Put on your Liberace records and make sure your little ceramic penguins all face due south because this month we’re looking at one of the all-time great thrillers, Rob Reiner’s 1990 dirty bird Misery.
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Misery (1990) dir. Rob Reiner, USA
“Misery” [Score] (1990), w: Marc Shaiman
Take a look at some of the differences between King’s novel and Reiner’s film, what works and what doesn’t, with author Lucy V Hay.
Then take a look at Vulture’s list of all Stephen King adaptations ranked from worst-to-best. (Misery ranks fifth, so what’s above it?)
William Goldman further adapted King’s novel and his own film in 2015 for a Broadway play. The stars were Bruce Willis as Paul Sheldon and Laurie Metcalf as Annie Wilkes, but from all reports it failed to deliver and lasted for just over three months.
Misery is a story about fan culture written over 30 years ago, but as Luke states it may be more relevant than ever today. Rolling Stone magazine took a look at this idea and came to the same conclusion:
The fears [Misery] incites have only grown more potent as celebrity access for the adoring, always-on(line) masses becomes more readily available. Make Paul Sheldon a Vine star set to retire his account and the story pretty much carries the same weight. Misery is a stalker thriller, a horror film about obsession, but it’s also a worst-case-scenario cautionary tale that highlights the discrepancies between a person’s public and private life in a universal way — whether you’re an avid Instagrammer, a Twitter superstar with four million followers or simply a famous novelist with a rabid Number One Fan.Hazel Cills, Rolling Stone Magazine, November 30th 2015
Morbidly Beautiful tackles some of those same things in their well-written article on the movie, which goes a bit more in-depth on the motivations of both Paul Sheldon as captive and Annie Wilkes as captor.
If you’re interested in delving deeper into the psyche, the psychoanalysis and the medical classification of Annie Wilkes, you can do worse than to read both Cklara Moradian’s clinical assessment and Gustavo Costa’s thesis on the topic.
As with all discussions on the topic of Reiner’s thriller, we come to The Scene. It’ll stay with you forever, so why not embrace that harsh reality and just read more about it. Scriptophobia explores the best special effects sequences in the history of genre cinema and obviously believes Misery‘s hobbling scene is one of them; meanwhile, CinemaBlend goes over the history of why and how the scene was changed so dramatically from the book to the film.
Finally, we get to one of our favourite pieces of contemporary Misery fan culture, wherein a Crazy Chick Flips Out in Barnes & Noble. Read the story behind the video, or better yet just enjoy the whole thing again.
If you want to follow us on Letterboxd, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.
Thanks again for checking out Celluloid Junkies. Join us again in a month when we’ll be diving head-first into Peter Weir’s beautiful, lyrical 1975 Australian mystery film Picnic at Hanging Rock. Until then, don’t forget to check out the archives, or hit up our website.