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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Well, I broke down and did it. I'm casting a movie version of King's short story, Jerusalem's Lot, which is both a pseudo-prequel to the much more well-known (and already cast by me) novel, 'Salem's Lot, but also an ode to HP Lovecraft (one of several). It was its Lovecraftian nature that made me want to see it filmed.

Right away I'll mention that I think this would be a great project for Guillermo del Toro, who has wanted to film Lovecraft's In the Mountains of Madness for years. Here, he'll get a chance to combine his love of Lovecraft with the more claustrophobic atmosphere of Crimson Peak.

Jerusalem's Lot is set in the 19th century, at a massive mansion called Chapelwaite that sits above a town called Preacher's Corners. It is an epistolary tale collected of letters written mostly by our protagonist, Charles Boone, as he moves into the house and realizes it has a dark history and that the locals fear it. He also does some digging and realizes that his grand-uncle went insane and joined a cult in the nearby town of Jerusalem's Lot, which at present is entirely abandoned.

Boone and his manservant, Calvin McCann, do some investigating and...well, for the sake of avoiding spoilers I'll stop there. Things don't end well, naturally, and if you know at all what the term "Lovecraftian" means, you already have an idea of what sort of things happen.

I decided right away that a film version cannot be called "Jerusalem's Lot" because it's confusing to the non-reading film-goer. They'd either think it's the same movie, or think it's a sequel. It is, in fact, almost entirely unrelated, with the exception of being set more or less in the same area in Maine. But what to call it? Preacher's Corners, the name of the town most of the action is set in? I didn't like that idea. I decided the best bet was to call it Chapelwaite and market it as a highbrow, thinking man's horror film.

Casting it will be simple; the cast is relatively small. I figured del Toro's latest leading-man-du-jour, Charlie Hunnam, would work quite well as our protagnist, Charles Boone. Yes, in the novel, Boone suggests that he won't see forty again, but this isn't really a central factor to his character, plus, he's unmarried and at the time, a man over forty and still a bachelor would cause quite a few raised eyebrows in his community. It's possible that Boone actually is a closeted gay man, and in fact his closeness with the also unmarried Calvin might carry some connotations that King does not elaborate on because Charles would never include such things in his letters to friends. I'm not going to delve too deeply there, but ultimately I see nothing wrong with a man in his late 30's playing Charles Boone, especially considering he'll likely be much older by the time anyone decides this needs filming.
A large part of the story is told in flashback, with Charles discovering, and transcribing, his grandfather Robert's journal. If this movie is to be told properly, it will cover two time periods; the period when his grandfather was young, and the present period where he and Calvin gradually uncover the horrors that wait for them.

Robert Boone and his brother Philip are residents of Chapelwaite and Robert begins to realize that his brother is falling under the sway of a local cult leader who more or less owns the town of Jerusalem's Lot, and might in fact, be their relative. James Boon (no "e"), brought to mind a Victorian Fred Phelps, his cult (and town), made up almost entirely of his own offspring, much of whom are inbred and nightmarish in appearance. Robert is disgusted by this but Philip is enthralled, and starts seeking a book called De Vermis Mysteriis and if you know your Cthulhu Mythos, you'll know that this was a book originally invented by author Robert Bloch for his short story The Shambler from the Stars, but incorporated into the Mythos by Lovecraft himself, first in The Haunter in the Dark. So you know the book ain't good.

I thought Michael Stuhlbarg would make a good Robert and James Frain, he of the freaking crazy eyes, would make a good Philip.
Michael Stuhlbarg

James Frain
The elderly Mrs. Cloris, who cleans for the Boones, relates quite a bit to young Charles, as she was alive while most of this was happening. I kept picturing Judi Dench, and really, why not? Judi Dench it is.
The last of the major roles is Calvin himself. He's not really described in the book, as everyone Charles is writing to knows him already. Some parts make me think he's older, others make him seem the same age. I went with a man in his fifties, an underrated actor named David Costabile, primarily because he's really good at playing Victorian Americans and looks like a manservant.
Finally, for the ancient James Boon, I thought it would be fun to have a cameo by one of the oldest actors still alive, Norman Lloyd, who is 101 as of this writing and still acting. Dear god! He can film this role in an hour or so, sitting the entire time, so I don't see an issue here. Of course, if he dies while this blog is ongoing I'll have to come back and change this up.
So that's Stephen King's Chapelwaite, based on the short story Jerusalem's Lot. I'll be back in a little while with another write-up on stories I'm skipping, and, eventually, with my casting for The Stand. As King readers know, The Stand is his longest novel ever, and I'm barely three hundred pages in. I'm loving it, and reading is going as fast as I can make it happen while still absorbing all the details, but it will be a while before I can really post about it.

So I bid a fond "see ya later" to my readers, and promise more posts are coming.


  1. Stuhlbarg and Frain! Damn right!

    I'd not read "At the Mountains of Madness" at the time the Guillermo Del Toro adaptation fell apart. I have read it since, and I have to say, I'm kind of glad he didn't end up making it. Something about his style just doesn't seem compatible with the story to me.

    I guess I could get down with him doing this King story, though. Good idea on the title change.

  2. I was thinking of him more in line with Crimson Peak. I haven't seen that yet, but the story reminded me of trailers for that movie. I think Del Toro would not at all be out of his depth with this one.

    I'm glad to see you agree on changing the title. I was a little iffy on even doing a casting for this one, based mainly on the title. Eventually I decided that if Trucks can become Maximum Overdrive and The Body can become Stand By Me (among others), there's no reason Jerusalem's Lot can't become Chapelwaite.

  3. Ditto on the title change. Doubly so because Chapelwaite is a formidable title. It has the sound of a haunted manor. Even for myself, there was some confusion with 'Salem's Lot, since I read Night Shift first, although I'd say some confusion may be inevitable. As popular as it is, 'Salem's Lot isn't nearly as iconic as The Shining or Misery, and for a long time, knowing that King was almost exclusively New England, I assumed it was about the Salem witch trials. Oops.

    David Costabile will always be Gale Boetticher to me. He DOES look like a manservant, though.

    1. Costabile is a chameleonic actor who I've seen in many things. He was in Lincoln and Ripper Street playing characters pretty far removed from Gale. He was also in The Wire, since I know you've seen that. Did you spot him? He was one of the bosses on the newspaper staff in the last season.

      I like what you said about the name change; yes, Chapelwaite is a pretty formidable name. Honestly, I'd probably be more drawn to it as a film-goer than Jerusalem's Lot.

    2. Oh, he's a great actor, and 99 percent of the audience wouldn't think anything of it, other than "that guy looks familiar". And yes, I've seen him on The Wire, but I watched that before Breaking Bad, or at least before Gale came on. He was just really memorable. I think the David Bowie video sealed it. Gale was such a dork.