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Australia is in the midst of troubling bushfires all up the east coast – some of my friends have lost their homes – while we suffer through heatwave after heatwave. But that is part and parcel of living in the outback. So today I’m dreaming of a white Christmas and have found the only book covers I have that reflect being snuggled up by the fire in a heavy blanket with the frosty night air…

Film vs Novel – ‘Firestarter’

Firestarter Film vs Novel by Casey Carlisle

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 07 by Casey CarlisleYou certainly get a feel for the 80’s. So many references. The novel was a nostalgic read. The film is comparatively in the style of horror movies being produced in the early 80’s as well, though it has some great special effects for its time.

As much as I loved this book – the protagonist Charlie, the paranormal ability of pyrokenesis, the antagonists in The Shop – ‘Firestarter’ felt like a long read. Normally I fly through books like this, but it took me over a week to reach the end. I was continually needing a rest as King went off in tangents and titbits of backstory for secondary characters. It brought the pacing down somewhat. But I appreciated all of that extra information – it really fleshed out the world and characters… so it was a tug-of-war for me between liking Kings writing style and getting bored with it. In the end the amazing writing and subject matter won out: you can always skim the uninteresting bits. As far as the film goes by comparison, there is no let down in the pacing, no chance to tear your eyes off the screen. The action is kept going from start to finish, with a few flashback scenes (as in the novel) for context and backstory, though with parts of the original story cut for time constraints, some things don’t make the best sense.

Some scenes were more gruesome than I expected, but upon completing the novel version of ‘Firestarter’ I kind of wanted more. More horror. More action. But I guess it would have been unrealistic with a child as the protagonist – that kind of action would have twisted her into something monstrous and broken or dead inside. The movie obviously omitted some on-screen deaths and gore to keep it in a marketable ‘M’ rating.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleThe depiction of Charlie in the novel felt intelligent beyond her years, but still had the innocence of youth in her view of the world. It was phenomenal to read about the psychic powers growing within her, (and those of other characters.) You get a small character arc with Charlie, but because the narrative takes on many points of view and encompasses many characters, there is more going on around her. I think that was another thing slowing the pace down for me – following some of the other characters just wasn’t as interesting. The film version of Charlie, played by Drew Barrymore comes off as more of an obstinate child at times.

With all the training Charlie is meant to have up until the scene where the movie opens, this alludes that Charlie can pretty much control her powers, but the Airport scene depicts her as not being able to control her ability or not wanting to use it. Not matching the narrative of the novel at all. This scene from the film also tips The Shop off about her ability, yet in the novel it is kept in question up until well over halfway, where she uses this fact as a bargaining tool with the scientists trying to test her.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleCharlie’s powers are meant to be effortless to use (depicted in the novel,) but the heavy breathing, sweating, use of a wind machine to dramatize Drew Barrymore’s depiction of the pyrokenesis – and how she repeats “Back off” to switch it off, make the use of her ability a little clunky and awkward for the film. Charlie never vocalised her ‘cool-down’ in the novel, and her ability was used easily – hence the training.

When Charlie was in with The Shop, they drugged her to inhibit her use of her ability, yet in the film, even though they knew of her ability, they did not use this method of control. Instead may of the scientists walked around in hilarious looking thermal suits.

Additionally, in the film with Charlie befriending Rainbird, she confides just about everything and never draws her own conclusions to his deception. Where in the novel she is much more intelligent and mistrusting. She also gets a note from her father informing her of Rainbirds true intentions, leading to her forming a plan of escape. I wish we had seen the more aware and strategic version of Charlie on the big screen. Even after the first demonstration of Charlie’s power in the film, while everyone is distracted she walks back into her room… where in the novel she takes the opportunity to find her father. Dumbing down her character was detrimental to this film. Even with all these issues in context and story Barrymore’s portrayal of Charlie is epic. A true testament to her acting chops at such a young age.

Andy (Charlie’s Dad) was the dedicated loving father, nurturing and supporting Charlie, instilling right and wrong, ‘Firestarter’ is as much his story as hers. I feel that we don’t get as much character development as we could because this is essentially a cat-and-mouse chase story, tumbling from one escape to the next.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleThe biggest difference to the written version to the one played by David Keith in the film, was how his ability was portrayed. It was meant to be mental dominance, yet somehow he manages to affect phone booths to extract coins, and change television channels without the use of a remote. Was he meant to have different abilities in the film? The dramatization of Andy using his ability felt overacted. Grabbing his head, a bloody nose. Even though thie is typical treatment for the time of its release, I wasn’t sold. In the novel he got headaches, disorientated, and exhausted. Using his ability is said to give him mirco-aneurisms, a blood nose was overkill. Leaving Charlie to take the lead in taking care of him and ensure their safety.

Another aspect explained in the novel was the ricocheting of Andy’s ability, it’s set up in the narrative, and shows a history and line of progression – in the film however we get a scene around one character seeing snakes with no context.

Rainbird is the quintessential antagonist from King. He manages to paint interesting and layered bad guys that still give off an aura of pure evil. It’s easy to see why so many of his novels get the film treatment. With the native American Indian background, it felt like a foreshadowing of diverse writing that we see today – even if there are colours of stereotyping and discrimination (as too in dealing with transvestism.) Villainising minority groups in the time ‘Firestarter’ was published was commonplace.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

As for the depiction of Rainbird in the film: George C Scott is not Native American, I think I was offended by this more than any other change for the movie adaptation (thank heavens he wasn’t in blackface.) Additionally, there was no setup, no backstory to build this iconic antagonist. The film left Rainbird feeling two dimensional. The same thing happened to The Shop’s spies near Charlie’s Grandfathers cabin – no set up or backstory – there was no context to validate why they were even there. In the novel they lived at the place for months, in the film, days.

The final battle scene at the Barn has some major differences. We get all the Hollywood treatment of Charlie puffing and shooting fireballs, evaporating bullets for the film. When the horses are set free, none get shot or catch on fire like in the novel. The special effects of some of the bad guys catching on fire is a bit hilarious as they just stand still screaming. Umm, I’d be running and failing, rolling on the ground. But I did like how one guy gets blown in to a tree fully ablaze from Charlie’s psychic blast.

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The novel shows Charlie taking out the entire compound (and people), where the film has her exhibiting much more restraint in carnage. The book suggests Charlie’s abilities extend much further than pyrokenesis, but the movie keeps her psychic power within the confines of a Firestarter.

The novel ends on Charlie contacting the ‘New York Times’ – a reputable newspaper; but the novel has her going into the offices of the ‘Rolling Stone’ because it was the only publication independent of the reach of The Shop to have her (and her Father’s) story published.

The writing of the novel is somewhat dated. The references are solidly entrenched in the 70-80’s. Technology, attitudes… it was nostalgic in a way, and also had me thanking god we’ve evolved from that place. Stephen King has a resounding writing style – descriptive and distinctly dry and masculine. Though he has a tendency to repeat things a number of times. And a perchance to long drawn-out exposition. This had me skimming a page or two. It also slowed down the pace and I was frequently putting the book down for a rest. While I enjoyed the film, it does not stand the test of time and fails to compare to the book.

I won’t comment on predictability – I’d read the book and seen the film before, plus it’s such a well-known story the plot was all but spoiled long ago. Looking forward to the film remake currently in development to see how they modernise ‘Firestarter’ and tie it into the Stephen King universe at large. It’s rumoured for a late 2019 to a 2020 release. I hope we will get to see Drew Barrymore return and possibly play the role of Victoria McGee, Charlie’s mom. Fingers crossed.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 08 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – The Dark Half

What would your bad side be like, and how would you confront it?

 FvN The Dark Half Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

The opening chapter of the novel does not pull any punches and immediately throws some gore and a shiver up your spine. We get further hits of this through antagonist George Stark’s point of view scattered throughout the book, his actions are truly grotesque… I wanted to cover my eyes until it was over – but of course you can’t do that if you’re reading. The film, consequently took a while to get going, and the SPFX felt a touch amateurish, but was most likely state of the art for the time of its release in the ‘90’s. I don’t think ‘The Dark Half’ took the time to build a creep factor as much as his other film titles.

I felt moments in-between when reading, where the narrative dragged out – embellishing characters and their back-stories, or descriptions of the landscape of the novel that slowed the pace and had me speed-reading through. Though my interest in the novel never waned. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. Eager to learn the secrets of protagonist author Thad and his alter ego Stark. I actually watched the movie in three chunks because of the same issues in pacing – which is not something you want in a horror/thriller.

FvN The Dark Half Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleThad was an interesting protagonist (played by Timothy Hutton). I related to him immediately being a writer, and how he would get lost in a fugue of writing as if being taken over by another presence entirely. Though the smoking, drinking, patriarch stereotype that edged its way into this character annoyed me a little. But on the whole I found Thad to be intelligent, imaginative and a real risk taker; all with layers of love and compassion. I found perfection in his layers of imperfection. We did not see this set up in the film however. It starts with a montage of Thad’s past and then starts the film off in present day. We don’t get to see the duality of Thad as succinctly as in the novel. And while he is set up to be a family man, there isn’t time to explore the depths of his personality.

His wife, Liz – of which I frequently was reminded of the phrase about poking a mumma bear with a stick when her twin children were threatened. Liz was always the quintessential homemaker, adoring her little family and supporting her husband. But the moment any of that was endangered she roared and snapped like a wild animal. Her protective spirit and tenacity created a deep respect. She was part of the team and very present in scenes with Thad in the novel. Comparatively her screen version played by Amy Madigan was watered down. We did not get to see her strength and though front and centre in the storyline, wasn’t as essential in the plot.

FvN The Dark Half Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Our straight-man (so to speak) being Sheriff Alan Pagborn filled the much needed critic against the supernatural. He guides the reader and grounds the narrative. The sceptic who deals only in facts and proof to form a conclusion. His added point of view helps to add credence to the theories Thad and his wife instinctually know. I loved his character in the book – the one person a reader is to use as a voice of reason. Not so in the film. He felt more like a plot device to counter the supernatural and be there at the end to witness the strangeness so it couldn’t be written off as imagination or a crazed Thad. We also never get to see the husband and wife team follow their hunches with uncanny supernatural radar – it was reduced to a raving and yelling Thad for a few scenes. The dynamic between these three characters is lost in the movie version.

I found the cast interesting, fully developed and added something unique to the story line, ultimately rounding it in some realism. Though the plot itself did fell drawn out a little too long, the journey there was paced well and held my interest. Stephen King’s writing style is prominent, though more intimate than his earlier works. For a novel nearly 600 pages long, I seemed to fly through it. But the film felt disjointed – subsidiary characters revealed plot points way to early destroying any unexplained evil phenomena to tease and scare us. I feel there was even some missed opportunity to creep us out even further with some of the murder scenes – especially when Stark and Thad are in the same locale.

FvN The Dark Half Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleI was a little disappointed in the mythology of the novel – I’d read about the significance of sparrows before in Trent Jamison’s Deathworks novels, so this aspect was not a huge surprise to me; though Thad’s role felt like it was left hanging. Why had this event taken place in the first instance? Does Thad have some sort of ability? Was it Stark all along, clawing his way back from some dark place? I felt like I was wanting more resolution to this, or even a paragraph explaining why, but we didn’t get an answer in the novel. Comparatively, we get more answers in the film, but they fall flat. And the climactic scene felt comical. In the novel there is more of a struggle between Stark and Thad, and more of a symbolic changing of places before the final showdown. Even Thad’s twins were much more involved. There felt like there was a lot at stake, more paranormal forces in play for the novel – the film just showed one scene with special effects and that was it.

I’ve read creepier, gorier books from King. But I have to say, ‘The Dark Half’ had just enough of both to satisfy this genre without making it difficult to read. The thriller-suspense is light, but a great story to ignite the imagination of any wanna-be writer. But the film was no-where near what I expected it to be. The suspense and build were not executed strongly enough, and I hoped for more of an air of mystery around the paranormal events, but they were explained away far too quickly and easily.

The novel could have been a tad shorter, a tad more intense, and ended with more of an exclamation point, but I’d be happy to recommend to all. I’d have to rank it in the top half of my King favourites. The film however, though entertaining in a nostalgic B-grade horror film sort of way, I’d happily miss, especially since it was two hours long. Definitely the novel for the win J

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – ‘Cujo’

Will Kings’ story of a rabid Saint Bernard stand up on the big screen?

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Though ‘Cujo’ is not as spooky as many of Kings other titles, I did like the supernatural element and themes of dominance through violence. I’m not convinced that it translated to the movie as the interconnectedness was lost through omission of certain plot points. Where the book is slightly misogynistic, the film in its 80’s horror cinematic style fails to capture the soul of its written counterpart.

The novel took a long time to build up. However, the writing style helped keep it from getting boring. There was always a little snippet of life outside the main plot – given that not a lot actually happens in this book. I loved all the little details. Masterful storytelling. I was engrossed even though the pacing felt slow in the first half.

I also love the mix of the supernatural even though it was small, it added a layer of connectedness and contributed to tension making some scenes terrifying. With a variety of characters and points of view, both good and bad and all different shades in between, each important ingredients to a wonderful narrative. However, the movie failed to include the malevolent presence in Tad’s closet – it was reduced to Tad’s childhood fears. Where the novel used the closet monster as both a precognition of foreboding, and a supernatural presence that haunted the area; the movie just had a rabid dog.

 

Great complex characters, including Cujo the dog, whom left me with conflicting emotions. His story is so bittersweet. As a dog lover, I did find it difficult to see the corruption of such a beautiful and caring canine from something out of his control. Whether intentional or not, the symbolism of rabies, alcoholism, violence, and the evil entity infect and corrupt completely; and it takes sacrifice and a lot of guts and determination to battle such elusive foes. The dogs acting was pretty good for the film, although wagging his tail in some of the attacks gave away some of his menacing air (not to mention his hair goes from short to long and back to short again in some scenes.) The make-up was a little over done, both on Cujo and towards the end on Tad and his mother. Both humans being the star of the film (Danny Pintauro and Dee Wallace respectively) and victims trapped in a smouldering car as Cujo’s rabies forces him into insanity and violence.

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Tad’s screaming got on my nerves somewhat, I wanted to throttle him at one point, and ended turning the volume off to continue with the movie.

Steve Kemp’s (played by Christopher Stone) retaliation on Donna (Tad’s mom) in the movie for ending their affair, was made to look more like a violent break in and abduction rather than a sexual power display of vengeance and shame as it is described in the book.

One other thing of note about the film were the policemen. Those scenes were constructed terribly. And the work the Sheriff’s station partook looking into Kemp ridiculous. It had much more efficiency and a sense of urgency in the novel. On the screen everyone in a uniform seemed like some bumbling hick.

The novel has lots of gore towards the end, adding to the desperation and devastation it drove home the shock at the end – which I did not see coming. This conclusion is different for the film, I guess to appeal to cinema audiences (and King himself stated if there was one change he could make, this was it), and dramatic effect. Pretty cool but loses the tone and themes of the book.

There was one thing that was not tied up though, and even missed in the final comments for the written version, and I thought King dropped a prime opportunity to leave us with a shiver. It has been connected as a sequel to ‘The Dead Zone’ where the supernatural presence in Tad’s closet is a boogeyman incarnation of Frank Dodd. Both the novel and film failed to tie up this loose end, or leave us with an ominous scene that the presence is still out there.

All in all a turbulent horror story about the corruption of innocence and inevitability of evil (and man). It still stands as a tale today, but certain technology (like cell phones and better mechanics) may render the plot a little defunct.

Cujo‘ is the only book to date (apart from Kings detective novels) that hasn’t had me pulling my legs up off the floor for fear of something reaching out of the darkness to try and pull me under. And well, the movie, I was too astounded at the ‘80’s special effects, occasional overacting and cropped storyline to get any type of fear or anxiety built up.

I’d rate the novel one notch higher than the big screen version… go Kingy!

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Did that just happen?

How I inadvertently binge watched ‘Stranger Things’

Stranger Things Binge Watching Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleI came across this show from a trailer posted on YouTube, and downloaded the entire series from Netfix a few days after its release. I was interested in the story, it looked like a spooky mystery with a bunch of kids, where one goes missing. Plus it’s got Winona Ryder attached to it, so I was sold.

With intentions of watching the first episode, and spreading out the series over the following weeks, I sat down with a cuppa and jumped in… and was completely hooked. Fat chance on waiting another day to find out what happens. I needed the next episode now! And the next one! So I ended up binge watching the entire series in a day.

It has that 90’s horror movie nostalgia, complete with opening title sequence and mood music soundtrack. I thought it might be spoony or camp, but it adds a little something to the production.

It was fantastic.

Elements of Stephen King and Dean Koontz have a strong influence, so if you enjoy their novels, this tv show is for you.

I’ve since read some other articles around this production online, showing the intension of the Creators: shots mirroring films such as ‘E.T. the Extraterrestrial,’ ‘Stand by Me’, and ‘Goonies’ and other cult favourites. There is a boatload of subliminal aspects to this series which bring up sense memories to the 80’s and 90’s, that, having grown up in that era, there was nothing I could do but love ‘Stranger Things.’

Apart from Winona Rider giving her usual stellar performance, Millie Bobby Brown is jaw-droppingly amazing. I remember seeing her creepy performance in ‘Intruders’ and thinking she possessed a maturity beyond her years; and in this show her range blew my mind. I’m expecting big things from her career.

The characters are colourful and have their own backstories and motivations, the plot gave me plenty of surprises and I love where this story took me. I am hopefully optimistic that we will get to see more from this franchise, and I can get to spend another day on the couch with jumbo sized popcorn and get lost in a great show and nostalgia.

It was produced in the format more-or less like a (long) movie, and if the series is renewed, Creators Matt and Ross Duffer have said that it would be like watching a sequel. Which is why I think this show is so addictive. It doesn’t drag things out to fill in 22 episodes. It’s tells a compact and engaging story that wraps up nicely giving the viewer the pay-off they are craving. So if you haven’t seen it yet – get your hands on a copy, its well worth it.

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ by Stephen King

Woodsy creepiness at its best.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Horror, Thriller

No. of pages: 264

From Goodreads:

Trisha McFarland is a plucky 9-year-old hiking with her brother and mom, who is grimly determined to give the kids a good time on their weekends together. Trisha’s mom is recently divorced, and her brother is feuding with her for moving from Boston to small-town Maine, where classmates razz him. Trisha steps off the trail for a pee and a respite from the bickering. And gets lost.

Trisha’s odyssey succeeds on several levels. King renders her consciousness of increasing peril beautifully, from the “first minnowy flutter of disquiet” in her guts to her into-the-wild tumbles to her descent into hallucinations, the nicest being her beloved Red Sox baseball pitcher Tom Gordon, whose exploits she listens to on her Walkman. The nature writing is accurate, tense, and sometimes lyrical, from the maddening whine of the no-see-um mosquito to the profound obbligato of the “Subaudible” (Trisha’s dad’s term for nature’s intimations of God). Our identification with Trisha deepens as we learn about her loved ones: Dad, a dreamboat whose beer habit could sink him; loving but stubborn Mom; Trisha’s best pal, Pepsi Robichaud, vividly evoked by her colorful sayings (“Don’t go all GIRLY on me, McFarland!”). The personal associations triggered by a full moon, the running monologue with which she stays sane–we who have been lost in woods will recognize these things.

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I’m getting back to my roots – back in Junior High I took interest in reading through Stephen King, Isaac Asimov and Dean Koontz. Since graduating I have read little of their titles since, so am currently attacking King’s back catalogue – maybe to recapture my youth, but definitely reliving the fun I had when reading. ‘The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ was a great addition to my collection and a welcome distraction to many of the YA titles I’ve been reading of late.

I really liked the play of perception and the POV of Trisha (Patricia) our protagonist, lending the interpretation of the story open to the reader to draw her or his own conclusions.

Trisha has an indomitable spirit.  I was really cheering for her and amazed at how she faced each challenge.

Tom Gordon, the form of Trisha’s guardian angel, or inner strength was a great symbol to focus on. Though some of the baseball jargon got a little tiresome for me because I loath baseball – it’s not really a big thing here in Australia – I appreciated it for what it was. A distraction and a coping mechanism to get Trisha from point A to point B.

Our antagonist could fall under many forms – nature, fear fuelled imagination, her family; and I loved how it morphed from one to the other, never leaving you certain of anything.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

It took half the book to wind up and get interesting. I find every now and then Stephen Kings’s books do get a bit waffly in setting up the story and exploring the casts back stories. I know it is to get us to care about the characters and offer some perspective, but sometimes it feels a little long winded.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon’ had the right amount of suspense and hair-raising creepiness. The second half of the novel was absolutely brilliant and I could not put it down.

I enjoyed this a lot more than many other of Kings titles, because it was based on character development and an inner struggle rather than gory monsters and demons (though this could be argued). It was a psychological thriller instead of horror, and appealed to my survival instincts. I have found myself lost in the bush many times, having to trek a day or so to safety. It was so vivid, and the descriptions of the landscape – mysterious and beautiful at the same time. Nature can be astoundingly picturesque and the face of death at the same time.

A great read that induces chills and makes you want to pull your feet up off the floor, with the hint of the disgusting and the unknown. Totally recommending this to all my friends who like a scare, but don’t want to feel like tossing up their dinner from gore.

Overall feeling: wickedly chilling

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Film vs Film vs Novel – Carrie

Such a variety of bloody endings…

Carrie Film vs Film vs Film vs Novel Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I’ve read a number of Stephen King novels, but hadn’t picked up ‘Carrie’ until this week… and considering it was King’s debut back in 1974, the novel still stands the test of time. However, when I compared it to the film adaptations, there were some marked differences…

** WARNING : Herein lies many spoilers **

Carrie herself was written as a chubby, frizzy-haired girl with acne, introverted and copping the brunt of bullying from classmates. In both of the films, Carrie has already been given a makeover holding some sexual appeal, even in her opening scenes. While I understand that Hollywood needs to keep some appeal for the audience to connect with her character, the reason why she is ridiculed in school is because of her imperfections and naivety of the wider world due to the overprotective nature of her religious zealot of a mother. While the film starring Sissy Spacek, and the TV adaptation in 2002 connect with this aspect quite strongly, the delivery is a little stereotypical. At the times they were aired, however, expectations regarding the horror genre were different to now and both represent social expectations. The 2014 remake with Chloe Grace Moretz shows a softer version of Carrie, although still remaining true to the character in the novel. The Carrie in the novel was aware of her mental abilities, and was ‘playing with them’ and we see this for the first time in the same tone in the latest film adaptation. While Sissy Spacek will always be my favourite, Chloe Grace Moretz really brings something new and unique to the character of Carrie.

Our antagonists in the novel range from the maniacal to people who were on the cusp (like Ms Desjardin / Miss Collins). Now there is a lot more gore and carnage in the novel than in the film adaptations, and we really get to see the characters descend into darkness as they begin to let their hate consume them in the written version – while all screenplays attempt this in various ways, many of the “bad guys” feel stereotypical and unrealistic… with one exception: Mrs White played by Julianne Moore in the 2014 version.

The point in Stephen Kings novel was that a girl predisposed to telekinesis was pushed to the brink, snapped, and retaliated (somewhat justified). But it is supposed to be the power that consumes her, putting her into a fugue state to commit the murderous rampage and Carrie is mortified once she snaps out of it. I don’t think I got this message clearly from any of the film adaptations. Additionally, when Carrie has flipped her switch in the novel, she connects psychically with everyone near her, broadcasting her thoughts and intentions – we never get that in the films. The fear and speculation of telekinesis is at the core of the novel… something lost on the big screen.

The book also lets the events unfold organically, with snafoos and road blocks, where most of the events in the screen versions happen seamlessly and, in my opinion, add to the lack of realism.

I will say Chloe Grace Moretz depiction of Carries’ final scenes is my favorite, and that which rings the truest to the novel, showing Carrie bringing down justice on more than just her tormentor at school. Although we know why she is doing it in the book – there is no reason as to why she is doing it in the film other than she is lost in the fugue state.

The biggest thing from the book to screen is that Carries actions are seemingly motivated and justified in the book, but no so much in the films.

Carrie Film vs Film vs Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The supporting cast are a little hit and miss too. The novel has Tommy Ross walking that line of good and evil, but redeems himself, where it’s only in the 2014 film he’s always depicted as a good guy. His subsequent demise also differs from film to film, as well as his accidental death being the trigger for Carrie to fall into her rage. Additionally, the Coach’s (Ms Desjardin / Miss Collins) ending differs. In some she survives, and in others she’s caught in the carnage. It all came down to what viewer classification the screening came down to – as with cutting much of the gore from the novel adaptations. Shame really, I liked the message the novel brought.

The ending is where a lot differs – Carrie never gets to bathe in the book, and “punishes” herself for her actions, seeing no other way out. I wonder if the shower scene was introduced in the first film to flash a bit of nudity and increase viewer ratings? In the novel, Sue Snell, having been telekinetically linked with Carrie, has resided herself to death as punishment for her actions, but it is her unborn child that saves her, and subsequently knocks Carrie out of her fugue state.

From this point, Sue, as a survivor is one of the narrators of the novel, which is told in a collection of accounts and documents, police reports into an investigation of Carrie White. The point being Carrie linked her mind to those around her. Bringing up the question about the existence of mental abilities in the first place… We don’t get to see any of this aspect in the films.

One point regarding all the screen adaptations is that the 2002 version is the only one to explore much of Carrie’s childhood (as the novel does) with more than a few flashbacks and something I though was important to the plot. I really would have seen that brought to the other films.

Overall reactions from the films: 1979 – a little corny and stereotypical but rings true to the novel; 2002 TV movie – a watered down version, Carrie is more like here written counterpart, but the rest of the movie fell a little flaccid and gore free; 2014 film with Chloe Grace Moretz – the best characterization and flow of story line, but still missed parts from the novel that justified some of Carries actions, but surpassed all in character relationships and special effects. Best entertainment value.

It is always up to the reader/viewer to decide whether Carrie is a villain, and even in all the film versions we are left wondering. There is even an alternate ending in the 2014 version. The 1979 film with Spacek would have been the better adaptations, but still fell short of encompassing everything from the novel.

I could go on and on about so many other differences, but the most important aspects dealing with story have been covered. I feel the book surpassed all the movies solely on story and perspective, that, and managing to raise speculation and fear over telekinesis.

Stephen King’s novel is a well-paced, fast read only 253 pages long, an easy weekend read, something I recommend for all to read, but keep in mid it was written in the ‘70’s. Novel for the win!

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – Haven / The Colorado Kid

Moving to a town to solve a mystery or moving to a mysterious town?

Haven vs The Colorado Kid Review  by Casey Carlisle

A vastly different adaptation with the television series ‘Haven’ in comparison to the Novel ‘The Colorado Kid’ penned by Stephen King; The premise of the protagonist investigating a murder remains the same, as do a number of other elements – like the setting of small Maine town called Haven, and the owners of the local newspaper – but the finished product sways deep into the surreal and paranormal in ‘Haven’ than anything in the book.

The Colorado Kid Film vs Novel pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

As a lover of Stephen King’s writing, and after discovering one of my favourite television shows, ‘Haven’ was based on his novel which I had not read yet – I raced out to purchase it immediately without looking into what kind of book it was… I wanted to be surprised.

Expecting the supernatural goings-on like its small screen counterpart, I was disappointed. ‘The Colorado Kid’ is far more poignant. For starters the main character is a intern newspaper reporter, Stephanie McCann looking into an unusual death for the local The Weekly Islander; and while researching the back story of the event uncovers facts which are left open to interpretation (due to narration which may, or may not be reliable). I actually enjoyed that I wasn’t spoon-fed an opinion, but merely presented the situation to which I could draw my own conclusion. It’s a crime mystery novel beyond anything else.

Dave and Vince, the two founders of the newspaper feature in the novel and are equally mystifying and cheeky. I was glad to see their same spirit captured in the screen adaptation.
The Colorado Kid Film vs Novel pic 01 by Casey CarlisleThe television series brought to you by Syfy, due to commence its fifth season tonight (11th of September) where the lead, Audrey Parker (played by Emily Rose) is an F.B.I. Agent who comes to Haven to investigate a murder… and find that the Town is rampant with residents infected by ‘the troubles’ to which she is somehow connected. It still has that element of mystery about it, and Audrey does solve crimes, but it is more of an Urban Fantasy than a crime mystery like the book. There are plenty of twists and turns and over arcing story lines in the show, as well as the crime or mystery to solve in each episode – not to mention some delicious male co-stars – and I’d recommend anyone to view if you love shows with a supernatural spice.

The Colorado Kid Film vs Novel pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Given that I’m not a big fan of crime novels, I wasn’t particularly taken with Stephen King’s original version, but loved the subjective nature of the narration. The television show has a Mulder and Scully vibe (X-Files) and even though formulaic, manages to keep my interest with each instalment. So the screen version is a winner in this round… and tune in tonight for the beginning of the latest season.

Let me know what you think of either ‘The Colorado Kid’ or ‘Haven’ in the comments section below….

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Faerie Tale

Faerie Tale Book Review Cover by Casey CarlisleGoodreads:

Successful screenwriter Phil Hastings decides to move his family from sunny California to a ramshackle farmhouse in New York State. The idea is to take some time out, relax and pick up the threads of his career as a novelist. Good plan, bad choice. The place they choose is surrounded by ancient woodland. The house they choose is the centrepoint of a centuries-old evil intent on making its presence felt to intruders.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

What an amazing world Raymond E. Feist paints, melodic, mysterious and enrapturing.

For some reason this book reminded me of ‘Pet Cemetery’ by Stephen King, moving to a small town, curious children exploring the woods about the house and getting into trouble, ominous scariness lurking… you get the picture.

Source: deviant art - dragoroth

Source: deviant art – dragoroth

This was the first book into the world of Raymond E. Fiest for me, and I have to say, he has a vivid and unabashed style. It may get over-descriptive at times, but I was never bored or skipping pages ahead. ‘Faerie Tale’ is sufficiently spooky and disturbing in parts, and magic and fantastical in others. It still stands the test of time, holding it’s own despite being written over twenty years ago. This is no childhood story re-telling as of the likes of ‘Cinder,’ or ‘Beastly,’ Feist has created his own story based in mythology and cultural history.

I am not one to get overly terrorised by scary books – it takes a lot to get me worrying what’s under the bed or tapping at the window – usually having something to do with the unknown, believability and a great build up in the mythology or world building: and ‘Faerie Tale’ has it. Many nights I had my legs neatly tucked safely under me, away from hooked claws and chitinous legs which may lie waiting in the shadows. The pacing is a little slow, given Feist’s over-descriptive manner, but he builds great suspense. The novel can get a little graphic too: so be prepared to get uncomfortable or grossed out. Additionally, given the slower tenor to the story, the ending did feel abrupt in comparison, but well executed.

The family on which this tale is centred, The Hastings, are slightly stereotypical, but have their own flaws and quirks so they feel real and flesh out the story. The Father, Phil’s reactions to the events that take place in the novel are realistic and add legitimacy to the fantasy, which is needed to juxtapose the experiences of his twin boys, Sean and Patrick. Without giving away the plot, you see a great deal of loyalty and family bonds being tested, which is a great change from rescuing damsels in distress 😉

With more than one Antagonist, the main being Erl King, a nasty faerie leader, who is conniving and terrifying, really makes you fear the dark places. He is supported by the Magi – a human sect intent on aiding the Kings desires. They all weave a bloodcurdling and thrilling ride for the Hastings family.

Source: tumblr a-touch-of-magic

Source: tumblr a-touch-of-magic

A pleasant break from the recently released spate of Young Adult reads, I’d definitely recommend ‘Faerie Tale’ for those who love great escapist novels that buck the trend of star-crossed lovers.

Faerie Tale Book Review  Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

 Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle  

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.