Monday, July 17, 2017

Toilet Monsters From Outer Space, or Thoughts on Dreamcatcher

There’s a certain checklist I’ve come to expect from a Stephen King movie, and director Lawrence Kasdan’s Dreamcatcher (2003) doesn’t disappoint.  You get the Author Stand-in (Damian Lewis as Jonesy, a history professor), a Father Figure (Morgan Fairchild!) a Kid Author Stand-in or Childhood Flashback (boomer music!) and a reference to Derry, Castle Rock, or the state of Maine (take a shot!).
Jonesy, Henry, Pete and Beaver are four life-long friends with a crazy, off-the charts psychic connection.  While staying at a winter cabin in upstate Maine (actually Canada) they rescue a frostbitten hunter covered in a red mold like Jordy Verrill in Creepshow (1982).  The hunter is also suffering from some disturbing gastrointestinal problems, which are followed to their logical and cinematically unfortunate ends.  The chestburster scene from Alien (1979) may have been terrifyingly innovative, but what can only be described as the butt-blaster scene from Dreamcatcher is uncomfortable and embarrassing; not quite horror comedy and an odd direction (no pun intended) for a movie to take.
And speaking of odd directions, Dreamcatcher is another Stephen King movie that starts out as a horror movie and ends up as a science fiction space opera, much like It (1990) and The Tommyknockers (1993) (both TV miniseries’, Stephen King works far better on the small screen, he needs time to tell his stories).  The four friends are played by actors who went on to better and bigger roles; Damian Lewis from Band of Brothers and Homeland, Thomas Jane from The Punisher (2004) and Deep Blue Sea (1999), Jason Lee, who will always be Earl Hickey from My Name is Earl (scientologist) and one of my favorite actors, Timothy Olyphant from Deadwood, Justified and more recently Santa Clarita Diet (2017), the Netflix horror comedy about zombie soccer moms.
Also watch out for Donnie Wahlberg as Douglas, yes I know he’s called Duddits, but that phonetic speech impediment dialogue Stephen King insists on gets tiresome, and to me he’s just another version of Tom Cullen.  And if you don’t know who Tom Cullen is, M-O-O-N spells we can’t hang out anymore.

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