Friday, June 17, 2011
This is Deadly Daddies Week! All this week we'll look at some of the nastiest, meanest and downright scariest fathers to cross the silver screen.
I don't doubt that Stephen King is a talented writer, but I've never been very inclined to read most of his books. Can't say why for sure. Could be my heavily ingrained inclination to resist anything that's sickeningly, overwhelmingly popular, regardless of quality (the reason why I've never gone near Harry Potter). The only one of his books I own is, surprisingly, one of the few books of his that still hasn't been made into a movie: Rose Madder, a fantasy/horror story about a battered wife on the run from her abusive husband. Jenny was the one who recommended it to me; she said she couldn't believe a man wrote it - this coming from a militant feminist. (If it ever does get made into a movie, I would cast Nic Cage and Amy Adams.)
Many of the movies based on King's stories have entertained me, but I think his non-horror stories might be my favorites: Stand By Me, The Green Mile (more fantasy than horror), The Shawshank Redemption, and especially Dolores Claiborne (I'll have to do a post about that one sometime) appeal to me a little bit more than his horror stories. I've never been big on horror to begin with - another reason why I've never gravitated to his books.
Using Rose Madder as a judge, King's motifs aren't too hard to spot: he loves pop culture references, he has a propensity for imaginary characters speaking to people (especially the crazy and /or "special" ones), he never met a simile he didn't like, and his villains are irredeemably, unmistakably, capital-E Evil.
Which brings us to The Shining. A thought occurs to me as I write this: were the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel what turned Jack Nicholson's character evil, or did it merely bring out the evil within him? Given Nicholson's proclivity towards manic, disturbed, or just plain crazy characters, it's tempting to go with the latter, but let's not forget that director Stanley Kubrick departed from King's book significantly. Still, given what little I know about King's writing, I'm inclined to think that Jack Torrance was Bad All Along.
Do horror books have a leg up on film and TV? It's a non-visual medium; your imagination works harder than it would in film and TV - and often, the scariest things aren't always what we see, but what we don't see. I would not presume to give a definite answer either way, since my knowledge on the subject is limited, but my personal bias favors books, 'cause that's just how I roll.
Previously on Deadly Daddies Week: