DECEMBER 15, 2007
I blame Fearnet for the one time I ever missed a movie. I was on vacation last February, and planned to use their online site, which offers crappy movies for free, for my daily film. But the horrible presentation and terrible buffering errors caused me to give up trying. Since their actual channel is not available on Time Warner, which is my cable provider, that was my only real experience with Fearnet until today, when I went to a friend’s house in Massachusetts. She had the channel, which offers about 40 movies “On Demand” per month, including Graveyard Shift, which is the one I opted for out of all the choices.
As I said in my 1408 review, a Stephen King short story usually translates into an awful film. Not that all of his full length novels have been successfully adapted, but the problems with the ones that don't usually stem from leaving out “favorite parts” more than anything else. With the short stories, the filmmakers have to pad the idea out in order to make a 90 minute narrative, which is no easy task. Sometimes, like 1408, this works. Usually, like Children of the Corn, The Mangler, The Lawnmower Man, etc. it doesn’t. So I was happy to see that Graveyard Shift came out pretty decent, if far from perfect.
The odd thing about the movie is that it’s about Brad Dourif and some other guys killing rats, only to discover that the REAL monster is a giant bat fucking thing living in the rat nest, and yet no one seems to be having any fun. The whole concept is pretty ridiculous, why not laugh it up? Even in the finale, when a Diet Pepsi can is used to save the day (best product placement ever?), director Ralph Singleton and writer John Esposito play the whole thing maddeningly straight. Even Dourif gets little scene-chewing to do outside of a long Vietnam speech early on (which has a line about Bruce Dern that sounds EXACTLY like something King would write, though I do not think that the line, or even Dourif’s character for that matter, are in the book), but that's about it. The rest of the film is kind of dour, if (heh) not entirely serious.
But it’s still enjoyable once it gets going, and the gore is sufficient. The acting is pretty decent for the most part as well. Brad Andrews, of “I guess they couldn’t afford Tom Berenger” fame, plays the lead, and Andrew “The Djinn” Divoff plays one of the other mill workers. The girl looks like Marisa Tomei, and her character’s final scene is pretty surprising. There’s also a howler of a final line by the requisite “evil human” character, who yells “We’re going to hell.... TOGETHER!!!” (“together” sounds like the chorus to a song, he shouts it for so long).
Also, they give some nice King nods – the mill is named after Richard Bachman (who wrong “The Long Walk”, my all time favorite book, and I am pretty sure that the mill is supposed to be the same one that the Pete McVries character in “Walk” worked at prior to joining the Walk), and there’s a Plymouth Fury glimpsed here and there. Of course, it’s not very likely that King is a fan of the film, though I think he should be impressed that they got as good of a movie as they did from his source story, which is hardly one of his better tales to begin with and also is only about 8 pages long if memory serves.
So, if you have Fearnet, and have never seen the film, give it a watch or two and tell us what you think. Otherwise... I dunno. Make a sandwich or something.
What say you?