passed-out-mistaken-for-dead guy. But these are all minor roles that I'm not going to bother casting.

The time period probably shouldn't be focused on. While the story is set in 1967, I'm not sure the movie would need to really make clear what year it is. Maybe outfit the actors in clothes that look like they could belong to a number of eras, leave out cell phones and just let the audience decide when it's supposed to be taking place.

All in all, I think it could be a really neat, atmospheric Halloween slasher flick. What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.

Next up: Night Surf!

Why Am I Making a Blog about Future Stephen King Adaptations?

I figured I'd better start this blog with an explanation as to why I'm doing it.

So, here's the short version:

1. I like Stephen King.
2. I like fan-casting.
3. There are a number of King works that need to be adapted, yet never have been.
4. I feel like a number of existing King adaptations never got it right.

Has there been another author like Stephen King? Even Danielle Steel hasn't been adapted so often. Apart from ol' Bill Shakespeare, I don't think another author has had so many of his works adapted to film/television ever. That alone is quite an accomplishment.

And it gets better; King is an incredibly prolific author, and so much of what he turns out is so damn good that when he turns out something that's bad or merely okay, the public reacts with shock.

So...why is it that we so rarely see that in his screen adaptations?

Out of the umpteen-hundred movies, TV movies, TV mini-series, weekly TV series, short films, anthology films, et al, that have been adapted (however loosely) from King's written works, only a handful of them can be considered "good", let alone "great". In fact, so much of the King-inspired screen work is so bloody awful that it's almost a punchline today (the Nostalgia Critic makes it a point to do an annual review of a King adaptation). It's gotten to the point where some people have even suggested that it's evidence that we perhaps give King (as a novelist) too much credit. Perhaps the adaptations are bad because the books were bad, too, and the adaptations just make it obvious.

I say bullshit to that. It's akin to suggesting that the Beatles don't deserve their place in rock history because not all their songs were gems and cover versions of their songs by other bands are generally not as good. No; King adaptations tend to suck for several reasons: bad direction, bad screenwriting, bad casting, and thus bad acting, and bad formats. These usually come about thanks to uncaring suits at the top of the production food chain who are concerned mainly with getting a quick horror flick out into theaters in time to cash in on Halloween, or alternately to fill up the January-February dead zone (no pun intended) where all studios dump their crap that would flop at any other time of the year, and to do so as cheaply as possible. They've got the property, King is a name that will sell tickets, so no real need to worry about quality. Just get the butts in the seats and once you've made back twice the budget (not hard for films you spent virtually no money on) you can churn out a few in-name-only sequels that will go directly to video.

And therein lies the other problem; a (very) large cross-section of King-related films have, in fact, nothing to do with him. There are umpteen sequels to Children of the Corn that King had no hand in writing, not to mention sequels to 'Salem's Lot, The Mangler, Pet Sematary, Sometimes They Come Back, Carrie and Firestarter that don't even have one letter penned by King (and often don't even use use his characters!) and were made entirely because the studios in question still had the rights and saw the opportunity for a little extra cash. And then there's The Lawnmower Man and The Lawnmower Man: Beyond Cyberspace, neither of which have anything to do with the short story King wrote, and yet both claim to be based on it. Another blogger I know calls these "SKINO" films (Stephen King In Name Only) or "fauxquels", and those are apt terms. King cannot be blamed for any of those disasters.

But, the detractors say, what about the films he had a direct hand in making? He either wrote, or co-wrote, the scripts for Maximum Overdrive, Pet Sematary, A Good Marriage, The Stand and The Shining (the mini-series, not the movie) and heck, he even directed the crapfest known as Maximum Overdrive, not to mention he wrote the original screenplays for Sleepwalkers and Rose Red, and they both sucked, so not only can you blame him for the original ideas, but you can blame him for what we saw on the screen!

Okay, sure. But, to be honest, I'm still not sure why he decided his first (and ultimately only) directorial effort would be Maximum Overdrive, which was adapted from the already-lame short story Trucks. To continue the Beatles analogy, it would be akin to John Lennon and Paul McCartney making an operetta out of the song Why Don't We Do It in the Road? (which, if you've never heard it, is about exactly what it sounds like it's about, and contains only two lines; the title, and the phrase "No one will be watching us", both repeated ad nauseum).

Aside: Oh, great. Now it's stuck in my head.

For that matter, King needs to know his limitations. He is a novelist, a storyteller, not a screenwriter. Believe it or not, it's an entirely different skill set, and while some can master both, King is generally not one of them. There's a reason why the films taken from his works that are pretty well universally considered to be the best had no direct involvement from King. A few problems with King's writing is that he's usually forced to whittle down his extremely long stories into the space allowed, not to mention that King has a unique voice in the way he writes that works very well on the page, but doesn't always translate well to the screen. When you read Jack Torrance shouting for Danny to come out and take his medicine, it's frightening. When you see the guy from Wings shouting that line over and over, it gets silly. A screenwriter less close to the source material will be a bit better at getting rid of some of that.

Finally, not every screenplay King was involved in was entirely bad. The Stand was actually good in a lot of places. The problems with that one stemmed from other stuff. Pet Sematary suffered from bad leads, bad direction and horrible cinematography and visual effects. Silver Bullet was actually a lot of fun, even if it wasn't particularly scary, thanks mainly to limited visuals at the time.

What I'm saying is that King has some great stories that should be filmed, but the execution of it has been pretty bad in the past. There are several reasons; some of the stories adapted were among his lesser stories and weren't even scary on the page, let alone when we could actually see it acted out. Others just weren't given the care and consideration required to tell the stories right. A lot of that included problems with format; can someone tell me why the unholy fuck would It, the second-longest novel King ever wrote (if you don't count the complete version of The Stand, it's the absolute longest), get a mini-series that's only twelve minutes longer than the adaptation of The Langoliers, which in turn is based off a novella that's probably one quarter the length it It the novel? I mean, you could release the "mini-series" version of It to theaters and it would have seemed like a somewhat long movie.

A novel like It simply must be given a lengthy adaptation in order to fit in all the story and have it make sense. Right now, I understand that New Line Cinema has an It adaptation in the works, but the previous director (the brilliant Cary Fukunaga, who needs another shot at directing a King adaptation some day) walked because they insisted it be a single movie whereas he thought it should be two. My feeling is that it should be two at least and hopefully somebody at New Line wises up and remembers that they took a risk on The Lord of the Rings and it paid off big time. I sincerely hope Andre Muscietti, who was brought in to replace Fukunaga, insists on two films as well, and two films of pretty solid length (three hours each might be enough), for that matter, or this project is dead. Ideally, this project will head to cable television for a maxi-series of seven hours or even longer.

The Stand faired a bit better, actually allowed a whole six hours instead of just three, but an even bigger problem there than the running time is an issue that has also affected pretty much every other King adaptation ever brought to television: they all aired on broadcast network TV, or at the very least, cable channels that still are regulated by FCC broadcast standards. Why? (Don't answer that, I know rights get sold and re-sold, and that studios buy rights sometimes not knowing if they're going to turn something into a movie, mini-series, TV movie or whatever, or even what channel it will air on). 'Salem's Lot and Sometimes They Come Back aired on CBS. It, The Tommyknockers, The Stand, The Langoliers, The Shining and Desperation aired on ABC. Carrie aired on NBC. The second 'Salem's Lot aired on TNT. Bag of Bones aired on A&E.

Each project was doomed from the start; de-fanged by the simple act of airing on stations responsible for cranking out all-ages entertainment.

I think it can be stated as fact, not opinion, that any theatrical King adaptation must be rated R, and that he should never allow his works on TV unless it's going to HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax or a web-based network that will leave in the profanity, violence, skin, etc., that makes King's works what they are. You can't air It on the same network responsible for Full House and expect it to have any kind of real impact. Just think of the cringe on your face when you heard Eddie Kaspbrack say "This is battery acid, you slime!" Ugh.

Even King at the keyboard for The Stand's script couldn't keep it from horrible casting (Molly Ringwald, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Rick Aviles, et al, just weren't up to the task) and the simple fact that a movie about the end of days featuring some pretty dark characters on both the "good" side and "bad" really belongs on cable, not network. The Stand had some other problems; its version of the song "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man" (I have never been able to get past that title) is changed from a gritty blues number that hearkens back to rock's earliest days and inspires many of the characters to a generic radio-friendly 90's tune that's quickly forgettable (even the characters seem to forget how it goes). The visual effects are incredibly lame. And it tries to adapt the expanded version of the novel (again, the longest one King has ever written) into a six-hour miniseries that glosses over many of the characters and weakens their plots.

Harold Lauder in the book is a fat, pimply, brilliant kid who has spent his entire life being ignored or even disliked by many, despite what he has to offer, mainly because of his appearance and the fact that his interests aren't considered "manly" enough. After the girl he thought he was destined for ends up with someone else, he starts letting his bitterness take over, and this is spurred along by the seemingly demon-possessed Nadine, who plays up all his bitter feelings and causes him to ignore the fact that the community he's found himself in actually thinks very highly of him. The reader initially sees him as a sympathetic character and even as he gets darker you hope he'll realize his mistake and be redeemed.

In the movie, Harold is an entitled man-child who acts like a disagreeable asshole from his first appearance onward. You literally can't wait for him to die.

Simply put, while The Stand might have gotten six hours, it really needs about ten.

So here's a blog I'm creating in the interest of seeing King done right. I'm playing casting director for a series of films and TV series based on King's works. I'm mainly going to be suggesting cast members for each project, as well as whether or not I see it working as a theatrical film vs. a TV maxi-series (absolutely no two-night "mini-series" for this project, no sir) and how I would go about expanding or shrinking it to make it work. Sometimes I might even suggest a writer or director for it, but mostly I'll stick to casting because behind-camera talent is not an area that I have much knowledge of. I'll be doing this in chronological order based on when the story/book was initially published and/or written.

A few caveats:

1. It might take a while for some posts to come up. Sometimes I'll have to read the book again (or in several cases, for the first time; there's a lot of King I haven't read) in order to re-familiarize myself with it before I try to cast it.

2. I won't be casting the preteen characters. Why? Because children grow and age much faster than adults. If an actor can convincingly play Ben Meares at age 30, chances are good he'll still look the part at age 40. If I suggest a child actor for, say, Ben Hanscomb, and even two years go by, that child actor will already be too old. This might even mean I will have to come back and reconsider/recast some of the adult roles if, say, an actor dies, or retires, or has aged poorly and no longer fits that role, or something along those lines.

3. I am limiting this blog only to projects that have either not been done yet, or perhaps could benefit from another adaptation. The Shining was a good movie, but it wasn't Stephen King's The Shining. It was Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. But then, King's mini-series version was just too long and too boring, and suffered from horrendous visuals and a poor performance from the child actor playing Danny. Not to mention that The Shining really has greater impact as a film. So I'll be doing The Shining when I get there. I'd like to have a film that combines the best of both worlds; faithfulness and actual quality. However, when King has been done before and done very well, I will not attempt a re-casting in that regard. I doubt we'll ever top The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, The Green Mile, The Mist, The Dead Zone, Silver Bullet, Dolores Claiborne, Misery, Cujo, Christine or Apt Pupil, and the two cinematic versions of Carrie, while both have their weaknesses, also sort of compliment each other pretty well, and unlike The Shining I sincerely doubt a fourth adaptation (counting the abysmal TV movie) would be necessary or beneficial. Finally, I will be skipping stories and novels that I don't think lend themselves well to adaptation. I can't see a film based off Here There Be Tygers, for example

4. For the most part, if I know there's a project already going forward at some studio, I'm probably not going to bother casting it. For example there's plans to turn the Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch) into a weekly TV series, as well as an already-wrapped film version of Cell. For projects I know are definitely going forward, I'm going to leave off for now. Yes, it's possible the Bill Hodges series won't pan out, but it's pretty far down my list anyway. Some projects apparently have been announced, but nothing aside from hiring writers and directors, and in some cases, not even that, has actually happened, meaning those projects might be "put on hold indefinitely" at any moment. These include remakes of It and The Stand as well as plans to finally get The Dark Tower off the ground. I'm going to cast these, both because I'm far from certain these new versions will actually go forward and because I hope against hope that my choices might be taken seriously (assuming, of course, I get to those before casting actually happens on these projects) by the producers working on them.

5. I'm doing this as a shared universe, similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This means if I cast Edward Norton in one role, he's off the table for any other roles, not to mention that if an actor plays a character in one film/tv series, he'll play him the next time that character shows up and so on. I'd love to see this sort of thing actually happen some day, but it's unlikely. However, this is my fantasy casting, and I can do it how I want, right? Besides, this way we avoid having two movies released the same year featuring the same character (Castle Rock Sheriff Alan Pangborn) played by two different actors (as he was in the film versions of The Dark Half and Needful Things).

So, stay tuned for my first casting post: Strawberry Spring!