Two tribute episodes in a row as we say RIP to Max Von Sydow, and actor with an incredible resume in the horror genre, almost always playing the villain. We picked this movie because he had such a prominent role. Have a look at yet another Stephen King adaptation and see how it stacks up to the book.
Needful Things (1993)
Episode 209, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw
Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of two guys and a chainsaw. I’m Todd
Craig: And I’m Craig.
Todd: Well, fresh on the heels of our Kirk Douglas tribute. Somebody else’s died recently. Max Von Sydow the, a very famous and very prolific Swedish actor who died at the ripe old age of 90 who is probably best known among horror fans for his role, may be the Exorcist, although he’s been in a lot of horror movies.
Quite a chunk of his career was playing villains, but early on he got his start doing films with Ingmar Bergman, and maybe one of the most famous ones would be the Seventh Seal, uh, which is just iconic with Ingmar Bergman. It was the one that kind of put him on the map, and in that movie, he plays a guy who plays chess with death.
You can probably picture that in your head that a screenshot. Comes up a lot in film history. Yeah. So the movie that we picked for him was needful things because he has a very prominent role in this. Uh, it’s based on a Stephen King book, and of course, we’re both big Stephen King fans. And so this is the one that we settled on for this week.
We’re real happy to do it. I had never seen this movie before. I had thought that it was a mini series before it was a movie, but. Some of my reading online pointed out that maybe it was a movie before it was a mini series and that the TNT network had commissioned the director, uh, who would, by the way, as Charlton Heston son, to add in a bunch of stuff that they ended up cutting from the theatrical release to make a three hour.
Mini series. And so that’s was an additional thing that was done after the movie was released theatrically. I don’t know, Craig, do you have a little bit more information on that?
Craig: Uh, not really. Only that they did that, but the director, I don’t know, refused, I guess to officially call it a director’s cut and for legal reasons.
That, uh, version, the three hour version has never been made commercially available outside of airing on television. So the version that we watched is the original theatrical cut. And I have to say I’m kind of glad because at two hours it seemed long enough. Yeah, I, I honestly can see, I was talking to my partner last night and I said, you know, I think that this movie, or excuse me, the book actually would make for a great limited series on Netflix or some other platform.
Uh, cause I think that they could get a lot into the more individual stories of what happens. Because this is about an entire community. And multiple members of this community have different experiences with the primary. Antagonist played by Von Sydow in a limited series form each hour could kind of deal with a different story, and then it could all kind of culminate at the end with this two hour movie, it kind of felt like they had to kind of rush some of these.
Yeah. Scenes and experiences, and I also felt like the connectivity within the community wasn’t as apparent as it could have been if it had been larger scope. But that’s all. In hindsight, I, I, you know, the movie as it is. I think it works fine. I just think maybe in a different medium that could potentially work better.
But this is what we’ve got and this is what we’ll talk about. And I’m excited to talk about it cause there’s some cool stuff going on here.
Todd: Yeah, there’s, there’s some good stuff. I’m with you. I, it felt long. It really felt long for me and I think that’s because in a way it got a little repetitive in that.
It was kind of the same thing over and over again after a while and it, and it played out quite slowly. There’s always something going on, but it takes its time. Not to the extent of like being boring, but maybe just to the. Stan of I, I kind of know what’s going to happen. Okay, this other person bought a thing.
Now they’re going to have to do a thing and that thing’s gonna cause somebody else to do something. And then it’s like this chain that just kinda keeps going and going. Now I’d read the book, uh, also I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t my favorite Stephen King book, but there was something kind of light about the book.
A little bit like some of Stephen King’s materials. Really dark duh. That’s like overstating understating it. He does have a range of fiction, and this book almost felt a little bit like a dark comedy in a way. It didn’t seem to take itself so seriously. The whole story is kind of silly. The movie I felt like did a pretty good job of capturing that tone.
Also, the movie wasn’t that scary, and there’s a lot of tongue and cheek, a lot of funny quips by the butt, double entendres and whatnot by Leland. It just, I don’t know. Something about it just didn’t really feel as fun as as it should have, you know, in movie form.
Craig: I hear what you’re saying. I read the book too, but gosh, just say it in these terms makes me sound ancient, not ancient, but probably like a quarter of a century ago, like it’s been a really long time and eh, I don’t remember much.
Yeah. I don’t remember much about it at all, which suggests to me that it must not have been one of my favorites either. But I, yeah, I get what you’re saying. The other thing, we chose this movie specifically because Max Von Sydow plays such a pivotal role. He really is the central antagonist. And we had considered doing other movies that he had been in where he had smaller roles, but we decided to go with this one because he was so prominently featured all ultimately, uh, he just really plays kind of a puppet master.
And his role is fairly limited in that he’s kind of confined to one location for the most part. That’s
Todd: true. That’s a very good point.
Craig: And he doesn’t really do a lot like he sets things in motion. But I mean, I guess that’s his emo. I can’t complain about it if that’s his character’s emo, but as far as performance, he just plays it.
I’m mostly just very gentlemanly, sophisticated, pleasant, really, for the most part, but he does, you know, there’s clearly a dark underbelly to all of what’s going on. With him. And he does revel in that kind of mischievous nature. And I really appreciated that about his performance. But yeah, it feels episodic because the premises, it’s this small town, it’s castle rock Maine, where a lot of Stephen King’s stories are sad.
And the beginning of the movie, it’s this, uh, sweeping fly over along the Maine coast out to a light house, which. You know, is the symbol, the logo for castle rock entertainment, which by the way, this is the first film, uh, that, that studio produced, I believe. And then you see this old, what was it like a Mercedes?
I dunno, some old fancy black car speeding into this small town and the residents. Are anticipating the opening of this new shop, this mysterious shop that they know nothing about, uh, called needful things. And it turns out that Max Von Sydow, who is playing a character named Leland gaunt is the establishment owner.
And right away the store opens up. And basically what happens is people go in there and. Leland gaunt, um, kind of leads them to something very desirable for them. Usually having something to do with their past. He provides them with some token, like some token of memorabilia. For the most part, these people are able, because these things, many of them are in real life costs probably thousands of dollars.
He bargains with. Them and he sells them to these people for very low prices. But an additional part of the price is that they also have to grant him a favor, which initially seems like not such a big deal, but ultimately that’s what sets in motion kind of the collapse of the town.
Well, no. We are getting somewhere. Not quite enough. Okay. But
Todd: an intriguing offer nonetheless.
Todd: call it.
Craig: Half the price. Generally, yes, half the price is 95 cents. The price you paid in cash, the rest, the other half is a deed and understanding a trick. Well, more like it. Oh, new prac, no big deal, and no one’s ever going to suspect you, I promise.
It’s an interesting conceit, but like you said, it kind of starts to get. Repetitive after a while, which is why I think that it would work better in shorter increments. You know what I’m saying?
Todd: Yeah. It would. And if you could really get into the people in the town, like presumably there’s other stuff going on.
One thing that’s, cause I read the book fairly recently, so it’s, it’s easier for me to talk about it. Maybe one thing that the book does really well is. There are a lot of people in this town. This is another one of his novels. It’s fairly large and has a lot of characters, and one thing Stephen King loves to do for better, for worse, is really dive deep into every single character and give you a lot of their backstory through the story.
And so you really feel like, you know these people. When you’re reading the book. And so what’s happening to them and what’s happening between them is extra interesting because of that. Whereas in the movie, we really focus on a smaller group of people, and I think that’s out of necessity because of just time.
And in fact, the mini series cuts out whole people. Like whole characters and whole segments necessarily. And like you said, it’s probably a good thing, but we really are focusing around like five or six different people who end up intersecting with each other. And then at the end of the movie, it’s like, Oh yeah, and by the way, all these other people, you didn’t see their stories, but we’re going to imply that they were, they had their own little bit here too.
And in interactions with Leyland and the whole towns and chaos, right? So we get to know these people. And then that just has to be applied to right the rest of the town by the end. And that was part of what was a little less satisfying, I think about it for me, but like you said, would make it way more appropriate for something a little longer form and episodic.
Craig: And to be fair, the people that we meet are interesting and are played by good actors. Oh yeah. One of the first people that we meet is a woman named . Nettie, who’s played by Amanda Plummer. Amanda Plummer is weird. She’s Christopher Plummer’s daughter. Um, and she’s, she’s odd, but she’s really interesting.
And I like her. She was in, So I Married an Axe Murderer. She was in Satan’s Little Helper. She’s been in Pulp Fiction.
Todd: She’s, well, she’s the woman at the beginning of Pulp Fiction sitting across from Tim Ross,
Craig: and she plays kind of a simple woman in this who is concerned about the mystery of this shop. We meet her right away.
She works in the town like diner, which is owned by poly, who is played by Bonnie , who is also very famous. You know, she doesn’t do as much now as she did in the 80s but she was in Salem’s Lot and many other things, Die hard.
Todd: Bruce Willis, his wife had died. Oh yeah.
Craig: I had forgotten about that.
Todd: That’s where I always remember,
Craig: so yeah.
Yeah. I always think of her from that too. I just had forgotten she becomes right away in the beginning off fiance to the sheriff of the town. Allen. Played by Ed Harris. You know, who’s huge and Paulo 13 a million other things. There’s a kid named Brian Rusk who was played by an actor named Shane Myer, who I didn’t really know for much except for that.
He played Matthew Shepard in the Matthew Shepard story, which was really powerful, and I think. I thought that he did a really good job in that, and those are kind of the main people and those people then interact with other towns people, and basically what Von Sydow is doing is he setting people up against one another?
Without their knowledge. He does that by establishing conflict between people and then using other players as puppets to escalate that conflict. It’s actually, you know, his. He’s a good planner.
Craig: nothing else, you know, I’m, I’m struggling even to, because it really becomes kind of a complex web. Um, it’s kind of difficult to, to lay it out.
Todd: Well, the first person that comes to his shop as a kid. And the kid that you mentioned, um, and his name is Brian, and he shows up and the shop doesn’t appear open, but the sign on the window does say open and he walks in. Uh, and Leland, it’s interesting because I don’t remember it quite this way in the book, in the book.
It’s not like he swoops in like a vampire, you know, where he’s like all sinister from the beginning. He comes across as very affable to everybody. But Von Sydow’s character, Leland, God doesn’t make the kind of entrance in this movie. I was expecting. He just kind of is there. He’s a guy and he’s very kind to the kid and no real sly looks or glances or anything.
In the beginning. He’s actually very affable. Even the camera treats him that way, you know, in the beginning, which, which I was a little. Shocked by knowing where it was going. Anyway, you know, he says, Oh, we’ve got all these different things in the shop, something for everybody, and he says, do you like baseball cards?
And he pulls out a signed Mickey mantle baseball card that happens to be signed to my friend Brian. He pulls his card out of his little Picard protector and is handling it. So carelessly that that was really distracting to me. Like if I were the kid standing there, I would probably have a coronary, right?
Just watching him doing this. But anyway, he’s flipping the card around and he kind of does a little magic trick with it and is waving it in front of him and the kids like, Oh my God, yes. And he reaches out and he touches it. And now in the movie, when people touch these items as well as in the book, they get these sort of memories stirred up or dreams stirred up in their heads.
It’s kind of a combination of both. There’s like an electrical flash, and I think it’s a little cheesy, uh, to be honest in the movie, but to, anyway, they’ve got to do something, I guess, and it’s a little electrical flash and the spark and they kinda convulse like they’ve actually been shocked. And then we get kind of a black and white.
Flashback or to their dream or to their memory or whatever, and he just sees Mudo Mickey mantle hitting a home run and gets excited about it. The kids like, how much is it? And Leland’s like, well, let’s bargain.
Craig: How much would you pay for this con Ryan metal tops. 1956 signed to my good friend Ryan.
Now listen, all I go got here is. Sure. The buyer must never tell the seller how much he has. If you can’t tell a lie, then be still the first rule of fifth trade.
Todd: Well, he ends up pulling out like 93 cents or something, and, uh, the guy says, well, it’s a start. Let’s call it half. Uh, but for the other half, I need you to do me a favor.
And we don’t see what that favor is right away. Very much like in the book, uh, we just hear it. He asked for a favor and then later in the movie we get to see them play out this favor. And he always poses this as just a little prank, just a little harmless trick or FID. Wouldn’t it be funny to do this to somebody?
And I thought it was interesting because at the same time, this kid’s having this interaction with him. We’re getting Ed Harris, his character, who was the sheriff who you just mentioned. Go into that diner and propose to Polly, and it was just a little bit of an odd choice to intercut these two scenes because it was hard for me to get so invested in that scene and to feel that build of tension with this sinister character in this kid.
When. Was jumping back to the diner in this, this nice little moment where he was proposing to her.
Craig: Yeah. I have a feeling that this was, the novel was probably a difficult novel to write a screenplay for because in literature, I don’t think that that bothers us as much jumping back and forth between storylines, but I think that in film it seems more abrupt.
So. I, I don’t know. I mean, it didn’t particularly bother me, but yeah, it does do that. But when you have such an expansive cast, you kind of have to check in with them. If you want your audience to remember what’s going on with them,
Todd: you’re right, you’re right. And the movie has to do that. But this was within a scene.
You know, this was like a, uh, five minutes scene, uh, that we were constantly checking back and forth between the two characters in their own little five minute scenes. I, I just, I didn’t understand that. For me, it really neutered what was going on between this character who we just met. And this kid who is obviously something sinister going on.
I thought it just, it just leached that scene of a little bit of its power, but by the end of it anyway, he signs the kid’s name in a book and he’s going to be adding all of these names to this book and checking them off. As they, uh, expire. Right.
Craig: And the other thing, and again, I wish I remembered the book better, but the other thing that was kind of bothersome to me is that they had to establish conflicts between people really quickly.
And so it kind of seemed like, why do these people not like each other so much? Like one, one of the first, uh. Conflicts that’s established is between Nettie, who’s this nice simple lady, you know, who bakes pies at the diner. And this farmer, this Turkey farmer named, uh, Wilma Jersey. And from the time that they appear on screen together, there’s major tension between them that appears to only be because Nettie’s dog barked at this lady, and because Nettie’s dog barked at her.
And I don’t even think it was barking at her. I think it was barking at
Todd: gaunt. Just surprised her.
Craig: Yeah. But then all of a sudden they hate each other. And then that’s like one of the central conflicts and Wilma threatens to kill the dog. So the favor that gaunt asks Brian to do is to go throw Turkey crap all over Wilmas.
Clean white linens and laundry that are hanging on the line. And when Wilma returns home, of course in very dramatic fashion, she walks right through the laundry and is covered in crap herself, and she’s just sure that that darn old Nettie did it. And so of course this plays out over several different scenes, but she ends up going.
To the diner and threatening Nettie and threatening the dog. And so then Nettie is all upset and she ends up going to gaunt. And again, it’s difficult for me to not just kinda, I guess I was just going to do it. The way that this plays out is that through these different machinations and through gaunt asking other people to do favors for him in the form of pranks, each woman then blames on the other.
Legitimately thinking that they are in this conflict and they are pulling these. Punches at one another. Ultimately gone makes Brian go bust out all of Wilmas house, all the windows in her house and basically just destroys her house with apples, which are like Nettie’s signature cause she makes Apple pies gone.
Also gets another guy, this character named Hugh to kill Nettie’s dog. And not only kill it, but like skin it and hang it up in her house.
Todd: My fun, funny little prank.
Craig: Yeah, right. You know, just, just, just something simple. No big deal. What ends up happening is the two women who have both been ultimately offended at that point end up confronting one another at wellness house and they end up killing each other.
And one with. A butcher knife, one with like a meat hatchet or whatever you call those things. Cleaver, right in the
Craig: right in the face. And it’s, it’s fun. You know, that fight is fun and violent and between two women who you wouldn’t expect to resort necessarily to that kind of violence. Uh, and it shows that gaunt corruptive nature is effective.
And. What he does with those two women is the same thing that he does with everybody else. It’s just finding these cracks in their community, finding these minor conflicts between people and capitalizing on them to cause. Just outright destruction within the community. Um, and for a very long time at works.
And even though that’s one of the things that I kind of don’t really understand is that even though each of these individuals is being asked to do these progressively more. Malignant, uh, pranks. Nobody really puts two and two together. Like nobody thinks that, Oh, well I slashed so-and-so’s tires and they think somebody else did it.
But, or if somebody smashed out my windows. And it must be my enemy. You know what I mean? Like,
Todd: yeah, it’s true.
Craig: They’re all pretty naive, but who knows? It’s an extreme situation
Todd: and that’s how I felt about the book too, and that’s why it was really hard to take seriously. And I think if you think of it more as a dark comedy as well, more like a cartoon than anything else.
It plays better. If you come into this looking for a scary horror movie, I think you’re going to be disappointed. At least that’s my feeling about it. The other aspect that plays into that, as well as just like you said, how extreme the characters have to be in order for them to expediate things, and so every character in this movie, although they’re interesting, is pretty extreme for whatever their particular.
Characteristic is, you know, neti, neti is like super mouse shit, mouse ish, uh, annoying and whatever. Uh, the mayor, uh, Dan forth Keaton, uh, played by J T Walsh. Is like highly corrupt, super into gambling, screaming and yelling from the beginning at this deputy. Now
Craig: it’s just your name on this goddamn chicken Ridgeway or maybe just some kind of forge.
Todd: parked in the crib space.
Craig: Wait a minute. You can’t come home. You want
Todd: a handicapped
Craig: space and you’ve been told about it before
Todd: to Buster,
Craig: what did you call me? Call me
Todd: Buster. Touch me again. I’ll throw you in the goddamn
Craig: style. I mean, it’s done for us. Yeah. And fourth, Keith and the third who is head selectman of this piss pot.
Little town can get your ass fired off the police force. And to
Todd: make that one second flat, he’s just a cartoon version of a corrupt city mayor who has a gambling problem.
Craig: Absolutely. I mean, it really is way over the top.
Todd: Oh. And then the town drunk is like drunk all the time and kicking the jukebox all the time and going in and out of the bar.
We hardly see them anywhere else. The priest and the pastor in this town. This is something that you know, was heavily in the book and very light in the movie was this rivalry between the Catholic church. This is so small town and it’s so true in the Protestant church Baptist church, I guess it is in town, and the Catholics are having a.
Fun just for fun. Casino night and the Baptist think that they’re unleashing hell upon the earth by doing it. And so they’re protesting it. And then the book, this protest is like a constant thread. It’s like people are picking sides and it’s one of the main wedges that Leland uses to really put like the town at large against.
each other, whereas in the movie, you barely see it at all. But when you do see it, it’s funny because the Catholic priest who’s played by, um,
Craig: the uncle from Elvira,
Todd: I don’t know his name. All I know him and ask, that’s all I care about. So William Morgan shepherd played father me. Hey,
Craig: our warning. Give up your plan to turn this town into a den of thieves and gamblers, or you would have smelled the brimstone, but we could, shall be turned into hell.
Psalms nine 17 the concerned Baptist men of tassel rock is that age at Reverend Willy
Craig: Maybe you shouldn’t have called it casino
Craig: God’s sake, Alan. It’s only a little Cherokee gambling. I don’t know why it
Todd: upsets the Baptist soul. It’s so funny. Uh, the scenes with them and it’s just, it’s so comical because it’s so stereotypical, right?
It’s always a joke, Catholics between the Protestants and you just can’t help but laugh at so much of what’s going on. It’s so petty and so silly, but you know, it becomes a very, very big deal to these people. But it’s really hard to believe, like you said, that in real life that things would escalate so quickly that people would get so extreme and that people would just be so oblivious that they would never put two and two together.
Craig: Yeah. Now that you talk about the humorous elements, I hadn’t really thought about it, but it really is because meanwhile you see all these terrible things going on in town and then it will just cut back to Von seed out, just like sitting in his. Shop like, you know, tapping his fingers together and smiling like he, like my plan is working perfectly.
Todd: It’s really cheesy.
Craig: It is cheesy. And he hams it up a little bit. And also there are other things, you know, again, I don’t remember the book, but like when he’s interacting with people in his shop, again, he’s very genteel. A good shop owner. He wants to satisfy his customers. And, and so he comes across as very nice and he looks normal.
He looks like this tall, elegant. Man. In fact, everybody assumes he’s European just because of his demeanor, but he claims to be from like Akron,
Todd: Ohio or something.
Craig: But whenever he’s on screen alone, whenever, whenever other people aren’t around, there are physical manifestations of. His true self, like his teeth will get really nasty and yellow and black and his fingernails will be thick and long, like, you know, demons or werewolves or something.
And he really is just kind of this grinning villain lurking in the background is watching his plans play out with such joy. Yeah.
Todd: It is funny. And he always has these quips. I mean almost every scene with him and it has some double entendre that has to do with devil or Satan or like when the Baptist preacher comes into his shop, he’s got these posters cause there’s going around town like say no to the gambling or no to the Catholics.
And I think he has a bumper sticker that says say no to the devil.
Craig: You’re not Catholic, are you? Okay. Do you go by say that? I am well known denominational. I knew it, but then you will have little objection to my placing this in your problem window. I couldn’t possibly do that. Is it the GI is IQ. I’m here everyone, however, my way of compensation.
Perhaps I may offer you something which might interest you,
Todd: and he points them to where he just has on the wall. All of these like sexual artifacts, like these fallacies and like a nude painting and whatever, and the Baptist like starts sweating and kind of looking around like, Oh, he kind of wants to buy one, but he doesn’t want anybody to see. See, and it’s such a joke, you know?
Of course he ends up walking out with something and bumps into the Catholic priest on the way. I was like, Oh yeah. And the byplay is so hilarious.
Craig: Let’s wait. I have a tendency to turn up the heat. He’s just got little one liners all over the place. Like, you know, after Brian defiles the laundry, then Brian is feeling very guilty about it and God comes to him again and God says something like, you have something of mine that’s not paid for yet. And Brian’s like, well, I did what you asked.
Um, we had a deal. And, uh. God says the dealing isn’t done until mr gaunt says it’s done. So, you know, it’s, it’s a deal with the devil story. You know, it’s the devil and Daniel Webster. It’s the devil and you know, whomever. But you make this deal with the devil, and ultimately it’s going to lead to your downfall.
And poor young Brian after he breaks the windows, he’s not actually witness to the fight between the two women, but he is witness to the aftermath, like their bodies on the . Brown, um, and he clearly feels guilty and he begins to confess to the sheriff, but then he can’t bring himself to do it. And eventually the sheriff starts to realize that these things just don’t make sense.
It doesn’t make sense that, uh, timid Nettie would bust out all the windows in this lady’s house. It doesn’t make sense that, that, well, Moe would murder this woman’s dog. And so he starts to. Think that something weird is going on. And he goes to Brian and he finds Bryan in a barn and he starts to approach him, and Brian pulls out a gun.
A gun that we had seen had belonged to that butthole guy, Dan, forth before. And these are just little pieces that I think we’re expected to put together, but that I didn’t entirely there. There was a line about it later. Alan. Chastises Dan forth for giving a gun to that kid. I would’ve never put that together.
Um, but again, it’s just all the machinations of gone. So anyway, Brian has this gun and he holds it to his head, and he says, you know that that guy is a monster. He’s not human. He says, don’t go in that store. It’s a poison place. Mr gaunt does not a man. It’s too late. I gotta go, I gotta go to the sheriff.
Tries to talk him down and is inching closer and closer to him, but as he gets close, the movie makes it seem as though Alan was able to intercede right at the last moment and that the boy did shoot himself. But it wasn’t fatal in the book. He committed suicide. Yeah. I read that. Uh, the studio execs, um, did not like the implications of a minor committing suicide.
And so they cut away from it very quickly and had Alan immediately deliver a line to poly saying that he’s alive.
Todd: But. Which is another thing, you know, Leland gone to this kid in the book and also in the movie is probably the most brutal, right? I mean, he’s the most, he makes his kid do several things.
He’s a young kid. He’s, he’s fragile and emotionally, you know, not mature and, uh, just keeps piling it on him. And forcing him, you know, to do this stuff repeatedly to the point where he basically drives him to suicide. And it’s a really powerful moment in the book and also in the movie, but again, Oh, he’s okay.
It lightens the movie a little bit, and there’s a little bit of that everywhere except for the access to the face and whatnot. And that is what drives the sheriff to start to suspect gone. That’s another deviation from the book. That I thought was interesting in the book. Gaunt seems to be going out of his way for quite a bit of the novel to avoid the sheriff.
Like he’s almost scared of him. Like he knows the sheriff is a little too clever and he’s going to lead to his downfall. And so the shop will be open for someone and then they’ll walk out and the sheriff will try to go in and suddenly it’s closed. And a good portion of, at least the first quarter of the book is gone trying to get information on the sheriff.
From these other people. And so the movie, like within the first 10 minutes, the sheriff wanders into the place and they sit down. They have pie. So it does, it does add a different feel to it because in the book you get this sense that the sheriff is dangerous to God. In the movie. You just get the sense that the sheriff has just another guy and he just happens to be the guy that was smart enough to.
To start putting the pieces together. Right. And he kind of retrace his steps and talks to different people, and it all leads up to the conclusion. Um, I kind of want to jump
Craig: there. Well, I mean, there’s, I mean,
Craig: stuff going on, I feel like. Yeah, there is. And I think it would just be foolish to talk about all of them, but he does.
Okay. So the thing that bothered me a little bit about. The sheriff figuring it out is it really only took one or two events for him to figure it out. And then from that point on it was, Oh, it’s him. I know it. He’s the bad guy. You know? It wasn’t, there wasn’t much of, let’s put the pieces together. Or if it was, it just happened really, really quickly.
The only other thing that I thought was a noteworthy is that gaunt is also able to drive a wedge between Alan and poly. His fiance, um, poly has. Uh, terrible arthritis in her hands, and I don’t even, I think God comes over to the diner under the guise of thanking Polly for the pie that that. She had had Nettie bring over may.
Somehow he, I don’t remember if he gets her to the shop or if he just has it on her, on him or what, but he gives her this necklace that magically cures her arthritis, which again, like none of these people question the fact that. That they have magical dreams slash memories, and that these items have these magical properties, like they just go with it.
Uh, and, and poly just goes with it. And when she touches the. Amulet or whatever it is. The vision that she has is of her being seduced by gong, um, which I guess ultimately is what is happening. Because later Allen makes her question, he straight out accuses gaunt and, and she basically says, no, you know, he’s just a normal guy.
And. But he does get her to question. He gone also sets up via other people in the community, sets up Alan to look like he’s, um, embezzling. Uh, and Paul, he finds that, um, but eventually she does question the ambulance. She tries to like open it up and it shocks her and it falls to the ground and she falls to the ground and her hands are all gnarled.
And she’s trying to pick up the ambulance, but she can’t, and then gone just appears in her bedroom and puts it back on her. Plants, these seeds of mistrust about her fiance and then kisses her and
Todd: has sex with her. I guess
Craig: I don’t, I, I, I was hoping maybe you would have some insight from the book that I don’t remember because that really seemed like the implication to me.
Todd: I do not remember that from the book. Uh, that it
Craig: maybe it didn’t
Todd: happen, like not have, but, but you’re right. The implication, the movie is very much so. I mean, she’s almost basically, I think she even literally says like, take me, doesn’t she?
Craig: I don’t know.
Todd: He lays her back on the bed and you just get a shot up at him and he’s like.
I must say it’s, it’s a pleasure doing business with you.
Todd: yes. And yeah, that’s the implication is that they did it and whether or not she remembers it afterwards is another story, but because she certainly goes on throughout the rest of the, of the, of the movie, like this extremely significant thing didn’t happen.
But yeah, I sort of feel like. You know, part of this, people not questioning these things, and I think it was, again, maybe delivered better in the book than it ever came across in the movie, is that their suspension of disbelief, I think comes a little bit from his power. Just his sort of like a sort of hypnosis.
They’re willing to buy into this thing that they have or the magic of the whatever is happening. It’s kind of a fog in their brain that he is. Doing, but it doesn’t come across so well in the movie. I think that’s another failure, right. Just because it has to plow through all this so quickly. Yes.
Craig: Yeah, I agree.
And it does make perfect sense that, you know, like whenever he is, which has never really established other than he appears to be immortal because, um, Alan finds all these newspapers detailing various other.
Todd: I love that part though. He’s like going through the dark place and he finds the newspapers, like, this is the big reveal, right?
This a Hitler, you know, invades blah, blah, blah. A so-and-so was assassinated. It’s all these major, massive events throughout history that. That’s implying that he’s responsible for, but he’s coming to this little town, this little Podunk town, and just causing a bit of havoc with all these nothings. Don’t you think he’d be somewhere in the middle East right now?
You know, kind of like taking care of the bigger stuff like he apparently used to in the past. I think the implication is pretty strong. He’s the devil, right? I mean, that’s what I get out of it anyway. It’s never said, you’re right, but I think it’s almost. Practically said through implication. There’s, there’s a funny moment where one of the guys, I think it’s when Hugh goes in the drunk,
Craig: Jesus carpenter from Nazareth, I know him well, promising young man.
He died badly.
Todd: He’s the guy throughout history that’s caused everything. He’s gotta be the devil.
Craig: Yeah, I mean, fair enough. I was reading stuff online and basically everything says, you know, it never really, not in the novel and in the movie both. It’s never really confirmed one way or another. Um, I read one thing that some people speculate that he is a similar being to like Pennywise or the guy from the dark tower and the stand.
I, I can’t think of his name. Flag, Randal flag. Right. Um, whatever. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter. He’s a bad, evil, immortal guy. I know you want to get to the end, and I do too. I think that in order to do that, we have to mention that that guy Dan forth, who’s this big over the top asshole, he’s just been getting progressively worse through the influence of.
Uh, gone to as well, to the point where, you know, he had conflict with pretty much everybody. Nobody liked him, but, uh, ultimately, uh, he kind of loses his mind and he kills his own wife because he suspects her of having an . Fair with one of his enemies, which she didn’t at all. Um, but that was one of my favorite lines from the, from the movie was when he’s losing it and gone to approaches his approaches him and basically says, I’m not done with you yet, you know, get your stuff together.
The guy’s like, I killed my wife. Is that wrong?
Craig: And there’s more to it than that. And it’s, it’s funny in its ridiculousness, but, um, he, he has become the, the kind of, the ultimate pond.
Craig: He’s kind of the Renfield.
Todd: Yeah, he is. You’re right. Um, although he was never a sympathetic character to begin with, he was kind of an asshole who you sorta feel as getting what’s coming to him, but he ends up being, you know, kind of the linchpin in all of this.
Right. I will say though, that that point in the phone that you were talking about where he mentioned that he kills his wife. He has a line where he goes, but I really loved her. That was the only moment in this movie where I felt strong emotion. I was like. Oh my God. Like, that’s horrible, you know, like has this flash of realization of what’s going on.
And that was heartbreaking for me, and it took me a good five minutes to get past that line. And it was so out of place in a movie that otherwise is just so cartoonish that I was really shocked.
Craig: Yeah. And, and he has. Been such a cartoonish character, but in that moment, he’s, he’s basically weeping, um, and as much of a jerk as he’s been, uh, you do empathize with him a little bit because just like everybody else, he has been manipulated.
He’s been played. Ultimately, he’s gotten the short end of the stick. The beginning of the end comes with the two religious leaders, the priest, and the. Pastor, right?
Todd: The priest is in his church. All these people just basically stay in the domains in which they’re supposed to be. I guess the priest is in his church.
It’s like late at night or whatever, but he’s there at Harris. His character goes in to talk with him at the same time. Dan forth is in the back, basically digging into the graves of the graveyard behind the church and bearing dynamite in there. By now. You said he’s kind of a broken man and he’s sort of half into this and he’s almost desperately doing it even though he’s
Kind of reluctant to, uh, and Leland actually shows up. It’s one of the few moments where we see him outside of his shop and, you know, lifts them in the air and is like, you’re going to do exactly what I tell you to do. And these moments in the movie where he is very sinister, you know, very, uh, pushy and controlling to these people.
And that’s one of them anyway, while they’re talking inside. Uh, there’s a big explosion. Obviously it blows out. The back of the church and the pastor just the preacher just knows that it was the pastor and those Baptist that did it and he storms out and that explosion, suddenly the whole town is fighting each other.
It’s just like a light switch, like the streets were empty before this explosion and now there’s a car crash and guy gets out of the car and starts beating up the other guy and at Harris’s character comes over and tries to pull them apart.
Craig: What are you doing? Bashed. I took my treasure Island, Robert Stevenson first I got shot.
Todd: Sheriff sees that all these people are like brawling in the street over these minor deeds,
Craig: and gaunt is just sitting up on the porch just watching this all happen. It’s hilarious.
Todd: Oh God, this was so dumb. It’s very different from the book, but I got to say like the movie just went off the rails for me is, uh, ed Harris, his character finally yells,
Craig: everybody stop.
Todd: And everybody stops suddenly and looks at him, look at what he’s doing to you. And he basically lays out exactly what’s going on, you know, and get, and then one at a time, everybody speaks up and says, hi. I was the one who did this. I was the one who did that. I was the one who did this. I, I’m rolling my eyes at the screen at this point.
Oh God. The balloon of the film just kind of deflated for me at this point when I realized this was the kind of ending we were going to get, and I was hoping there’d be a twist or something and there wasn’t. This was it. And there’s gone on the porch and ed Harris swings around and points at him and says.
Craig: God, we are waiting. He came here to destroy us, to make us destroy ourselves. Can’t you see what’s happening here? This is what he needs. This is what he wants. He’s got us all lined up. I got caught. Your eyes, human fuse boxes.
Todd: Harris is trying to rally the town against him and that moment Dan shoots through the window of God’s place.
He’s been inside the whole time, apparently hiding shoots the sheriff in the shoulder. The sheriff falls backwards and he comes out and it turns out he has explosives attached to him too, which he seems to be threatening. He’s going to blow up the whole town. Right, with the explosives around his vest
Craig: from the outside.
Yeah. I mean, I suppose, I suppose. Everybody. So apparently everybody in town is gathered in
Craig: Um, and, and I, I guess that they are in close enough proximity that they could at least be injured if an explosion were to take place right here.
Todd: Doesn’t have them yet,
Craig: but it is a little silly. And this town, you know, it’s.
It seems like it’s supposed to be at least an average size, small town, but we’re so confined by setting that it seems like it’s all, the whole town is just this one
Todd: and and characters too. I mean, by this. Point, we’ve only really dealt with a handful of people, so it hasn’t had that expansive feel. You know that the book has where it kind of reaches its tendrils out and you get to even get these tiny little stories and little bits and pieces to where you, you get a cohesive sense that the whole town is building towards this climax in the movie.
You get a sense that these half a dozen people. Are in conflict with one another and once they all die, well, that’s kind of the end of it. It isn’t until this big brawl in the middle of the street that the movies tells you, Oh yeah, by the way, you didn’t see it, but all these other people had all these other things go on and they’re all mad at each other too.
It’s just. For time. Right. So yeah, he threatens, he’s going to do it. And then, you know, he has his moment where he turns around and is like, I’m not gonna listen to you anymore.
I mean, not literally. That’s what it is.
Craig: There’s a couple of minutes scene where it’s like. Dan forth with the devil on one shoulder and the angel other, and God is the devil and the sheriff is the angel. And, uh, Allen’s like, you don’t have to do this. This isn’t really you. And, uh, he’s like, but I killed my wife.
He’s like, no, you didn’t. God did, he made you do it. And I’m gone too. Is like, quit being a pussy. Let me, uh. Blow, blow them up. And I guess the big mistake that God makes is that he refers to Dan forth as Buster, which is apparently what people call Dan forth behind his back. And he really hates it. And so, um, Dan forth approaches gaunt and has words with them, says, and don’t call me Buster, and grabs him and dives through the window.
Of the shop into the shop and the entire shop just completely blows up, like huge explosion and the towns people are fleeing and, but then, uh, Allen with his deputy walks up into the ruins and here comes, gone. Just strolling out like, Oh, well. Yes, she beat me this time.
Todd: It wasn’t my best work. I have freely admit that, but you know, we had a few laps that it was good enough is basically what he
Well, and he says in the meantime, you wouldn’t call the, you are two terrific kids. You are not ready. Trust me, she’s a lovely girl. You’ll have a wonderful family. By the way, give my regards to your grand shot. Bob will be, isn’t there even a national trade? His gate,
Todd: I’ll see you in Jakarta.
Craig: 2053 Oh this 14:10 AM nice 70 day.
This also to me called back to the question of whether. Or not he had sex with Polly. I’m wondering if he’s suggesting that Alan’s son first son might actually be his. I don’t know. That’s probably just me reading too
Todd: much into
Craig: it, but it definitely crossed my mind.
Todd: Interesting. No, I didn’t think about that, but.
Yeah, that’s it.
Craig: But in the, in the book though, I don’t remember, I just read this, but in the book he liked reveals his true demon self.
Todd: Right. And there’s a whole, like the book is quite different because the sheriff is dealing with the loss of his, his. Sun and wifi, I believe in a car accident or something, or something that he used to do with his son was magic.
And so this is sort of this way that he kind of keeps his memory alive as he’s always practicing these magic tricks. And somehow, I don’t remember exactly how, but somehow he uses magic tricks, fake magic tricks. To oppose the devil or whatever. Leland gone some real magic, uh, and somehow overcome him. I don’t remember exactly how it happens, but it’s, it’s a little more sophisticated to put it mildly than what we ended up getting in this movie, which is just a bunch of Hollywood clap trap.
It just, yeah. I couldn’t stand that ending.
Craig: Yeah. I mean, it was. Pretty anti-climactic, I guess. I mean, there’s a big explosion. That’s exciting. Then he, uh, gone just drives away.
Todd: I don’t mind him wandering out and driving away. That’s totally fine. It’s just the BS that came before it, where the big show down in the middle of the street was just so cliche.
So melodramatic. So somebody made a choice and that’s the choice they made and it just kind of made the movie a little lousier. I think in the book, the whole town does explode. I mean, I’m PR, I think you pretty much does what he came to do and then walks off into the sunset slightly defeated. But otherwise, you know, similar implication, like they beat him back, but it doesn’t really matter.
I don’t know. I didn’t really like the movie actually. I don’t know if I would have liked the movie better if I hadn’t read the book. So recently it was just a little too slow at times, a little too repetitive, a little, uh, unsatisfying in the ways that I’ve pretty much just described. And then it led up to that ending that was just a Groaner.
And, uh, at that point I kinda checked out. So I didn’t enjoy it so much as, as we enjoy Stephen King adaptations are always a little hit or miss and usually never as good as the book anyway, but this was definitely lower. Lower on that list. And most, I think for me,
Craig: yeah, I thought it was an okay movie. I didn’t think it was bad.
Um, the director doesn’t have a lot of independent directorial credits. Um, he’s done. A lot of second unit stuff. And um, he has directed, uh, I think like six or seven films of his own, but nothing else that I was really familiar with. And I just don’t think that the direction, or maybe even the screenplay was particularly strong, but.
From a visual perspective, I thought it looked good. Uh, and I thought that the performances were pretty solid based on what they were given. I thought that, um, ed Harris did a good job. I always enjoy Amanda Plummer cause she’s so weird and brings such a different vibe to every character she plays. And Bonnie Delia was okay.
She didn’t have much to do. And Max Von Sydow, I think like the role. Was a good one for him. It’s just unfortunate that he didn’t really have a whole lot to do. Um, and we didn’t get to see a lot of dynamics in his character. But I, I think that that’s kind of by nature of the character. He, he plays it cool because he has very little to lose.
And so, you know, the only time that he really kind of lost his temper was that time when Dan was sniffling and he grabbed him and picked him up and put, held him up against the church. And I thought that was a really powerful moment. And it was shot from low and it made max Von seed outlook huge. And it made.
Dan forth by comparison seem very small and weak. Um, and, and I liked that. I, I kind of wished that we had gotten to see more of Von Sydow throwing his weight around, but it seemed like, you know, he was. Enjoying, he portrayed what he was given. Well, and I enjoyed his performance. He was fun to watch, even though it was kind of low key.
So I don’t hate this movie. I don’t think it’s a bad movie. I just think it was just kind of all right. I know that I had seen it before and I told you that when we were talking about what we wanted to do, but I didn’t remember much about it. What I told you was, I think I remember it being kind of boring and, uh.
I was right,
Todd: but a great actor. Um, very, I think for once we actually picked a decent movie for our tribute, cause a lot of times some of these really, really great actors that ended up passing away their horror outputs just not so strong. And it’s not usually their fault. This movie, like you said, um, with what he was given.
He did a pretty solid performance. And just by itself, it’s a solid performance. Just the nature of the character didn’t allow for a lot of dynamics, but you can see tons of other movies to see as dynamics. Uh, I’m a big, I’m a big Ingmar Bergman fan. I’ve seen quite a few of those. Uh, that’s the very serious Max Von Sydow.
Of course there’s the Exorcist. He’s father Merrin and that, and the Exorcist too. You have a bigger role in that cause there’s a ton of flashback there. It’s a shame we won’t ever get to do Flash Gordon, cause it’s not a . A horror movie, right. Emperor Ming, Flash Gordon as a kid. Anyway, probably what I remember him from the most.
I just thought that that movie has a special place in my heart. Yeah,
Craig: he was, he was a very, very cool, very, very talented man. He leaves behind a great legacy, which I say about a lot of people, but it’s true. Uh, so, um, kudos to you, sir. We’re happy to have been able to pay a little bit of at least meager trip.
Todd: Great. Well, thank you again for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with a friend. You can find us online or you can find us on Facebook. You can also find us on our YouTube channel. Just search for two guys and the chainsaw. Leave us a message. Let us know what you thought of this show and requests.
Upcoming ones. We’re going to dive into some requests here for the next month or so, so I’ll keep those requests coming. We love it. Here? What do you want to hear? Until next time, I’m Todd and I’m Craig with two guys and a chainsaw.
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