THE DARK HALF
The film adaptation of The Dark Half comes from George A. Romero, director of horror classics like Night of the Living Dead (1968), Martin (1976) and Dawn of the Dead (1979). (See below for a full list of George A. Romeros other genre films). Romero had previously collaborated with Stephen King on a planned but never mounted adaptation of Kings epic The Stand (1978), which then morphed into the EC horror comic homage Creepshow (1982). The Dark Half is an amazingly faithful adaptation of the novel in fact, it is probably the most faithful adaptation of any Stephen King novel ever placed on screen. The only changes that George Romero affects in his screenplay are to start the present-day scenes with Fred Clawson threatening to expose Thad (whereas in the book the scene was recounted in flashback) and to change the character of Rawlie De Lesseps from a man to a woman. Some writers would give their eye-teeth for so little in the way of changes. Certainly, the very faithfulness of the adaptation does magnify some of the novels faults. The book is a fast and highly enjoyable read something that helps cover up the vagueness of Kings explanations for what is going on. However, we are never sure what created George Stark with everything suggested from brain tumours to unformed twins absorbed into the brain, alter egos come to life and a literal manifestation of Thads dark side. Things are no clearer in the film either. Nor is one sure what the sparrows have to do with it all.
While the book is a breathlessly paced read, on the screen George Romeros pace is somewhat more sedate. The Dark Half is certainly not a bad film but much of the exposition seems directed by Romero in a plain and visually uninteresting manner. The story needs more obsessiveness it never fully gets inside Timothy Huttons boyish looks to show him being haunted by his doppelganger. Although, once the George Stark character emerges on screen in the latter part of the film, things pick up and Romero builds to an impressive climax.
Timothy Hutton is bland as Thad but has clear fun in the George Stark role. Michael Rooker makes for a reasonable version of Kings recurring character of Sheriff Alan Pangborn but his turn in the role was overshadowed by Ed Harriss triumphant airing of the same role in the adaptation of Stephen Kings Needful Things (1993), which came out the same year as The Dark Half.
The Dark Half was originally completed in 1991 but its release was held up for two years by the financial collapse of Orion Pictures and when the film did appear it was to mixed reviews and indifferent box-office. George Romero was once seen as one of the most promising genre directors of the 1970s and 80s but vanished almost altogether as a creative force in the 1990s until the renewed interest in zombie films in the mid-00s and he found his second calling beginning with Land of the Dead (2005).
George A. Romeros other genre films are:- the cult favourite Night of the Living Dead (1968); the suburban witchcraft film Jacks Wife/Season of the Witch/Hungry Wives (1972); The Crazies (1973), an underrated film about a madness-inducing biospill; Martin (1976), a superb deconstruction of the cinematic vampire myth; Dawn of the Dead (1979); the Stephen King-scripted horror comic homage Creepshow (1982); Day of the Dead (1985); Monkey Shines (1988), about a psychic link between a paraplegic and a murderous monkey; Two Evil Eyes (1990), an Edgar Allan Poe collaboration with Dario Argento; Bruiser (2000) about a man whose face suddenly becomes a blank mask; Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and Survival of the Dead (2009). Romero has also produced the Tales from the Darkside (1983-5) and Monsters (1988-9) horror anthology series, and the films Deadtime Stories (2009), Deadtime Stories 2 (2010) and the remake of The Crazies (2010). His scripts include Creepshow II (1987), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) and the remake of Night of the Living Dead (1990).
Other Stephen King genre adaptations include:- Carrie (1976), Salems Lot (1979), The Shining (1980), Christine (1983), Cujo (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), Children of the Corn (1984), Firestarter (1984), Cats Eye (1985), Silver Bullet (1985), The Running Man (1987), Pet Semetary (1989), Graveyard Shift (1990), It (tv mini-series, 1990), Misery (1990), a segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Sometimes They Come Back (1991), The Lawnmower Man (1992), Needful Things (1993), The Tommyknockers (tv mini-series, 1993), The Stand (tv mini-series, 1994), The Langoliers (tv mini-series, 1995), The Mangler (1995), Thinner (1996), The Night Flier (1997), Quicksilver Highway (1997), The Shining (tv mini-series, 1997), Trucks (1997), Apt Pupil (1998), The Green Mile (1999), The Dead Zone (tv series, 2001-2), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), Carrie (tv mini-series, 2002), Dreamcatcher (2003), Riding the Bullet (2004), Salems Lot (tv mini-series, 2004), Secret Window (2004), Desperation (tv mini-series, 2006), Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (tv mini-series, 2006), 1408 (2007), The Mist (2007), Children of the Corn (2009), Everythings Eventual (2009), the tv series Haven (2010-5), Bag of Bones (tv mini-series, 2011), Carrie (2013), Under the Dome (tv series, 2013-5), Big Driver (2014), A Good Marriage (2014), Mercy (2014), Cell (2016), 11.22.63 (tv mini-series, 2016), The Dark Tower (2017), Geralds Game (2017), It (2017), The Mist (tv series, 2017), Mr. Mercedes (tv series, 2017 ) and 1922 (2017). Stephen King had also written a number of original screen works with Creepshow (1982), Golden Years (tv mini-series, 1991), Sleepwalkers (1992), Storm of the Century (tv mini-series, 1999), Rose Red (tv mini-series, 2002) and the tv series Kingdom Hospital (2004), as well as adapted his own works with the screenplays for Cats Eye, Silver Bullet, Pet Semetary, The Stand, The Shining, Desperation, Children of the Corn 2009, A Good Marriage and Cell. King also directed one film with Maximum Overdrive (1986).