The Dark Half
Director: George A. Romero
Screenwriters: George A. Romero, Paul Hunt, Nick McCarthy
Cast: Timothy Hutton, Amy Madigan, Michael Rooker, Julie Harris
Rated R | 122 Minutes
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Directed by George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Creepshow), 1993’s The Dark Half is based on Stephen King‘s novel of the same name.
In order to talk about Romero’s adaptation of The Dark Half, first we must discuss a little history. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, King published a handful of short novels – Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Roadwork (1981), The Running Man (1982), and Thinner (1984) “” under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
Shortly after the release of Thinner, Bachman was exposed as King’s pseudonym by a Washington D.C. bookstore clerk who noticed similarities between the two authors. The clerk, Steve Brown, wrote to King with the evidence he’d gathered, and King called him days later to come clean in an exclusive interview. The interview was published in The Washington Post, and King announced Bachman’s death – from “cancer of the pseudonym.”
Enter The Dark Half, about a murderous pseudonym turning on a writer. King dedicated the 1989 book to “the deceased Richard Bachman.” The film adaptation stars Timothy Hutton as Thad Beaumont, an author whose own literary works aren’t very successful. Under the pseudonym “George Stark,” however, Beaumont writes a series of best-selling crime novels about a killer named Alexis Machine.
When Stark is exposed as Beaumont’s pen name, Thad and his wife Elizabeth (Amy Madigan) stage a publicity stunt, a mock burial for his alter ego at the local cemetery. Later that night, Stark emerges from the mock grave as a living, breathing physical entity and goes on a killing spree, murdering those responsible for his “death.”
When it comes to Stephen King adaptations, there are plenty of bad ones: The Graveyard Shift, The Mangler, Maximum Overdrive, The Lawnmower Man – those damn Children of the Corn movies. There are some great ones too: The Mist, Misery, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Shining. The Dark Half is somewhere in the middle, an above-average entry that’s on par with films like Firestarter, Cujo, and Pet Sematary.
Romero balances drama and dread effectively in The Dark Half, which is something he struggled with in his rather uneventful 1988 film, Monkey Shines. It’s a solid adaptation of a decent novel, with impressive imagery and some really good performances from Hutton and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy).
If you’re a King fan, a Romero fan, or just a fan of forgotten low-budget horror films, then I absolutely recommend picking up The Dark Half, now on Blu-ray from Scream Factory. As with most Scream Factory releases, The Dark Half‘s high-definition presentation looks pretty damn good, with healthy grain retention and full colors. With a 1080p transfer in 1.85.1 and two audio tracks: a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, this is the definitive release of Romero’s 1993 film. You can order The Dark Half on Blu-ray via Amazon.
* NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Director George A. Romero
* NEW The Sparrows Are Flying Again!: The Making Of The Dark Half – All-New Retrospective with George A. Romero, Everett Burrell, John Vulich, and more!
* Deleted Scenes
* Animated Storyboards for the Original Ending
* Behind-The-Scenes Footage – Special Effects and On the Set
* Vintage “Making of THE DARK HALF” plus additional interview clips
* Theatrical Trailer
* TV Spot
* Still Gallery
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