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This adaption of Stephen King's novel leaves a lot to be desired. Even the
book was a slow read; but some major elements of the novel and lead
characters were totally reworked for the movie and King's intent is by the
wayside. A UFO crash lands in the forest guarding Haven, Maine and the
impact burrows the craft into the ground. Eminent vibrations from the alien
craft has citizens creating mechanical gadgets for no good reason, while
some of the inhabitants just disappear or gravitate to the dig site trying
to unearth the alien ship.
Jimmy Smits seems out of place playing the alcoholic writer and eventual hero. His awkward performance still out shines the rest of the cast except for Marg Helgenberger. She is very easy on the eye and plays her character flawlessly. Former porn star Traci Lords still needs a lot of work to move into mainstream movies. Her part was played over the top and becomes quite irritating. Not as abrasive as Allyce Beasley and Robert Carradine. Cliff De Young plays the cheating husband effortlessly. Joanna Cassidy and E.G. Marshall round out the diverse cast.
The special effects, namely the aliens buried in the craft are pretty top notch for a made-for-TV project. Stephen King is my favorite writer and I do have to agree with those that think Tommyknockers is no where near his better work. But in this case, read the book first and then watch this presentation. It is not what it could have been...better.
Aside from the odd exception, Stephen King has rarely transfered well to the big or small screen, and along comes this little mini-series which is a by-numbers example of what actually gets lost in translation. Firstly: when these novels are adapted for the screen, fundamental elements of the plot are excised or replaced, and this is true of even the better King-flicks ("The Shining" and "Carrie" are just as guilty as pulp trash like "Needful Things" and "Cujo"). "The Tommyknockers" begins as if it's going to buck the trend, establishing the majority of the usual King misfits early on, and actually adds a little suspense by not showing its hand too early - for example, this adaptation does not make clear what's buried out back in Bobbie's farm straight away. But as the town begins to be affected by said item, it's off into it's own world, and toss the novel out the window. Granted, some of the more imaginative gimmicks the township dreams up cannot be translated to screen with the appropriate panache, especially with the meagre budget allocated to this project - but does everything need to look so cheap? Much of the dialogue at best doesn't ring true, at worse stinks. Witness the actually quite good Marg Helgenberger delivering some awful lines ("Gard, let's experience it together!") but in an offhand way that suggests that she's really aware that she's not in a Mamet play, but, Hell, let's make the best of it anyway. Any good points? Well, Joanna Cassidy is always worth watching, but an actress of her class still can't make a thrown together middle-age romance look realistic. Helgenberger and Allyce Beasley come out of it with the least mud sticking. Worst crimes? Jimmy Smits completely miscast, terrible dialogue, cheap effects, complete massacre of the source material, Traci Lords all at sea outside of a John Waters movie or skinflick ... the list goes on.
Why on Earth does this only have a 5.1? In my opinion, this was much
better than Storm of the Century, which has a 7.1 (all ratings as of
The plot is very well written. A buried alien craft slowly turns the citizens of a small town into mind-reading, odd-gizmo-inventing slaves.
The acting was excellent. Great performances by Jimmy Smits, Marg Helgenberger, John Ashton, Robert Carrdine, Joanna Cassidy, and Allyce Beasley.
The music was very creepy, and very fitting.
The CGI was very good also, especially for a 1993 TV movie/series.
There were some very shocking scenes, and a lot of interesting little plots here and there. All of these together make a King Classic, but it doesn't seem to get the recognition it deserves. 8/10.
The novel Tommyknockers was one of Steve King's earlier attempts to do
sci-Fi, and it was only moderately successful. King fused his usual
horror plot structure formula to a basic alien possession plot and
added his standard strong character development. The characters were,
in this case, better than the plot deserved. John Power's three-hour TV
adaptation leaves most of the story intact, but drops some of the
crazier and more absurd elements of the original work. Even without
reading the original, those familiar with King's work will notice the
restrained manner in which the climax takes place.
In the woods behind Bobbie Anderson's (Marg Helgerson) house, something is buried. Some say it is an Indian curse, some say it's a holy place, but in general, the members of the little New England town of Derry don't go there. But one day, while her recovering alcoholic boyfriend Jim Gardner (Jimmy Smits) is out doing a poetry reading, Bobbie and her dog Pete start digging. Before long, Derry starts experiencing miracles, accompanied by green glowing lights.
The casting is superb, and with the exception of an overcooked performance by Traci Lords, the acting is fairly good. Smits and Helgerberger are very good. The characterizations in this three hour long film fairly represent the original work, but the script lacks some of the original's punch. The cinematography is solid for a TV movie and the special effects are good. Tommyknockers is well edited, competently directed and fairly entertaining, but, like the original novel, it is not one of King's better works.
Recommended for King fans. Weakly recommended for Sci-Fi fans.
In the small town Haven, in Maine, the aspiring writer Roberta 'Bobbi'
Anderson (Marg Helgenberger) lives in an isolated house with her
alcoholic boyfriend, the poet James "Gard" Gardner (Jimmy Smits), and
their dog Petey. While Gard is traveling to a poet's convention, she
stumbles with a green stone and she becomes obsessed to excavate the
object. Further, she overhears voices that teach her how to fix the
heater and how to write a novel using a typewriter operated by
telepathy. Meanwhile the postal worker Joe Paulson (Cliff De Young)
cheats on his wife Deputy Becka Paulson (Allyce Beasley) with his sexy
coworker Nancy Voss (Traci Lords). They also see the green light in the
woods and Nancy becomes an inventor. Becka is advised by the host of a
television live show that he husband is cheating on her and instructed
how to kill him. The boy Hilly Brown (Leon Woods) is encouraged by his
grandfather Ev Hillman (E.G. Marshall) to become a magician and he
overhears voices that teach him new tricks. During a party, he makes
his brother Davey Brown (Paul McIver) disappears and is not able to
bring his back for the despair of his parents Marie Brown (Annie
Corley) and Bryant Brown (Robert Carradine). Sheriff Ruth Merrill
(Joanna Cassidy) and State Trooper Butch Duggan (John Ashton) that
loves her organize a search party but they do not succeed to find the
boy. Soon the whole town is under control of the green light, capable
to read minds and Bobbi is their leader. Only a few inhabitants are not
under control, among them Ev and Gard that has a platinum plate in the
head. What is the evil force that is exerting control in the
"The Tommyknockers" is a sci-fi horror TV Mini-Series with the story by Stephen King. The cast is excellent; the plot and characters are very well developed; but unfortunately in a pace too slow for fans of this genre. There is no mystery or tension and there are many unnecessary scenes that should have been deleted in the edition and others that are too short. For example, Becka is sent to a mental institution and there is only a glance at her locked in a cell. Gard in the convention of poets is excessively long. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Tommyknockers Tranquem Suas Portas" ("Tommyknockers Lock Your Doors")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really loved this movie. I don't know why everyone disliked it so much. I'm not really into alien movies, but this one was pretty good! The actors were excellent. Jimmy Smitts was great. Marg Helgenberger is one of my favorite actresses and she played her character amazingly. She was really believable and I thought the casting was awesome! This wasn't really a horror film, but it was kind of creepy. There was also some sadness to it at the end when Gard died and part of his poem was recited. If you're looking for a scary movie, don't get this one. If you just want to watch a movie with great acting, an interesting plot and okay special effects then this is the one for you!
First part of it seemed promising then it all fizzled away.
The movie is very chopped up and at times makes no sense or the drama and
horror that needs to be there is just not there...poor job all around with
acting, directing, editing, etc
Believe me, if you want to know what its all about, read the book by King instead..don't waste 4hrs on the SciFi channel watching this garbage
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fairly faithful adaptation of a particularly good Stephen King novel.
In the town of Haven Falls, Maine, something seems to be happening to the local population. A strange object in the woods seems to be the key to it all, but is it a power for good, or is it malevolent? Why are the residents having such strange thoughts? Why are the bizarre ideas for crazed new inventions happening? Why does the alcoholic poet seem unaffected? Is it the steel plate in his head deflecting some alien transmissions? And why are everybody's teeth falling out?
King once again plays with small town fears wonderfully, elevating the 'you're not from around here' to new levels with the inclusion of an alien presence.
The budget appears moderate, but it is well used, and the effects, though sparse, are effective.
There's a good cast too, with a reasonably well rounded ensemble of characters fleshing out what could be a rather simplistic storyline.
Not all of Stephen King's adaptations to the small screen are successful but, I am pleased to report, this is one that works almost flawlessly. It gets a little silly towards the end, true, but this is still an enjoyable piece of sci-fi horror.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I read the book The Tommyknockers is based on in one sitting. It was
the book that made me figure out Stephen King's writing method. He
creates likable characters, makes you care about them, then takes great
pleasure in killing them off in the most horrible ways possible! This
movie did actually a fairly decent job of bringing the book to life. I
thought the cast was good, and the special effects were outstanding. It
was scary, and thought provoking.
It's only an 8 because, as with most Stephen King stuff, I found that the aliens weren't as scary as I imagined them to be in the book! All in all, it's not a bad way to spend some time, though.
Satisfactory miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's novel suffers only
from lack of originality and a slightly slow narrative, however the
acting is top-notch, the script is decent and the special effects and
scares run thick and fast. It's the effective story of a small town
turned into alien mutates after a UFO is found in the backyard of a
writer and they begin digging it up, unleashing a mysterious green
light. Personally, I found this miniseries to be more pleasing than the
book, for it is (even though it's still a tad on the slow side) faster
in pace, and the characters are felt for more. Better than I was
expecting it to be. 3/5
Rated R for sexuality, violence and mild language.
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