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Eric Eisenberg

Mike Flanagan's The Life Of Chuck Has Wrapped, And The Filmmaker Has Posted A Lovely Message About The New Stephen King Movie

Stephen King In The Stand.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I hope that all of you are preparing yourselves for a lovely day full of family, friends, and food – but just because this is a holiday doesn’t mean that the week was deprived of news and fun from the world of Stephen King. There is still plenty to be collected for this week’s edition of The King Beat.

From The Life Of Chuck wrapping principal photography, to Rick And Morty’s latest episode featuring not just one but two Stephen King references, there is a lot of fun stuff to reflect on, so let’s dig in!

(Image credit: Scribner)

Mike Flanagan’s The Life Of Chuck Has Wrapped Production, And The Writer/Director Has A Lot Of People To Thank

At present, the slate of Stephen King adaptations for 2024 is a bit unclear. In the last six months, Constant Readers have seen the release of two new movies – The Boogeyman and Pet Sematary: Bloodlines – but there are no films that presently have a release date set for next year, and there aren’t any set plans yet for TV or streaming projects either. What gives us plenty of hope that 2024 won’t be completely without King on-screen, however, is the in-limbo status of Gary Dauberman’s Salem’s Lot and that Mike Flanagan has completed production on The Life Of Chuck.

It was in my column less than two months ago that I noted The Life Of Chuck was gearing up for production in Alabama, and now, the writer/director behind the new Stephen King movie has announced that principal photography has come to an end. On Friday, November 17, Flanagan took to his personal Twitter account to both announce that filming on The Life Of Chuck had ended and send a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who was involved in making it. The filmmaker wrote,

That's a wrap on THE LIFE OF CHUCK. This has been a tenacious little miracle of a movie from the start & I'm forever indebted to this wonderful cast and crew. This film is deeply special to me, and I'm elated that it's going to exist in the world… It's been a long time since I made something truly independent & it fed my soul to be back in the indie world where I started - especially here in Alabama, where we shot OCULUS, BEFORE I WAKE, HUSH and GERALD'S GAME.

We first learned about The Life Of Chuck in early May of this year when it was announced that the independent project was going to be shopped at the Cannes film market. At that time, the cast only included Tom Hiddleston and Mark Hamill, but the ensemble cast grew considerably when production was gearing up in October. In addition to Hamill (who had a brilliant supporting role on the Netflix series The Fall Of The House Of Usher), the movie features a number of performers who have past experience working with Mike Flanagan, including Annalise Basso, Matt Biedel, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Rahul Kohli, Heather Langenkamp, Carl Lumbly, Violet McGraw, Molly C. Quinn, Sauriyan Sapkota, Kate Siegel, Samantha Sloyan, and Michael Trucco.

In a follow-up post, Mike Flanagan shared deep gratitude to all of the people with whom he collaborated on The Life Of Chuck, and added that this is a project for which he feels immense pride:

Our cast was an embarrassment of riches, our crew was small but fierce & the film itself is like nothing I've ever gotten to make, or will likely ever get to make again. I am in love with every frame & so grateful to every person who brought this slice of hope and joy to life…. THE LIFE OF CHUCK is the movie I want to leave in the world for my kids, & I'm so grateful to Trevor Macy @IntrepidPix, @QWGmire & @filmnation for making it happen. And many thanks of course to @StephenKing for trusting me with this beautiful, fragile, joyful story

The Life Of Chuck is based on the Stephen King novella of the same name, which was first published in the 2020 collection If It Bleeds. The dramatic narrative plays out in reverse chronological order, beginning with the eponymous Chuck (Tom Hiddleston) dying from a brain tumor and proceeding back through his time on Earth. In an interview with Hiddleston that CinemaBlend published earlier this month, the Loki actor made comparisons between the film and The Shawshank Redemption.

The Shawshank Redemption, of course, is the perfect title to highlight when explaining that Stephen King is not simply a writer of horror stories – but Mike Flanagan still expects an uphill battle when it comes to explaining that his King adaptation follow-up to Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep is not a scary movie. The writer/director concluded his thread writing,

Now I'm back to LA to edit (cannot wait), and start the long road of expectation setting that THE LIFE OF CHUCK isn't a horror movie. Profound thanks to the cast & crew, & to Foley, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, Bay Minette, and Mobile for your hospitality. That's a wrap!

The Life Of Chuck does not currently have a release date (hoping for one of the 52 weekends in 2024 doesn’t seem unreasonable), but you can be sure that we’ll have the news about its distribution plans for you as soon as they become available.

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Rick And Morty Season 7 Drops A Pair Of Terrific Stephen King References In A Single Episode

Those who watch Rick And Morty know that the excellent animated series has previously demonstrated a fanship for Stephen King. The Season 1 episode “Something Ricked This Way Comes” riffs on the excellent novel Needful Things; Season 2’s “A Rickle in Time” introduces an interdimensional being that looks a whole lot like the creatures in the novella “The Langoliers;” and Season 3’s "The Ricklantis Mixup" has a Stand By Me-esque B-plot. These kind of references pop up regularly – but the most recent episode is worth highlighting because it delivers a two-for-one special by featuring nods to both Maximum Overdrive (based on the short story “Trucks”) and Pet Sematary.

In Season 7’s “Rickfending Your Mort” (a play on the Albert Brooks film Defending Your Life), Rick and Morty end up inviting a geode-looking interdimensional being called The Observer to their house, and to settle an argument between the two protagonists, it shows clips from some of their past adventures. Among the earliest is what’s literally described as “Maximum Overdrive with clothes” – and it’s exactly what you think. Instead of trucks and electronics coming to life and rebelling against humans, it’s instead everybody’s shirts and pants. Looking on the bright side, Rick is happy that they’re not dealing with cars, but his opinion changes as he watches a sentient hoodie rip off a woman’s face and try to wear it. The bit is quick, but excellent.

Later in the episode, another flashback reveals that the show’s eponymous duo once did a bit of experimenting in a Pet Sematary. While trying to bring Ben Franklin back from the dead (for undisclosed reasons), they are disappointed when he comes back evil – but the failure inspires experimentation. They know that after a certain amount of time, a dead person buried in the Pet Sematary will make a disturbing return from the grave… but what about a dead car? What about half of a dead kangaroo? And will wrapping a body in tinfoil perhaps ameliorate the whole “evil” thing? As scientists, Rick and Morty get to the bottom of it with disgusting, horrifying, and hilarious results.

Excellent Stephen King references and Easter eggs can be found just about everywhere in popular culture, and I’ll continue to highlight new and great ones like these in this column.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Tales From The Darkside: The Movie’s “The Cat From Hell” Has Never Looked Better Than It Does On The 4K UHD From Scream Factory

If you’re a Stephen King fan who is also into collecting physical media, this fall has been a stellar season. Hardcover copies of the new novel Holly arrived in stores in early September, and as for adaptations, both The Mist and Cujo made their debuts in 4K UHD, and The Boogeyman is now available on Blu-ray. All of these releases may have put a bit of a hole in your pocket over the last few months, but if you’re building the Ultimate Stephen King Collection, allow me to suggest another must-buy for your shelves: Scream Factory’s new 4K UHD of Tales From The Darkside: The Movie.

News that the anthology horror film was getting an ultra-high-def re-release first came out in September (at which time I highlighted it in The King Beat), and my pre-order arrived this past week. As soon as I could, I made a point of comparing the new look of the film to the Collector’s Edition that Scream Factory first released on Blu-ray in August 2020, and I am beyond impressed with what the boutique home video distributor has accomplished. The release features a new 4K transfer of the movie from the original camera negative, and the adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Cat From Hell” that it includes has never looked better. You can see the improvements for yourself in the side-by-side shots below (the shots from the new transfer are on the left).

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

As you can see, the washed out look is no more, and David Johansen and William Hickey now have skin tones that appear much more human. You’ll also note that the colors and patterns in the characters’ suits look much richer.

In addition to looking great, the Collector’s Edition of Tales From The Darkside: The Movie includes all of the special features that were included in the Blu-ray, and there is also a brand new feature-length commentary track recorded by film critics Emily Higgins and Billy Dunham. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy… but also be sure to make some room on your shelf for the upcoming 4K releases of Silver Bullet, The Dead Zone, and Pet Sematary: Bloodlines.

(Image credit: Putnam)

Recommendation Of The Week: “The Jaunt”

With the arrival of Thanksgiving in America, we are now in the early thralls of holiday season. For a lot of people, that means family, food, and gifts, and for many, it also means travel. This week, cars, trains and planes have been packed with people moving across towns, state lines and the entire country to be with the people we love. Taking this thought in what is possibly the darkest direction ever, I’ve decided to celebrate this annual activity by making my recommendation of the week “The Jaunt.”

First published in a 1981 issue of The Twilight Zone Magazine before being collected in Stephen King's 1985 omnibus Skeleton Crew, "The Jaunt" centers on the Oates family, who live in a distant future where teleportation technology has allowed colonization of the entire solar system. While Mark Oates, his wife, and their two children await a trip to Mars, Mark recounts the story of how the Jaunt was first created and used – but he decides not to explain what happens to a person if they experience the teleportation in a conscious state. This turns out to be a horrifying mistake, as the father fails to account for the curiosity of one of his sons, and what results is pure terror.

“The Jaunt” is one of the best short stories that Stephen King has written, and it sports one of the author’s best endings – with the last few paragraphs amounting to a true nightmare. If you’re a King fan and haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor – even if it means introducing a bit of darkness to the general holiday season cheer.

That wraps up this special Thanksgiving edition of The King Beat, but be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Thursday for my latest column, and in the meantime, you can check out my Adapting Stephen King series diving into the long history of King’s work being adapted for film and television.

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