One of the very first books I ever read was Stephen King's The Skeleton Crew - a lengthy collection of King's early, previously published short stories.
I think it was around 1987 or so, when I picked up this particular book from Walden Book's at The Ohio Valley Mall.
And by 'picked up' I mean 'stole'.
The book resonated with me on a number of levels. A couple of my favorite story highlights from that particular book are:
- Mrs. Todd's Shortcut (about a lady obsessed with finding shortcuts)
- The Raft (about a mysterious oil slick on a pond, which was filmed in Creepshow 2)
- Survivor Type (a man, stranded on an island, finds the perfect meal)
- Cain Rose Up (eerily mimics the shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine)
But the one short story that truly knocked my socks off and opened my world to the unlimited possibilities of fiction writing and crafting a good story was The Mist.
For all those unaware, the story is about this strange cloud that engulfs a small town in Maine, killing everyone caught in its path. Terrified survivors seek refuge in a supermarket, while a swarm of murderous creatures try to get in. As it turns out, the monsters outside the supermarket aren't nearly as terrifying as the psychological monsters that lurk within the survivors themselves.
After I finished the story, I closed the book and thought to myself, "My god, that would be a great movie."
I remember thinking how I would approach the whole movie if I was the director? First off, I would change the location to our country IGA outside of Martins Ferry, Ohio. I would also cast a bunch of local residents and bring some money to the city. As far as who I would I cast in the lead, Michael Douglas, Nicholas Cage, Kevin Costner and Patrick Swayze came to mind. (Remember this was 1988.)
At the same time, I remember coming across a news snippet in Fangoria Magazine that mentioned this director (Frank something or other) bought the rights to The Mist from Stephen King for a buck. I didn't know who this new hot-shot director was. To be honest, I'm not too sure anyone did at the time. But I was excited to hear that this movie was finally going to be made.
Suffice to say, time moved forward and I forgot about The Mist. I forgot about The Skeleton Crew. And for awhile, I even forgot about that young director. Until, of course, The Shawshank Redemption was released. And then The Green Mile.
Last year, I was checking out Stephen King's Web site when I came upon a press release announcing the director's intention to start production on The Mist. It was a well-written preamble about his dedication to the story and the project. But, it was the following excerpt that stood out the most:
"That segues to the final reason I'm so looking forward to doing this. In a sense, doing a film like THE MIST is like putting myself into film school and learning a whole new approach to what I do. I had a foretaste of that earlier this year when I had the privilege of directing an episode of THE SHIELD for my friend Shawn Ryan. It was a seven-day shoot, fast-fast-fast, and I have to say there was something wildly liberating about shooting that way...it was an opportunity to put aside my reverence for Kubrickian elegance for a moment (and the painstaking approach it entails) and shoot fast and loose instead, do a real seat-of-the-pants style that embraces the ragged edges as virtues instead of avoiding them as sins."
That said, today I came across the brand, spanking new trailer for The Mist.
Check it out here on You Tube.
Looks pretty exciting. The cast looks great including The Punisher's Thomas Jane as the lead. Not to mention Academy-award winner Marcia Gay Harden (Pollack) and Andre Braugher from Homicide: Life on the Street. I'm sure there's more work on the computer graphics, but from what I see in the trailer, it pretty much mirrors the way I saw the story in my head when I read it 20 years ago.
I hear the ending has been rewritten. In fact, a number of Hollywood directors and writers that were invited to an advance screening of the movie a couple months ago hail the ending as fascinating. Truth be told, I loved the orginal ending of the story and I hope they don't fuck with it too much.
You know, this is a great time to be a Stephen King movie lover.
In addition to The Dark Tower series being (possibly) directed and written by the JJ Abram's Lost team not to mention Cell being directed by Hostel's Eli Roth, I also heard someone bought the rights to my second favorite King story, The Long Walk.
Go ahead. Take a guess.