‘Creepshow’ Makes a Comeback

Creepshow CoverIt’s unusual for a Stephen King book to be out of print, but that’s been the case with Creepshow, the 1982 adaptation of the George Romero-directed, King-scripted move of the same name. The original edition published by Plume has only been available on the collector’s market—usually at a cost well above its original $6.95 price tag.

If you’ve been holding out, your luck’s about to change. In honor of the 35th (!) anniversary of the book and movie, Gallery 13 is releasing a brand new edition of Creepshow. It arrives May 9 full intact and nearly identical to the original edition, albeit with a slightly higher cover price ($18) and some minor cosmetic differences.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #174

When it was announced that Lifetime would be behind a made-for-TV adaptation of “Big Driver,” the second novella from Full Dark, No Stars, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The novella is dark and brutal, whereas Lifetime is better known for the kinds of stories that the novella’s protagonist writes—cozy mysteries—or romances. The network’s material is targeted at women, primarily. So what did that mean for this revenge tale? You’ll be able to see for yourself this Saturday at 8/7C when the movie premieres.

I had the chance to screen the film a couple of weeks ago and I’m here to tell you that it pulls few punches, if any. Tess is played by Maria Bello (Amy Rainey in Secret Window). She gets a last name in this version, Thorne, whereas she was just Tess in the novella. The plot plays out much the same as it did in King’s story. Tess drives herself to a nearby community where she is the featured guest at a brown bag luncheon and regales her sizable audience with the kinds of stories authors tell about themselves and their characters, and has the kinds of encounters writers often do with the public. The woman who organized the event suggests a shortcut that will get Tess home faster and, on a lonely road miles from civilization, Tess has a fateful encounter with the Big Driver. What happens next is brutal and, frankly, hard to watch. If you have any triggers about male-on-female violence, you may wish to avert your eyes. And even when the assault is over, the worst isn’t done for Tess. She has to crawl to freedom. Whoa. It makes me cringe just thinking about it now.

Ann Dowd from The Leftovers plays Rebecca Norville, Olympia Dukakis plays the physical manifestation of one of Tess’s characters, and Joan Jett plays the bartender at the Stagger Inn. Eastern Canada plays the part of New England—in fact, the movie was filmed just down the road from where Haven is shot. I recognize some of the roads, and I’m pretty sure Tess’s reading takes place on my alma mater’s campus, Dalhousie University. At least the external shots look like the old science library and nearby buildings. Events in the final act are somewhat condensed and restructured, but Tess still talks to Tom, her GPS, her cat, and with the characters in her novels, and sometimes they talk back. This monologue with non-human objects seems a bit awkward at first, but it works in general, and Bello is unquestionably the star here. It’s almost a one-woman show, and she nails it. Joan Jett is more of a novelty. She’s done a little acting, but she’s not entirely comfortable here.

There are a few grace notes added by screenwriter Richard Christian Matheson that add to the story’s overall symmetry and should put a smile on viewers’ faces despite the brutality. You can watch the trailer here.


This has been the month of Full Dark, No Stars adaptations. A Good Marriage opened a couple of weekends back in a limited theatrical release concurrent with Video On Demand. You can rent or buy it on iTunes or Google Play (I chose the latter so I could cast it to my television), and on the OnDemand sections of cable services. I had a hard time finding it on UVerse until I discovered it was listed under “S”—for Stephen King’s A Good Marriage. This adaptation, too, is quite faithful to the source material—as well it should be since King wrote the screenplay. Some of the character interactions in the final 10-15 minutes are different, but there are no real surprises here if you’ve read the novella.

King was all over the place promoting A Good Marriage, as well as appearing on the PBS series In Search of Our Fathers. Here are some links.

Mercy, the adaptation of “Gramma” starring the kid from The Walking Dead that’s been in the can for a while, is now available for purchase on iTunes. It will be available for rent shortly. Speaking of The Walking Dead, did you pick up the Creepshow “easter egg” in the season premiere?

JJ Abram’s adaptation of 11/22/63 will be a nine-hour limited series on Hulu. It is being described as a limited “event series,” but there will be opportunities for future subsequent seasons based on the story.

In this interview King did with MTV while promoting A Good Marriage, he discusses his thoughts on the Dark Tower movie adaptation. “It took me 35, 36 years to write ‘The Dark Tower.’ I can wait [for the movie],” King said. “We’ve been close a couple of times. I’m content to see what happens. Sooner or later, it’ll show up.” He explained why he chose to write the screenplay for A Good Marriage and also teased that Josh Boone’s cinematic version of The Stand may be two movies.

CBS has renewed Under the Dome for a third season.

The audio version of Revival is being read by David Morse, who has a strong King pedigree. He appeared in The Green Mile, Hearts in Atlantis and The Langoliers.

And stay tuned for a special announcement from Rich Chizmar on Halloween!

News from the Dead Zone #152

The cover art for Joyland (see right) was released today. The book, from Hard Case Crime, will be released on June 4, 2013. The original publication will be in paperback only. Other editions (hardcover, electronic, audio) are possible but not currently scheduled. Joyland takes place in a small-town North Carolina amusement park, where college student Devin Jones arrives to work as a carny for the summer, but he ends up experiencing much more than he bargained for when he confronts the legacy of a vicious murder and the fate of a dying child. Read the entire press release.

Three months after Joyland, we’ll get Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. The publication date was announced earlier this week: September 24, 2013. The story picks up with Dan Torrance (formerly Danny), who is now middle-aged and working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire. He meets Abra Stone, a very special twelve-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals known as The True Knot, quasi-immortal creatures that live off the ‘steam’ that children with the ‘shining’ produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Have you ever read “Weeds,” the rare King story that was the basis for “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” in Creepshow? If not, check out Shivers VII, which also features stories by Clive Barker, Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini and many others, including me!

King’s short story “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation” appeared in the 9/12 issue of Harper’s Magazine, the first time he has published with them. “In The Tall Grass,” his collaboration with Joe Hill, first published in Esquire last summer, will be released as an audio book and an eBook in October. I wrote an essay about the story behind the story of “A Face in the Crowd” (which came out as an eBook and in audio on August 24) for FEARNet: Faces in the Crowd.

Movie news: Joan Allen will play the lead in The Good Wife, which should start filming next month. Rachel Nichols is in negotiations to join Justin Long in The Ten O’Clock People.

A group of filmmakers are working on a documentary called Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary. They have have already shot every location and filmed over two dozen interviews with the cast, crew and Maine locals who worked on the production, most of whom have never been interviewed on camera about their role in the film. John Campopiano says, “Our goal is to show the unique bridging of a relatively small Hollywood production with a small Maine community who continue to think highly of its involvement in the film. We’re also seeking to explore the legacy the film has established and how its core themes are being taught and explored in the film and academic worlds.”

Warner Bros.is quietly exploring the possibility of a prequel to The Shining. The studio has solicited Laeta Kalogridis and her partners to produce the proposed film, which would focus on what happened before the Torrances arrived at The Overlook. A WB spokeswoman cautioned that the project was in a very early stage and not even formally in development.

King, Dave Barry and The Rock Bottom Remainders, appeared on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. You can see it in its entirety here.

Earlier this week I received an advanced copy of Carrie: The Musical – Premiere Cast Recording from Ghostlight Records. For the first time ever, the music from the infamous Broadway adaptation is available, revised and updated for its recent reincarnation that closed after less than 50 performances (which is about ten times more than the original version). One motivation behind the reboot was to come up with a musical that could be licensed for productions across North America. The CD booklet has a reflection on the show’s history written by Lawrence D. Cohen, who wrote the book for the play as well as the script for the Brian De Palma film. Here’s a video for the opening song, “In.”

Matt Selman, an executive producer of The Simpsons, has undertaken the task of writing Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” as it would have been recorded in the universe of 11/22/63.

James Smythe has gotten as far as The Dead Zone in his chronological reread of King’s books.

Here is a trailer for Season 3 of Haven, which premieres this Friday night on SyFy.

The Wind Through the Keyhole will be out in paperback on November 6th.

Finally, I have to share this enthusiastic (6 out of 5!) video review of The Stephen King Illustrated Companion.

News From the Dead Zone #133

Look at the Dark Tower. It’s a movie. Now it’s a TV series. Now it’s a movie again. Now it’s both.

Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television issued a press release this week detailing their creative plan for an adaptation of the Dark Tower series, including related short stories and the Marvel comic series. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman are planning for the first film in the trilogy to be immediately followed by a television series that will bridge the second film. After the second film, the television series will pick up, allowing viewers to explore the adventures of the protagonist as a young man as a bridge to the third film and beyond. Here’s the official page at King’s web site tracking the project.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, King said, “I always thought it would take more than a single movie, but I didn’t see this solution coming — i.e., several movies and TV series. It was Ron [Howard] and Akiva [Goldsman]‘s idea. Once it was raised, I thought at once it was the solution.” He also joked that the cast of the Twilight series should be considered for various roles and suggested himself for the voice of Blaine the mono.

Don’t forget to check out the September 21 episode of the FX series Sons of Anarchy, which will feature King’s cameo as a guy named Bachman.

The comparatively rare King short story “The Crate,” which was adapted as one of the installments in Creepshow, will be reprinted in Shivers VI from CD Publications. (I also have a story in this massive anthology, by the way.)

News From the Dead Zone #132

Still a few months to go before Full Dark, No Stars is published. However, Scribner has posted an excerpt from “A Good Marriage” which should whet your appetite for the collection. Craig Wasson (who was the reader for Blockade Billy) and Jessica Hecht will read the audio version, to be released simultaneously with the hardcover. There was a report that King would narrate introductions to each story, but the galleys don’t have story intros, just an afterward.

Remember Wilma (“Just call me Billy, everyone does”) from Creepshow, as portrayed by Adrienme Barbeau? That segment was based on the short story “The Crate,” originally published in Gallery magazine and later collected in a couple of anthologies around 1980-81. The story will see the light of day again in the CD anthology Shivers VI, which is bound for the printer next week. In addition to this relatively rare story, the anthology contains a Peter Straub novella and fiction from other familiar names, including yours truly.

King’s cameo appearance on Sons of Anarchy will air on FX on his birthday, September 21. His character’s last name is an homage to Richard Bachman.

King will be appearing at The New Yorker Festival on October 2nd, 2010. He will be part of a panel discussion on vampires along with Noel Carroll, Matt Reeves, and Melissa Rosenberg, moderated by Joan Acocella. Click here for more information about the Festival.

After the current Gunslinger series finishes from Marvel, there will be a single issue in November focusing on Sheemie Ruiz called Sheemie’s Tale. “This is the story of one of the more powerful breakers in Thunderclap: The mentally handicapped, formerly mute young man known as Sheemie. He possesses the awesome power to shatter the very Beams that hold the Dark Tower in place—the fulcrum of existence itself. But Sheemie does not want to destroy the underpinnings of reality. He is in the prison of Devar-Toi and all he wants is his friends—his ka-tet to come for him. And one of them is coming for him even now. One of them known as the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain. And not all the horrors of Thunderclap will stand in his way! Presented by those twin titans of Marvel’s Dark Tower books—writer Robin Furth and artist Richard Isanove. It’s a journey of searching and salvation you won’t soon forget.”

Time is running out to get your photo submissions in to Stephen’s Empire.

Here’s a neat story about a Canadian musician who got permission to set the words of Sara Tidwell from Bag of Bones to music: Stephen King takes shining to Toronto blues singer.

Recent Entertainment Weekly columns:

News From The Dead Zone #118

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

More news about King’s publicity tour for Under the Dome is emerging. Both the New York and Portsmouth events are sold out, according to recent reports. Details about other events have not been made public. Check King’s message board for the most up-to-date information about the tour. The DC/Baltimore and Atlanta events will be straight signings, with no on-stage event, whereas for the others King will presign 250 books that will be made available for sale to attendees, although there may well be more attendees than books for some events.

November 10 – NYC (sold out)
November 11 – D.C. or Baltimore
November 13 – Atlanta
November 16 – Sarasota
November 18 – Minneapolis
November 19 – Toronto
December 1 – Portsmouth, NH (sold out)
December 2 – Manchester, VT

King is quoted in this article about the timing of the release of electronic versions of books: Stephen King, whose novel Under the Dome is being published in November by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, said in an e-mail message that “we’re all thinking and talking about electronic publishing and how to deal with these issues,” adding, “but I can’t say anything right now.” The electronic version of the book isn’t scheduled to be released until early 2010.

Scribner will publish two Collector’s Editions of Under the Dome. The regular Collector’s Edition will have a special jacket with a belly band, a stamped case, four-color printed endpapers, a ribbon marker, and will contain a set of 27 special trading cards featuring drawings of characters from the book (drawn by cartoonist Matthew Diffee). These drawings will also be featured in the book—as a frontispiece image and on the 26 part title pages. The book will be shrink-wrapped and Scribner will print only 25,000 copies of this edition, priced at $75. Scribner is also offering 1,500 copies of a signed, limited Collector’s Edition. This contains all the special elements listed above, plus the book will be signed by the author. This is priced at $200 and will only be sold through their web site. “We’re doing this to generate additional revenue,” says Susan Moldow, publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint. “We used to have a regular business of signed first edition mysteries, but we stopped because there wasn’t an additional mark-up…This is fighting back against the disappearance of the book as an object,” she adds.

An Under the Dome excerpt will be in a fall issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Rand Holston at CAA is currently out with the film rights to Under the Dome. According to Publishers Weekly, the book’s heft may be making it tough for Hollywood execs to see the story working as a feature; one insider said all the activity in the book is causing some to think Dome makes more sense as a miniseries.

Marvel Comics and Random House’s Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group have reached an agreement to allow The Stand: Captain Trips to be distributed in the general bookstore market beginning in January 2010. The hardcover omnibus was originally released exclusively through comics shops in March after Marvel acknowledged that it did not have permission from the book’s original publisher, Doubleday, now a part of Random House, to distribute it to the general bookstores.

Issue #3 of Fall of Gilead is now out.

The special B&W issue 0 of The Talisman was distributed at Comic-Con. The standard version of this prequel will be available in comic shops in October. The first issue of the first six-issue arc, The Road of Trials, will also appear in October. The current plan is for a total of three arcs, each about six issues.

John Harrison, whose Clive Barker-based feature Book of Blood premiered at Montreal’s Fantasia film festival recently, is writing a four-hour miniseries based on Cell for the Weinstein Company, which had originally planned to turn the book into a theatrical feature (with Eli Roth attached at one point to direct), but decided to abandon those plans and will be shopping the project to networks instead. Having served as assistant director/composer on the Creepshow and helmed Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (including an adaptation of  “Cat from Hell”), Harrison considers Cell one of King’s best recent books, with opening chapters that will make an incredible first 30 minutes on screen. The filmmaker adds that he doesn’t see this as a zombie story so much as a Village of the Damned-esque chiller, and enjoys the fact that the infected populace possesses a hive mentality. While he has not been officially contracted to direct, he would certainly like to.

The remake of Children of the Corn will premiere on SyFy (formerly SciFi network) on Saturday, September 26 at 9pm Eastern/Pacific.

Here is King’s most recent Entertainment Weekly article: Memories of Michael Jackson.