Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Misery

Misery is a 1990 American psychological thriller film directed by Rob Reiner, starring James Caan and Kathy Bates. The movie’s screenplay was written by William Goldman and based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name. The film starts with Paul Sheldon (James Caan), a famous novelist, finishing his manuscript for a new book. While traveling from Colorado to his home in New York, he is caught out in a bad blizzard and loses control of his car. Paul loses consciousness in the wreck and breaks both of his legs. He is soon saved by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who sees the car in a ditch. She gives Paul CPR before taking him back to her house, still unconscious. When he finally wakes up, Annie introduces herself as a nurse and tells him that she can take care of him until the storm passes because all the telephone lines are down. Annie also tells him that she is his biggest fan and has read all the books in his “Misery series” multiple times. Paul lets Annie read his untitled manuscript because she saved his life, the book angering her because of the profanity. She quickly calms down and apologizes for her outburst, but from this event Paul begins to realize that he might not be safe. Soon after though, she reads his latest Misery novel, in which the main character Misery dies, which sends Annie into a rage. She reveals to Paul that no one knows where he is, having never called a doctor or his daughter and lying to him. Annie locks him into the room he is staying in, and given how badly he is injured, he can not leave.  Paul realizes that he needs to figure out a way to escape from Annie before something worse happens. In this blog, I will look at how the events of the book were changed when being adapted to film. 

Continue reading

Antonio’s The Rare Review: A Look at Sci-Fi/Drama-The Outsider: Whodunnit Plus Horror Equals Amazing

the outsider

The name Stephen King is synonymous with horror, and for good reason. He is a master of suspense, world creation, and intricate plots. I am a huge fan of King’s novels, as well as some of his movie adaptations, so it should come as no surprise that I have also embraced one of his latest transitions to the screen, HBO’s series The Outsider. Even for viewers wary of horror, the series promises an invigorating ride.

The plot centers on the brutal murder of a child that initially seems like an open and shut case. The fingerprints and DNA of local teacher and baseball coach Terry Maitland (played by Jason Bateman) are found everywhere at the crime scene. Numerous witnesses and even video footage place him at or near the scene as well and point to him being the culprit. After his very public arrest, an impossible paradox comes to light: there is also footage of him 60 miles away at the time of the murder, and fingerprints to support that version of events as well. The question for detective Ralph Anderson (played by Ben Mendelson) then becomes much deeper and confounding: how is it possible Terry committed this crime if he’s on film elsewhere at the time of the murder? How could someone be in two places at once? And if Terry is innocent, is the real killer still out there waiting to strike again?

Continue reading

The Most Dangerous Game: A Review of “Gerald’s Game”

It almost seems that Netflix was well aware that the new film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT would be the massive success that it has come to be, amassing over $600 million worldwide and becoming the second-most successful horror film ever made. With Gerald’s Game and 1922, Netflix has adapted two lesser-known King stories on modest budgets, releasing them both in the aftermath of IT’s box-office reign, likely in hopes to cash in on the writer’s name when it’s especially hot (that’s as if it is ever cold, mind you). While I cannot yet speak for 1922, Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game is mostly a great success, presenting a horrifying scenario and highlighting tremendous output from its veteran stars.

Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood co-star as an aging couple seeking the needle to stitch the love that’s been slowly slipping, before they become another forgotten percentage added into the U.S. Census Bureau’s rising divorce statistics. Gugino plays Jess, who’s a handful of years younger than Greenwood’s titular Gerald — although not technically “young” herself — and is particularly unenthused about their blatantly failing marriage and unsure whether they can recover. Gerald, on the other hand, gets the idea to bring the two of them out to a secluded lake house for a weekend getaway; a sort of last-ditch effort to hopefully turn things back to how they were at the beginning. The beautiful house is stocked with expensive wines, no-joke Kobe beef steaks, and two legit pairs of handcuffs.

Continue reading

The Losers’ Club is a Winner: A Review of “IT”

Every 27 years, IT comes back. Not only in the wildly popular fiction’s universe, but in our timeline as well. Many grew up with the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s acclaimed novel leaving a lasting effect, myself included. Now, 27 years later, and just like the characters in the film itself, a new generation will experience their own form of horror. This new version, courtesy of Mama director Andy Muschietti, isn’t without some glaring faults, but is largely able to sidestep these issues due to its fantastic cast of young actors, a strong script that’s both horrifying and humorous, and a profoundly unsettling take on an iconic villain.

IT opens in grand, terrifying fashion in adapting one of the story’s most iconic scenes. In the small town of Derry, children are going missing at inexplicably high rates, including middle schooler Bill Denbrough’s (Jaeden Lieberher) younger brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). On a rainy October day in 1988, a bedridden Bill helps Georgie to construct a paper boat and sends him out alone to play, unaware that this would be the last time he would see his brother alive.

Continue reading

Writing Advice: You Must Go On

Here we are at the end of my week-long break from writing. After the month of writing at a breakneck speed for National Novel Writing Month, I needed a very brief breather. Now that that’s over, though, it’s time to dive back in, as I said in last week’s post. It can be tough to come back to a piece of writing after you’ve put some space between you and the words you chose. Even if it’s a brief amount of time, you might feel strange sitting back down to write in that world, or you may feel like you’re not doing a very good job this time around. Those feelings are natural, of course, but you must go on and you must push past them to be productive.

There is a quote from Stephen King that talks about this pushing forward notion. King says,  “Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when if feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.” He’s absolutely right. There are times when you’re going to feel like you’re not getting anywhere, like you’re just moving words around, and like you’re not doing anything right in your writing. I’m no stranger to those times, but the key is to get past them somehow. What helps you do that? What can get you through those discouraging feelings?

One thing that really helps me is having a support group of fellow writers around me. One of the best things about NaNoWriMo, for me, is that thousands of other writers are undertaking the same challenge as you. Everyone is trying this crazy thing at the same time, and that dynamic somehow pushes you through any rough patches you may come across.

Something I’m going to try in the coming months is to replicate that group dynamic that NaNoWriMo brings with it. I am a member of a year-round writing group that contains many of the same people I write alongside in November. Some of these folks have set up an accountability group. In this group, we’ll meet each month to set out our writing goals and update each other on our progress. Hopefully this will lend itself to a group dynamic similar to NaNoWriMo and push us all through those discouraging moments.

And, of course, it’s always best to remember the cardinal rule that I like to tout around the blog: keep on writing! Even if you’re feeling discouraged, it’s better to get words on the page than to let those feelings get you down. As Neil Gaiman says (pictured above), “Write. Finish things. Keep writing.”

I hope you find that thing that helps you push on through and keep going in your writing project. And I hope you can maintain that in the months to come. Happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Books on Screen: Carrie

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

As I may have mentioned in the past, I love Stephen King.  Needless to say, I have seen the 1976 movie “Carrie,” featuring Sissy Spacek.  There is a 2013 adaptation of the cult-classic, which will release on Oct. 18, which features Chloe Grace Moretz as the title character.

Carrie is King’s first published novel, released in 1974.  Since then, the story has become a totem for most horror buffs.  Because most of the novel is actually written in articles, letters and book passages, it makes it more interesting to the reader.  However, it does give a reason to wonder how much of the book actually comes through in the movie.

The movie is definitely in King-fashion.  Lots of blood, black humor and simple situations that turn terribly wrong.  For those of you that don’t know the story, Carrie revolves around a high-school girl who’s growing up.  In school, she’s a shy wallflower, whom everyone teases for not understanding her development into an adult.  At home, her religious mother coddles her, turning her back into a little girl.   Carrie begins to rebel, and the relationship between the mother and daughter begins to change.  When the students at her school take a prank too far, Carrie’s telekinetic powers are awakened, and she is able to exact her revenge.

Personally, I think the movie is pretty strange.  After all, why would you make fun of someone just because they don’t know how they’re going to change, especially considering the type of household that she was raised in.  I think it does bring up a lot of interesting issues to think about, including bullying.  I’ll be really interested to see how the remake version turns out.  From the trailers, I’m willing to bet that there are more fires, more violence in the way she kills her tormentors and of course, more blood.  I really hope that they don’t overdo it because it just gets tiring after a while.

The 2013 remake of Carrie will be released Oct. 18 in theaters everywhere.  Until then, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Asst. Blog Editor

Fictional Friday: Under The Dome

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

As a fan of Stephen King, I’ve read a lot of his novels, the most recent being his mammoth 1,000 page “Under The Dome”.  With a new television series being made based on it, I can only hope that they stick to the story as it was written.

In the story, the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill is abruptly separated from the outside world be an invisible barrier.  It traps those in the town inside the barrier and prevents anyone from getting in or leaving.  If someone gets too close to the barrier, they will die from the strong shock it gives back.  The story switches viewpoints between a few of the main people in the story, giving a full spectrum of things happening in the town.  As would be expected in a case like this, people start rioting and turning on each other, becoming desperate for a way out of the city, or even just a way to survive.  Because the barrier is only semipermeable, the carbon dioxide isn’t getting released at a proper rate and oxygen is not coming in fast enough, culminating to the end of the novel.  I can’t tell you what happens, you’ll just have to read for yourself.

I really liked this story because even though it’s not really a “new” idea, I like King’s sort of humor and how things play out.  I think that the television series could be very successful, if it stays true to the novel.  There are going to be a lot of “mature” parts, I’m sure, but I’d still rather that it stick to King’s vision than taking something entirely different.

You should read this story if you like any of King’s other novels, suspense, strangeness and things that are just plain wrong and creepy, but still good at the same time.  Until next time, happy reading!

-Lauren Pirc, Assistant Blog Editor

Mike’s Horror Blog: The Reach

Stephen King’s “The Reach” is something of an anomaly out of the hundreds of short stories he’s written – while it contains elements of gothic horror, there’s nothing overtly horrifying about it. The protagonist, Stella Flanders, is the oldest resident of Goat Island and has never crossed the titular Reach, the body of water that surrounds the island. That changes when she begins to see the ghost of her dead husband and other deceased residents, begging her to cross the Reach to the mainland. It’s revealed that Stella is dying from cancer, and that the ghosts are trying to get her to accept the inevitable, to accept death by crossing the Reach.

The atmosphere of the story is based on King’s experience living in Maine, with its harsh winters and close-knit communities – the residents of Goat Island are all part of an extended family and depend on one another, so it’s easy to see why the death of one person affects everyone. Stella is affected by the death of her husband, her best friend, and many other people she outlived, so when she realizes that her time is up, naturally, she denies it, ignoring the appearance of her dead husband – only when she accepts that she’s dying does she respond.

The Reach itself is both literal and metaphorical: Stella’s crossing the frozen waters over to the mainland mirrors her crossing over to death. The scene takes place during a blizzard, where the blowing snow and gusting winds create an otherworldly atmosphere, almost unreal. I don’t know what dying would feel like, but it would probably be similar to the “gauzy and grey” sights Stella sees.

I’d recommend checking this out, as it’s a departure from the terrifying stories King normally writes.

— Mike Malan, Blogger

Editor’s Note:  Mike Malan recently graduated from Lewis University with a degree in English with a sub-speciality in Creative Writing.  Mike especially enjoys writing gothic, Poe and all things that chill your bones. He is a dark writer but you can find him dabbling in politics. He is also interested in the editing process and hopes that you will enjoy his work.