Aru,thot Stcphen

King: " Hortor pichnes are traditionauy seen, ond rightly so, as aploilalion aehicles."

Stephen King's Reign ofTerror
By FRANK l,OvllCE ANGOR, Me.-Like a creature frcm on€ of his horrcr novels, he I-t h both Stephen KinS and Stephen KinB KonB. Each of his 2l novels rnd three anthologies has been a best seller. lhere have been l? movies in 13 years; et least five more are in the workg. And even after three film flops ln a row-"Firestarter." "Cat's Eye," the trappinSs ol a papal attdience stnct tirne lirnits. nervous handlers and orchestrated rePlies that thankfully devolve into the kind of spontaneity lhat drives speech writers mad. When Krrrg loudly denounces the interview itsclf as "a Paramount publlcity tambit!" the handlers lmk as tf they have just seen Cujo. or Christine, or lt. himself often labeled "the McDonald'3 ol hormr"-ls more rambunctious than malevolent. Part ol this is due to the comlort of hls income: AccordlnB to Forbes magazine, he earned 815 million in 198? alone. But the rest is from 8iddiness over "Pel. SematarY." While King has adapted his own rtories before. thls latest script was shot closest to the source-both literally
and figuratlvely.

"Silver Bullet"-King still had enouSh clout thrt he was sllowed to direct "Muimum Overdrive."
KlnS chffies

couch in hi8 offlce,

rnd pr€pores to chat up "Pet Semstary," the new fllm he rdapted from hls l98il novel. lt has Srcaed more than l2,l milllon since its openlng two weeks e8o. lt has led the box-ollice race for
those two week! and enloy€d the bi8 ' Sesi op€nint weekend ever for a spnng

'nhe elfect is calculated The'll' year-old KinB is nol the down - hom€ Ysnkee bumpkin h€ often Presents hlmself as, but a m€dia'savvy master ofsund biles. "AnYbodY who'e ever worked making a horror lllm," he rayc, "knows that the real bogyman ls Jack valenti." head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, with which Kitrg has clashed over the naturc ol fllm horror.

"Twenty-four mile!

from my front door." Kln6 says with s 8mile. "Twenty -four'point-two, actu-


Thst wsr the dlEtance to Bltle lllll, Me., whlch stood ln lor the fictltious
town of [,udlow, where a Eupernatural graveyard brings th€ dead back to lile -thou8h as an old local { Fred Cwynoe ) warns a newconltr ( l)ale


Jeans and his

Desplte his ganSly slouch, his blue battered, camouflage' colored sneakers, the intervlew has sll

Valcnti's offtce declincd to comment. ) Krng later calls fellow borror novel' ist J(,hn Saul "s(hlocky-the Ro8er (brman of print." Srrmc woukl grumble about the pot. (allrrg the kellle black. Yet Ktrtg (


Directed by Mary l,amberl ( 'Sresta" ), the lllm is as horrlflc drl(l Scntlillely drsturbinS as the b($k rtself. whlch can
Pleost see K I NG. I'ole tj

"SometinreE, dea(l ls better'"


Purt Vl,r lltursrl:ry, lvlly 4, lgtl)

Conlinued lrotn I'ogc I be succinctly descrrtlcd as a parent's pflmal nightmar€. King is pleased. "You get the

feehng a lot of limes that lfilm rnakersl don't want you arorrnd," hc says, li8hting one rn.a chain of ciSareltes. "lt's kind of lrke,'You

know how to writc novcls; we know how to make pictures. '[hey'rc oil and water and they
(kJn t mix.'

llut with 'Pet Scnratary,' rt was shot up the roil(l and I got to
great! I was able to sit down with her and say, 'k)ok, I don t want to lmessl you up, I don't want to hanS r)ver you. Just lmk on me as Mr. (irxxlwrench.'"
King's conception of fix-it was to

know Mary l,ambert irn(l



Dedsc Crosby in a scete lrom Stephen Kiny's " Pet Senwtary," rohdch has grossed more than 124 miLion since its opening.
chair.' But originally, she also said, 'And I'm Sonna eat his breakfast cereal cven though it tastes like b<ngers,'and,'God can bring him back if he wants to-God's just like lnspector Gadget, he can do snythin8 he wants to.' I thought they were gmd lines," King &rys energetically. "They were funny, and they gave it a kind of interestinS ji8-jag8y quality. where you don't know whether to lau8h or not." Actually, that has been an element ol m0st 0f the KinS movies, thou8h not intcntionally. After the huBe success of the first-director Brian De Palma's 1916 adaptation of "Carrie," budgeted st 31.8 milmillion in domestlc rentals-Holly wood began optionlnt KinS's novels almost automatically. Yet after Tobe Hooper's well-received TVmovie "Salem's tot" (lgl9) and Stanley Kubrick's prestigious but erratlc adaptation ol "The ShininB" (l9[l0), the trend turned toward
King as sausage rather than steak. The movies, from a variety of studlos, became ever more margin al and silly, with genre directors such as Ceorge Romero, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, and

llon and earnlnS more than ll5

trsh for "the half-humorous spirit (lilfereDt aspects 0f th€

rn the bmks. 'l'here's always been a

lot ol funny stuff thai's playetl off the horror, because they're just
hrng. "



Ilut film

rnakers. hc says. "want

concentrate on the scare el€rnent. on lhe Bross-out elenrent, on lhe suspense element. There are moments in'Pet Scmatary' I had to

fiSht to keep in, and there


thin8s in the rou8h cut that are not

feature-film newcomers such as Frltz Kiersch, Denlel Attiad and King hlms€lf tenerally workinS


Themost magrilicent

llorAnplca Otncr
with budgets ol 18 million or lcss. Somc ol the films turned protitsthe critically castigated "Children
cult audience.

ol the Corn," for instance, had a
mlllion in domestic rentals-but

'[he novelist has mxed feelin8s about that, "ilorror pictures are
tra(lilionally seen, antl rightly so, as exploitation vehlcles. They'rc supposed to 8o out ihere, make the

it's on vldeocassette and we're out. we're home free." Ile doesn't like it, but he undcr stands it.
What KinS understend! less so is

bud3et ol 13 millton and reaped 36 9

most were critical and commercial du&. The only l\it was director Rob

Reiner's "Star'1 By Me" ([t86), adapted frorn King's non-horror novella "The Body." Still, producers keep coming


brand name brings in a pre-sold

to Klng, knowing that


weekend. lt's a quick, dirty buck. They're 8r)nna do it on a sho€strin8. They're gonna make what they can. lt's gonna drop 5O7o the second week. 'Ihree weeks later il.'s gone. Four rnonths later

large percentage of whatever they'll Sross-word used advisedly-that first

the MPAA and it! ratings board. A

few seconds had to be trimrned from "Pet Sematary" ln order to stave off an X rstin8: A sccne
where a demonic child chows down on the neck ol a prone victrm. "That's, OK, I can und€rstand."

says Kin8. "But thcy msde us Pleasc ue XING, Puge 7

bdLffi b'-tF (l-rh.


Ir-oilta.r!t -rb& 6 rr.taa. pt

h N

lbrAuqelcr Otmco

Poge 6

chan8e the po€ter."

"We had en advertisinS campaiSn that the MPAA would not

rately enou6h, "The whole book ls abouL kids Settins eaten by monsters!" Both "lt" and "The Talisman," which Steven Spielberg had at one polnt wanted to dlrect, are
being developed a8 miniseries elsewhere.

IhUHTb rDltil !.r r.ra. *a

us ule," says producer Rtchard


the chlld, coupled with the llne,


was a painting of


'Sometlmes, dead iE better.' We were told thst this violates the corc

ol the

MPAA code relatlnS 0o portraylnt or connotinS kld8 ln




Jeopardy-whtch is the core of this picture." Ttey substituted, 8ay! KinB, an adult charscter "with hir brains hansin8 out.'I'hat was more acceptable!" Bethlyn Hand, vice president of the MPAA's Advertising Adminis-

"'l'he Stand," King's pet epic about a futuristic plague, has been in development aE a film for aboul Blx years. "The book's 8oin8 to hc relssued next year," he sayo. "Un erpurSated-{0o pages longer. As lar as the script, I've tried three or lour drafts of lt. lt wasn't workinS for me." Screenwrlter Rospo PallenberS ("The Emereld Forest") is now giving a shot. The next definite KinS adaptation wlll be the

rurF.rtl ffi


Sltttal 8.8.6 Htrl. rtr.ilr-[t {r.rl.rl rrft*llr ililt4.[l la-ta-ta

Sl{-million "Misery," wlth dlrecGoldinan ecript.

tration offlce, says that in the orl8inal poster, "the child's eyeE are rolled up. His mouth ls open.
He's standing, but he looks dead." the approved one, the man "lmks llke he may have b€en hit on the llde of the head, and there's drled blood, but no gore. "And," she addr lervently, "saying that about a chlld, 'Sometimes, dead iE better.' Whcn? I want to know. WAaa ls dead better?" Hand lsn't alone ln her feellngs; ABC-TV similarly objected to the novel "1t," which the network hsd

tor/co-producer Rob Reiner rollln8 this summer from a Willlam



to run as a fall


mlnlserles. But as KinS says, accu-

That seems centuries away, on this spring morninS. King is fidgetin8, anxious to hop into his Blazer and get back to wife Tabitha and kids Owen, Naomi and Joe, to the converted loft where he doee his wrltinS, in the two-8tory Victorran home that ls a Bangor landmark. "What can I do?" he pleads near the top of his lungs. "l'm in such demand, rnrnl" Hls tone i! one of playful gmd humor. Like he says, that and horror may be dlJferent taces of the rame thln8.