31 Days of Horror: Enter the Stephen King Universe with Creepshow and The Dark Tower: The Art of the Film
2017 will go down as a massive year for the king of horror, Stephen King. A bestselling novel (Sleeping Beauties), multiples television shows (The Mist, Mr. Mercedes), film adaptations on both Netflix (1922, Gerald’s Game) and the big screen (It, The Dark Tower) – the list goes on and on. Here to add to it are two books tied in to the Stephen King Universe – one a blast from the past, the other a look at what should have been the beginning of a bright future.
Originally published back in 1982 at the same time as its cinematic release, the classic Stephen King graphic novel Creepshow has been reprinted for the first time in decades by Simon & Schuster. The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate, as the artwork for Creepshow comes from the pencil of the great and now sadly gone Bernie Wrightson. The co-creator of Swamp Thing, and a regular illustrator of King’ work, including his contributions to King’s Cycle of the Werewolf, Wrightson died this year after a long and continuous battle with ill health. His influence on generations of artists has never been in doubt, and it’s wonderful to have his and King’s tribute to the EC comics of their youth readily available for a new generation of horror fans eager to dig in. The graphic novel features the five stories that made up the original film, which was directed by another master who left us this year, George A. Romero.
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. As many of you may also know, I’m the author of the book Wrapped In Plastic: Twin Peaks (ECW Press, 2015). Previously, I never would have imagined that there would be any connection between two of my greatest loves, but following last night’s conclusion of Twin Peaks: The Return, I can’t help but think about how both series confounded expectations of their followers.
Read along with me, but be advised, there will be massive spoilers for both The Dark Tower and Twin Peaks: The Return.
Last night on Showtime brought the resolution of the 18-episode limited event series, Twin Peaks: The Return. As co-written by show creators Mark Frost and David Lynch, and directed solely by Lynch himself, the series was essentially about the return of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to the town he first visited some 25 years ago when he was tasked with investigating the murder of high school student Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).
I’m not going to get into deep analysis off the series as a whole (you can wait for the follow-up to my book), but it’s worth nothing that the real story for this remarkable piece of art Lynch and Frost created is ostensibly that of Cooper’s return to Twin Peaks, and a final confrontation with his evil doppelgänger that has roamed free for decades while Cooper himself has been trapped in the series’ supernatural meeting house, The Black Lodge. And in episode 17, that’s what Lynch and Frost deliver – moments that fans have dreamt of for 25 years themselves. Cooper, clad in his black suit and craving his cup of coffee, back in the town, surrounded by familiar faces and some new ones. The evil doppelgänger vanquished, seemingly for good. This was fan service at its finest, and for many, shutting things down with this conclusion probably would have been just fine. Read the rest of this entry
It was a lacklustre weekend at the box office, with the highest profile debut performing below even the many low expectations. Here’s what went down:
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower debut in first place at the box office with a disappointing $19.6 million (though with the number 19 significant in the novels, maybe this isn’t so bad?). Prior to reviews, estimates were that the film, which Sony hoped would be the debut of a new franchise, would hit in the mid-20’s, but the crushing reviews and fan backlash wound up giving The Dark Tower an underwhelming opening. The fact that neither of its stars can actually open a film didn’t help either. There’s just nothing good about that number, no spin that anyone can really use. The likelihood of the movie getting a cinematic sequel is virtually nil, unless it manages to perform well overseas. There is hope with the announced prequel television series, though, as many believe that tv was where this series should have been in the first place
I had really debated about not writing anything personal about The Dark Tower. I’m so close to it, as a fan, and there’s part of me that figured that if I liked it, I’d be writing to defend what showed up on screen. However, the truth is, I did like the movie. Very much, even with all of its obvious flaws. Having followed the film’s journey to the big screen, I knew very well that what would eventually arrive would be quite different from the books that left an indelible impact on me. This wasn’t going to be an obvious adaptation, verbatim. And fans, mostly those with little imagination, couldn’t accept that Roland would be portrayed by Iris Elba, regardless of his acting chops. Read the rest of this entry
Will an adaptation of a cult favourite series from one of the most popular writers on the planet be able to stave off fan skepticism and critical blows to debut at the top of the box office? Here’s our prediction:
Let’s just get this out of the way: I loved The Dark Tower books. I’m a massive Stephen King fan. I am predisposed to enjoy the film that arrives in theaters this weekend, regardless of its quality. But, realistically, this is a hard road for The Dark Tower, based on the scathing reviews its receiving and a fan base that feels let down by many of the decisions that surrounded bringing Roland and the Man in Black to life. There was so much working against this film prior to the horrible reviews, and it appears so many fears are actually being realized. Regardless of how good or bad the performances from stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are, neither actor can open a film, let alone one that was supposed to be the beginnings of a brand new franchise. While there are die-hard fans of The Dark Tower who will venture out this weekend to see the film, reviews be damned, the crossover appeal is going to be limited, and unless there’s a severe difference between critical and audience response a la Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Dark Tower is going to underperform below even the initial light projections. Look for a first place debut with $26 million.
For me the release of The Dark Tower as a major motion picture is a countdown. I’m on the clock, literally, as I want to finish the book series before the film comes out on Friday. I don’t know if I’ll make it. While you wish me hopeless luck, meet me after the jump to find out why I’m doing it, and my re-read thoughts.
To say that reading The Dark Tower changed my life is far from an understatement. It’s a fact. I never read Lord of the Rings. I haven’t gotten into Game of Thrones. No, for me, it’s only been Roland Deschain and his quest to get to the tower that holds all worlds together.
Seven years ago, I was commuting from my home in Toronto to a crappy job about 90 minutes via subway away. What kept me going through the first few months of 2010 was reading The Dark Tower on my little Sony e-reader. While I had picked up the original trade paperback edition of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger when it was released back in 1988 (and I was just 11 years old), and read subsequent instalments including The Drawing of the Three and The Waste Lands, the wait time between novels had killed my interest in the series, and it lay unfinished. However, in that winter of 2010, I was determined to read the books I’d already started, and finish the series.
We’re just a few short weeks away from the arrival of The Dark Tower in cinemas. I’m a devotee of Stephen King’s magnum opus (I’ll show you the Tower tattooed on my arm sometime), and I’m very much looking forward to the film, which stars Idris Elba as The Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as The Man In Black.
Yes, it will be different from the books, and there’s talk that the film has its issues. However, the books will always be there, and I’m sure that, even if it’s far from perfect, I’ll find things I love with this adaptation/sequel.
Here’s the latest trailer, which is a lot of fun. Will you be seeing The Dark Tower when it opens on August 4th?
The trailer for The Dark Tower is here. As an acolyte of the series, which changed my life, I have to say I am far more impressed than I thought I would be. Changes from the series are clear, but it still feels like the story I love. Just a different take. we’ll discover how it all turns out in August.
Biff Bam Pop Exclusive: 5 Questions With Peter David + A Preview Of The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Prisoner Issue 2
Legendary comic scribe Peter David is just that – a legend, thanks to defining runs on the Incredible Hulk and X-Factor, to name just two. For the past seven years, he’s been writing the Marvel adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal The Dark Tower series of books, alongside noted Dark Tower authority and King colleague Robin Furth. We had the chance to talk to Robin a few years ago, at the time of the release of the first Dark Tower Omnibus, and now, with we’ve got Peter David, who answered five questions about the series The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Prisoner, which tells of the early days of future ka-tet member Eddie Dean. The first issue was absolutely stellar for this Dark Tower devotee, full of familiar characters, great storytelling and easter eggs. So take a taste of what awaits you at the Dixie Pig.
Peter David: I’m reasonably sure it came into being because of me. I was in Jacksonville, Florida, a year and a half ago, recovering from a stroke, and Steve was kind enough to come visit me. He drove five hours to come up and spend an hour and a half at the facility with me. And while he was there, I told him–quite honestly–that fans kept asking when we were going to stop adapting book two. That they were anxious to see Eddie Dean and the others and continue Roland’s adventures. And Steve said, “Really?” And I said “Yeah.” And Steve said, “We should do that, then.” A month later I got a call from my former editor Bill Rosemann and he said, “Guess what? We’re back!” So thank God I had a stroke!
Andy Burns: One aspect of the first issue I really enjoyed was that a newcomer could pick up the issue and be immediately engaged, while Dark Tower devotees get to see familiar places or concepts. How different is the approach to this series from previous Dark Tower comics? Read the rest of this entry
Here at Biff Bam Pop!, we love Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. From interviews with comics creator Robin Furth here and here, to reviews of the comic, to even speculative casting of a Dark Tower film or TV series. Now, here’s a sneak peek at the new comic from Marvel, after the jump.