|Page 1 of 5:||    |
|Index||41 reviews in total|
Just to avoid any possible confusion, the above summary of Nightmares
and Dreamscapes is a compliment. I cannot tell you how many times I've
seen Hollywood completely decimate and almost sacrilegiously destroy
King's brilliant writing. Needful Things and The Runningman are the
worst of these atrocities, although they are far from the only ones.
The remake of Carrie... the sequel that has nothing to do with King's
novel... The Lawnmower Man (Which King sued to be disassociated
from)... Christine... among others.
This mini-series, however, does justice to King's works, and treats them with the respect that they deserve. The acting is incredible. I can hardly believe that they were able to get William H. Macy, William Hurt and the majority of the other actors and actresses that they did manage to get for the project. Each is casted perfectly for their role, from the well-known stars to the little known gems. The direction is smart and clean; the set designs stunning; the animation (Battleground) superb, and the adaptations flawless. Each episode perfectly embodies the story from which it was based off of, and I cannot find any flaws in their translation into this mini-series.
I find it ironic that some of the upcoming episodes don't feature stories from the actual collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes, although I suppose that they mean the title as a general one, as opposed to a specific one. At any rate, they were all well chosen, and I hope that more adaptations of King's work fall under this level of care and craftsmanship. I don't even mean novels specifically. I hope that ALL of his stories are likewise adapted as such, although I would indeed love seeing more adaptations of his short stories done this way (Especially "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away" and "In the Death Room").
The beginning of this film held my interest because William Hurt,(John Renshaw),"Body Heat", makes a bad mistake with a CEO of a large Toy Manufacturing Company. Apparently, John Renshaw is a sort of high class hit man and paid very well for his services, because his apartment suite is out of this world with a large indoor pool and more than the comforts of the average person. As John sits back and has a nice cocktail and enjoys having accomplished one of his tasks, he is taken by surprise and his entire life is completely changed. John becomes trapped in his own world and almost feels like he has been in an actual battlefield. Great story by Stephen King and I look forward to more of this Mini-Series.
I will tell you what...I partially agree with the previous comment on
the length of the shows. However, in the first show "Battleground" I
felt that the utter lack of dialog added immensely to the tension, and
although I was skeptical about how to animate the army men, I was
I didn't like "Crouch End" when I read it, so I wasn't anticipating liking the show, and I didn't. It was very long and unnecessarily melodramatic. I felt that they could have picked a comatose actress to play the lead and she would have been better. Not a big fan of the overly expressive actors. Play it down folks.
As for "Umney's Last Case", the show was a lot different than the story, but it was still a good piece. I don't know that I would've chosen William H. Macy as Umney (although he is a great actor, don't get me wrong).
"The End of the Whole Mess" was the most faithful adaptation of book to movie, but it also felt the longest of the four that I've seen. I was curious as to how they were going to show the depletion of the narrator, because in the book he was writing, and you could tell that he was slipping by the way that he spelled some words or had to break off in the middle of a sentence. I thought the video-camera was a nice touch.
I'm looking most forward to "You Know They Got A Hell of A Band" and I'm also very curious about "The Fifth Quarter", but if I had to guess, I think the best of the eight episodes will be "The Road Virus Heads North" only because from a literary standpoint, the visuals in that story are the most compelling.
I'm a huge fan of Stephen King's, and I will always watch any film or T.V. adaptation that he gets behind, but I am often of the persuasion that a movie takes away from some of the individuality and imagination of actually reading the book. Ever after, the re-reading of those stories will be tainted by certain actors that played certain roles, or changes in the movies will effect the way you read the books, and I find that to be kind of a shame.
The first episode of Dreamscapes & Nightmares was an acceptable adaption of Stephen King's short-story, but not more. The second episode contains everything what makes a short-story by Stephen King fun to read. It is not what you see so often in nowadays' horror-movies. In those, let me call them modern, horror movies there's a lot of shockers and blood, but the episode "Crouch End" doesn't need that. Like the short-story it creates an atmosphere of horror, which neither the protagonists, nor the viewers can escape from. And this "all-around-horror-atmosphere" is what's missing in so many horror movies, but in not one of Stephen King's stories/novels and particularly not in the episode "Crouch End". Because of that, this is a show worth watching for everyone who loves the atmosphere and feeling Stephen King creates in his pieces of art! I'm very curious, if the following episodes are an exceptional adaption of Stephen King's style of writing, because this one definitely is!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nightmares and Dreamscapes is a total of 8 stories each are an hour of
odd encounters and events. Episodes based on stories from the
Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection are "Umney's Last Case", "You
Know They Got a Hell of a Band", "The End of the Whole Mess", "The
Fifth Quarter", and "Crouch End". The balance of episodes are
adaptations of "The Road Virus Heads North", and "Autopsy Room Four",
collected in Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales and, "Battleground",
from the anthology Night Shift.
The show is currently on TNT showing 2 episodes a night on Wednesday Nights at 9:00 p.m. And 10:00 p.m. with an encore of the previous nights episodes on Thurdays nights at 11:00 p.m. And 12:00 p.m.
/Battleground\ Jason Renshaw (Hurt), a professional hit man, Successfully murders the CEO of a prestigious toy company, only to face the biggest fight of his life when a package from the toy company is delivered to his house with surprising, deadly contents.
/Crouch End\ A newlywed American couple (Bailey and Forlani) honeymooning in London goes to Crouch End to have dinner with a friend. They soon learn the town is not what it appears to be, and the more they get lost, the more they become trapped in another dimension
/Umney's Last Case\ After the death of his son, writer Sam Landry (Macy) is so desperate to lead another life, he writes himself into his own book, forcing his long-time character (also played by Macy) to change places with him and live in the modern day. But things get deadly when Landry realizes Umney is trapped and cannot write himself out of his new reality.
/The End of the Whole Mess\ The world had changed. Violence, war and hatred have been replaced with kindness, peace and love. But at what price? Renowned filmmaker Howie Fornoy (Livingston), with just one hour to live, recounts the details of his brother's (Thomas) worldwide experiment gone terribly wrong.
/The Road Virus Heads North\ Richard Kinnell (Berenger) is a famous writer who, at a doctor's visit, learns he may soon have to deal with his own mortality. On the drive back to his home, he buys a mysterious painting. Each time he looks at it, it changes to become more menacing and sinister. He pieces together that the painting is trying to kill him but not if he can destroy it first.
/The Fifth Quarter\ Willie (Sisto), a just-released convict, learns from his dying friend of a map in four parts that reveals the location of several million dollars from a robbery. Seeking revenge for the death of his friend and the money, as well, Willie hunts down the others who hold the remaining three parts to the map, risking his family and his freedom.
/Autopsy Room Four\ Businessman Howard Cottrell (Thomas) is on vacation playing one of his many games of golf. Chasing the ball into the undergrowth, he is bitten by a snake and completely paralyzed, showing no signs of life. At the hospital, unable to communicate, he is the key witness to his own autopsy.
/You Know They Got A Hell of a Band\ A wrong turn on a lonely road turns frightening for Clark and Mary Willingham (Weber and Delaney) as they stumble upon a town not on any map - Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon. There is a free concert every night, but the price of admission is high - once the audience enters, it can never leave.
1.] "The End of the Whole Mess" - Very well done. Spot on adaptation of
a neat little story. Livingston's performance is perfect - heartfelt
and desperate. Henry Thomas was good too.
2.] "Battleground" - When I first read this story (about 15 years ago) I thought it would make a great TV movie - not a feature film - but at the time, I didn't think the SFX of the day could pull it off. This was a pretty good effort though, and I loved the lack of dialog. Hurt is not too bad either.
3.] "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" - Not bad adaptation. This was a good short story, one I always try to read when I pick up Nightmares & Dreamscapes.
4.] "Umney's Last Case" - Not bad story, Macy's performance pulled it off. I always wondered why the chose to adapt this one though, especially over some of Kings other classics.
5.] "Autopsy Room Four" - Again, great story, but the adaptation leaves a lot to be desired, and only because of the hokey performances, especially from Richard Thomas and Greta Scacchi.
6.] "The Fifth Quarter" - Good performance from Sisto, but again, why do this story over something like "Grandma" or "The Jaunte".
7.] "The Road Virus Heads North" - The only thing they got right was the painting. Everything else, including Berringer's performance, was cheesy.
8.] "Crouch End" - This was a good story, but the adaptation did not capture the creepy feel King brought out in the narrative. The performances were OK, and it started off on the right foot, but things quickly went south after they started wandering around the empty streets. I think director Mark Haber, just couldn't put his finger on what the point of that story was.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nightmares & Dreamscapes is a collection of 8 made for TV episodes
based on a collection of short stories by Stephen King. The title is
slightly misleading since not all of the episodes are based on the
stories from the book of the same name.
Overall the episodes vary from very good to just plain bad. As always there are problems with adapting King's work for the TV screen. Even if we allow for the changes that have to be made, some of the stories lack all the components that made them a good story whilst others have added padding in order to get them to the 45 minute mark or so.
The best segment is Battleground. It is the opening episode and is the best of the lot due partly to the acting ability of William Hurt who plays an assassin being pursued by a group of miniature toy soldier as he killed their creator. Given that this is a TV episode the effects of the soldiers and their weapons are actually very well done. Another great thing about this episode is that William Hurt does not have any dialogue, so everything is expressed through physical acting. Alas this is not true of the next episode.
The second episode is Crouch End is on the opposite side of the spectrum and is probably the worst of the lot. The acting is average at best and the effects are way below par. It's in tradition of H. P. Lovecraft, and is about a couple who gets lost in a London suburb and enters into a parallel dimension where strange things lurk. Quite a forgettable telling of the story.
The third story is Umney's Last Case and it is about a fictional private detective from the 1930's and the author who created him (both played by William H. Macy). The author decided to switch places with the character he created as he is sick of his real life since he lost his son in a tragic accident whilst the detective has numerous affairs and never experiences any loss, grief or unhappiness. An OK story but slightly extended for the TV so it looses momentum and feels forced at times. Still worth watching.
The fourth story is The End Of The Whole Mess and it's about a documentary film maker telling a story about how his brother and him managed to kill all of humanity by using a drug that they introduced into the atmosphere in order to try and bring an end to war and conflict. The super genius brother discovered a chemical compound that has a calming effect on anyone who is exposed to it. The enhanced compound however also has a horrible side effect of giving everyone fast acting Alzheimer's. Overall an average story. I preferred reading it.
The fifth story is The Road Virus Heads North, and is about a writer (Tom Berenger) who buys a painting at a yard sale and ends up being pursued by the figure in the painting. Whilst the story itself is good, the TV adaptation is not great at all. When I was reading it, the story was engrossing, when I was watching it I couldn't wait for it to be over.
The next story is called The Fifth Quarter and it's about a criminal who vows to go straight upon being released from prison but a dying friend gives him a quarter of a map that leads to 3 and a half million dollars. He wants to provide for his family and goes on to try and get the other pieces of the map from three other criminals. They are obviously not just going to hand over their map segments. Overall a good story with decent acting.
The seventh story is Autopsy Room Four and is about a man who finds himself on the autopsy table whilst he is still alive but completely paralyzed due to a snake bite. And no one seems to notice. Most of the story is about him trying to alert the morgue staff before they start cutting into him. The morgue staff is paying more attention to flirting and arguing amongst themselves. Some suspense so overall an O.K story.
The final story is called You know they've got a hell of a band and it's about a couple who gets lost taking back roads and ends up in an idyllic looking town called Rock N Roll Heaven. Some of the inhabitants are not that friendly and soon the two protagonists are being chased by dead rock stars including Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison and others. They want them to stay for the concert...and never ever leave. An enjoyable story for rock and roll fans.
Overall the collection is worth watching if you are a fan of Stephen King's work and want to check it out, just don't expect anything too spectacular, although there are stories which are good and keep more or less true to the story on which they are based. I would rate it between 5-6.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Stephen King seems to be the proverbial limitless well of creativity, a
modern- day Edgar Allan Poe/O.Henry with his twisted, original and
ultimately unsettling tales of the human condition basted with science
fiction, terror and eerie horror that has no equal with his
contemporaries, often putting him in a class by himself. And that is
also a conundrum since variably the adaptations of his works are often
hit-and-miss with few classic exceptions in film ("The Shining" , "The
Dead Zone"), television mini-series ("The Stand"), and now in the
retro- anthology ala classics like "The Twilight Zone" and "Alfred
" with his compendium of 8 tales with his unique
blend of blatant uneasiness and sprinklings of gallows humor.
The eight include:
DISC ONE: "BATTLEGROUND" - One of the series better offerings featuring William Hurt in a dialogue-less interpretation about a professional assassin whose latest victim, a toy magnate, gets his revenge in the unlikely form of a package including a set of Army toy soldiers which come to life and wreck unholy havoc in his cold, efficient apartment in a battle to the death. The shrewd teleplay by Richard Christian Matheson (the son of legendary genre master, Richard Matheson - "The Incredible Shrinking Man") eschews chatter for chills (and a nice nod to his pop's most famous monster, the Zuni fetish doll from the TV movie classic, "Trilogy of Terror", makes a cameo (!) ) Directed by Brian Henson (son of Muppeteer Jim) employs CGI and green screen effect economically building enough tension in a familiar tale (I recall a similar effort in the '80s short-lived anthology series on ABC, "DarkRoom" with host James Coburn, featuring Ronny Cox as a Vietnam vet facing his ghosts in the form of tiny attackers).
"CROUCH END" - A so-so adaptation about an American couple (Eion Bailey - best known for HBO's "Band of Brothers" and "CSI: NY"s Claire Forlani) abroad in England for a new job perspective who unknowingly wander into an odd, out- of-the-way town where things are not as they appear in this decidedly HP Lovecraftian twister. Kim Le Master's adaptation isn't bad but not very terrifying and director Mark Haber does his best with the limits of the plot.
"Umney's Last Case" - William H. Macy has a field day in a dual role as a '30s era LA gumshoe named Umney who suddenly faces the fact that he is the imagined character of an author (also played by Macy) who decides to change his life for his creation's to escape his painful life. April Smith adds some fun to the mix in her take on the affectionate ode to pulp fiction while veteran director Rob Bowman ("The X-Files") gives the outing a polished look overall.
DISC TWO: "THE END OF THE WHOLE MESS" - Arguably the best of the bunch, and one of my favorite unnerving King treats, about two brothers (Ron Livingston and Henry Thomas) who concoct a method of wiping out mankind's proclivities to violence with devastating results in a sharply skewed take on the old chestnut of messing with Mother Nature. Penned by frequent King adapter Lawrence D. Cohen ("It", "Carrie") and directed by Miakael Salomon (who helmed the second go-around TV mini-series of King's "'Salem's Lot", also for TNT), the chapter is a tight, nerve-shattering fix that Rod Serling would've gladly called his own.
"THE ROAD VIRUS HEADS NORTH" - Tom Berenger gives a mannered yet thoughtful turn as a King-like author who acquires a disturbing painting on a pit- stop during a road-trip and discovers its unearthly power : it's frequent changing of its portrait into a horrific prophecy. Peter Filardi (who wrote the aforementioned ""Salem's Lot" mini-series) manages to make things quite unpleasant and director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (tv's "Prison Break") keeps things at a pulse-quickening pace.
"THE FIFTH QUARTER" - Jeremy Sisto plays a recently paroled con who desperately wants to go straight but finds himself immersed in a treasure-hunt of deadly intentions while his girlfriend Samantha Mathis tries to make sense of the whole damn thing for her man. Played as a morality play by Alan Sharp ("Rob Roy") and Bowman directing again making the proceedings a noose- tightening fable of a criminal's mind.
DISC THREE: "AUTOPSY ROOM FOUR" - Classic ala Hitchcock offering Richard Thomas as a golfer bitten by a poisonous snake during a game and assumed to be dead, depicts his plight on the morgue table with his fate in the hands of his would be coroners. Well-acted by Thomas, who literally remains motionless in fear for an hour - no-easy feat- and enough taut, tension thanks to Smith and Salomon's expert teaming here.
"YOU KNOW THEY GOT A HELL OF A BAND" - The weakest of the series with Steven Weber ("Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip") and Kim Delaney (late of "CSI: Miami") as a couple on a road trip detouring into a "Twilight Zone" slice of Americana: a town inhabited by nefarious deceased rock-and-roll gods whose idea of heaven is really a living hell for its inhabitants. Quaint King and listless adaptation by Mark Robe make for a forgettable exercise in the cult of personality.
/1/ Battleground had great production values and excellent cast in
William Hurt. The first half was slow but it made up for when the
doo-doo hit the fan later in the movie.
/2/ Crouch End is one of the few attempts at interpreting King's Lovecraftian inspired tales into a movie, and it mostly excelled at that. Great cinematography, good cast, imaginative directing and creepy special effects make this episode a perfect compliment to Battleground during the first week.
/3/ Umney's Last Case is unfortunately a victim of an over zealous writer intent on changing a lot of Stephen King's work in the original short story. Macy does a good job of trying to salvage this movie, but I would skip this story when renting the DVD.
/4/ End Of the Whole Mess will come across as slow, talky and a bit conventional to many, the writing is probably the deepest of the four aired so far, but that can't help the slow pace and melodramatic performances.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Man, I really wanted to like these shows. I am starving for some good television and I applaud TNT for providing these "opportunites". But, sadly, I am in the minority I guess when it comes to the Cinematic Stephen King. As brilliant as King's writing is, the irony is that it simply doesn't translate well to the screen, big or small. With few exceptions (very few), the King experience cannot be filmed with the same impact that the stories have when read. Many people would disagree with this, but I'm sure that in their heart of hearts they have to admit that the best filmed King story is but a pale memory of the one they read. The reason is simple. The average King story takes place in the mind-scape of the characters in the story. He gives us glimpses of their inner thoughts, their emotions and their sometimes fractured or unreal points of view. In short, King takes the reader places where you can't put a Panavision camera. As an audience watching the filmed King, we're left with less than half the information than the reader has access to. It's not too far a stretch to claim that One becomes a character in a King story they read, whereas One is limited to petty voyeurism of that same character when filmed. For as long as King writes, Hollywood will try shooting everything that comes out of his word processor, without any regard to whether or not they should. I don't blame the filmmakers for trying, but it takes an incredible amount of talent and circumspection to pull off the elusive Stephen King adaptation that works. The task is akin to turning lead into gold, or some arcane Zen mastery. Oh well, better luck next time.
|Page 1 of 5:||    |
|External reviews||Official site||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|