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 2018 Presents: The Gate (1987, Tibor Takács)


To kids in the 1980s, The Gate must have been pure nightmare fuel. Especially the scene where young Glen (Stephen Dorff, in his first role) goes to hug his parents, only to watch them melt away before his very eyes. It is moments such as that which make The Gate so fun to view, even if it is an outlandish and cheesy 1980s film. The plot is really simple: two kids open the portal to hell in their backyard. Freaky looking stop-motion animation creatures show up, leading to events that rapidly spiral out of control. The Gate is the weekend from hell that is often a staple of horror movies. Literally, in this case.

Christa Denton is great as Al, Glen’s sister, and Louis Tripp plays Glen’s weird friend, Terry. Even though I was never scared at all I rather liked and enjoyed The Gate. I also couldn’t help but notice that some aspects reminded me of Stranger Things, and I am sure the show counts The Gate as one of its many influences. Not bad for a Canadian-America horror movie I finally got to view thanks to the magic of streaming.

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