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Stephen King's Desperation

Movie based on King's book

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  • May 21, 2013


"Desperation" is one of my favorite King novels out there, in fact I remember the day I bought it. It was in 1996 when I was living in Laredo Texas, I got it with his other novel under the name Richard Bachman, "The Regulators". I had to get both because they were mirror books, some of the same characters and things in parallel universes. Any way I had waited for years to see this book on film. So finally a few years back I got it, and what I got was a pretty good TV flick.

A young couple is driving threw the Nevada desert when they are pulled over by a local sheriff. Things heat up as the officer plants drugs on them and arrests them. When taken into the town it seems like no one actually lives there, it is a ghost town. They reach the jail only to be locked up with other unlucky travelers who the sheriff grabbed. They have no idea what is going on but something is really messed up with this sheriff. It may or may not have something to do with the town's history and the mine that was once the life blood of the place. Something that may not be human at all.

This King adaptation which was written by King himself is of course nowhere near as good as the book, but it is good. Mick Garris comes back to direct this movie as he has made many a King flick. In fact he was the director of the epic "The Stand" that many people including myself love. I like that he tried to keep the feeling of the book intact but it doesn't match entirely. Still the idea of good versus evil is obviously still intact which has always been a big thing in most King novels. In fact this one has much to do with God and the evil that would be against him. In that respect it is much like "The Stand" and the spiritual quest that those us who believe must take to over come said evil.

I will say that I love the way this film was shot, there are times when it makes the story feel so much bigger. Then of course there are times when it gets tight and that adds to the feeling of dread that the group has to deal with. Also the effects are very good for a TV flick which this is, it was not a miniseries. The look of the sheriff as he wears down is very well done as are any bloody moments. Speaking of him Ron Pearlman is great here as the lead villain. You can tell he had a really great time with this role and at times ham'd it up.

Also Garris regulars Matt Frewer and Steven Weber are excellent as well. Frewer who has been in many a Garris project since his turn as "The Trashcan Man" in the stand may have been the MVP here. His performance is really good and one of the best he has done in one of Mick's flicks. Weber who starred in King's and Garris's "The Shining" TV miniseries once again does a good job. The rest of the cast is also just as great here with Tom Skerritt in particular as a writer that the cop picks up was memorable to me. Still everyone here was great including the kid whose character is very much an intricate part of this story.

Now this is not a perfect movie and is not even one of the best of the King movies. But for his TV ones this is pretty good. Like I said before I love the look and feel of this movie but despite all that it doesn't feel as big as the book. Now I know that what I said is no shock to anyone, but I had been waiting on this movie for years. So I know I built up expectations a little too high which is not fair to the film. Also I think it should be noted that the reason the effects are so good are because KNB were the people behind them. I didn't know this until I watched the movie with the great audio commentary by Director Mick Garris, actor Ron Pearlman, and Executive Producer Mark Sennet. Also there is a behind the scenes feature called "Letters from Bangor".

I would have loved to have seen this the way King and Garris originally wanted, as a feature film. I think this movie would have been closer to an actual classic, same cast and everything would have been wonderful. Also for anyone who has read the two books or the "Dark Tower" series should be happy that they are still "Tak-ing" around here. TAK.


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May 21, 2013
I vaguely remember this. Seen HOUSE OF BONES?
May 21, 2013
I have indeed, I bought that at Hastings from what I remember.
More Stephen King's Desperation reviews
Quick Tip by . May 21, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
This was a pretty good King film, especially for a TV movie. The DVD comes with a good commentary track on it and some behind the scenes stuff.
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