Being one of the most successful writers in history, Stephen King material is rightfully popular for film adaptations. With so many stories to choose from and such a scope of resources for those wanting to adapt them, the results have been mixed but have also produced some of the best genre films ever. When they miss they tend to just disappear into the void of forgotten films but when they succeed we get films like The Shining, Misery, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, Carrie, Christine, The Mist, The Green Mile and many more. Once in a while someone who is a legend in film takes on King’s material and the results are usually pretty spectacular. One such film in my opinion happened when zombie king George A. Romero took on The Dark Half, available now for the first time on Blu-ray from Shout Factory.
Thad Beaumont is a writer. While his book are acclaimed they just don’t sell much. Hence the reason he created the alter ego of George Stark who writes the pulp novels full of violence and sex and sell like crazy. But after years of struggling writing books he doesn’t like, Thad decides to metaphorically kill of Stark and only write what he wants. But that causes Stark to come to life and demand Thad continue writing as him, threatening Thad’s entire existence if he won’t comply.
The Dark Half is, in this reviewers humble opinion, one of the best King adaptations ever made. Timothy Hutton is just phenomenal in the dual role of Thad/Stark, almost unrecognizable in the Stark makeup and sporting a much different personality. The pacing is great, the dialogue (in a screenplay adapted by Romero) is quick, witty and still very Stephen King, and the tension is palpable. Stark is a brilliant villain and Hutton brings him to life so effectively I wonder why he isn’t asked to play more villains. The Dark Half is a great film that is not given the kudos it deserves, especially among King adaptations.
The Blu-ray from Shout Factory, while not one of their all-out special editions, is a great transfer making the film look better than ever. Nice clarity, colors and a solid audio presentation (especially with the sparrows) makes for a very worthy new edition. And while this edition may not have the cool new art or fancy slipcover, they didn’t skimp out on the special features either. Brand new commentary by Romero himself, a new retrospective documentary on the making of the film, deleted scenes and much more are included for a great inside look into the making of this great flick. Highly recommended.
Available now on Blu-ray.