Home Entertainment The Stephen King Alter-Ego That Inspired A George Romero Horror Movie

The Stephen King Alter-Ego That Inspired A George Romero Horror Movie


George A. Romero and Stephen King had a good working relationship. King had a cameo in the Romero movie “Knightriders,” Romeo directed the King-scripted anthology flick “Creepshow,” and “Tales From the Darkside,” a horror TV show created by Romero in 1990, featured two episodes adapted from King stories. But what Romero really wanted to do was tackle a King novel. “I’ve always wanted to make a novel of Steve’s into a film,” Romero told Fangoria (via the book “Creepshows”). “So many people have tried but failed to either comprehend or retain his voice and intention. Maybe that will happen to me too. But I’ve always wanted a crack at it.”

Romero had been floated to direct both “Pet Sematary” in 1989 and the “It” miniseries in 1990, but was unavailable for both. His opportunity came with “The Dark Half.” Romero usually worked outside the studio system, but “The Dark Half” saw him working with Orion Pictures. “I have to respect the fact that it’s their money,” Romero told The Pittsburgh Press in 1990. The film itself remains mostly true to King’s novel — “I’ve tried to be as faithful as possible to the book,” said Romero, who penned the script. Timothy Hutton plays both Thad Beaumont and George Stark, and the actor is quite good in the Stark role, really relishing playing such a villainous character (aided by some gooey makeup — Stark’s face begins to rot as the film progresses). 

As for the film, it’s mostly serviceable. The grand finale, which involves a huge flock of sparrows picking Stark apart, is a show-stopper, but this is a mostly middle-of-the-road Stephen King adaptation. And sadly, it got caught up in some behind-the-scenes woes. Distributor Orion was in dire financial straits at the time, and while Romero wrapped shooting in 1991, “The Dark Half” wouldn’t hit theaters until 1993, at which point it flopped at the box office. 

As for Richard Bachman, like George Stark, he, too would rise from the grave. While King had “killed off” Bachman, two more Bachman books would eventually hit the shelves, with the explanation being that there were previously unpublished Bachman stories that had been “found” by Bachman’s fictional widow. There was “The Regulators” in 1996, and “Blaze” in 2007. As of now, it seems like Bachman is gone for good. But you never know … he might pop up again. 

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