Stephen King Collector Set: Carrie / Misery / Needful Things / The Dark Half Brian De Palma, Rob Reiner, Fraser Clarke Heston and George A. Romero

Stephen King Collector Set: Carrie / Misery / Needful Things / The Dark Half Brian De Palma, Rob Reiner, Fraser Clarke Heston and George A. Romero
Stephen King adaptations are a crapshoot. They're either horrific or just horrible. This four-disc box set contains both. By far, the best DVD here is the special edition of Carrie. Mousy schoolgirl Carrie White is bullied by her classmates and tormented by her mother, a religious fanatic who demonises all things sexual. After the gym teacher punishes Carrie's classmates after one humiliating event, one classmate (Nancy Allen) and her boyfriend (John Travolta) take revenge by ruining Carrie's prom. Meanwhile, another girl makes amends by fixing up Carrie with her hunk boyfriend (William Katt). However, nobody knows that Carrie has the power of telekenisis, psychically hurling objects with her mind. De Palma skilfully balances frights, pathos and even laughs in this low-budget movie, which launched innumerable careers and Oscar nominations. Misery is a brilliant two-character piece about writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan's comeback role) left stranded in the home of fan and lunatic Annie Wilkes (an Oscar-winning Kathy Bates) in the middle of a snowy wilderness. The genial Annie Wilkes is an angel at first, nursing Sheldon's legs, damaged when his car flipped on an icy road. Then she turns into a monster. Writer William Goldman and director Rob Reiner skilfully build suspense until the viewer feels as trapped as Sheldon. The other two films, Needful Things and The Dark Half, are trifles. The Dark Half is a dull yarn about a writer (Timothy Hutton) trying to destroy his pseudonym in a publicity stunt, but winds up framed for several murders. Needful Things is marginally better with a stronger cast and clearer storyline. The mysterious owner (a fine Max Von Sydow) of a new antique store in a sleepy American town can sell something to anyone at a bargain (like Mickey Mantle's rookie card to a boy). Meanwhile, the townsfolk turn evil and want to kill each other. A competent film, Needful Things lacks the scope of a theatrical feature and feels more at home as a good cable TV movie. The extras here are stingy, only Carrie includes anything beyond trailers: two detailed documentaries on the acting and directing of the film with enough information to make up for a lack of audio commentary. The written essay on how author Stephen King wrote his original novel is insightful and concise. The same care should have been invested in Misery. Extras: featurettes; more. (MGM)