Well, it looks like 2017 has come and gone.
Actually, am I a little late? Since it seems like we are actually well into 2018…
HI GUYS! YOUR NERD IS BACK! MISS ME MUCH???
Yeah, the hiatus has been long. Life has been getting the way…
And you don’t even want to know how much time I had to spend fighting the Todash monsters!
So yeah, 2017 was Stephen King 2.0. And if you are gonna have a 2.0 of anything, make sure it is a continuation of the story, not just a rehash…
(We all know my feelings on sequels.)
King was back, and this round of King was at least as good as the 80’s hey day, and may even have been better. And I don’t often say that about sequels and reboots!
2017 showed King in all of his forms:
We had the King of horror, in the movie It.
We had the King of fantasy, in the Dark Tower movie.
We had the King of stories about women, in the Netflix adaptation of Gerald’s Game, and the publication of the novel Sleeping Beauties, co-authored by the prince, aka Owen King. 2017, coincidentally, was the year of #metoo. Or maybe not so coincidentally, as a famous character reminds us: coincidence has been cancelled, sugar.
I could go on and on, actually…
We even have some things that don’t officially have King’s name on them, but still feel like they are part of the sequel that was 2017.
All things serve The Beam, after all..
But, let’s get back on topic.
I may not have spent copious amounts of time on this little old blog talking about the year of The King, but that does not mean that 2017 went unnoticed.
On the contrary, in fact.
Actually, I reveled in it.
There is just something about being an adult with the maturity to really enjoy the nuances of a Stephen King story.
Of course, a Netflix subscription doesn’t hurt either!
So, I am making this entry to recap and talk a little about some of the year of The King.
Obviously, I can’t get through it all in one entry, but I can at least talk about the highlights.
After all, it doesn’t cost anything to just talk about the highlights, right?
(Totally written in my Leland Gaunt voice, by the way.)
So buckle in (hopefully you are not strapping yourself into a 1958 Plymouth Fury.)
And get ready to talk about our favorite boogeyman (and some of his boogeyman friends), Stephen King!
And, as always:
The Dark Tower movie
Yep, I am going there. Do I have a choice?
So, let’s talk a little about this cycle of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger’s adventures…
The cycle where Roland is different, as he is missing…
So, in the spirit of the western that it is, I have divided my critique of The Dark Tower into three sections: the good, the bad and the ugly.
And I will start with the bad, to get that part of the way first, since I am such as sunny optimist.
The bad of this movie: it all boils down to one thing.
That one thing would be the length of the movie.
We needed more time in Mid-World.
We needed more time for the relationship between Roland and Jake to develop.
And all of these issues could have been resolved with a longer movie.
Seriously, Sony Pictures. Would it have killed you to make this movie 20-30 minutes longer?
That being said, there was plenty of good to this movie.
The location of South Africa was a perfect place to bring Mid-World to life. I did indeed get a sense of “the world moving on.”
The acting was also a good part to the movie. Roland, The Man in Black and Jake Chambers were all brought to life by the respective actors, and brought life into characters who were previously just written words on a page.
Oh, let’s not forget the ugly.
As most Constant Constant Readers know, the future of The Dark Tower film franchise is simply unknown at this time. I don’t think even Jake Chambers’ shining powers can tell us what it in store for it.
But we will always have the books.
And hopefully a multi season television show that will allow for another journey into Mid-World.
Gerald’s Game and 1922
Seriously, can we write it into law that only Netflix is allowed to adapt any Stephen King property?
Well, I am joking on that statement, sorta.
What I am not joking about is the quality of either 1922 or Gerald’s Game.
Both movies were nearly perfect, and deserve a place in the top Stephen King movie adaptations, and maybe even in the top book to screen adaptations.
Gerald’s Game was actually timely, even though the source material was published twenty years ago. But 2017 was also the year of #metoo.
Jessie Burlingame, the lead character in the book and film of Gerald’s Game, would highly approve of #metoo.
As Jessie went through it too.
She endured years of abuse, beginning with a horrific childhood memory that she repressed, until she was forced to confront it. Jessie was forced to confront the memory, as she finds herself a literal prisoner in her bedroom, chained to the bed posts, unable to escape her prison.
Once Jessie confronts her memories, she is able to escape the prison. Many women who were part of #metoo in 2017 must have also felt this kind of release, as they finally shared their memories of abuse.
Keeping those kind of memories held in does create a kind of prison, and finally being able to share those memories is the only way to escape.
I like to think that I saw Jessie Burlingame in that mass of women on the cover of Time magazine. For she is the Everywoman, with a story to tell, to anyone who takes the time to listen.
We also have 1922.
I can’t find much social relevance in that one, like I did with Gerald’s Game, although I felt some sympathy for Wilf’s wife Arlene, who was clearly was struggling against the patriarchy, and ultimately paid the price for attempting to stand up to it.
1922 is King’s riff to The Tell Tale Heart.
Someone does something (i.e. Wilf) and tries to keep that a secret.
However, keeping that secret results in even more tragedy, as Wilf’s son impregnates the neighbor’s daughter, and the two go on a bank robbing spree. Ultimately, Henry and Shannon pass away as well.
And Wilf does not even keep his farm, he is still forced to sell it, even though he murdered his wife in order to keep the farm.
1922 is a horror story, in the style of Edgar Allan Poe.
But it is also a sort of fairy tale, with a statement on morality, reminding us that there is always another way, often a better way, that may result in far less tragedy than a man’s bruised ego.
In 2017, the world saw a monster.
It hid in dark places.
When it emerged, chaos reigned.
It was evil and vicious. And it seemed to bring out the worst in people.
And, oh god. You don’t even want to know about its orange…
In other words, I am talking about Pennywise the dancing clown!
Who did you think I was talking about? I mean, we are talking about a Stephen King adaptation, not a horror story!
And boy, what a cinematic experience!
There are some firsts that you will always want back. One of those firsts, at least for me, would be the first time I saw the clown and The Losers Club on the big screen.
From the moment the movie started, I was pulled in.
For the next 135 minutes, I lived in Derry, Maine.
I witnessed the death of Georgie. I also witnessed a woman watch a child being killed, but doing nothing about it, both literally and figuratively shutting herself away from the evil that was right underneath her nose.
I watched the Losers deal with the bullies. In particular, I watched Bev handle the bullying, rumors and harassment that she was subjected to on a daily basis. But somehow, she kept her head high, when many would have been driven to sacrifice themselves to Pennywise voluntarily.
I also watched the Losers find each other and form that friendship, and I cheered for them.
I also wept for them, as I experienced the abuse Bev received from her father. I also wept for Eddie, who endured a form of abuse from his mother, who used her son’s health as a weapon against him, in her attempt to control him.
I laughed with The Losers, as they endured Richie’s foul mouth and even more foul jokes.
I felt their fear, as The Losers Club realized that Derry was invested with an ancient evil, in much the same way a house could be invested with cockroaches and other, deadlier terrors.
And I triumphed with those meddling kids, as they confront their fears and therefore confront Pennywise the clown. I felt a particular triumph for Bev that was almost primal in nature, as she finally stands up to her father and inflicts the pain upon him that he so richly deserved.
There was the final battle, where I felt that feeling of unity when The Losers confronted Pennywise, and bested him. For now.
My only issue with It?
Do I really really have to wait until 2019 to see part 2?
*silently screams into the cosmic void and hopes a trans-dimensional creature pretending to be a clown doesn’t hear her*
And no, not that kind of “oh yeah.”
As in oh yeah, I gotta get up, go to work, come home, go to work and then fall asleep so I can wake up and do the same thing the next day.
No, this kind of “oh yeah” is the kind of “oh yeah” you might utter when you find your hidden stash of chocolate peanut butter cups that you stashed so well that you forgot that you stashed it. That kind of “oh yeah.”
And that is what Sleeping Beauties was in 2017:
Something that you knew was around in the back of your mind, but almost forgot about, due to the embarrassment of other riches, at least Stephen King -wise.
As in, we get all of these onscreen adaptations AND a book!
What’s more, the book is a collaboration with the prince, aka Owen King.
Well, sign me up!
I signed up indeed, and happily!
Sleeping Beauties was a King story, at its core.
Women fall asleep and a webbing forms around them. And trust me, you do not want to wake them up! If you do wake them up, do so at your own risk, as horrible things will happen, since this is, well, a King story!
But, like a King story, Sleeping Beauties is so much more than a crazy horror-fantasy dystopian tale.
It is a tale of marriage that ultimately cannot stand a literal apocalypse and therefore falls apart.
It is a tale of a parent’s love for his child, and just how far he is willing to go for that love.
The Aurora Flu, as the condition is referred to in Sleeping Beauties, can be seen as a metaphor for childbirth, rape and host of other things that are a daily fact of life for women, but pretty much a non factor for men.
When the women in Sleeping Beauties fall asleep, the world basically goes to…
Well, the world goes to hell. I cannot find any other word for it.
The work that women do is often invisible labor: we give birth, we take care of kids, we keep up a house, we cook, etc. And most of us also work a “paid” job as well.
But most of the work we do is invisible. We do it because we are conditioned to it, almost from day one. It is expected of us as women: we do the heavy lifting, and no one thanks us or offers us any praise, because that is the minimum that is expected of us.
However, the world cannot survive without the invisible labor. In fact, the world would fall apart.
And this is exactly what happens in Sleeping Beauties: half of the world’s population becomes incapacitated, and 90% of the world goes to hell.
Turns out that when 50% of the population that does 90% of the work disappears, things fall apart pretty quickly.
Move that segment of the population to an alternate post-apocalyptic dimension that is not inhabited by anyone but is still inhabitable, and that segment is just fine.
Well, not entirely fine. Our Place, as that world is called, is not perfect. But it is functional, unlike the “real” world, where things only go downhill from day 1 of the Aurora Flu. The implications are fascinating.
So, oh yeah, we got a Stephen King/Owen King book in 2017.
Do yourself a favor, pull it out of your stash and go to town!
Stranger Things Season 2
Okay, take a minute to beat me with the wet noodle!
*endures lashing like the good sport she is*
There, feel better?
Good, now let’s talk about this entry.
I know it is *technically* not Stephen King, but let’s not beat around…
Stranger Things has a huge debt to Stephen King. We all know this.
Kids who are Losers group together, and fight an inter-dimensional monster.
A small town that ignores the evil that is present.
And the list goes on and on. In fact, characters are even seen reading books by The Master!
I am just going to come right out and say it: there is a Stranger Things level of The Tower!
So, this show has earned its rightful place in this entry.
However, one thing will remain true in regards to Stranger Things:
It is a damn good show, point blank and period. With or without the connections to The Master.
I was worried that the second season of the show would be a sequel, rather than a continuation of the story.
(See above note in regards to Phantasm 2 and Children of the Corn what the fuck is that number again.)
However, it turns out my fears were unfounded.
If anything, the second season of Stranger Things has actually strengthened that universe (or level of The Tower, if you prefer.)
And speaking of Eleven…
How about that character development?
And there was Hopper, the father is who not a creepy pedophile. In other words, a father and not a papa.
Getting to know Will as a human, and not just as the “boy who died and came back” was also a highlight of the season. Again, more proof of just how strong the cast for this show really is.
So, let me sum up Stranger Things season 2 in one word:
So, that is it for my recap of 2017, which will forever be known as The Year of the King.
I know that I missed quite a few things, but what else can I say, it was one busy year!
And from the looks of it, 2018 will be pretty busy as well, so looks like I better get on it!
So long days and pleasant nights to my fellow Constant Constant Readers, and I can’t wait to continue the journey into 2018 and beyond!