Monday, October 03, 2011

'The Horrors of Stephen King'

Even as his novels have become increasingly hit-or-miss, one thing Stephen King has remained good at is being an advocate for the horror genre. He's articulated his love for horror in his nonfiction books Danse Macabre and On Writing, and would regularly promote examples of the genre (including stuff dismissed by critics and fans) in his now-defunct Entertainment Weekly column. So he's on solid ground for the new Turner Classic Movies special The Horrors of Stephen King, which features King talking about his favorite horror movies and why he likes them. It's a more superficial take than what King offered in Danse Macabre, which makes sense for TV, although some of the segments seem like little more than King naming a movie while we watch a clip from it.

The best parts of the special feature King talking about the movies that scared him as a child or influenced his work, when you can see his real passion shine through. He's less convincing when talking about subgenres outside his main area of expertise (the treatment of Japanese horror films is especially shallow) or pretty much anything made after the 1980s. Director Laurent Bouzereau also gives King a relatively short time to talk about the movies based on his own work, which should probably either have been expanded to its own special or left out altogether. As it is, King barely gets going on that subject before Bouzereau moves on to another. Horror fans probably won't discover anything new here, but King's enthusiasm is, as always, infectious, and TCM could probably do better to just hire him to introduce horror classics, like the ghoulish version of Robert Osborne. That way he'd get to fully share his passions; here, what we get is mostly a bullet-pointed list.

Premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies.

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