Misery: Collector’s Edition

| November 17, 2017

Film adaptations of Stephen King’s novels have historically been a pretty mixed bag. At their worst, they range from comically bad to simply dull. But at their best, Stephen King adaptations account for some of cinema’s most beloved masterpieces. You’ll find no shortage of folks who heap praise on Frank Darabont’s adaptations of The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999), or the ever-more-well-respected The Mist (2007). Many hail Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining (1980) as one of the all-time greatest horror films, despise it though King himself might. And this is to say nothing of the brilliant King adaptations helmed by masters of horror David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, or even Brian De Palma, whose adaptation of Carrie helped make Stephen King a household name!

Director Rob Reiner was himself responsible for two stellar King adaptations: the seminal coming-of-age film Stand by Me (1986) and the Academy Award-winning Misery (1990), which makes its way to Scream Factory Blu-ray this month. Though Misery was certainly celebrated in its time, especially as Kathy Bates won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in the film, it isn’t nearly so often discussed among the great King adaptations as it once was or even rightly should be. Fortunately, the Scream Factory Collector’s Edition release of Misery gives us the opportunity to revisit the film and correct this grievous oversight.

Reiner, working from a script by Oscar-winning screenwriting William Goldman (All the President’s Men), crafted an impressively tight and entertaining thriller in Misery. The film follows famed novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan), who nearly dies in a car accident but is saved from the wreck by his self-proclaimed #1 fan Annie (Bates). Bed-ridden with two broken legs, Paul soon finds himself held captive at Annie’s house, as she proves to be far more of a psychotically unhinged stalker than just a fan. As Annie becomes more possessive, demanding and violent, Paul has to find a way to pacify her or escape without the use of his legs, or spend the rest of his life locked in a single room writing books at Annie’s command.

It’s a brilliantly simple setup, executed in the film much the same as it was in the novel. Every attempt Paul makes to find a weapon or procure some means of escape drags you inevitably toward the edge of your seat, worrying that Annie will return home at any moment and find Paul out of his room. And truly, the threat of Annie is constant and overwhelming since Bates paints her as an alternatingly quite human and near-cartoonish villain who goes from sweet to monstrous at the slightest provocation. Her sense of ownership over Paul becomes more profoundly disturbing with every, and it’s only heightened by the fact that she claims her actions are guided by God. Save for some intercut scenes of a local sheriff investigating Paul’s disappearance to give us (potentially false) hope, we’re left in Annie’s house to experience the confinement alongside Paul, watch her mental health deteriorate wildly, and ruminate on what we’d do in Paul’s situation were we to be so horrifically incarcerated ourselves.

Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery is a classic thriller that deserves to be revisited and celebrated. Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of Stephen King’s Misery, featuring a brand new 4k restoration from the original film elements, will be available on November 28th, 2017. However, it is currently shipping early with a free 18″ X 24″ rolled poster of their brand new artwork when ordered directly from the Shout Factory website here. Bonus features on the Collector’s Edition include content both new and archival:

  • NEW Interview With Director Rob Reiner
  • NEW Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Greg Nicotero
  • Audio Commentary With Rob Reiner
  • Audio Commentary With Screenwriter William Goldman
  • Misery Loves Company” Featurette
  • “Marc Shaiman’s Musical Misery Tour” Featurette
  • “Diagnosing Annie Wilkes” Featurette
  • “Advice For The Stalked” Featurette
  • “Profile Of A Stalker” Featurette
  • “Celebrity Stalkers” Featurette
  • “Anti-Stalking Laws” Featurette
  • Trailers

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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