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Tag Archive: Stephen King


How often does a young actor get a week where he is featured in two studio trailers?  Last week that was Charlie Heaton, the 21-year-old actor known for his role as Jonathan Byers, the awkward teenage brother of missing kid Will and son of Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers on last year’s hit retro series Stranger Things.  He’s back in the final preview for Season 2, premiering on Netflix next week.  One of the questions that fans of Stranger Things will be watching for this season is whether Jonathan and Nancy finally get together this year.

Last week 20th Century Fox released a trailer for the next Marvel Studios X-Men spinoff, The New Mutants.  Based on a three-issue story arc from the comic book series in 1984, this very different X-Men story is being marketed as Stephen King meets John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  A horror film blending with the superhero genre but without supersuits or supervillains, it focuses on five mutant kids including Sam Guthrie aka Cannonball, played by Heaton.  Doctor Who and Game of Thrones viewers will also notice Maisie Williams co-starring in the film–she will play the character known as Wolfsbane.

Even the feel of The New Mutants has a retro vibe, which is probably why Stranger Things’ co-star Heaton was cast in the film.  Check out these two new trailers featuring Charlie Heaton, the final Stranger Things season two trailer and the first trailer for The New Mutants:

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That night I moved from the upstairs bedroom to the one beside mom and dad.  I had nightmares until I was in bootcamp.

So if you wanted to find out what the scariest movies were, how would you proceed?  Unless you’re a diehard horror movie fan, you can’t really come close to seeing them all.  And how do you get past general movie reviews to the actual movie watchers?  Isn’t that the best place to get to the truth?  Would you just come out and tell someone what really scares you?

About a month ago a question was posed to a group of general interest fanboys and fangirls on the Internet:  What movie traumatized you as a kid?  More than 12,500 people responded.  So what scares did they get while they were kids that stayed with them to this day?  The answers provided a great list of movie recommendations for Halloween, including more than 50 identified below with some of the responders’ reactions.  The results were cross-generational, with comments from people who were kids in the 1950s through well into the 1990s.  Some are movies watched in the theater, some at drive-ins, others from the living room on late night TV.  Sprinkled into the responses are movies that probably would scare only kids (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Alice in Wonderland) but most responses were films Rated R or otherwise targeted at adults.  You’d think the list would include nearly everything we listed on this month’s schedule of movies appearing on TV (here at borg.com).  That wasn’t always the case.  And many might make you think nobody has ever paid attention to that Rated R advisory and that many parents took kids to movies way before they should have.  The actor who tops the list?  The versatile Bette Davis, who appeared in numerous horror films and two at the top of this list (I watched my best friend in junior high hide behind his hands watching the film The Watcher in the Woods starring Davis, so consider that one of my recommendations).  It should be no surprise many of the scares come from stories written by Stephen King.

So… to quote Dan Aykroyd talking to Albert Brooks at the beginning of the movie The Twilight Zone:

Do you want to see something really scary?

So what movies topped the list–the films that created actually nightmares for so many?  Several hundred people identified these three as the most traumatizing:  What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (“scared the shit out of me and we had to go home”), The Exorcist (“I don’t think my sister or I slept for a month”), and The Wizard of Oz (“the witch and the flying monkeys!”).  The next tier went to some movies you may not even remember or would think of:  The Hand (“I still don’t let my arm dangle or leg the edge of the bed at night”), The Day After (“to this day the visuals haunt me”), and Rosemary’s Baby (“my mother’s worst parenting decision was allowing me to watch it”).  Close behind were Trilogy of Terror (“that doll bothered me for years”), Arachnophobia (“I hate spiders as much as clowns”), Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (“Mom told me not to look when Charlotte chops a guy’s head off with a hatchet, but it was too late”), and Child’s Play (lots of instances of older kids traumatizing their younger siblings after watching).

Dozens were frightened by Ridley Scott’s original Alien, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (“I turn away when I know the dead guy scene is coming”), the original The Thing and John Carpenter’s The Thing (but no mention of the latest remake), Stephen King’s original It with Tim Curry (“I will never understand why my parents allowed me to watch that”), and a Universal monster classic: The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Who knew this would make the list: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (“Christopher Lloyd… Scariest children’s movie villain ever”), and many more mentions included A Nightmare on Elm Street (“Thinking someone could kill me in my dreams and never physically be there ruined my ability to sleep soundly”), Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal (“Skeksis are creepy to this day”) and Labyrinth (“when the fireys sing their song and do their dance for Sarah”), Stephen King’s The Shining (“I am sure my scream carried for miles,” “stood out in the lobby most of the movie”) and Pet Sematary (“still can’t watch it”), Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (“couldn’t take a shower without locking the bathroom door for years”), Sleeping Beauty (“my parents had to take me out of Sleeping Beauty I was so scared”), A Clockwork Orange (“will always haunt me”), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (“I’m still not ok with it… I won’t watch it”), The Amityville Horror (“at least a month before I’d sleep without lights on”), Jaws (“I still won’t go in the water”), and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot (“had to get behind the couch,” “could never have gaps in curtains or blinds for the next 20 years”).

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Narragansett Brewing Company has a new Lovecraft beer available this summer, complete with an excellently creepy and fantasy-rich marketing campaign.  The latest in Narragansett’s series of Lovecraft offerings features a tale of a classic copper-helmeted deep-sea diver, and the presentation is the kind of design that beer can collectors will want to get their hands on.  Born in 1890, the same year that Narragansett Beer was founded, H.P. Lovecraft spent the majority of his life in Providence, Rhode Island, as a struggling author, only achieving literary fame posthumously.  Commonly referred to as the “Father of Modern Horror,” he influenced authors and artists from Stephen King to Metallica to Ridley Scott.  H.P. Lovecraft is probably best known for creating Cthulhu, a fictional deity described as being part man, part dragon and part octopus.  It is this creature that inspired the Cthulhu Mythos, a cultural lore and shared fictional universe of Lovecraft successors.

Past Lovecraft beers in the series have featured homages to Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Herbert West–Reanimator, and The White Ship Now ushering in the Halloween season, inspired by Lovecraft’s incredible short story The Temple, Narragansett’s latest includes a great video to accompany the release (check it out below, and you can read Lovecraft’s original stories online at the links in the above titles).

Now that autumn has arrived it’s also time for Oktoberfests, and Renaissance Faire season is in full swing.  Narragansett has that covered as well, with a richly drawn medieval theme in its new Fest Marzen Lager.  Featuring an image of the mythical King Gambrinus based on an 1898 illustration, the orange can echoes the coming falling leaves and contains the company’s Bavarian style beer offered in the 1960s and 1970s.  The Fest product was the most requested beer by fans of the company in a recent poll, and this is the first time the company is releasing it to market in three years.  To celebrate the “Return of the King,” ‘Gansett is launching release parties and even a half marathon with pumpkin pie at the finish line.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Twenty years ago this weekend, the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed back to China by the United Kingdom as the last act of the old British Empire, without incident.

The anniversary of this transfer of power coincides with the release by Hard Case Crime of one of crime fiction readers’ most eagerly awaited events: the final novel of Donald E. Westlake.  The result surpasses all expectations from one of America’s most celebrated authors:  the adventure of Ian Fleming, the complexity of Michael Crichton, the surprises of Stephen King, the thrills of Peter Benchley, the pulse of John Grisham.  A taut thriller, gripping, heart-pounding, and jaw-dropping, Forever and a Death is Donald E. Westlake saving his best for last.  Forever and a Death is his never-before-published new novel–a James Bond story of sorts–with an intriguing backstory.  Tapped to write the second James Bond film to feature Pierce Brosnan as Bond, Westlake created a compelling story of international intrigue revolving around the return of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997.  Because of the success of GoldenEye, the uncertainty of a smooth transfer of power of Hong Kong, and a distaste by the Chinese market for Bond,  the Broccoli family and the Bond franchise machine amicably parted ways with Westlake.  But he then reworked his story in secret, leaving behind at his death in 2008 a stunning action adventure, only snipping the world famous spy from the story.

The result is one of the most intelligent, loathsome, and shrewd Bond villains you’ll ever meet, Richard Curtis, an enormously wealthy business mogul who has amassed a network of corporations across the globe that will allow him to carry out his every wish.  When he is booted from Hong Kong at the transfer of power, he becomes fixated on a power play to destroy Hong Kong as payback.  As with many wealthy CEOs, Curtis is charismatic and influential.  He has encircled himself with individuals who are beholden to him for their own wealth and they would do anything to maintain his and their own lifestyle.  And that includes murder.  Not as preposterous as many Ian Fleming constructions, the method Westlake creates for Curtis is completely believable: using a series of carefully calculated explosions, a soliton wave will be created that will shake the very foundation of Hong Kong and reduce the entirety of the city–skyscrapers, homes, and millions of lives–to sediment.  Westlake introduces his male protagonist to show us the way, a trusted engineer named George Manville (a partner in action with Bond in the original treatment).  Kept in the dark about the ultimate goal, Manville completes the first test on a small abandoned island near Australia that he believes to be part of a plan to make the island into a lavish resort.  But when an environmental group tries to stimy Curtis’s test, a headstrong activist and diver emerges, a woman named Kim Baldur (who would become, to a small extent, Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies) dives into the ocean and swims for shore to stop the operation.  Unfortunately for her, Manville neglected to incorporate a kill switch to the project, and she is swallowed by the wave and what would have been a superb Honey Ryder-esque Bond girl is left for dead.  And this is only the introduction of the novel.

Artist Paul Mann completing the original artwork for the cover of Forever and a Death (from Illustrated 007).

Westlake peppers his story with completely unique characters, and readers will find they empathize with even the most minor of them as they are subjected to Curtis’s gruesome tactics.  You may need to remind yourself to breathe as well-meaning whistleblowers find themselves in Hong Kong’s underbelly just as Curtis begins to carry out a plan to walk away from his destruction with a haul of gold bars that rest in the bank vaults beneath the city.

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Stranger Things cast

Stranger Things is a rare thing among plenty of series bombarding viewers of streaming services.  It would never get accused of trying too hard.  It’s good but not great.  It features no major actors.  It has developed a cult following yet it is not produced by J.J. Abrams (think Lost, Fringe, Almost Human, Believe, Westworld).  And for all these things, it’s just what we want.  We’ve had enough of CGI and big budget explosions and special effects.  Low budget is just fine–for now.  It’s that movie you are looking for late on a Saturday night, but stretched to eight episodes long.

More series like this will make Netflix survive despite all the competition from other services.  Stranger Things is good enough–good at sci-fi and horror and coming of age retro fun–to get you to sign up with Netflix for your next binge watch session.  More important than its storytelling is how the story is told, and the efforts taken to make the series, the characters, the setting, the dialogue, all look like it was filmed in the early 1980s.  Several artists have even mocked up the series marketing material into VHS tape packaging.  Were it a movie-length feature it would probably fool many.  It’s in the same vein as Disney’s Watcher in the Woods.  Like Stephen King’s Firestarter, Stand By Me and Silver Bullet it features kids in a coming-of-age setting.  Its monster/alien horror and soundtrack (available here) reflects the look and vibe of John Carpenter movies.  The marketing screams Stephen King, especially that red-on-black title font.  And it will no doubt gin up nostalgia to spur cassette tapes of its soundtrack like Guardians of the Galaxy.

Stranger Things VHS

It’s Steven Spielberg’s E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, if the story had taken a darker turn, and very similar to Spielberg and Abrams’ Super 8 (Super 8 poster artist Kyle Lambert even created the poster for this series to further lock in the look).  Critics have picked apart odds and ends found in the background of scenes–this item didn’t exist then, etc.  But ultimately the overall feel is very right.  You’ll point to a pitcher on the table, a rug on the floor, a poster on the wall, all that you had back then.  And the season one wrap-up is as satisfying as you’re going to find in a TV series.

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Audrey haven

We’ve been fans of Haven, Syfy’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, from episode one and seeing Emily Rose (Audrey/Sarah/Mara/Lucy), Eric Balfour (Duke), and Lucas Bryant (Nathan) at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2012.  The three series stars are returning, joined by Dwight (Adam Copeland) and the brothers Teagues (Richard Donat and John Dunsworth), as they have one season to make a final stand against The Troubles.

Unlike so many series that have a good run and are cancelled dead in their tracks, leaving fans hanging forever, Haven will be able to complete its story, with 13 episodes that have already aired in Season 5 and 13 more in the can, including a series finale promising to tie up any loose ends.

haven finale

When we next catch up with the citizens of Haven, Dwight makes an important announcement: Haven PD is no more, The Guard has taken over and everyone is trapped inside town.

Here is a promo for the end of the series:

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EUROPA-REPORT-Poster

We’ve previewed the first trailer for Matt Damon’s science fiction film, Elysium, earlier this year.  Writer/director Neill Blomkamp offers his next entry in the science fiction as social commentary vein following his very successful District 9, one of the few films ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  This second trailer for Elysium reveals a far more layered and interesting film than that shown in the first preview, however, it suffers from the problem on the other side of the spectrum:  It just reveals too much.  It’s possible the marketing folks think they need to show more to get people interested and into the theaters, but you wish there was a better, middle ground to be found.  Still, it looks great.

Check out the second trailer released for Elysium:

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joyland banner

As the carny says “Step right up! Step right up!”

Talk “the Talk” @Titan Books to Win Prizes Money-Can’t-Buy

What’s “the Talk”?  Check out our review of Stephen King’s newest novel Joyland, released this week at borg.com.  Bestselling author Stephen King’s new tale is a murder-mystery mixed with a coming of age story based in the early 1970s in a North Carolina amusement park.  Fan’s of King will find it in the same vein as Stand by Me (aka “The Body”) and The Green Mile.

Celebrating the release of Joyland, Titan Books and Hard Case Crime are teaming up with a series of digital partners to host competitions to win a free copies of Joyland and a limited run of EXCLUSIVE Joyland canvas prints of Glen Orbik’s cover painting:

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Joyland cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Tomorrow Stephen King’s newest novel, Joyland, hits the shelves already a pre-release #1 Bestseller.  Come back to borg.com Friday, June 7, 2013, for information on how to win copies of an exclusive edition of Joyland or canvas cover prints of the novel’s artwork from Titan Books, publisher of the Hard Case Crime imprint, as part of the Stephen King-Joyland online book tour.

As a fan of many Stephen King movies and TV series based on his books, strangely enough I never made it through a Stephen King novel before now.  Because King’s adapted visual works have been so consistent, I found the easy-going storytelling in Joyland to be very familiar.  Joyland contains themes found in the innocence of Stand By Me (based on King’s novella The Body) and Silver Bullet (based on King’s novella Cycle of the Werewolf), the supernatural of The Green Mile (based on King’s serial novel of the same name), and the Northeast U.S. town-life found in the TV series Haven (based on King’s The Colorado Kid) and The Dead Zone (based on King’s novel).  King’s storytelling is very recognizable–you’d know his style anywhere.  And Joyland is not horror, but a blend of true crime-type drama mixed with King’s signature violent/explicit/graphic accounts of not just the crime that is the focus of the story but the life of the protagonist.  Yet it is also a coming of age story for the 20s set–written in a manner similar to classic middle grade and young adult works, like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Tex, and even some of Judy Blume’s works.

Old Joyland Amusement Park

Old Joyland Amusement Park (King’s is a fictional park)

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Chasing the Dead cover 1 Chasing the Dead cover 2

Chasing the Dead is a 2007 supernatural thriller novel by Joe Schreiber.  Schreiber has written several genre novels including Star Wars: Red Harvest, Star Wars: Death Troopers, Star Wars: Darth Scabrous, and Supernatural: The Unholy Cause, as well as No Doors No Windows, Eat the Dark, Perry’s Killer Playlist, and Au Revoir Crazy European Chick.  IDW Publishing writers Matthew Scott and Tim Westland have begun to adapt Schreiber’s Chasing the Dead into a monthly comic book series.

Chasing the Dead  takes readers for a very intense ride.  We meet Susan Young, now separated from the man she married who was a childhood friend.  They both shared a secret, and now their secret has impossibly returned and their daughter is now thrust into what reads like a suspenseful horror movie plot.  A 13-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl are playing at a park in a town that has a rash of child murders.  A strange car slowly pulls up and instead of another abduction the little boy grabs a knife and strikes back at the attacker, killing him, but not before noticing something unworldly about the killer.

Tomorrow Issue #3 is being released and we’re previewing the first seven pages below.  Want to get caught up?  Keep reading for an overview of Issues #1 and #2, and why you might want to check out this series.

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