Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Bad Movie Month gets the royal treatment with a salute to Stephen King

One of my summer pleasures is presenting all of you with Bad Movie Month in August, a time to just sit back and chat about some awful film fare. Well, the theme for this year is The Worst of Stephen King and I have to insist that this is not as mean spirited as it sounds.

As a longtime fan of King's work, I think it's important to accept both the highs and the lows of a writer's career and to King's credit, he is the first one to step up to the plate when it comes to critiques.

 Also, he has a great sense of humor about himself and those less than stellar films that have been adapted from his writing from time to time(maybe not The Shining, but that's a whole other discussion there). So, in the spirit of fan love, here is my playlist of sorry Stephen King based flicks for this season:

CHILDREN OF THE CORN: Loosely based on a short story, this corn-fed attempt at cinematic chills has become a cult classic over the years. Some of that is due to lines such as "Outlander! We have your woman,she still lives!", the creepy cult of killer kids devoted to "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" that slaughters every adult in town before the opening credits and the pitiful performances of Peter Horton and pre-Terminator Linda Hamilton as the unlucky couple who stops into town.

What's truly scary about this movie is that fact that it spawned seven sequels, plus a made for TV remake, proof positive that even a bad cinematic seed can become frighteningly potent indeed:

CARRIE(2013): Since I usually include a pick of my sister's(sort of a blog birthday gift to her,as she has an August b-day), this "re-imagined" remake will be highlighted early on.

Granted, it's hard to outdo the original 1976 movie and even with that film's flaws, the story and Oscar nominated performances of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie still stand the test of time. I did have some hope for this version, given that quality actresses such as Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore were cast as the leading ladies here.

Unfortunately, shoving this tale of a tormented girl's revenge into a modern day setting turned out to be a poor fit. Watching this particular Carrie has the flavor of a favorite dish that's missing some vital ingredients and it's too bad that my sister had to see this instead of the classic fear feast that whetted my appetite for King back then:

FIRESTARTER: One of the big problems with this 1984 flamethrower of a film is that it suffers from what used to be known as "Love Boat casting." In other words, pack the cast with a mismatched set of celebrity names in order to distract from the messy framework of the plot.

A young Drew Barrymore is joined by the likes of Heather Locklear, Art Carney,Louise Fletcher, David Keith, Martin Sheen and George C. Scott, who plays a half-Native American assassin who serves as mentor and would be executioner of Barrymore's pyro-psychic character. Yeah, miscasting is an understatement when it comes to George C. in that role, that's for sure!

The weird special effects that have Barrymore's hair attacked by a gang of hair dryers every time she gets the urge to light up don't help much either to breath life into a story that gives off plenty of smoke but not much of a film-worthy fire:

MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE: It wouldn't be proper to do a Stephen King bad movie salute without the one movie he wrote and directed himself.

Based on his short story Trucks, King turns his strange tale of humanity on the run from their own vehicles(sort of an evil version of Cars) by focusing on a small set of folks trapped in a diner into a full out deadly demolition derby that even has ATMs and soda machines getting in on the "death to humans!" action.

Emilio Estevez stars as Bill, who rouses his fellow survivors into fighting back against the trucks keeping them prisoners by finding a cache of weapons in a hidden bunker beneath the diner(which is the most realistic part of this story). His performance earned him a Golden Raspberry nomination(as did King for Worst Director) but not a win, which is saying something yet I'm not sure what that is.

 Sure, there's great music with AC/DC songs on the soundtrack and the leader of the evil trucks has a Green Goblin face on it's bumper(wonder how Marvel felt about that tie-in) but this movie is a train wreck from the get-go and thankfully, King has stayed away from the director's chair since then:

I also plan to squeeze in a viewing of Stephen King's Silver Bullet(a werewolf movie with Gary Busey, how can I resist?) as well, which should round things out nicely.

 With a lot of King's books being on the better side of adaptation these days, such as the upcoming Dark Tower movie this summer, it's good to truly appreciate such a cinematic bounty by looking back at some of movie manure that has cropped up along the way. When it comes to King, sometimes less is truly more:

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