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Tuesday Terror: Graveyard Shift (1990)


The small town in Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift is way too small. You can’t take two steps out of the house without running into one of your coworkers. The bully that mouths off at you during break is ready more than happy to continue pressing your buttons at the local diner.

And working at the textile factory is terrible. It’s a hard, dangerous job in a dying industry. Whether you are a secretary or a feeding cotton in a machine, you must deal with rats – both the human and animal variety. Warwick, the boss, is mean, petty and vengeful. Embarrass him or turn down his advances and he’ll get even. The problem is that he walks the same rat-infested hallways as his employees. What’s the good of having power if you can’t intimidate people?


The factory building itself is an inspection away from being condemned. It should be boarded up or burned down. Warwick’s plan to keep the doors open involves assembling a crew to clean out the rat’s nest basement. Honestly, the workers are so accustomed to rats – killing them is child’s play. Those little creatures are the least of their problems.

Now, you may ask yourself how does a textile factory get over-run with rats? What has drawn them there? What are they eating? Well, let’s just say a cemetery is involved.


The movie is slow in bits but just when you are tempted to turn away there’s a ghastly accident or glimpse of the main monster. It’s also a bit bloody and gory in parts. I can easily see this working as a remake – perhaps set in a factory farm.

If you are mind to do a double feature, I suggest pairing Graveyard Shift with The Mangler. Though one is a creature feature and the other deals with demonic possession, they are both explore themes about industry in small towns.


Don’t be Carmichael, the black guy who is fated to die once he accepts an assignment in the basement. The question is who will make the kill – human or a critter?

Tuesday Terror: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Thanks to a mysterious comet, machines on Earth spring to life and finally take revenge on mankind. Our story centers on a group of people holed up in the Dixie Boy truck stop. They are menaced by a group of trucks that don’t want them to leave. Fighting back only yields momentary victories. Understanding that they are facing a future at the mercy of motor vehicles, the survivors make a dash for freedom. But in a world where man depends on machines, where can they go…


Though it drags from time to time, Maximum Overdrive is one of those so bad it’s good horror movies. Written and directed by Stephen King, it’s based on his short story “Trucks”. The film would have been more fun if it had been man vs smaller appliances. You get a taste of this in the beginning when an electric knife strikes out against its human oppressor, a waitress. Most of the handheld horror is in glimpses – a corpse struck down by a portable cassette player, a woman who can’t let go of her hairdryer even in death.

The problem with having killer trucks is that you really have to help them kill you by staying still, walking out in front of them or running in a straight line. For a good chunk of the movie, the trucks just circle the gas pumps. They are so helpless that they literally have to call in a military gun thingy – ahem – an M274 Mule. There’s also a montage of humans being forced to fill up the mean machines’ gas tanks. You may want to refresh your snacks during this time.

One great thing about this movie is that it is full of familiar faces and voices. There’s Emilio Estevez, Pat Hingle, Frankie Faison and Yeardley Smith. Before he was Buggin Out in Do The Right Thing, Giancarlo Esposito was videoplayer in Maximum Overdreive. He has the best line in the film: “Yo Mama.”


Shouting, “We created you!” is not a good argument when machines attack.

Is there joy in Joyland? It depends…


For me, reading Joyland was like buying a bag of regular potato chips and finding a baked, “healthy” alternative version inside. The new chips may technically be better, but If it’s not what you are looking for, they won’t satisfy.

Joyland is a coming of age novel. A young man is heartbroken when his girlfriend (who, goshdarnit, would never have sex with him) leaves him. To get over it, he takes a summer job at an amusement park – Joyland. While there he makes friends and thrills the hearts of children.  Oh, by the way, a woman was murdered in Joyland some time ago–and it’s rumored that her ghost makes random appearances in the haunted house ride.

Will the young man get over his (ex)girlfriend? Will he ever get laid? Will he ever see the ghost? Will he give up the normal life and go full time as a carnival man? Will he figure out who turned the ghost into a ghost?

The problem for me is that the murder mystery takes a big back seat in the story. It’s almost an afterthought–with the solving of the crime coming to a rush at the end.

Joyland is written in first person, from the point of view of a middle aged man looking back on his young adult years. Great for a coming of age tale. Not so good for a mystery, since the narrator casually reveals the fate of his friends (they survive the summer) before getting around to solving the crime. It’s a suspense killer.

Joyland was published under the Hard Case Crime imprint which, according to its website, “brings you the best in hardboiled crime fiction, ranging from lost noir masterpieces to new novels by today’s most powerful writers, featuring stunning original cover art in the grand pulp style.”

Joyland definitely has the cover of an old fashioned, hardboiled crime novel but everything else…

WILTW: Shine On!

drsleep Stephen King has written a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep.

A middle aged Dan Torrance has to use what’s left of his Shining abilities to save a young girl from a tribe of old, vampire-like being who travel the US in RVs and wear lots of polyester.

Yes, I will be pre-ordering this 544 page hardcover novel – even though it won’t be published until September. (I may have to pre-order King’s new Hardcase Crime mystery – Joyland – too.)

I. Am. Here. For. This.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros may travel into the past and do a prequel: The Overlook Hotel

You have seen The Shining–right?


Another book I’m looking forward to is Sidney Poitier’s Montaro Caine, which comes out in May.

Random House is categorizing this novel as Fiction – Visionary & Metaphysical:

A baby is born with a coin in her hand. An orphan crafts a mysterious wooden object. The CEO of a large corporation finds himself under extraordinary pressure at work and at home. And on a remote hilltop on a Caribbean island, a medicine man seems to understand the meaning of all these events and to hold the key to the future.

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