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.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Horns (2013, Alexandre Aja)


Imagine you are given the power to know what people are thinking. Sounds great, right? Well there is a catch: you have a pair of horns sticking out of your head, and the Devil has given you power to find out the truth. Someone killed your beloved and this is the only way to figure out the truth and clear your name. This is the basis for Horns, a dark horror comedy from the man who gave us The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha remakes.

Daniel Radcliffe turns in an unexpected and powerful performance as Ig, a man accused of murdering his beloved. The film actually works better as a dark comedy than a horror film, yet it abandons most of the comedic elements midway through. Which is too bad, although the rest of the movie still works. I did like how Ig goes from being innocent to being consumed by revenge, as too many movies skip that aspect.

Overall though I feel a tad unsatisfied. I do want to read the book this film is based off of, and I hope that Radcliffe does more horror movies in the future. He seems to be quite good at starring in them, and I’m glad that he escaped the shadow of the Harry Potter films. Also Juno Temple as Merrin, the dead girlfriend, is lovely beyond belief-no wonder Ig fell in love with her. Aja, the film’s director appears to specialize in gory horror films with a aim towards a 70s style. I like his work so far although I haven’t seen his remake of Wes Craven’s 70s cult classic.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: IT (1990, Tommy Lee Wallace)


All too many Stephen King adoptions don’t work out. Yet still there are ones that manage to at least properly tackle his material, IT being one of those adaptations that works rather well. Such a novel is immense and rather hard to tackle, especially considering the novel’s use of flashbacks, many which intercede with the present setting of the novel in the 1980s. And just like the novel the 1950s flashbacks work the best.

Oh and Tim Curry is wonderfully creepy as Pennywise, the villain of the piece. He has hilarious one liners and manages to even terrify in some parts. Particularly when poor grownup Bill recalls what happened to his brother Georgie. So much teeth…how they bite. Some of the adult versions of the young cast don’t quite fit with the novel’s descriptions of them, however. Especially John Ritter and Richard  Thomas, although both give quality performances. Also while I like Harry Anderson as Ritchie it oddly feels a bit too obvious of a casting pick. That said the rest of the cast is spot on, particularly with all of the young kids (Seth Green and Emily Perkins being notable standouts); also Annette O’ Toole is perfect as Beverly and Tim Reid is a great Mike.

Also they get Eddie right despite changing a few details. The second half isn’t as strong as the first, mostly since the kid actors play their parts with the utmost sincerity. Still I also enjoy the second half and naturally due to budget and length issues certain other aspects of the novel had to be cut. I wonder how the planned new version will work out, and I am hoping that it’s an improvement. Still I rather like and enjoy this slice of 1990s TV miniseries, a reminder of the days when such programs existed.

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