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Stephen King

Posted on December 26, 2017

Apocalyptic Religions in The Mist

Guest Post

With the onslaught of Stephen King adaptations hitting movie screens and televisions this summer, headlined by It and Gerald’s Game, it’s easy to forget about the Spike television adaptation of The Mist. The Stephen King novel has already been adapted for the screen once, in Frank Darabont’s well-loved 2007 film. So why bother with a series? The answer isn’t all that clear, as the series stumbles around for ten episodes, never quite finding its footing. It departs wildly from the source material, reveals itself to be severely out of step with the national tone regarding sexual assault (especially given Harvey Weinstein’s uncomfortable presence as executive producer), and features far too many scenes of people standing around and talking. But as a scholar of the Bible, I found myself intrigued by the religious viewpoints on display, which make for an interesting contrast with the film version.

In both adaptations, a group of people are stranded as a mysterious mist envelops the surrounding area. The dangers of the mist are clear in the film; it harbors monstrous, carnivorous beasts. In the series, the danger is less clear, as the mist seems to call up memories, regrets, and various other nastiness which are more specific to the individual’s fears. In either case, the results of staying in the mist too long are not pretty.

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Posted on November 6, 2017

Behind the Eclipse: Complicating Sexual Assault in Gerald’s Game

Guest Post

Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game (2017) is, shot for shot, one of the most loyal Stephen King adaptations to hit the screen. The premise of the film and the novel (1992) is, for Stephen King, very simple. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald Burlingame (Bruce Greenwood) travel to their secluded lake house in an attempt to save their failing marriage. Gerald’s solution to their sexual stagnation is a pair of handcuffs. Jessie plays along with his game, witnesses her husband’s fatal heart attack, and finds herself alone.  The terror of the story, like its protagonist, is confined. The book and the film are compelling, however, because the terror is not in the house or the ravenous dog feasting on Gerald’s decaying body. For Jessie, the fear is spawned by being bound and alone, with only the repressed terror of her past.

In Gerald’s Game, Stephen King crafts one of his most feminist novels. His original intention was to pair the story with Dolores Claiborne (1992) as they both take place at (the fictional) Dark Score Lake during a full solar eclipse. Unfortunately, the pairing never happened, but we did end up with two separate books that work well in establishing a purely feminine viewpoint within the Stephen King universe. In Gerald’s Game, Jessie Burlingame becomes our window into a world that has been darkened by broken trust and a darkened sun.

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Posted on September 8, 2017

Not so Funny: The Peculiar History of the Creepy Clown

Guest Post

Clown hysteria may seem relatively new, but it is hardly a modern phenomenon. For many audiences over the centuries, the clown’s seemingly joyous face has detracted from something more sinister—some darker, hidden quality in the character. As a type, the creepy clown comes to us from centuries past. Like Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT, the clown is the monster that escapes a prior age, returning once again to stalk our nightmares.

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Posted on November 20, 2016

Stephen King’s “The Raft” and the Stickiness of Objects

Dawn Keetley

Stephen King’s story “The Raft,” published in Skeleton Crew in 1985 and part of the horror anthology Creepshow 2 (Michael Gornick, 1987), is deceptively straightforward. Near the end of October, four teens—Deke, Randy, LaVerne, and Rachel—have a few drinks, smoke some pot, and decide to swim out to a raft in the middle of a deserted lake. Once they’ve all reached the raft, Randy sees a strange black shape in the water: it looks like oil—an oil slick is the closest he can come to naming it—but it’s not an oil slick; it’s too perfectly formed. Randy tells his friends that the one oil slick he has seen was “just this big sticky mess all over the water. In streaks and big smears.” He insists it did not look like the shape that is lurking on the lake: “It wasn’t, you know, compact.” This strange mass, which seems to sense their movements and their vulnerabilities, is a dense blackness—and the story tells of its relentlessly oozing over the teens, one by one, dissolving their flesh, pulling it off their bones, until only Randy is left. Read more

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