Friday, January 03, 2014

Night Shift, by Stephen King

(hb; 1976, 1977, 1978: horror story anthology.  Introduction by John D. MacDonald)

Overall review:

Excellent anthology, all of the stories - many of them admirably varied in their sense of horrors - have something to recommend them.  This is one of my all-time favorite story anthologies.

Standout stories:

1.)   "Jerusalem's Lot":  An evil, haunted town repeatedly draws members of a cursed family into its Lovecraftian clutches over centuries.  This is a loosely linked prequel to a later story in this anthology ("One for the Road") and the novel 'Salem's Lot.

2.)   "Graveyard Shift": A Fourth of July cleaning shift at a mill goes horrifically wrong when the workers discover secret passages beneath its sub-basement.

The resulting film was released stateside on October 26, 1990.  David Andrews played John Hall.  Kelly Wolf played Jane Wisconsky.  Stephen Macht played Warwick.  Andrew Divoff played Danson.  Brad Dourif played Tucker Cleveland (aka "The Exterminator").  Victor Polizos played Brogan.  Robert Alan Beuth played Ippleston. 

Ralph S. Singleton directed the film, from a screenplay by John Esposito.

3.)   "I Am the Doorway":  An astronaut's return to Earth is troubled by forces and visions alien to his nature - elements and visions which may change those around him, as well.

4.)   "The Mangler":  A demon-possessed industrial laundry machine - a speed ironer - turns murderous.

With a  lesser writer, this would be a dumb story.  With King, who ties it into timeless penned notions, it is a fun, spooky, perhaps even milestone update of an old idea.  This is one of the best stories in this collection.

The resulting film was released stateside on March 3, 1995.  Robert Englund played William 'Bill' Gartley.  Ted Levine played Officer John Hunton.  Daniel Matmor played Mark Jackson.  Vera Blacker played Mrs. Adelle Frawley.  Danny Keogh played Herb Diment.  Ted Le Plat played Doctor Ramos.  Todd Jensen played Roger Martin. 

Tobe Hooper directed the film, from Stephen David Brooks (billed as Stephen Brooks) and Harry Alan Towers's (billed as Peter Welbeck) screenplay.

Two loosely linked - if linked at all - film sequels followed: The Mangler 2 (starring Lance Henriksen, a direct-to-video flick, released on February 26, 2002) and The Mangler Reborn (another direct-to-video flick, released on November 29, 2005).

5.)  "The Boogeyman":  A man, whose family has been slaughtered, visits a psychiatrist.  Effective twist to this one.

This story has been, or is scheduled to be, filmed as a short several times.

6.)  "Battleground":  A hitman fights for his life against a bizarre array of enemies.  Excellent, worthy of a Twilight Zone episode.

This story became the basis for the debut episode of a television series, Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King.  It aired stateside on June 12, 2006 on the TNT network.  Brian Henson directed the episode, from a teleplay by Richard Christian Matheson.

William Hurt played Jason Renshaw.  Bruce Spence played Hans Morris.  Mia Sara played "Beautiful Passenger". 

7.)   "Trucks":  Another 'murderous machine'-themed tale, this time set as a pluralistic affair, with automobiles and other electronics involved.  Fun, B-movie-esque work.

The resulting film, titled Maximum Overdrive and directed by Stephen King, was released stateside on July 25, 1986.  Emilio Estevez played Bill Robinson.  Laura Harrington played Brett.  Pat Hingle played Bubba Hendershot.  Yeardley Smith played Connie.  John Short played Curtis.  Frankie Faison played Handy.  Christopher Murney played Camp Loman.

8.)   "Sometimes They Come Back":  A high school teacher confronts the strangely youthful bullies who murdered his brother years before.  Unsettling, effective story.

The resulting television film aired stateside on May 7, 1991.  Tim Matheson played Jim Norman.  Brooke Adams (who also co-starred in the King-based 1983 film The Dead Zone) played Sally Norman.  Robert Rusler played Richard Lawson.  Robert Hy Gorman played Scott Norman.  William Sanderson played "Carl Mueller (age 44)".  Nicholas Sadler played Vinnie Vincent.  T. Max Graham played Chief Pappas.

The telefilm was followed by two direct-to-video, loosely linked sequels: Sometimes They Come Back. . . Again (released September 3, 1996, starring Michael Gross, Alexis Arquette and Hilary Swank) and Sometimes They Come Back. . . for More (released on September 7, 1999, starring Clayton Rohner and Chase Masterson).

9.)   "Strawberry Spring":  A string of murders haunts a collegiate-later-family man.  Especially well-written.

10.)   "The Ledge": Twilight Zone-esque fusion of noir and natural horror.  Excellent.

This story was incorporated into the threefold-tale film Cat's Eye, which was released stateside on April 12, 1985.  Lewis Teague (who also helmed the King-based 1983 film Cujo) directed, from a screenplay from Stephen King.  Drew Barrymore (who co-starred in the King-based 1984 film Firestarter) played Amanda (a.k.a. "Our Girl"), one of the characters that links the stories.

Kenneth McMillan played Cressner.  Robert Hays played Johnny Norris. 

11.)   "Quitters, Inc.":  A man, trying to quit smoking, is compelled to do so in startling ways.  Distinctive, clever.

This story was also incorporated into the threefold-tale film Cat's Eye, which was released stateside on April 12, 1985.

James Woods played Dick Morrison.  Alan King played Dr. Vinny Donatti.

12.)   "Children of the Corn": Excellent, creepy tale about an argumentative husband and wife who, traveling through Nebraska, get trapped in a strangely empty town. 

A film short, Disciples of the Crow, was made in 1983.  It was based on this story.

The first resulting full-length film was released stateside on March 9, 1984.  Linda Hamilton played Vicky.  Peter Horton played Burt.  John Franklin played Isaac.  Courtney Gains played Malachai.  Julie Maddalena played Rachel.  Robby Kiger played Job.  Anne Marie McEvoy, billed as Annemarie McEvoy, played Sarah.

Fritz Kiersch directed the film, from a script by George Goldsmith.

Seven loosely linked sequels (many, if not all of them, direct-to-video works) and one remake followed. 

Sequels: Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (released stateside on January 29, 1993); Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (released stateside on September 12, 1995, featuring Johnny Legend as a "Derelict Man"); Children of the Corn: The Gathering (released stateside on October 8, 1996, co-starring Naomi Watts and Karen Black); Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (released stateside on June 21, 1998, co-starring Alexis Arquette - seen earlier in the King-based 1996 flick Sometimes They Come Back. . . Again - and Fred WilliamsonDavid Carradine and  Eva Mendes also co-starred, as well as Kane Hodder - who has played Jason in several of the Friday the 13th sequels. 

The fifth sequel, Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return, was released on October 19, 1999, co-starring Nancy Allen - who appeared in the King-based 1976 film Carrie - and  Stacy Keach.  John Franklin, who made his screen debut as Isaac in the original Children, played Isaac in - and co-scripted - this sequel as well.

Children of the Corn: Revelation, the sixth sequel, was released stateside on October 9, 2001.  It co-starred Claudette Mink, Michael Ironside and Kyle Cassie (who also made in an appearance in a television episode of Stephen King's Dead Zone).

A television remake of the original Children aired on stateside television on September 26, 2009.  It was directed and co-scripted by Donald P. Borchers; author Stephen King was his co-screenwriter.  David Anders played Burton Stanton.  Kandyse McClure played Vicky Stanton.  Daniel Newman played Malachai.  Preston Bailey played Isaac. 

The seventh sequel, Children of the Corn: Genesis, was released stateside on March 17, 2012.  It co-starred Billy Drago and Duane Whitaker.  As far as I know of, it isn't linked to the television remake that aired in 2009.

13.)  "One for the Road": On a winter stormy night, three men (Herb Tooklander, Booth and Gerard Lumley) head out to rescue the latter man's wife and daughter -  whom, unknown to Lumley, he left at the mercy of vampires.

Excellent, gripping expansion tale that builds on the history of "the 'Lot" (as seen in the earlier/first story, "Jerusalem's Lot") and, like that story, links to King's novel 'Salem's Lot.

The resulting 22-minute short film, released stateside on March 1, 2011, was directed and scripted by Paul Ward.

Reggie Bannister played Herb Tooklander.  Adam Robitel played Booth.  Danny O'Connor played Gerard Lumley.  Audrey Walters played Janey Lumley.  Sydney Ackman played Wendy.  Drew Walters played Francis Lumley.

14.)  "The Lawnmower Man":  Fun, gleefully bloody and bizarro tale about a unique yard service company.

The resulting short film was released stateside in 1987.  It was directed by James Gonis, from a script by Michael De Luca.

Andy Clark played Karras.  Helen Hanft played Mrs. Parkette.  E.D. Phillips played Howard Parkette.  Neil Schimmer played Castonmeyer.  Robert Tossberg played Bannerman.

A full-length film, linked to the story in name only, was released stateside on March 6, 1992.  (King sued to have his name removed from the film.)  Brett Leonard directed and co-scripted the film; his co-screenwriter was Gimel Everett.

Jeff Fahey - recently seen in the King-based television series Under the Dome - played Jobe Smith.  Pierce Brosnan, who later starred in the King-based television miniseries Bag of Bones, played Dr. Lawrence Angelo.  Jennie Wright played Marnie Burke. Geoffrey Lewis played Terry McKeen.  Dean Norris - who co-stars with Fahey in Under the Dome - played The Director.  Colleen Coffey played Caroline Angelo.

A loosely linked sequel to the film, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, was released stateside on January 12, 1996.  Like its source film, it bears no relation to the King story, aside from its title reference.

Patrick Bergin played Dr. Benjamin Trace.  Matt Frewer played Jobe Smith. Austin O'Brien played Peter Parkette.  Ely Pouget played Dr. Cori Platt.  Molly Shannon played a "Homeless Lady".

Farhad Mann directed the film, from a script by he co-authored with Michael Miner.

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