Leland Gaunt comes to Sheriff Alan Pangborn's pleasant little New England town, and opens a store. What this kindly Satan sells is whatever you need, from a surcease from pain to an object which you have always coveted. The Faustian price is, of course, corruption, and soon the poor sheriff's town is wracked by jealousy, spite, and violence. Written by
The small town of Castle Rock suddenly changes when Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow) opens a store called Needful Things. Soon, everyone finds something they want, and have a high price to pay for it. The town turns itself inside out!
I enjoyed this film, watching it at a friend's house while swirling a glass of zinfandel. It is really made by having Max von Sydow as Leland Gaunt. Without von Sydow in this role -- looking very much the successful of Vincent Price -- the film may have become just another poor King adaptation. But I think this one is one of the better attempts, or at least above average.
I find it interesting that Sheriff Alan Pangborn, played here by Ed Harris, also appears in "The Dark Half" (1993), released earlier the same year, in which the part is played by Michael Rooker. I wish they would have kept the casting the same. King's novels overlap, and I think if the films did, too, it would create more of a demand for them, and make the overarching story more interesting. This story connects also to "Stand By Me", but you would never know it from the film.
The film was directed by Fraser C. Heston, the son of actor Charlton Heston. It was Heston's first project, and an admirable one. To me, it feels like many of King's films have a similar look or feel to them, and I wonder if this is intentional, or if I am just crazy. But if it is intentional, Heston nails it.
While there are other King adaptations I would recommend first -- It, The Shining, Carrie and Dead Zone, just off the top of my head -- this is still better than some, and a good deal better than a lot of the horror films out there. If you are unsure, I say go for it.
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