Bev Vincent: Documenting the King of Horror

cover of The Stephen King Ultimate CompanionBev Vincent is living the life that most Constant Readers can only dream of.

Bev has written volumes documenting Stephen King’s work, from career-spanning books like The Illustrated Stephen King Companion to more focused works like The Dark Tower Companion. He co-edited an anthology with King called Flight or Fright. He gets early copies of King’s books, which he reviews for us here at Cemetery Dance as part of his “News from the Dead Zone” column. And soon he’ll have a new book out: The Stephen King Ultimate Companion: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life, and Influences.

Recently, I fired off a few questions about this new project, which Bev graciously took the time to answer.Continue Reading

Bev Vincent explores Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

“There are other worlds than these”

Traditionally, in stories modeled after the Hero’s Journey, the main character receives a call to action, which he or she initially resists. Take, for example, Bilbo Baggins, who is cajoled out of his comfortable, quiet life to go on an adventure by Gandalf. In Stephen King’s fantasy stories, the characters are self-motivated. No one has to urge Jack Sawyer to light out for the Territories—he has a good reason to embark on a perilous journey. Similarly, Roland Deschain chooses his mission to find and save the Dark Tower, even though it will take him on a wild journey for the rest of his natural days. No one conscripts him. (Although, to be fair, sometimes his characters are yanked into a quest without being given any choice in the matter.)

In Fairy Tale, Charlie McGee[1] Reade also decides for himself to go on a magical adventure although, when he sets out, he has no idea what dangers he will face and what will be asked of him while he attempts to achieve his goal.

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Video Visions: Happy 40th Birthday to Creepshow!

Black background with spooky lettering that says Hunter Shea Video Visions and the Cemetery Dance logo

I want my cake, Bedelia!

Hard to believe that one of the greatest horror anthologies of all time hit theaters forty years ago. In that span of time, I’ve had two dogs, three cats, two turtles, at least seventeen hamsters, three hundred goldfish and beta fish (most of them lasting two days), one salamander and one dwarf rabbit that grew to be the size of Gunnar Hansen. A big fuck you to the pet store clerk who sold me that bill of goods. Dwarf my ass. Oh, and I went from a virgin to way not a virgin, got married and had two amazing children. 

And now back to the real story. When I watched the coming attraction for Creepshow on TV and saw that it was the love child of Stephen King and George Romero, I believe I had a Bob Rossian happy accident in my skivvies. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead had rewired my brain a few years earlier and King was feeding me nightmare fuel every night before I hit the lights. His cocaine and booze years made for my caviar and champagne days and nights. Continue Reading

Dead Trees: Stephen King: The Art of Darkness

banner reading Dead Trees by Mark Sieber

cover of Stephen KIng: The Art of DarknessEnter the Wayback Machine and go back to 1984. I was still shrugging off the science fiction habit I had all my life and becoming a full-fledged horror fan. I read authors like Grant, Straub, Wilson, Etchison, Campbell. And of course Stephen King. When I finally got around to reading him, my reading life changed forever. Pet Sematary had just been released in paperback. Ahead were wonders like The Talisman, Thinner, Skeleton Crew, and It.

Horror was in a state of flux. In the movies, the slasher era was cycling down. In ’84 we had The Mutilator, Splatter University, The Initiation, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. A Nightmare on Elm Street was ushering in a new breed of horror. Stephen King adaptations were in a bit of a lull, as disappointing productions like Children of the Corn and Firestarter hit the screens. Bigger and better things were ahead.Continue Reading

Bev Vincent explores Gwendy’s Final Task

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

“The Tower Is Strong”

There’s a lot going on in Ben Baldwin’s artwork on the cover of the Cemetery Dance edition of Gwendy’s Final Task, coauthored by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. The dominant figure is the enigmatic Richard Farris, who has burdened Gwendy Peterson with custody of a mysterious and dangerous box of buttons on two previous occasions. In the foreground we see an illustration of a town or a city and what looks to be a rocket or a shooting star.

But what’s that behind Mr. Farris? Could it be…could it possibly be…the Dark Tower? This image generated a lot of discussion and debate when it was first revealed. The Gallery Books cover for the final book in the Gwendy trilogy puts the question to rest—the central image is the Tower and, in the foreground, a field of red roses.

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Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #227

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

Happy New Year to all my readers. It’s been a while since my last news update, primarily because there hasn’t been a lot going on in the Stephen King Universe. However, I now have some cool things to talk about, so pull up a chair.
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The Cemetery Dance Interview: The Hopes and Miracles of Tyson Blue

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Tyson Blue
Tyson Blue

Attorney by profession, editor by passion, Tyson Blue’s name may not ring everyone’s bell, but his mark on the legacy of, arguably, two of the best film adaptations in cinematic history is here to stay. With Frank Darabont’s scripts for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile in hand, Tyson Blue put together a commemorative masterpiece that’s built to act as a literary time capsule for these two endearing films.  

Sitting down with Tyson, we discussed his journey since he first wrote for the Castle Rock newsletter, an unlikely venture which began his trajectory towards the eventual publication of Hope And Miracles: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile (Two Screenplays By Frank Darabont) decades later. Touching on his first-hand experience working on set of The Green Mile, his connection to Frank Darabont, the massive efforts required to put it all together and everything in between, it’s time to discover why the latest specialty release from Gauntlet Press is worth its considerable weight in hope and miracles and what it means to the legacy of the films it represents. Continue Reading

A Preview of Chapelwaite on Epix by Bev Vincent

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

Preview: Chapelwaite on Epix

“Blood Calls Blood”

I must confess that when I first heard that Epix was turning Stephen King’s early short story “Jerusalem’s Lot” into a ten-episode TV series, I wasn’t terribly excited. I don’t subscribe to that service, so I planned to give the show a miss. I thought it would turn out to be like the TV series The Mist, which bears little resemblance to the source material beyond the general concept. I’m here to tell you I was wrong, and this show is worth checking out. There is horror a-plenty here if you have plenty of patience for the show’s somewhat measured pace.

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Bev Vincent reviews Billy Summers

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

“A Garbage Man with a Gun”

The first time Billy Summers killed a man, he was barely twelve. By the time he’s eighteen, he’s a sniper with the Marines in Iraq, where he notches up another two dozen kills. Instead of re-upping, he tries to find work back in the States. One of his former Marine friends asks him to kill someone. Thus begins Billy’s career as an elite hitman. His only condition is that his victims have to be demonstrably bad men. He’s not a sociopath driven to kill — he’s just good with a gun. He can hit targets from an incredible distance and then vanish like Houdini without being identified or caught. Now, at the ripe old age of 44, he’s looking to retire. One last job and he’s done.Continue Reading

A Preview of Lisey’s Story on Apple TV+ by Bev Vincent

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

Preview: Lisey’s Story on Apple TV+

“Grief is a Bool hunt”

Lisey’s Story, the Apple TV+ adaptation of Stephen King’s 2006 novel of the same name, begins its eight-episode run on Friday, June 4. The miniseries features a stellar cast, including Julianne Moore as Lisey Landon, Clive Owen as her husband Scott and Joan Allen and Jennifer Jason Leigh as her sisters Amanda and Darla. Rounding out the cast are Ron Cephas Jones as Professor Dashmiel and Dane DeHaan as Jim Dooley. All eight episodes were scripted by King and directed by Pablo Larraín, who previously helmed the bio-pic Jackie.

King frequently cites Lisey’s Story as his favorite of his novels. His general policy towards adaptations of his books and stories is that he is either “all in” or “all out.” In the latter case, he has cast and script approval but he generally leaves the directors and other producers alone. However, he was heavily involved with every facet of the Lisey’s Story adaptation. In the video included below he says, “I thought if someone was going to screw it up, I used to tell my wife that no one was going to screw it up more than me.”

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Review: Later by Stephen King

cover of Later by Stephen KingLater by Stephen King
Hard Case Crime (March 2021)
266 pages; $9.62 paperback; $9.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

This is a horror story.

Yes, it’s a Hard Case Crime release, and yes, it has plenty of the necessary ingredients for a crime story. It has drug dealers and dirty cops and kidnapping and a serial bomber.

So yes, this is a crime story…but mostly it’s a horror story. A damn good one, I’m happy to say.

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King of Crime Part III — Featured Review of LATER and what comes…later

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

King of Crime: Part III — Featured Review of LATER and what comes…later

Today is publication day for Hard Case Crime’s third Stephen King novel, Later. Although King is generally thought of as a horror writer, he has written numerous crime short stories, novellas and novels, giving them a unique twist. In Part I of this three-part series, I looked at King’s earliest involvement with crime fiction. In Part II, I explored his more recent writings in the genre, including his previous two books with Hard Case Crime and the Mercedes series. Today, I review Later and look ahead to King’s next crime novel, Billy Summers.

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King of Crime Part II — Hard Case Crime and Beyond

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

King of Crime: Part II — Hard Case Crime and Beyond

Next week — on March 2nd, 2021 to be specific — Hard Case Crime will publish their third Stephen King novel, Later. Although King is generally thought of as a horror writer, he has written numerous crime short stories, novellas and novels, giving them a unique twist. In Part 1 of this three-part series, I looked at King’s earliest involvement with crime fiction. This week, I’ll explore his more recent writings in the genre, including his previous two books with Hard Case Crime and the Mercedes series. Then, on publication day, I’ll review Later and look ahead to King’s next crime novel, Billy Summers.

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King of Crime Part I — The Earlier Years

Stephen King News From the Dead Zone

King of Crime: Part I — The Earlier Years

In a couple of weeks—on March 2nd, 2021, to be specific—Hard Case Crime will publish their third Stephen King novel, Later. Although King is generally thought of as a horror writer, he has written numerous crime short stories, novellas and novels, giving them a unique twist. In Part 1 of a three-part series, I look at King’s earliest involvement with crime fiction[1]. Next week, I’ll explore his more recent writings in the genre, including his previous two books with Hard Case Crime and the Mercedes series. Then, on publication day, I’ll review Later and look ahead to King’s next crime novel, Billy Summers.Continue Reading

Dead Air: The Company of the Mad – The Stand Podcast

banner for Cemetery Dance's Dead Air column - neon green background with black writing

logo of The Company of the Mad podcast2020 was a hell of a year to be reading Stephen King’s 1978 novel, The Stand….never mind devoting an entire podcast to it.

Jason Sechrest thought the same thing — in fact, he was reading it when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. He took to Twitter with his thoughts about the book, and with a dream about examining it in detail in a podcast, and before he knew it he’d assembled an amazing lineup of co-hosts: director Mike Flanagan, author Tananarive Due, and journalist/author Anthony Breznican. The result is a six-episode podcast that is entertaining, informative, and incredibly timely. (You can WATCH The Company of the Mad: The Stand Podcast at TheStandPodcast.com, or LISTEN on Apple Podcasts here.)

With the final episode set to go live on January 20, Sechrest took a few moments to talk to Cemetery Dance about the origins of the project, and what he and his mad company learned along the way.Continue Reading