Here are my thoughts on Nine more short stories from Night Shift:
I Am the Doorway – I really liked the pacing of this one, the story really comes to you, you think you know what’s going on but you’re not sure then it comes at you fast and furious. Plays on fear of the unknown, outer space, and losing control of your own body/mind. A good read.
The Mangler – Not one of my favorites, starts out ok, Mr. King does a great job of building the fear you have of this machine but the story get lost in my opinion when the main characters try to explain the possession and the final image of this 30+ foot machine running around the city is ridiculous, not scary. I can’t believe this story spawned a movie with two sequels.
The Boogeyman – Another very well paced story that builds suspense as it goes along. it also takes me back to what looks like will be one of my main themes as I go through Mr. Kings work, there are no heroes here. We find out that Lester’s family has been terrorized by this boogeyman and his three children have been murdered. Do we feel sorry for him, not at all. He is portrayed in such a way that in the end after we learned that he let son be killed rather than face his own fears we are glad the Dr. Harper is the Boogeyman and are not sure if we hope he is killed or left to live we his cowardice and fear.
Grey Matter – This is one of those stories that produces images in my head that I wish I could unsee, and unsmell for that matter. Unlike a lot of Mr. King’s stories this one has a hero or at least someone acting heroically, though as usual his reward for his heroic behavior is probably death by giant grey fungus man. The image created as we hear about Ritchie’s transformation is truly horrific. On a personal note Grey Matter will always bring to mind the Ongio Boingo song before this story.
Battleground – Fun little story about an assassin who gets attacked by a box of toy soldiers sent to him by the mother of a toy maker he had just killed. In true King style just as the assassin thinks he has won everyone is killed by a tiny thermonuclear weapon.
Trucks – The short story was much more enjoyable than the movie it spawned. Maximum Overdrive is in my opinion the worst of many horrible movies based on Mr. King writing. The story paints a more convincing picture than the movie of a world taken over by truck and tractors. The logic still has some major holes but you can see how these six characters are trapped and horrified by the machines that have them trapped. At least no one was killed by a coke machine in the story.
Sometimes They Come Back – Story of a High School teacher who is forced to face his past as the ghosts(?) of the “greasers”, who killed his brother when he was a kid start showing up in his classroom. He puts the pieces together with the help of the retired cop who had worked the original case. the greasers had died in a car accident not long after they killed his brother. He is not sure what to do but once they kill his wife he is driven to drastic measures and summons a demon who brings his brother back to avenge his death. I typical King fashion the book ends with Jim wondering if the demon he has just brought forth will be worse than the ghosts he just vanquished.
Strawberry Spring – Good story about a series of murders at a small college. Great play on “are you the monster that you fear” as the narrator begins to believe he is the killer.
The Ledge – Moral for Stan, never sleep with, then fall in love with a crime overlord’s wife. Stan is forced to walk around a penthouse apartment by way of a 5 inch ledge or go to jail for 40 years for heroin possession. When he makes it, despite having to deal with an ankle peaking pigeon, god I hate pigeon’s) he finds out that while he has won 20K and his freedom but the woman he loves has been murdered. With nothing left to live for he overpowers the bodyguard and sends the overlord out on the same bet he had – The ledge for his life. We do not get to see if the overlord makes it but we are told if he does he is going to die anyway. Moral for the overlord, no matter how powerful and protected you think you are never push a man to his breaking point. Once he has nothing to lose you never know what he might be capable of.
Next are eight more stories in Night Shift (Has any collection of short stories ever produced so many films?) than on to the epic The Stand.