Nightmares & Dreamscapes - From the Stories of Stephen King (2006)

Actors: William Hurt, William H. Macy, Eion Bailey, Ron Livingston, Claire Forlani
Rob Bowman, Mark Haber
Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs:


probably after his 345th novel or something horror author Stephen King’s literary output lapsed into self-parody.

Nowhere is it more apparent than this collection of eight of his short stories adapted into hour-long TV episodes. While most of the episodes can be described as pure Stephen King, some are simply so unoriginal that one wonders why the makers (or King for that matter) even bothered.

While some of the episodes work better than others, one cannot escape the feeling that the stories would have packed a better punch if they were shoehorned into a half an hour per episode format instead of stretching things out to the full hour format (42 minutes actually, allowing for ads).

Most of the episodes only come across as overlong and they all exhibit both King’s strengths and weaknesses as an author (King is great at build-up, not too fantastic at wrapping things up). What is strange however is how the best stories doesn’t always translate to being the best episodes and how the opposite is sometimes true.

Filmed in Australia which has to unconvincingly double for anything from the streets of urban London to Stephen King’s own hometown state of Maine Nightmares & Dreamscapes’ cast at times reads more like a “where are they now?” and “gosh! look how old they look now!” ensemble than anything else. Remember when William Hurt was described as a promising young actor? Or when you lusted after Greta Scacchi who somehow managed to appear topless in every movie she was in? Well, if you do, then these episodes will make you feel pretty old . . .

THE DISCS: You get eight episodes stretched over four discs. Special features are a bit on the skimpy side with only a few additional scenes, a featurette, some interviews and production sketches.

The episodes are:

Battleground a quiet hit man (William Hurt) becomes a target for violent revenge when he finds a mysterious package on his doorstep
Crouch End
A young woman and her attorney husband gets lost in a notoriously evil London neighborhood
Umney's Last Case
a 1930's era detective realizes he's the main character in a novel
The End of the Whole Mess
A successful filmmaker recalls his genius brother's scientific plan to end world violence (there are obviously with unanticipated results)
The Road Virus Heads North
a celebrated horror writer realizes the demonic figure in the painting he's just acquired is changing to show that it's onto the same stretch of road he's on
The Fifth Quarter
an ex-convict goes to dastardly means to find treasure that puts his family's life at risk
Autopsy Room Four
a man is about to witness his own autopsy and yet he's speechless to stop it
You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
a husband and wife on a spontaneous road trip stops over in a town inhabited by late music legends.

WORTH IT? Despite the uneven tone of the collection of stories, some gems are still to be found. (At least they’re less predictable and more ambitious than Tales of the Crypt, for instance.) However, one cannot escape the nagging suspicion that these stories probably work better in their original literary format and that the media’s unrelenting campaign to film every single word ever written by the prolific Stephen King is misguided at best.

RECOMMENDATION: A recommended purchase for dedicated Stephen King groupies. More casual fans would probably want to only consider a rental.



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