Not only is Stephen King a prolific writer with fifty novels and hundreds of short stories to his credit. His non-fiction, columns, essays, poetry, and comics garner praise, and he additionally writes screenplays. He’s even made cameos in some of the adaptations of his stories and books.
His first published novel, “Carrie,” also became his first to be adapted to a film in 1976. Stanley Kubrick famously changed “The Shining” in 1980. “Stand By Me,” “Misery,” “Shawshank Redemption,” and “The Green Mile” became major motion pictures, while “Salem’s Lot” (twice), “It,” “The Tommyknockers,” “The Stand,” “The Langoliers,” “Storm of the Century,” “Rose Red,” and “Bag of Bones” became made for television miniseries. Stephen King created television series, too, including “Golden Years” (1991), “The Dead Zone” (2002-2007), “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” (2004), “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” (2006), “Haven” (2010), and “Under the Dome” (2013).
Of the over twenty adaptations of his works for film or television, Stephen King appeared in many. Also, he acted in a couple of established tv show episodes. Follows is a list of his appearances on silver and small screen:
Creep Show (1982 movie) starred in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”
Maximum Overdrive (1986 movie) uncredited appearance as man at cash point
Creep Show 2 (1987 movie) played a truck driver in “The Hitchhiker”
Pet Semetary (1989 movie) played a minister
The Golden Years (1991 tv) played a bus driver
Sleepwalkers (1992 movie) played a cemetery caretaker
The Stand (1994 tv miniseries) played Teddy Weizak
The Langoliers (1995 tv miniseries) played Tom Holby
Thinner (1996 movie) played Dr. Bangor
The Shining (1997 tv miniseries) played the band leader
Storm of the Century (1999 tv miniseries) appeared as lawyer in ad and a reporter on a broken tv
Frazier (2000 tv series episode “Mary Christmas”) played Brian
The Simpsons (2000 tv series episode titled “Insane Clown Poppy”) “played” himself
Rose Red (2002 tv miniseries) uncredited appearance as pizza delivery guy
Kingdom Hospital (2004 tv episode finale) played Johnny B. Goode
Fever Pitch (2005 movie) himself throwing out first pitch at a Red Sox Game
Gotham Café (2005 movie) Mr. Ring
Diary of the Dead (2007 movie voiceover) news reader
Sons of Anarchy (2010 tv episode “Caregiver”) played Richard Bachman
Stephen King is scheduled to appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on 11 September, 2015. He and his wife Tabitha also acted in George Romero’s 1981 “Knight Riders,” portraying Hoagieman and his wife.
Said Mr. King, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King lives by this motto. His considerable talent is supplemented by dedication to his craft and a desire to experience life in his own creative way, be it through participating in the band “Rock Bottom Remainders,” acting, writing, or private pursuits.
A co-production between Mastropiece Productions and Southpaw Pictures
Directed by Bart Mastronardi & Alan Rowe Kelly
Starring Debbie Rochon, Amy Steel, Bette Cassatt, Adrienne King, Caroline Williams, Randy Jones, Alan Rowe Kelly, Brewster McCall, Lesleh Donaldson, Desiree Gould, Cartier Williams, Joe Quick, Michael Varrati, Andrew Glaszek, David Marancik, Susan Adriensen.
I was fortunate to attend the Tales of Poe Hollywood world premiere on August 20th. Anyone who is familiar with me knows that I am a fan of Alan Rowe Kelly and Bart Mastronardi. I have appeared in two of Alan’s films and Bart worked on those films as well. And while there is a fair number of work in my past that I would like to deny, I wear my Alan Rowe Kelly day player T-shirt with pride. Having appeared in The Blood Shed and Gallery of Fear, I am very familiar with how both directors operate.
So when I heard they were going to collaborate on an anthology of Edgar Allan Poe tales, I knew immediately that something special was going to come from it. And I was 100% correct. Tales of Poe stands as the highest achievement for both Kelly and Mastronardi. The anthology film boasts quite a few familiar names to horror fans. Debbie Rochon, Caroline Williams, Amy Steel, Adrienne King and the Village People’s Randy Jones headline the film.
Alan Rowe Kelly also appears as two different characters. I was very pleasantly surprised to see three of Alan’s regular players: Zoe Daelman Chlanda, Susanna Adriansen and Jerry Murdock. I was a little disappointed that they had relatively minor roles (except for Zoe; she has a pretty meaty presence in The Cask).
So I’m going to start where the anthology starts: with Mastronardi’s TheTell Tale Heart. Now when I first heard this was going to be one of the stories adapted, I was hesitant. Adapting the Tell Tale Heart is akin to making another wheel, in my opinion. But Bart turns it on its ear fairly quickly with the story of a night nurse (Debbie Rochon) who cares for an ailing silent screen legend, Miss Lamarr (Alan Rowe Kelly in a perfectly cast performance). The night nurse is driven to madness and murder by the fading starlet’s sickly gaze. I love the interplay between Rochon and Lesleh Donaldson’s character of Evelyn Dyck in the sanatorium in the prologue of this tale. It is a cat and cat game between two psychopaths and you can feel the waves of malevolence coming off of it.
One thing that I will declare right now: Debbie Rochon does the best job I have ever seen her do in the role of the night nurse. I have worked with Debbie, and she is a very dedicated actress. She has a strong self- awareness of what works for her. She is a student of the game. An observation I have made about Debbie in the past, and this is by no means a slight: I never saw her entirely as the characters that she played. I always saw Debbie as Debbie. I have the same sort of perception with actors like Jack Nicholson and Robert DeNiro. She has a very strong presence that is difficult to subdue.
But I am happy to report that Debbie totally disappeared into this role. She proved to me unequivocally that she is the brightest and most talented actress in the indie horror film field.
Mastronardi’s take on The Tell Tale Heart goes exactly where Poe fans know it will go. But it is stylish as hell and the acting is top notch across the board. The tale has never felt fresher.
The next segment in the movie is Alan Rowe Kelly’s adaptation of The Cask. In this tale, Alan plays Gogo Montresor, the conniving and murderous wife of a well to do vintner, Fortunato Montresor (Randy Jones). This segment also featured cameos by Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt and it was good to see some old friends in there. And the always reliable Susan Adriensen brought her quirky weirdness to housekeeper, Morella. When Marco Lechresi (Brewster McCall) shows up at the wedding party, you realize the short honeymoon is over for Fortunato and Gogo. This segment was absolutely breathtaking in its design, and composition of the shots. The spooky nighttime interiors put me in the mind of a dreamy Euro-horror film from the 70’s. And the effects were fan-effin-tastic. The reanimated corpse make-up was very retro and it was the same type of presentation and look that you would see in really well done horror films of the early 70’s. You know, the ones that actually scared the crap out of you. Watching this segment definitely made me feel like a kid. I enjoyed the hell out of the acting in this one (especially Randy Jones. He was great!).
My only complaints are two tiny ones, and they both concern the opening of the tale. I felt The Cask could have been trimmed down just a hair (it felt a little top heavy), and it had a little too much scenery chewing between the characters during the wedding celebration. Trust me, though: these are minor criticisms. The Cask is a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable adaptation delivered as only Alan Rowe Kelly could deliver.
The last segment of Tales of Poe is Mastronardi’s very artistically composed Dreams. Bette Cassatt (who you can’t take your eyes off of) stars as a young woman who seems to be languishing between life and death in a hospital bed. Her mother, played by Friday the 13th Part 2 star Amy Steel, lingers near as her daughter wanders the dream land found between life and death.
There are two other really huge horror actresses in this segment that a lot of fans of 80’s horror will recognize. There is Caroline Williams of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 fame. Caroline plays the Angel of Dreams. This character seems to be a benevolent, silent guide. Caroline does so much with just a look. She is stunning to behold here. And Adrienne King (the star of the original Friday the 13th) appears as the Queen of Dreams; a dark personification of death. Both actresses perform and express extremely well in this mostly dialog-free piece. There is a very cool Tarantino vibe here, especially if you were raised on 80’s horror. The actors in this piece feel painted into the scenery. Their commitment to the director’s vision here is highly evident.
There is a very cool feast scene that comes off as a combination of David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick and it is beautiful. Mastronardi went for an abstract piece of art here, and he succeeded. The last segment of this anthology is probably the best put-together piece. Ending the film with a strikingly diverse piece like Dreams was a good decision, because at that point the viewer will have come so far down the rabbit hole that they will be committed to finishing the maze. In case you think there was any negativity in my last statement, allow me to clarify: I am not putting down the average horror fan and I am not trying to diminish the raw horror or beauty of Dreams (there is gore and the piece is deeply disturbing). I am simply saying that Dreams veers down a conceptual path that the more by the number horror fan might not want to follow.
But screw those guys. Bart Mastronardi knocked me for an unexpected loop with this one.
And so my final verdict? Tales of Poe is one of the best indie horror anthology films that I have ever seen. It is breathtaking in its beauty. It’s technically sound; there wasn’t one technical blemish on it that I noticed. It is the best work (so far) of two of the hardest working and talented mofos in independent horror cinema. Tales of Poe takes the work of a master and puts it into the hands of two of the finest modern craftsmen in the field. You must see this film when it comes out.
Directed By: Billy “Bloody Bill” PonWritten By: Billy “Bloody Bill” Pon & Lee AnkrumStarring: Bill Oberst, Jr., Parrish Randall, Chanel Ryan, Roger Edwards, Brad Potts, Tiffani Fest, Ryan Clapp, Rusty Edwards, Mike WilliamsRunning 114 minutes
Circus Of the Dead is the first full length feature for director Billy Pon, who has made a pretty big splash in indie horror already with his short film, Doll Boy. Billy is far from a novice when it comes to horror though, having ran two different haunted attractions in Texas for some time now. He is quite adept at his craft and all of those long hours as a self professed “Haunt-trepreur” really come into to play in his film work.
Circus of the Dead Synopsis: “A man becomes entangled in a deadly morality game when the circus comes to town and a sadistic clown forces him to examine the things in life he takes for granted in the most horrific ways.”
If you have a fear of clowns, this one may throw you into therapy for years to come. On the other hand, if like me, you have never really been affected by the strange folk in funny shoes and makeup, you will finally empathize with the thousands that run screaming every time Send in the Clowns plays!
In Circus of the Dead, we meet a particularly nasty gang of clowns consisting of Papa Corn (Bill Oberst Jr), Noodledome the Clown (Ryan Clapp), Mister Blister the Clown (Rusty Edwards) and Jumbo the Clown (Mike Williams), all of whom will have horror fans chanting We Want the Clowns, We Want the Clowns, We Want the Clowns for years to come!
With nods to great actors and classic films of the genre, Circus of the Dead is a rich viewing experience for any horror fan. The story is tight and well-written. The dialogue, violence and motivations of the characters all make sense within the story-line. Everything has a specific purpose that drives the film as fast as the Camaro the clowns cruise town in. Circus of the Dead feels very organic in its terror.
Visually, Circus of the Dead is full of grotesque moments that will fill the most cynical of horror fans with hope for the future of the indie horror film genre. Billy Pon has a great eye for detail and doesn’t hold back in his delivery of the gore. Circus of the Dead is filled with scenes that will get under your skin and into your head; leaving you reflecting on the experience for weeks to come. Some films you forget almost as soon as you see them; the memory fades as soon as the end credits role. I can promise you this is not the case with this Circus of the Dead, folks!
The performances by all the main players are phenomenal. There is not enough that can be said about how each clown has a particular charisma all his own. With a film like this, it is easy to go too far and become laughable with these archetypes. But Pon and his cast glide seamlessly across that line between realism and absurdity! I have to mention that Papa Corn (played by Bill Oberst Jr.) is one of the most despicable and vulgar characters you can imagine, and yet Oberst plays him in a way that he is more than just the monster he appears to be. There were moments when I felt a deep empathy for him; he had a tangible sadness and longing that was really quite beautiful in the character. It made him multidimensional in way that is rare in a film so heavy in depravity and violence.
Circus of the Dead has removed the net from under the trapeze swing for all indie horror films to come. Billy Pon and his horrific crew of clowns have made a film that will inspire fans and filmmakers alike! This is a film that will be an indie standard, and it will no doubt endure the test of time. Calling it a cult classic is an understatement, I believe the audience is going to go well beyond the typical “cult” scene, therefore I say, behold the newest horror classic!
I can’t finish off with out a word of warning on this one. This film is in your face and will not be for all viewers. There are scenes of extreme violence, full frontal nudity, and graphic sex, this is not a movie to put on for younger eyes. I definitely recommend parents watch it prior to making any decision on whether it is acceptable for anyone under 18.
5 STARS – Due for release on 8/31/2014, but available for pre-order here.
More Misery and Darkness than Frank Miller’s Sin City
In Heroin in the Magic Now, Terry M. West has turned the writing of the novelette/novella into Reality Composition. Every character is holding an unseen camera, recording the privacy of a life that goes on everywhere behind the scenes. Although Terry comes through strong with his unique voice that is unmistakably Terry M. West, once again, he proves to deliver something distinctive. When I started reading Heroin in the Magic Now, I took a deep breath and sighed – it provided the Fix I was looking for.
Terry M. West’s writing is addictive. I highly recommend it over alcohol or heroin. And – utilizing Hardcore Crust as an intro into Heroin in the Magic Now creates a seamless ooze into the seedy world that sets your teeth on edge. I enjoyed this more than Frank Miller’s Sin City, which is one of my favorite movies exploring darkness and misery. I want to see this on celluloid – digital is also acceptable with the right attention given. Although sick, edgy, and filled with heartache and broken dreams, Heroin in the Magic Now also taps into heart and hope. It’s filled with real-world perspective from the shadows, masterfully crafted with just the right touch of fiction and fantasy. I loved it when I wasn’t able to discern reality from fantasy.
Oh, wait – I found a lot of that – which kept me on the edge of my seat, turning page after page. Terry M. West has to know these vampires, zombies, ghouls, werewolves and human monsters… I mean… they have to exist… at least in his mind. And everyone knows our world is full of them. I can’t speak for Mr. West, but I can remember back when I was a child – the greatest thing I could ever imagine becoming – was a monster. As I grew older, that only changed slightly. I learned how to manifest the monsters into the heroes I always believed they were when I was a child. That’s what I get from Heroin in the Magic Now. I just love the gris-gris bag the lead character Gary Hack carries. I had something similar when I was twelve years old. It was a small doll from Haiti stuffed with gris-gris seeds. I can still smell it. Gary Hack was constantly learning.
As I read Heroin in the Magic Now, I sensed a deep metamorphosis taking place within me and then an awakening. I had to stop a moment because I was having flashbacks of aspects of my own life that were painful, heartrending and hopeless. It’s tough when you don’t want to surrender and decide there isn’t another choice. You’re locked into that moment of helplessness and start to play the game: Things will get better – it will all somehow change – the tide will turn. And you wait for years. And sometimes, you just throw yourself out of an airplane or put a needle in your arm or drink yourself into the blackness and wonder how you made it to this point in your miserable life and you finally just give up. And in that moment of surrender everything changes – although you have no idea until that moment of déjà vu – and you awaken to the realization that you have just learned something very important. I’ll be reading this again. God – this is going to be a great movie.