The Tommyknockers (TV Mini-Series 1993) Poster

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It came from out of the sky.
Michael O'Keefe17 November 2001
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.
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Should Be Shorter and Shorter
Claudio Carvalho3 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
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 population?

"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")
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Initially promising, ultimately very disappointing
mikehellens21 July 2000
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.
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Decent TV Stephen King Adaptation
mstomaso5 April 2008
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.
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Underrated King classic
Bozo30 May 2008
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 5/30/08).

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.
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wnterstar20 April 2006
Warning: 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.
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Great acting, interesting plot
lisa-cooper22 July 2005
Warning: 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!
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TheColt23 April 2000
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
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King done good
Master Cultist1 January 2010
Warning: 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.
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nothing great, but certainly better than expected
MisterWhiplash13 November 2009
Usually the norm for Stephen King adaptations, particularly with those directly adapted for television or as a miniseries, to stay away. They're mostly produced by hacks who have to cut apart King's works, even then ones that don't need or shouldn't be adapted (or the ones he comes up with himself like Storm of the Century), and place them in a set running time meant for commercial breaks and to (sometimes) tone down explicit language and whatever bloody violence tends to happen in the original stories. But somehow Tommyknockers came to me (via the wife of all people), and decided to give it a chance purely based on the premise. It's about a small town in Maine (for King, color me shocked and awed!) and what happens to them when one of the townspeople, local writer Bobbi, comes across a strange object buried in the ground. She keeps digging and digging, and it just becomes an obsessive thing to unearth the entire metal-maze that seems to be underground. But then a green substance or other overcomes her, and the town, and they're slaves to some extraterrestrial entities - all except for one, a man with a metal plate in his head who can't be made zombified.

With a good premise and a few interesting cast prospects (Jimmy Smitts, Marg Helgenberger, EG Marshall, Traci Lords), I was prepared for anything. It could have been a horrid telling of the story, or perhaps something truly surprising and brilliant. It's in the middle; it's not very brilliant nor bad at all. The Tommyknockers works, more or less, how one sees a Stephen King book (one of the really good ones) work as a story: introduce the characters, let us get to know them very well and maybe empathize with them or sympathize with their troubles (alcoholism, infidelity, superstitions) or just understand them, and then just put them through total HELL (in caps). Most of the first half is just set-up, seeing the relationship between Bobbi and Jim, who has been on the wagon until an incident that sends him in turmoil, the fractured marriage of a cop and a postal worker- the latter cheating with a sultry temptress (Lords) every day- and the little boy who wants to master, and believes, in magic.

But once the effects of the Tommyknockers spreads through the town, it gets equally interesting and hokey. Some of the acting is just terrible, as one might expect (the kid playing the would-be magician is the kind one would usually find on low-rated episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark), and some of that green visual effects stuff is rather cheap even when nifty coming out of a lipstick container. And the writing in some scenes is silly too, and I'm not sure if that's a criticism of the movie or of King. Yet what does work is that it's a solid story, told with a degree of professionalism and some creativity that makes it worth watching. Smitts and Helgenberger give as good as they've got, which is a big boost, and some scenes like the 4th of July climax of the first half of the movie are staged in a creepy manner and style (cutting between the zombies, the dolls, the kid repeating and the telekinetic typewriter typing Tommyknockers over and over). Even the aliens are a lot of fun to watch towards the end, with the end result revealed as just a rip on what would later be seen in the Matrix.

Some of this is predictable, and silly, and its ending is equally tragic and unintentionally funny. But I was entertained and didn't want to get up or stop the DVD during its running time, and that's my two cents.
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The Tommyknockers (5/10)
skybrick73610 July 2016
The superbly named Stephen King book turned TV miniseries, The Tommyknockers is another story that gets the treatment it deserves, a full length feature. Acquiring quality actors and actresses is obviously a challenge when it comes to a King horror miniseries but Tommyknockers managed to pick up some talent. Jimmy Smits is a suitable lead actor to depend on and the supporting actresses of Marg Helgenberger, Allyce Beasley and Traci Lords all had solid performances were and easy on the eyes. The pace at times was dull not giving much of anything away in terms of the aliens. Characters possessed by alien life forces could have been a bit more sinister instead cheap effects and robotic mannerisms were used to imply they've been taken over. The ending itself was rather ho-hum and didn't have any memorable or re-watchable traits. The Tommyknockers may be worth about one watch and that's it.
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callanvass8 January 2004
decent flick is well made and creepy but suffers from a plodding pace and overacting and weak production values for a TV movie this is pretty good and very watchable and mildly entertaining worth the look although it's nothing special
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Nothing like the book.
booboobunnygirl10 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This was nothing like the book. I was thoroughly disappointed in this adaption. Instead of "becoming" the tommy knockers and subsequently being burned up in a huge fire, the towns people were just brain washed and were somehow OK at the end? They even changed the extremely dynamic and charming relationship between the two main characters of the story and turned it into something annoying and predictable. There were entire sections that were removed for no apparent reason. Honestly if you like the premise of this, please just read the book. It is much more convincing and detailed, everything that is good about a Stephen King novel.

There was nothing good or redeeming about this, don't waste your time.
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Deplorable attempt
Elswet30 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Yet Another Prime Example Of What NOT To Do To A Stephen King Novel

This was not the best Stephen King novel to begin with, but I enjoyed the depth of character and the intricate detailing of small town life in Maine. The character development was exemplary and the writing of this novel was very well done.

The premise behind the whole story was that we, Human Beings, are the aliens. Wonderful, thought-provoking and disturbing.

What they DID to this story with this, another Made For TV Adaptation of the book, was rob the story of the depth of the character development and eradicate the small town feeling of community and family that you got from the book. Which left ... absolutely NOTHING.

The effects are of the pre-Star Wars days, the cast is the most miss-matched combination of miss-cast actors you've ever seen and the performance of the key characters (Bobbi and "Gard") is sadly mis-directed, plasticly hollow and miserably lacking. Not the actors' faults, either. They both have done better both before and after this.

One of THE worst adaptations of Stephen King's work I've seen.

This movie gets a 2.1/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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Rubbish of the highest order
alicespiral19 March 2007
The I rating is for the moment the credits went up on this utterly boring tripe.It makes no sense and its like 2 or 3 movie excerpts were stitched together. Logic? There was none-dolls that come to life for no reason and daft sub plots about cheating husbands. Science fiction should have an element of at least mystery and at least some logic but this has none.Why make a kid disappear through a magic trick? If these aliens who emerged towards the end had been used right they'd have scared people into submission yet one gets attacked with a shovel? Really this is an insult to viewers who enjoy proper science fiction like War Of The Worlds or The Invaders or Quatermass. The average zombie film makes more sense It says nothing in the end only you wasted time watching it
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Utterly boring
rkampel24 May 2003
Sitting through this movie is a true ordeal: as with all Stephen King turkeys, this movie is LONG and time seems to stop as nothing ever happens. In the end I couldn't believe that there was simply no purpose to this movie, let alone a plot.

Stephen King movies are either hits or misses: while some adaptations of his books have turned into great movies (The Shining, Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile) others can only fall into the category of worst movies ever - Tommyknockers, Langoliers, Cujo, Christine or Needful Things all come to mind.

Avoid this movie at all costs. I'd rather sit through 3h of cooking shows than seeing this movie again!
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Plan 9 from Stephen King
MartianOctocretr57 February 2010
Stephen King was bored one afternoon, so he scribbled out a story about some buried artifacts being uncovered and possessing people's brains. In this town, there's not much in the way of brains to take over. You know that somebody's possessed; how? They have green neon eyes, that's how. Why you hear little kids singing a jump-rope rhyme is never explained, but it sure is annoying.

Let's back up a moment. This is one of those King novels that was turned into a mini-series. Leave about 30% of the footage on the cutting room floor to shave this to its proper run time, and it would be better. The entire first two hours is character development: a complete waste of time because possessed people lose their personalities anyway. The blonde bimbo never has a personality-before or after possession-but I digress. The main problem is that the townsfolk are eminently boring. Those that get possessed, have weird green eyes, but they're still boring. There are some moments of gross-out bloody deaths, but somehow the film makes even these dull.

A quick note: the cast is not at fault for the shallow characters. The acting is rather professional and convincing (considering what they had to work with), and rises miles above the juvenile writing. The only fault the actors had was allowing their agents to sign them up for this pointless misfire.

The film does scratch out a few useful moments here and there; the closing sequence is interesting, even though it predictably fails to resolve anything.

Rent Plan 9, instead. At least that film is funny.
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ctomvelu15 June 2010
Not having read the book, I assume this TV movie veered away from its source material, at least in part, and probably due to a minuscule budget. At least that's the impression I get from reading some of the posts here. A long-buried spaceship begins to have an alarming effect on the residents of a small town in Maine. Basically, it turns them into zombies, although they think they are evolving onto a higher plane of existence. There are some creepy moments involving the newly unearthed ship, but the movie is done in by incredibly cheap effects and some awful casting, among the worst being Jimmy Smits as an alcoholic poet and Traci Lords as a perpetually horny postal worker (had her frequent love scenes been handled more realistically, instead of childishly, this movie might have been a lot more interesting). I have watched this lengthy adaptation several times over the years, and I sometimes wonder if it was intended as a comedy. Probably not, but it definitely has its share of laugh-out-loud moments.
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Mediocre Sci-Fi horror...
Paul Magne Haakonsen21 December 2015
For some reason I always avoided this movie, despite enjoying most of the Stephen King movie adaptations as a teenager. It was simply because of the horrible title that I stayed clear of it. But having a chance to have seen it in 2015, after all these years, I finally got around to watching it.

The idea behind "The Tommyknockers" was adequate; a buried alien spacecraft holds some extraterrestrial force that invades the minds of the residents of a small rural community. Personally, then I didn't fully understand the thing with the missing teeth. And the thing that the people were unearthing just didn't appear extraterrestrial at all.

Now, I say mediocre Sci-Fi horror because it just didn't manage to step beyond and become interesting.

As for the acting, well they had some good talents on the cast list, with a number of familiar faces. The actors and actresses did good jobs with their roles, despite having storyboard limitations working against them.

The special effects in "The Tommyknockers" weren't impressive, not even by the standards back in 1993. However, I will say that the inside of the alien spacecraft was actually quite good. And the creature design of the alien creatures was good as well, it was the typical "grey one" design, but buffed up with a pinch of horror. And it worked out quite well.

"The Tommyknockers" isn't the best of Stephen King movie adaptations, but it is adequate enough for a single viewing.
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no tension
SnoopyStyle21 February 2015
It's the small town of Haven Falls, Maine. Bryant Brown (Robert Carradine) owns the local diner. Sheriff Ruth Merrill (Joanna Cassidy) is a doll collector. Nancy Voss (Traci Lords) is the vain postmaster who is having an affair with fellow postal worker Joe Paulson (Cliff De Young) who is cheating on his wife Deputy Becka Paulson (Allyce Beasley). Bobbi Anderson (Marg Helgenberger) discovers something mysterious in the woods and feels driven to start digging it up. Jim Gardner (Jimmy Smits) is her recovering alcoholic boyfriend. Trooper Butch Duggan (John Ashton) is sweet on Sheriff Ruth who was his partner's wife. People in town start putting together gadgets that are powered by a green light and reading others' minds.

I wonder if this is better as a shorter movie rather than a 3 hour mini-series. There isn't any mystery since almost everything is laid out right away anyways. It feels too extended with sections that has no tension. The acting is generally good with solid TV actors. It's definitely not cinematic. It's a middling adaptation of yet another Stephen King novel. It's like an extremely extended Twilight Zone episode.
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Doesn't quite work
Neil Welch24 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Something is buried in the woods behind Bobbi's house. And, once it is partly uncovered, it starts exerting an influence on the inhabitants of the small Maine town - strange things happen, strange talents manifest themselves, people get smarter, and the outside world gets cut off. It falls to Bobbi's friend Gard to get some idea of what's happening and find a way to put a stop to it.

With the benefit of hindsight, The Tommyknockers is something of an early run at an idea developed more fully in Under The Dome. As an avid King reader, I found my first pass at this book very difficult: I got a lot more out of it at the second attempt. And, like much of King's work, it defies attempts to adapt it effectively. But the elements which reduce the effectiveness of the adaptation are strange (and, I suspect, different for different people). For me, there were two things which really screwed things up - one was the fact that what was buried in the woods was a saucer, and it was the very edge of this which got uncovered: in the miniseries what got dug up was a series of interconnected boxes. And the other thing was the physical deterioration of the townsfolk - one appreciates how difficult this would be to do on screen, but Bobbi was nearly as attractive at the end as she was at the start, and she should have been a gaunt mess.

The ensemble cast isn't bad, and does a reasonable job of recreating most of King's characters. The main problem is that there is a distinct 2nd class/TV feel to what should have been a 1st class/movie project.
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A pretty good King film
Tom van der Esch4 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The story: The Tommyknockers is a pretty interesting movie about a quiet, friendly town called Haven. Everything's peaceful and perfect until a woman uncovers a strange rock in the woods. Slowly, yet surely, strange things begin to manifest amongst the townspeople. People are disappearing into thin air, people are inventing new, unbelievable machines, people are acting really strange all of a sudden... One man is skeptic about all of this and decides to put a stop to this madness. Only one problem: the whole town turns against him.

I won't spoil how it all ends and how the mysteries are explained, since that would destroy the purpose of watching this.

I liked the acting; it's pretty solid and all the characters do their part well. There's the local sheriff, the seducing femme fatal, the kind grandpa, the ambitious kid, the alcohol addict and so on. It may be not Shakespeare, but I think they did a good job.

I also have to note the music. It fits the movie and it adds a certain creepiness to the whole story.

If I have to name a bad thing, I have to look pretty hard. Maybe the last few scenes are a bit.. off compared to the rest of the film, but that's just me. For some reason they didn't seem to fit in the story. When everything is explained, it took away a part of the charm this movie had for me. I liked it better when it was all a mystery.

Last, but not least, I must mention the duration. The Tommyknockers is about 3 hours long, so just make sure you got the time for watching it.

I give this 8 out of 10 stars.
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This seems to be a trend
dbusch0117 September 2002
I hate to say it because I am a fan of Kings but this was poorly done. And thats saying alot considering I was in this movie. I noticed though that even with other King movies that there seems to be a cheeping out at times. Like the badly done spider in the movie, "IT" I felt this was a good film until the muppet like spider turned up.
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Watch out the Tommyknockers will make you build a typewriter
culwin22 January 2000
My theory is that Jimmy Smits got lost, ended up on the wrong movie set, and they wouldn't let him go until he promised to help make this movie. I never read the Stephen King book, but I can't believe it could be anywhere near as bas as this movie. This movie is nearly as bad as "Maximum Overdrive", in its sheer ridiculousness. Nothing scary nor even interesting here. See it to laugh at it and then tape over it.
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