Thinner
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FAQ for
Thinner (1996) More at IMDbPro »

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FAQ Contents


A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Thinner can be found here.

What is 'Thinner' about?

Because overweight lawyer Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke) wasn't paying attention to his driving (he was being fondled by his wife), his car struck and killed the daughter of an old gypsy. During the coroner's inquest, Billy's friends, Judge Cary Rossington (John Horton) and Police Chief Duncan Hopley (Daniel von Bargen), cover up some of the facts and Billy gets off with the case being ruled an accident. Consequently, the old gypsy, Taduz Lempke (Michael Constantine), curses the three of them. In Billy's case, the curse is that he will become thinner and thinner and thinner.

Thinner is a 1984 novel by American horror writer Stephen King, published under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. The screenplay was written by American screenwriters Michael McDowell and Tom Holland (who also directed the movie).

Tadzu says 'thinner' to Billy in both the movie and the book. In the movie (but not the book), he says "lizard" to Judge Rossington and touches his chest, which is where his skin starts to turn scaly and the condition rapidly begins to spread to the rest of his body. We do not find out what he says to Chief Hopley, neither in the book nor the movie. In the book, however, Hopley was afflicted with horrible acne, a skin condition he also suffered as a teenager. Consequently, viewers have suggested that Tadzu may have said something like 'boils', 'blisters', 'sores', or 'leper'.

What is a 'mook'?

Richie 'the Hammer' Ginelli (Joe Mantegna) pays a young man to keep an eye on the gypsy camp and report to him whenever he notices activity. When the gypsies discover him spying on them, they retaliate. 'He was a mook,' Ginelli says to Billy when the man's body turns up, 'but he was MY mook.' A 'mook' is a slang term for a foolish, contemptible person, usually an adolescent or twentysomething male. Other words that could be used in place of 'mook' include 'loser,' 'bonehead,' 'oaf,' and 'moron'. In cops-and-robbers shows, a 'mook' is sometimes a way of referring to a hood or crook.

Richie gave them meat laced with strychnine, a potent neurotoxin that causes death through painful convulsions. It is often found in rat poison.

Viewers are divided on the answer to that question. Some say that Heidi was innocent and that her supposed 'affair' with Dr Mike Houston (Sam Freed) was a delusion based on Billy's deteriorating mental condition. Others say that their intimate touching and Mike's frequent visits to the Halleck house were evidence enough that Heidi and Mike had something going. In the book, there was no affair between Heidi and Mike. Mike was an elderly, coke-snorting doctor, and he and Heidi were planning to have Billy committed to a mental hospital, which is the reason for his visits.

Yes. King plays the pharmacist, Dr Bangor, at the drug store where Tadzu goes to have a prescription filled for the sore on his nose.

How does the movie end?

Tadzu finally acquiesces and agrees to take the curse off Billy. The lifting of the curse involves transferring the curse to a strawberry pie. Billy must then get someone to eat the pie. Tadzu suggests that Billy eat it himself and 'die clean', but Billy takes the pie home and offers it to his wife Heidi (Lucinda Jenney). He then goes to bed, knowing that Heidi will eat a piece of the pie during the night (strawberry is her favorite). The next morning, Billy wakes up to find himself next to the dried out corpse of his wife. He gives her one last kiss, then goes downstairs to find that there are two plates in the sink and that his daughter Linda (Bethany Joy Lenz) came home from her overnight and ate a piece of the pie for breakfast. As Linda heads out the door to play soccer, Billy realizes what he's done and prepares to eat a piece of the pie himself. Just as he's about to place a forkful in his mouth, the doorbell rings. It's Dr Mikey, there for an early morning visit. Billy invites him in for a piece of strawberry pie.

An alternate ending that more closely follows the book ending was shot, but it was not well-received by the test audience. In the alternate ending, Billy is angry with his wife but it's because he blames her for the accident and for not believing him when he tells her about the gypsy curse, not because she's having an affair with Dr Mike. Billy's daughter does inadvertently eat the cursed pie and Billy, knowing she was going to die, also ate the pie, thereby committing suicide. The production company removed the alternate ending and went with the ending where Billy gets his wife and the doctor to eat the pie.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 2 months ago
Top Contributors: J. Spurlin, bj_kuehl, ThanksForMutton

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