Author Topic: Desperation  (Read 1500 times)


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« on: September 10, 2006, 12:43:01 am »
Newly available on DVD, despite the religious undertones of this film, it is a very well-made adaptation of the original book. 'Desperation' and its Richard Bachman counterpart 'The Regulators' were both excellent reads, and this was a pretty enjoyable film. Made even better by the fact that it was a managable hour and a half, instead of the usual King mini-series' of 4-6 hours.

- the novel from Stephen King comes to the
small screen courtesy of frequent King miniseries director Mick Garris.

Mary (Annabeth Gish) and Peter (Henry Thomas) Jackson are driving through the Nevada desert.  They’re pulled over by Deputy Collie Entragian (Ron Perlman) who seems friendly at first but turns frosty when he finds some pot in the trunk of the car (it’s also pretty obvious that Collie planted it there).  He then puts them in the back of his patrol car, but as the ride progresses the deputy begins to act strangely. 

In fact when they get to the police station, only one of them makes it to the holding cells alive.  Meanwhile, author John Edward Marinville (Tom Skerritt) is on a book tour across the country riding on his motorcycle.  He has Steve Ames (Steven Weber) riding along behind him in a U-Haul truck with the equipment for his lectures.  Ames has picked up hitchhiker Cynthia Smith (Kelly Overton) when he gets a strange phone call from the boss.  Collie has also met Marinville and has planted the same dope on him to arrest him and take him to jail. 

Marinville was able to get off the one static filled phone call to Steve, so he and Cynthia are looking for Marinville.  The unfortunate inhabitants of the cellblock, along with Marinville and one of the Jacksons (don’t want to spoil the Janet Leigh moment for you), are local veterinarian Tom Billingsley (Charles Durning), young boy David Carver (Shane Hoboucha), his father Ralph (Matt Frewer), and mother Ellie (Sylva Kelegian).  It would seem that something was unleashed from some digging at the old mine and it has possessed Collie and he in turn killed most of the residents of Desperation.

Collie takes Ellie from the cell and takes her to the old mine.  David is able to soap himself up and squeeze through the bars of the cell once Collie leaves, but he has to kill a ferocious dog that Collie left to guard them.  With the help of God, so he says, he is able to accomplish this.  The inmates escape and make their way to the old, abandoned theater, but they also run into Steve and Cynthia who made it to the town to look for Marinville.  David tells them that God has brought them all together to kill the thing that has been unleashed on the town.

Collie is taking mom for a ride
Quite a while ago I had a depress-athon and listened to the audio books of Desperation and the Regulators back to back.  Luckily, I only have an electric oven so when I stuck my head into it I only received some fashionable grill marks instead of the desired outcome.  I jest, of course, but I have to tell you that both books got me into a funk.  Both involve the deaths of children and many likable characters bite the dust by the end of each.

For the uninitiated, Stephen King wrote both (the Regulators under his Richard Bachman pseudonym) and characters cross over between each book.  However, the books use some of the same character’s names and each feels like a parallel universe version of the other.  Desperation the novel was over 700 pages long and this feature plays like a cliff notes version.  I know that the book actually started off with our psycho deputy pulling over the Carvers and taking them to the jailhouse, in the show this has already happened. 

This was originally slated to be a miniseries on ABC.  For whatever reason it was pared down to a feature length (running about 131 minutes).  Whatever, the case I thought that the show was a good adaptation, however abbreviated. 

Now the other side of that coin is that if you thought that the novel was too long then you may prefer this abbreviated version.  Though the show did run out of steam towards the end and perhaps even funds since the “well of Tak” is pretty fake in my humble opinion.  The cast is pretty good for a TV movie.  Always nice to see Charles Durning (looking rather old though) and Tom Skerritt, but the real star of the show is Ron Perlman as the deranged Collie.   

Desperation is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions.  Special features include a commentary from director Mick Garris, actor Ron Perlman, and producer Mark Sennet.  There’s also a featurette called “Postcards from Bangor, ME” which has an interview with Stephen King.  Finally there are some trailers.
Marinville and company

I suppose that where you call in your love or hate for the original King novel will flavor your opinion of this telefilm.  If you thought the book was too long then this might float your boat and if you liked the book you may find it too short.  I did enjoy the film and the casual Stephen King fan will at least want to rent it.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2006, 12:48:32 am by prezhorusin04 »