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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Deal With It

I didn't think at first that I'd be doing a post on the not-even-twenty-page short story Popsy, a corker of a tale that was collected in Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

But then I read it.

There is a movie here, but probably not the same kind of movie as the short story. The story itself is over and done with pretty quick and if you already know who and what Popsy is, which you will if you keep reading (oh yeah, spoilers), you can kinda see the ending coming.

The movie I see out of this one isn't called Popsy because it's not about Popsy. It's about a man who wants to think of himself as good but finds himself doing something horrible when he finds himself in dire straits.

What I liked about this short tale is how the entire thing takes place from the point of view of Briggs Sheridan, who seems to at one point have been an average joe whose one big problem is that he can't stay away from a good card game, whereupon he almost always ends up losing his shirt. And his pants. And his job. And his house.

He's a shitty gambler, in other words.

When he finds himself in unimaginable debt to a gangster, he pleads for a chance to make good. The gangster then puts him in touch with a man named Mr. Wizard, who might have some work for him. That work?

Human goddam trafficking.

Now, there's just about not a lower profession to be in, but Sheridan now finds himself in a position where, in order to survive with all arms and legs intact, he makes his living abducting children. And the worst part is, he gets good at it. Gets to a point where it's practically second nature to him. And all the while keeps trying to convince himself that he's not a bad guy.

This is the story I think the movie should focus on. It's a horrible story about a horrible guy who knows he's doing horrible things but figures it still makes him something less than horrible. I'd like to see a movie that tells us where Sheridan started. Maybe start it with him inheriting his mother's home, and planning to move into it with his longtime girlfriend, who he hopes to propose to. She agrees, but only if he promises to stay out of gambling dens, and he makes that promise. Then he breaks it.

We see him struggling to keep everything together as more money goes down the tubes and eventually his secret is uncovered. His girlfriend tries to get him into counseling, but by then he's already lost his job and incurred his crazy huge debt. Knowing he's about to lose his house and his girl, he agrees to work with Mr. Wizard. Before he can pay off his mortgage, he does lose his home, and things are looking grim for his relationship. Finally, he discovers what he's been doing to make money, and that's the last straw.

But he knows she will go to the police, so he ends up having to kill her, but what's murder to someone already delivering children to a horrible fate?

And then, maybe 45 minutes in, comes the main plot of the story. Sheridan sees a kid at the mall, obviously lost, who can't find his Popsy. There's something off about this kid, Sheridan can't quite put his finger on it, but it doesn't matter. He takes the kid anyway, but is warned that Popsy will find him and he'll be sorry. And now, the spoiler. Popsy, and his grandson, are both vampires, you see.

Now, of course, we'll have to drop some pretty big hints early on that Popsy and his breed actually exist, and I'm not sure what the best way is to go about that. Maybe have a subplot where the criminal scum of the city are suddenly worried about a stalker that makes them disappear. Have this told to us in background events; a news report, someone in Sheridan's profession telling him to watch his back, etc.

Another thing I like about this is that Popsy and his grandson are not shown as evil. If anything, they're absolutely justified in all they do. I especially like how the reason they're at the mall together is the kid wants some Ninja Turtle figures. I just...I don't even know how to say this. That line almost made me tear up a little. It's got to be kept in!

Back to the business of creating and marketing; I didn't want to call this movie "Popsy" because the way I want to do it, we'll be spending most of the movie wondering why it's called that. I chose the title Deal With It because it's mostly about a man who can't stay away from cards (deal, get it?) and who continually has to accept a new layer of horrible (losing his job, his house, his girl, being threatened with broken arms and legs, doing something about as morally reprehensible as it's possible to do) and with each new problem, he just keeps telling himself to "deal with it". I figure that can even be his final words, when he realizes what's happening to him.

On to casting!

Sheridan is described as a "big" man, but really, it's a nondescript role. I picked a large actor for it, who can absolutely do the whole underdog-down-on-his-luck part, as well as make us kinda, sorta, almost understand why he starts doing what he does. Sheridan will be played by Vince Vaughn.

His girlfriend will be played by an actress who seems to excel at playing white trash: Robyn Lively.

Mr. Reggie, the gangster, will be played by that character actor of character actors: Peter Gerety.

Mr. Wizard, described as a "greasy Turk" in the book, will be more of an aged Baltic in this one. The accent is really the important part. I pictured Rade Sherbegia.

Now, Popsy himself is barely described in the book, but you get the feeling he's supposed to look a lot like our classic image of Dracula. I pictured him a bit less stereotypical, more like a pale, frightening man with piercing eyes. Danish actor Ingvar Sigurdssen is our Popsy.

I'm not casting the child, who is never named, due to the rules of this blog.

Not much to update on the reading front. I'm nearly finished Misery and after that is a short story called The Doctor's Case which I REALLY want to do an adaptation for. We'll see if there's one to be made. After that, it's The Tommyknockers, one of King's longer novels and also one of those his readers didn't care for. I tried to read it years ago, got about 50 pages in and quit. We'll see what I think this time.


  1. Seems like a pretty good angle to approach this material from, and the cast seems sound all the way around.

    I'm surprised a movie has never been made from this. Seems like a natural!

    1. There have been shorts made, probably Dollar Babies or the equivalent. The reason there's never been a big budget one is that people think of this as a vampire story primarily, and they would make it as a horror movie about vampires. That makes for a pretty short film.

  2. I left a comment here a few days ago, and for some reason, it didn't go through. Easy yes to Rade Serbedzija as Mr. Wizard, but that may be that he already played a human trafficker in Taken 2. Vince Vaughn can do lowlife, but I almost wonder if he'd want to go so far down that road. Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't think of many movies or TV shows that take the already horrifying subject of human trafficking and then bring in children. I wonder if Hollywood would ever make this into a feature-length movie without softening it. This might be a good one for the revival of Amazing Stories, which I recently found out is coming back. I'm not sure whether that title means anything to you, but as a very young kid, that was some must-see TV for my family.

    1. I did not see this until just now. Sorry for not replying. I haven't seen the Taken movies (I know, I know, I'm getting around to them) so I didn't know that about Serbedzija.

      I think any movie made about this would be a hard R, but with You Were Never Really Here coming out this year, I don't think they'll necessarily shy away from the subject.