Back in 1993, my friend Jazz’s parents were big horror fans. My own parents were divided on the subject. My mother thought I should continue reading the American Girls books forever. Big D tried to encourage me to read The Illustrated Man and Animal Farm. The Dad, being a hippie, felt it wasn’t his place to tell me what I could and could not read and took me to the bookstore.
Jazz’s parents, eager to share the wealth, let me borrow Misery. It got me so hooked on Stephen King that I should probably go to rehab at some point. His latest rant about why he wants to pay more taxes is just the sprinkles on the tiny cupcake sitting on top of a larger cupcake.
I was crazy for Misery, and The Dad figured that it couldn’t hurt anything to let me have more Stephen King books. My mother was not so certain but, as was the case with the Nine Inch Nails CDs when I was a teenager, once he bought them for me she’d have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands. The Dad told me that if I had to, I could keep my books at his house and I whined that I wasn’t a child, I was twelve years old which was practically an adult. He sighed and said I could keep them in his truck to take to school as long as I left them in my locker.
Eventually Big D and The Dad talked some sense into her, and I was allowed to read nice gory horror books whenever I wanted. I did not disclose the nightmares or the squickiness I felt when sex came into the equation. Honestly, at that age, the sex made me more uncomfortable than the brains being splattered on the wall. The latter, of course, came from the book that was my favorite at the time, The Dark Half.
I’m not ashamed to say that it scared me. A lot. It also had a lot to do with getting me over my fear of scary movies and campfire tales because once you’ve read about a dude’s junk getting stuffed in his own mouth, hook-handed men come in behind what’s in the weenies for the roast on the terror list. It also fascinated me. This was the very darkest side of human nature. Murder. Mutilation. It didn’t matter that it was fiction, the fact that it came out of someone’s human mind made it real to me.
When I heard there was going to be a Dark Half movie, I was thrilled. Aunt J took me to see Misery and it was so good that I couldn’t wait to see The Dark Half. My only defense is that I was young and had no idea that the book is always better than the movie (with the exception of Last of the Mohicans, but that is a completely different story). I skipped along to the theatre with my forbidden friend, whose mother was the epitome of white trash and didn’t care what movies we watched as long as we left her alone. Sadly, Jazz’s parents’ tolerance didn’t stretch as far as R-rated movies.
It…wasn’t very good. I say that looking back on it, but when I was a kid I thought it was pretty great. In fact, I wanted to see it again. The problem came when I called Moviefone (remember THAT? HA HA HA! I’M OLD, KIDS!) the very next weekend and it claimed that there was no such movie. I called the theatre where we saw it. They also claimed it had never existed. Disturbingly enough, neither my friend or I could find our ticket stubs.
That was the first time I wondered if I might be going crazy. I swore I’d seen that movie. I could remember all the details and could have pointed out the actors in a lineup. But everyone swore just as hard that The Dark Half never existed. For years, I was certain I’d lost my mind. Then, I found it on the shelf at a library.
No one has ever been able to explain why it disappeared from the theatre, but I kind of got an inkling last night when I watched it on Netflix. I’m thinking it probably just made so little money it was immediately shunted to VHS (REALLY OLD, KIDS) to open the theatre for a movie with potential to actually break even. Kind of wishing I hadn’t bothered watching it last night. Really, guys, it’s not very good.
Could have been worse, though. I could have watched something with Keanu Reeves.