Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Needful Things (1993, Fraser C. Heston)


Perhaps if I had read the book I wouldn’t like the 1993 adaption of Needful Things so much. Maybe I still would, I donno I’ll find out later. The premise is fairly basic yet Stephen King adds his usual touches: ancient evil that appears nice or not so obvious at first, a pure hero and others who assist them, and a New England small town setting. Usually as in the case of Needful Things that town harbors secrets, and in this case they come to life and threaten to bring ruin upon everyone in Castle Rock, Maine.

It’s usually Maine, yet King does live there. In this small town setting a man named Leland (Max von Sydow) drives in, sets up shop and drives the locals insane. Look we all know who he really is, yet the movie spends it’s entire run time playing around with the truth. Which is oddly fun and works despite some goofy melodrama and lesser direction than the material required. In fact this should have been a mini-series, really, although this film does have a pretty awesome cast.

That grin is shaper than the knife he’s holding

Ed Harris and Bonnie Bedelia are the two people who resist Leland the most, although Bedelia’s nice dinner owner falls prey in the end to Leland like most of the rest of the town. Famous character actors Amanda Plummer and J. T. Walsh round out the rest of the cast, plus Ray McKinnon. Walsh in a way manages to steal the movie out from under von Sydow, which is no easy feat.

Some of the one liners made me laugh, and Leland and Walsh’s Keaton have a scene together that is very darkly funny in so many ways. I wouldn’t mind if this one got a modern update, yet for now I rather enjoyed this adaptation and I shall note that the title inspired Stranger Things. Plus that hilarious Rick and Morty episode. I will get to the book eventually, also.

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