Tag: Stephen King

Alexander Skarsgård Will Play Randall Flagg In Adaptation Of The Stand

Alexander Skarsgård Will Play Randall Flagg In Adaptation Of The Stand

We learned today that Alexander Skarsgård is set to follow in his brother’s footsteps by playing Randall Flagg in the new The Stand series.

Coming exclusively from Collider, Skarsgård will play the grinning personification of evil itself. An accomplished sorcerer and devoted servant of the Outer Dark, Randall has appeared in several Stephen King stories, and his introduction was in The Stand. The story takes place in a world decimated by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. The fate of mankind rests on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail and a handful of survivors, as they stand against the madness and corruption pouring out of Randall’s occupied city.

With his brother Bill playing the part of Pennywise in the two recent It films, Alexander Skarsgård seems like a natural fit for Randall, never mind that he just won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a SAG Award for his menacing presence on HBO’s Big Little Lies. Jovan Adepo, Owen Teague, Brad William Henke, Daniel Sunjata, James Marsden, Amber Heard, Odessa Young, and Henry Zaga have all been confirmed to play roles in the miniseries, and Whoopi Goldberg confirmed that she will play Mother Abagail.

Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) is co-writing the miniseries with Ben Cavell (SEAL Team), with Boone set to direct and executive produce alongside Roy Lee, Jimmy Miller, Richard P. Rubinstein and Cavell. Will Weiske will serve as a co-EP, while Knate Lee, Jill Killington and Owen King will serve as producers. Stephen King himself has written the series’ tenth and final episode, including an extra portion in the ending.

The Stand will debut on CBS All Access in 2020. Stephen King fans will want to keep an eye out for the release date, as this story is definitely one of King’s classics.

Pet Sematary Review 2

Pet Sematary Review

Stephen King novels are a hell of a thing to adapt. More often than not storytellers will omit certain shocking elements (see 2017’s “It“) or completely alter certain beats (The Shining) for a smoother on-screen conversion. Pet Sematary does a bit of both, and in the process belies the source material while offering up a sometimes by-the-numbers look at the ever-looming spectre of death.

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The Top Five Movie Crucifixions

The Top Five Movie Crucifixions

Well, it’s Easter. You know, that springtime holiday filled with bunnies, chocolate eggs, and one of the most horrendous ways to die imaginable. We here at CGM like to do lists around holidays because that’s just good old fashioned Internet fun. This Easter we decided to do something a little different than usual. Sure we could have done a “Top Ten Scariest Bunnies In Film” article or something related to chocolate, but that seemed too easy. Nope, instead, we’re going to serve up a list of the five greatest crucifixion scenes in cinematic history, just in time for Good Friday. After all, it is the only crucifixion of Jesus based holiday around. You gotta recognize.

To keep things from getting too repetitive, we decided to only give the OG JC one spot on this list. After all, Jesus’ very bad day has been done on film so many times and in so many ways that he could hog this whole list to himself and that man didn’t care for selfishness, so it doesn’t seem right. We also didn’t want to include too many symbolic crucifixion of jesus either as that could be a list unto itself. So, we stuck with the best one and left out so many others like Murphy’s death in Robocop or the ending to the amazing train chase in Spider-Man 2 that features more Jesus symbolism than a Bryan Singer Superman movie. Don’t worry though, we’ve got five crucifixion sequences coming up that are guaranteed to brighten up your day. Enjoy!

5) Carrie (1976)

Poor Carrie. She really had a rough time in high school, didn’t she? Even worse than most kids! Aside from the almost ritualistic abuse that she faced from her classmates and the painful psychic powers that she developed, Carrie had a hellish homelife. Her mommy was a psychotic bible thumper who made life almost impossible for little Carrie. Thankfully, during her nightlong psychic rampage, Carrie got the best and most symbolic revenge possible. When her mother got violent, Carrie used her psychic powers to stab her mother to death in a very specific crucifixion pose. Shot with director Brian DePalma’s typical mastery of cinematic style, the sequence is equally beautiful, horrifying, and perversely satisfying. There aren’t many movies in which a crucifixion feels like a win, but then again there aren’t many movies like Carrie.

4) Spartacus (1960)

Throughout the 50s and early 60s, Hollywood cranked out a series of Biblical epics that were as massively expensive and as ubiquitous as comic book movies are today. Thankfully, when the great Stanley Kubrick got a crack at the genre (after another director was fired for feuding with Kirk Douglas), he was wise enough to make a sword and sandal epic that was completely secular and also doubled as a harsh metaphor for the Hollywood blacklist. Not many filmmakers would dare to turn a populist epic into a harsh political commentary, but there aren’t many filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick are there? As a matter of fact, there’s only the one. Kubrick was smart enough to stick with the crucifixion finale inherent in the genre though. That’s just a great way to end a movie. He still found a way to conclude with a noble crucifixion sacrifice, just without all the Jesus stuff. It’s a great movie moment, even if Douglas’ acting isn’t exactly fantastic.

3) Conan The Barbarian (1982)

Only one man is so damn badass that he could survive a crucifixion and shake it off like it was no big deal. That man is Arnold Schwarzenegger and that scene was one of the first gifts that he gave to the world during his reign of action movie dominance with Conan The Barbarian. Arnie is so unfazed by being crucified that he even bites back the buzzards who dare to attempt to eat him and he comes out the other side of the ordeal strong enough to do a little more sword slaughtering before the end of the movie. It’s a truly great movie moment that any lover of 80s sleaze needs to sample at least once. Just keep reminding yourself one thing while you watch it: this man went on to become the governor or California. For realz.

2) Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (1979)

Only one group of comedians would be daring enough to turn crucifixion into a pure laugh factory: the nutty Brits behind Monty Python. Their controversy-courting 1979 masterpiece Life Of Brian turned the concept of religion and the Biblical epic genre into vehicle for their surreal brand of comedy. It remains one of the funniest and most brilliant comedies ever produced to this day. There was only one way for a comedy like that to end and Monty Python didn’t pull their punch. They went for full on crucifixion comedy and delivered some of the finest work of their careers. Following a collection of gags faking out audiences into thinking that their hero wouldn’t actually get crucified, Brian does indeed die like the son of God. But don’t worry! The sequence isn’t really a downer. It ends with a delightful musical number. One of the happiest songs ever written: ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.” See? Crucifixion doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, regardless of what you may have heard, especially when Monty Python are involved.

1) The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

Finally, only Jesus could possibly top this list. After all the main reason that the world still knows what a crucifixion of Jesus is can be directly attributed to that martyr’s noble sacrifice. There are many options from the acid trip musical rendition in Jesus Christ Superstar to the endless graphic gore of Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ. However, we can only pick one and only one Christ crucifixion scene was directed by the great Martin Scorsese. As a result, it’s the best one there is. As viscerally disturbing as Gibson’s take, as moving as any of the 50s epics, and boasting a deeply unexpected (and controversial) twist ending, Scorsese’s crucifixion sequence is easily the greatest ever filmed. If you only watch one rendition of the life of Jesus this Easter, make sure that it’s The Last Temptation Of Christ. We also recommend that if you watch it with any Christians, make sure that they are open-minded. No spoilers, but this movie ain’t exactly yo’ Daddy’s crucifixion of Jesus movie.

It (2017) Review - The Real Deal

It (2017) Review – The Real Deal

Thanks to the reliably unreliable nature of nostalgia and memory, everyone seems to think that Stephen King’s horror epic It already has a worthy cinematic adaptation.

That’s not quite true.

Sure, Tim Curry’s performance as the ultimate demonic clown Pennywise is iconic, but the TV mini-series containing it? That’s a toned down and often tone deaf affair that tends to flounder whenever it isn’t delivering spooky clown set pieces. Fortunately, that’s finally changed. Director Andy Mama Muschietti’s opening salvo in a planned two-part It epic not only perfectly captures everything about the first and superior half of the novel, but might actually improve on the source material in a few ways. This is one of the best Hollywood horror movies in years and coming off the heels of Get Out and Split, suggests that we might be a experiencing a mini resurgence of studio funded horror flicks. That’s damn good news for those who love things that go bump in the night.

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Bill Skarsgård in It (2017) – images via Warner Bro. Entertainment

The film opens with the one scene that everyone knows from It, even if they haven’t actually seen the miniseries or read the book. We see an unfortunate little kid meet Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) at a sewer drain and…well…you know the rest. This time the gore from the novel is intact and even though Skarsgård’s more squeaky and stylized take on Pennywise is a bit jarring at first, it’s clear that Muschietti knows what he’s doing and the book is in good hands. From there the movie gets all Stand By Me, introducing a collection of loveable middle school outcasts known as The Losers Club. They bond over 80’s pop culture, childhood tomfoolery, relatable kiddie swearing, and the fact that they are all tormented by the same mulleted bully, Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton). They also all slowly meet Pennywise, a creepy clown ghost who is in some way connected to their town’s origin and tends to transform into every kid’s innermost fear whenever being a creepy clown isn’t enough. For the stable kids, that means movie monster imagery. For the troubled kids, that means transforming into physical manifestations of their trauma. It’s creepy stuff and eventually, the whole Losers Club all admit that they’ve met Pennywise and decide that it’s up to them to bring down the clown.

First and foremost, it’s worth noting that this version of It is pee-your-pants, clutch-your-chest terrifying. In his Guillermo Del Toro supervised directorial debut Mama director Andy Muschietti proved that he has a knack for haunting atmosphere and shocks, but really cuts loose here. Scares pile up at a rapid clip with the Pennywise concept allowing the director to dabble in a variety of monster movie styles. The effect keeps viewers endlessly on edge and admirably, Muschietti holds nothing back even though his film features children. It can be a vicious movie at times that also uses teasing, suspense, and psychological techniques to tickle audiences in all the best wrong ways. There’s something here to scare everyone here with Skarsgård delivering an intimidating icon that lives up to the hype.

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Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Chosen Jacobs in It (2017)

Yet beyond all of the creeps, jumps, screams, and gags, the flick has something more on its mind. The movie crafts such a harshly realistic and relatable cross-hatch of small town coming-of-age tales  (including a remarkable line up of child actors who all shine without an ounce of precociousness) that It works just as well as drama as it does as a thrill ride. That allows the movie to live up to the ambitions of the book, delivering a moving portrait of childhood trauma and growth that just happens to revolve around a demonic clown that represents evil. The script skips out on the indulgent inter-dimensional nonsense from Pennywise’s backstory as well, with the creature’s origins remaining a mystery and as a result, coming off as far more frightening. That means that the sequel will carry a heavy load of exposition and explanations that could sink it. But hey, the back half of the book was always the weakest part anyways. At least there’s one It movie that captures everything that makes King’s massive doorstop of a novel so memorable and horrifying. We can all pretend the next chapter doesn’t exist if it disappoints. I’m okay with that.

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Bill Skarsgård in It (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

Of course, there are some problems with the movie as well. Some of the childhood traumas explored through horror might come off as tasteless to a few viewers, not all of subplots feel fully developed, a few of the late 80’s references feel tacked on (seriously, no kids loved the original Street Fighter, only Street Fight II. We all know that), and unfortunately Mike’s crucial role has been reduced to the point that some might consider it tokenism. Thankfully, these are all minor issues that will only irritate Cinema Sins nitpickers and don’t actually detract from the movie significantly. The good news is that the 2017 edition of It is probably the best version that we were ever going to get from a Hollywood studio. This is a terrifying, resonant, and brilliantly told horror yarn sure to satisfy long time It fans and give a new generation of viewers a complex about creepy clowns. It’s probably going to be a hit, it might even become a classic, and anyone who loves screaming and squirming in a movie theatre is about to have a damn good time. Get ready to see a ton of Pennywise costumes this Halloween and maybe for all future Halloweens as well. It is the real deal.

It: What Could We Expect in Part 2?

It Part 2: Older and Pennywise-r

Stephen King’s It, the second adaptation of the author’s iconic horror novel, is hitting theatres this Friday. Suffice to say, there has been plenty of hype surrounding this film from the horrifying trailers to the new and improved Pennywise with his creepy clown makeup (played by Bill Skarsgård). From the looks of things so far, it’s also a critical darling and is well on its way to being a bona fide commercial hit. With Part 2 already in development, and the poor reception the second part of this terrifying tale has received for decades now following the original TV movie, where should the inevitable sequel head next?

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Bill Skarsgård in It (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

The TV movie sequel suffered from poor pacing and a lack of ideas towards the end. The filmmakers showed their hand in the first half when it came to shocking audiences. At that point in the mini-series, Tim Curry’s Pennywise became comic relief and there was a lack of intensity and wonder. For the latest iteration, there’s a serious worry if director Andy Muschietti will be able to top himself the second time around. Horror sequels are arguably the most difficult to pull off because managing to continually shock and scare audiences is a Herculean task.

Muschietti has already confirmed that Part 2 will still feature the children in some capacity, despite it being a story about how the adults deal with Pennywise decades later. The director wants the two timelines to inform each other, with the children influencing the adults via flashbacks in Part 2. This is a brilliant idea because It has a Stranger Things vibe going for it, an aspect of the film that has inevitably drawn more and more people into the movie. It’s also important because by the time the sequel rolls around people will have already connected with the younger cast more so than the older members.

With the inevitable success of the upcoming first part, Muschetti and the rest of the filmmakers will have a much bigger budget to play around with for Part 2. This money should be used towards creating the different disasters that hit the small Maine town of Derry. One example would be The Black Spot, a large fire that takes the lives of dozens of people (believed to be caused by Pennywise). Before Cary Fukunaga left the project, his original script for Part 1 actually featured The Black Spot but it had to be cut because of various budget reasons.

It (2017) Review - The Real Deal
Bill Skarsgård in It (2017) – images via Warner Bros. Entertainment

It’ll most likely be the opening to Part 2, which is a fantastic idea because the sequel needs to up the ante and reintroduce Pennywise in a big way. Another disaster that should be captured on film is the Kitchener Ironworks disaster, which killed nearly a hundred children and townspeople in the 1900s during an Easter egg hunt. Including these large-scale moments would be an excellent way to separate the two differents parts of the story.

But besides raising the stakes, the story this second time around should focus on the fact that the fears of the main characters never really went away despite the nearly three decades that have passed. Themes of never giving up and fighting off what scares you the most and stops you from being the best human being you can be, have to be rampant in this sequel. Muschietti can’t possibly hope to install the same levels of fear a second time in a row. So instead, he should focus on telling a more poignant story to wrap up this gruesome tale.

Stephen King’s It: No Longer What It’s Cracked Up To Be 1

Stephen King’s It: No Longer What It’s Cracked Up To Be

Very soon Stephen King’s horror epic It will slither into cinemas and the nightmares of several generations of viewers. The horror legend’s epic tale of confronting childhood trauma and fears deserves the adoring two-part adaptation coming our way and if the trailers aren’t misleading (and when are trailers ever misleading, am I right?) then Mama director Andy Muschietti has found a way to turn that thousand page doorstop into a rip-roaring cinematic horror show. Of course, for anyone who came of age in the 90s and squealed through a sleepover with a double VHS tape rental, there’s sense that this It will never be their It. The TV mini-series classic that ABC greenlit alongside Twin Peaks has grown to legendary status over the years, with Tim Curry’s Pennywise standing proudly alongside Freddy Krueger and Pinhead as one of the premiere movie monsters of a golden age for the genre. In anticipation of the new adaptation, I decided to dip back into the TV movie that scared me witless as a child. Sadly, I must admit that it was tough to go back to those sleepless nights in my jammies again.

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It (1990 – Stephen King)

While It stands as a genre classic alongside the cinematic horror greats of the 80s in the memories of many, watching the mini-series now makes its TV movie origins all too clear. It’s not just that the movie isn’t as scary as you remember; it’s tough to believe that this endless TV movie made that impact at all. The Vancouver-shot production now feels more like an extended episode of those other Can-con kiddie horrors of 90s: Goosebumps and Are You Afraid Of The Dark. Those scrappy low budget productions inspired children’s imaginations to fill in gaps and expand the scares of what was ultimately cheesy and cheap TV schlock. It is certainly more adult, ambitious, and effective than the average Goosebumps or Are You Afraid Of The Dark episode, but not by much. It only felt more deranged and disturbing to kids reared on the light stuff.

Admittedly, the first half of the two-part mini-series plays far better than the second half. Carrie screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen came up with an ingenious conceit to take advantage of the ad break TV storytelling format. One-by-one each member of the Losers’ Club are introduced as adults and forced to remember their scarring encounter with the demonic clown Pennywise as a child before an ad break. It allowed the first chapter to play like a series of short clown horror shocks that faded to black and let the kids at home squirm in their seats during the commercials. That’s actually a pretty clever way to take advantage of the TV movie format and condense the first half of the epic Stephen King novel. Of course, it also plays far more awkwardly now when viewing the movie without commercials, building up creepy clown sequences and then cutting out just as things get good.

Granted, things do get pretty damn good in that first act thanks almost entirely to a perfectly cast Tim Curry as Pennywise. The lovably hammy British actor clearly relished the evil clown role, bringing the make up to life with an unsettling growl of a voice, joyous dances of monster movements, and just enough screen time to make a big impact without feeling overplayed. He’s amazing in the role and the performance deserves its iconic status. Director Tommy Lee Wallace also had just the right naughty and surreal sensibility to deliver the Pennywise set pieces with style and intensity. The director of the deeply underrated trash classic Halloween III: Season Of The Witch clearly has no issue putting children in danger and knew how to use stop motion, make up, and rubber monster effects to weave living nightmares. His handling of the Pennywise sequences is pure nightmare stuff and somehow the blindingly bright analogue TV cinematography and almost exclusively daytime scare settings added to the off kilter feel.

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It (1990 – Stephen King)

Unfortunately, It isn’t an all-Pennywise all-the-time affair. If only it were. Likely you remember It as a Pennywise festival if you haven’t seen it since you were a child, but that’s only because few of the scenes without that evil clown make much impact. The rest of the movie feels far rushed and cheap. The sprawling cast rarely get more than a few scenes of characterization as the exposition-heavy screenplay stumbles along. The cast is predominantly made up of 80’s TV actors who play everything just a little too big and broad. When the second half of the two-part mini-series takes over and the child actors disappear, the whole thing feels stilted and dull as it stumbles towards a deeply underwhelming climax with a horrible (rather than horrifying) monster. Taken together as a three-hour epic, It peaks early and slowly gets worse and worse until the credits roll.

The TV-movie status also prevents this version of It from getting into the harsh themes of childhood trauma and abuse at the center of Stephen King’s horror epic. All that deeply relatable and disturbing material is reduced down to cornball after-school special bullying and implications of deeper material that never arrives. This is very much a neutered and rushed version of a classic novel that feels distinctly cheap and dated to contemporary eyes. It served as nightmare material at the time because the first half was damn frightening for children staying up late who only knew cheap TV horror and not the real or hard stuff just yet (as well as those who only caught the first episode when it was broadcast and mercifully missed the disappointing concluding chapter). Since Wallace and Curry nailed the Pennywise scare sequences so beautifully, they had a huge impact on unformed kiddie minds that burrowed in deep for generations. It’s hard to imagine any contemporary kid who has spent Sunday nights watching entrails explode on The Walking Dead or Game Of Thrones raise an eyebrow to this stuff anymore. It just hasn’t aged well.

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It (1990 – Stephen King)

Yet despite all that, the TV mini-series still deserves to be remembered as a minor TV classic. It works well as a throwback to 90’s TV horror and Tim Curry’s Pennywise is a monster for the ages. Like Poltergiest, Goosebumps, or Are You Afraid Of The Dark, the production is an ideal introduction to the horror genre for youngsters slowly discovering their limits. More than that, the fact that this epic horror tale about childhood trauma holds such a dark place in the minds of a generation of adults who consider this Pennywise a scarring childhood milestone is oddly appropriate. There’s something rather poetic about that, especially since revisiting this version of It through adult eyes proves just how hard it is to go home again. That’s a rather nice, if ironic, legacy for the project. The book deserves better though. With a little luck Stephen King’s It will finally get the genuinely horrifying adaptation it deserves. One that will terrify adults like the mini-series did for them as kids and will inspire a whole new generation of fans. If not, cling to the memories of your childhood glimpses of Tim Curry’s Pennywise dangling a balloon in the sewer. You’ll never recapture that formative fear again. That would be like trying to read R.L. Stine again and expecting to get a sleepless night. It’s just not going to happen.

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