Monday, October 19, 2015
I Am the Doorway
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?
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!