Tag Archives: stephen king

Favorite Film Friday: Stand by Me

By: Isaac Mathewson
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell
Rob Reiner, the man behind mainstream classics such as This is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally, and A Few Good Men, is one of the most fascinating directors in Hollywood today. Many of his movies have balanced comedy and drama to tell a sometimes funny, other times sad story. One of the movies to achieve this best was a coming-of-age film based off of Stephen King’s novella The Body.
Stand by Me tells the story of four twelve/thirteen year old boys; quiet Gordie Lachance(Wheaton), tough kid Chris Chambers(Phoenix), anger prone Teddy Duchamp(Feldman), and funnyman Vern Tessio(O’Connell), who one late summer’s day in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Oregon, decide to go find the body of the missing boy Ray Brower, after Vern overhears his brother Billy, talking about it. Along the way, they dodge trains, swim in a leech infested pond, and stand up to knife –wielding bullies, led by Ace Merrill, played by Kiefer Sutherland. All the while, they debate how they are going to escape their boring lives and what the future holds in store for them.
Contrary to the title of the book, the whole film is an adventure film, but it is also a character study. It shows the boys who they are and where they came from, through the eyes of the Gordie as an adult, played by Richard Dreyfuss. Gordie is shy and sensitive but at the same time he is very intelligent and is a talented writer. Chris is very mature for his age, but comes from a bad family and that gives others the idea that he turned out bad also. Teddy has been abused by his father, but he still idolizes him and gets angry if someone insults him, such as the scene in the junkyard. Vern is a funny kid, but he is also cowardly, but at the same time he braves danger even when things seem grim. Some of these traits were from people Stephen King knew as a child.
The film is gorgeous to look at. It has beautiful cinematography, showing us the Oregon countryside, and capturing the mood for the film. It also has a good soundtrack composed of classic songs from the 1950’s.
What makes the film stand out, however, are the performances. All of the actors are very real and show great wisdom and talent beyond their years, partially because their teacher was Rob Reiner himself, who is an accomplished actor.
The best of the four, and the most tragic, is River Phoenix. He showed great depth and emotion in his performance and he seemed the most believable out of the four. The famous scene when he tells Gordie around the campfire about how he stole milk money is incredibly powerful and he often seems like a father figure to the others over the course of the film. This film made him a star and the end unintentionally foreshadows his ultimate fate.
Although it is a film with kids, this is not intended for younger viewers. It is rated R for language and thematic elements. However, people who are at least in junior high can take it, and the movie is appropriate besides that. Even so, this film is incredibly powerful and many, including myself, consider it to be one of the greatest coming-of-age films of all time. I have seen it many times, and I hope to see it many times more.          

‘Carrie’ proves to be a decent remake

By: Isaac Mathewson
While Stephen King has never been my favorite author of all time, I think “Carrie” is one of his best stories. There have been two film adaptations of it including the 1976 version by Brian De Palma which is considered a horror classic as well as the underrated 2002 TV movie. Now there is a third adaptation which is in many ways better than the others.
Many are familiar with the story, but for those who aren’t, I’ll fill you in. “Carrie” tells the story of a high school girl named Carrie White, played in this version by Chloe Moretz, who is harassed by her over religious mother, played by Julianne Moore, as well as her classmates. After having her first period in front of her classmates, one of the girls who took part in her harassment, Sue Snell, played by Gabrielle Wilde, feels guilty about having hurt her and decides to ask her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, played by Ansel Elgort, to invite her to prom. However, the fellow classmate, the sassy Chris Hargenson, played by Portia Doubleday, wants revenge on Carrie for making her miss prom, and her actions ultimately result in a night of fire, destruction, and sheer terror.
The film was directed by Kimberly Price who directed “Boys Don’t Cry” and her film is mostly faithful to the book. Everything is in there and many scenes and lines of dialogue are reminiscent of the De Palma version. With that said there are many points that this version did better than the De Palma version. There were points that the De Palma version left out and are explained better in this version such as Carrie discovering that she is not the only one with this power, and her reasons for wanting to wreak havoc on the prom in the first place. There is also a modern twist to the story as it takes place in the present day, and there is a subplot in which Chris films Carrie’s period on her smartphone, and puts it on YouTube.  
Perhaps the best quality about this film is the casting. Everyone looks and sounds his or her part. Moore is, in my opinion, a better mother than Piper Laurie from the De Palma version, as she is a lot less over-the-top and in many respects, this makes her more terrifying. The bullies are more believable in this version than they were in the De Palma version and the main teacher Miss Desjardin, played by Judy Greer, is also. However, the biggest deciding point is the main character herself. Moretz is a lot younger than her predecessors Sissy Spacek and Angela Bettis, and in many ways this makes her more realistic. However, I still believe Spacek was better as she was more sympathetic and in my opinion is a better actress, but Moretz is still very good.
While there are certain aspects that make this film better than the original classic, there are some aspects that this film used that were not as good. As I said before, many lines are recycled from the original and while it is nostalgic, many are outdated. Also, I think that the original is scarier and more memorable, and for the most part is acted better and is better written. These problems are not huge though, and they do not ruin this film.
While not entirely new, this version is still very well done and is enjoyable for horror fans or fans of the original classic. It is a story of revenge, horror, but above all, it is a coming-of-age story that shows the hardships of growing up as well as the corruption of youth, much like “Spring Breakers.” While it is not as good as the original, it is still worth seeing this Halloween season.
Motion Picture Rating: R
For language, violence, and disturbing images
My rating: A-

Columnist weighs in on best and worst horror movies

By Christian  DiMartino

Halloween is just around the corner, and some celebrate it by simply choosing a good scary movie and watching it with the lights off. But what is there to watch? To get in the spirit of things, here are the five scary movies to watch this season, and the five to ignore at all costs.

The Best
5. The Shining (1980): What do you get when you put a great director in the reigns of a Stephen King adaptation? You get The Shining, Stanley Kuberick’s take on Stephen King’s dark and disturbing tale of madness. There is a lot to say about it, most notable of all is the terrific performance by Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence. Nicholson has a gift for playing crazy people, and if it wasn’t for the fact that he immerses himself the role of Jack, then this movie might not have been the classic it is today.
4. The Omen (1976): Here’s what you need to know: the Thorn family (Gregory Peck and Lee Remick) adopt a child named Damian, only to realize five years later that Damian is the son Satan. That’s something about The Omen that is fascinating. Making the child the villain is one of the most horrifying things about the movie. The Omen is a frightening movie because it is so grounded in reality. This is one of those overlooked scary movies, and it should be seen to complete the Halloween season.
3. Sleepy Hollow (1999): Visionary director Tim Burton’s take on the classic tale by Washington Irving is bloody, dark, and over-the-top. But is every second of it great? Yes. Easily one of Burton’s best movies, no movie gets me in the Halloween spirit more than this one. Johnny Depp gives his all as Icabod Crane, the film’s hero. Even if the thought of the Headless Horseman being able to see is tough to grasp, it’s irresistible. The movie promises that heads will roll. They do, and I am in love with it.
2. Jaws (1975): That tune is burned in the mind. That tune that pops up anytime you enter the water, or see a gray fin from the distance. Buh-dum… buh-dum… the rest goes without saying. Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg’s first smash hit may have aged a little, but even with repeated viewings, it still has not lost its surprise. The movie works well as both a horror and a summer blockbuster, but definitely more on the horror side. The key to the movie is the way that the movie is shot, the way that almost every scene with the shark is from the shark’s point of view. Though at some points cheesy, it admittedly gave us all the chills at one point or another.
1. The Exorcist (1973): Nowadays, some criticize William Freidkin’s The Exorcist because its scares seem a little dated. Give the film a break, it is almost forty years old. What was scary then is still scary now. The last time I watched it alone, I turned the lights off, and within five minutes I had to turn them on again. Just the introduction creeped me out. Linda Blair’s Oscar-nominated performance as young Regan is one that will definitely invade your dreams, and not in a Freddy Kruger way either. Sure The Exorcist is a bit dated, but it’s one of the few horror movies to win Oscars, and you can’t argue with that. Bottom line: this movie is the definition of horror.

The Worst
The below movies should never be watched seriously. They might be good for a few laugh, but if you’re looking to get in the spirit, these movies are not it.
5. Pet Sematary: Sometimes a great Stephen King adaptation will come along, such as The Shawshank Redemption or The Shining. For every great adaption, there is always a dud. Pet Sematary is one of those duds. The book was fantastic, but the movie is just wrong. Why? Well, the actors are very annoying. The movie is more bloody than the book, but that doesn’t bother me, until downright corny. Just skip it.
4. The Happening: The Happening is a horror movie that focuses on this couple (Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel) as they travel around America fighting to stay alive. What are they fighting? Wind. That’s right. They are running from wind. The wind carries a toxin that causes people to commit suicide. I was actually looking forward to this one when it came out, but once again, M. Night Shyamalan disappoints. There is no twist, it is basically what I told you. It is a shame that the two lead actors involved had to stoop to such a level, because they have too much talent for this.
3. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) : When Halloween III: Season of the Witch comes to mind, there is only one word I think of: awful. If you notice, Halloween and Halloween II contain a creepy masked guy named Michael Myers who goes around killing babysitters. Myers shows up in the other entries in the series, but is no where in sight in the third one. The burning question is… why is it called Halloween III? This is easily the most pointless horror movie in recent memory. The plot, which involves a mask company that’s trying to kill kids… with masks, is ludicrous. The actors are bland, and every single on of its 98 minutes are painful.
2. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959): Ed Wood’s terribly beloved 1959 film contains aliens (who, might I mention, look like humans and speak English. Also, their race seems to only contain three individauls), vampires, zombies, and zombie vampires. Working with a $16,000 budget, the only signs of terror involved are inconveniently slow walking zombie vampires  and an alien space ship that is basically a paper plate with two Styrofoam bowls glued to the top and bottom, covered in tin foil, and dangling from a string. The legendary Bela Lugosi (made famous as Dracula) shows up, but as it turns out, he died during filming, so Ed Wood took clips from another Lugosi movie, and threw that in there. Why have him show up at all?
1. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) : The sixth sequel in the Nightmare on Elm Street series is pure torture. Freddy Kruger (Robert England) is meant to scare us, but he keeps making these wisecracks that deprive him of all surprises.  There is no way that a screenwriter could have sat down in an office, drafting this, and thought, “Wow, this is actually good.” The original film was good, but the rest pretty much crashed. This one is stupid, lazy, and eye-burning. Yes, eye-burning. Its title is a lie also, because three more movies were made after this one. Please, put the nail in the coffin and give it a rest.
Those are the my picks. As you may read, not even Freddy Kruger can escape my wrath. Michael Myers might have gotten my wrath… had he showed up for Halloween III. Please, enjoy the treats that I’ve offered. Happy Halloween!