Review for The Dark Half
The Dark Half is a match made in heaven collaboration between Horror Film master George A. Romero and Horror Novel master Stephen King. Based on King's novel, this really feels like a long episode of Tales from the Crypt or The Twilight Zone.
Thad Beaumont is a teacher who also writes intellectual novels, which don't sell. However, under a pen name 'George Stark' he write best-selling sleazy murder thrillers. He is visited by a 'fan' who threatens to reveal Beaumont's secret unless he pays him. Instead, he decides to do this himself and also kill off Stark in a promotional ceremony.
Once he has done this, a number of murders begin to occur all leading to Beaumont and all connected to the 'death' of George Stark. It seems that Stark has become real and is killing off everyone responsible for his death. Beaumont must try to stop him, but is it Beaumont doing this all along?
I'm really not sure how I feel about this film. At points I really wanted to enjoy it and then at other points I did not know what to make of it all. As a Jekyll and Hyde story it doesn't work, because the whole point of that story is that it is the same person, but this is never established in this film, nor pays off as such. I can't really describe my main issue with the film without spoiling the ending which is not so much a twist as a twist that does not happen and as such makes me wonder whether the book explains this better. Probably not.
The acting from everyone is fine, with Timothy Hutton playing both Beaumont and Stark. His performance as Stark is the more interesting of the two roles, but neither are perfect. I was more surprised by Michael Rooker as the Sheriff, but maybe after years of seeing him play bad guys it was strange seeing him as a good guy.
In general the film looks fine and most of the special effects and make up looks great, but my biggest issue is that the film is neither entertaining nor scary. I am unsure whether it is a horror or just a strange drama and considering the film is a collaboration between Horror Legends Stephen King and George A. Romero the fact that the film was not scary is a huge let down.
The Sparrows Are Flying Again is a contemporary look at the making of The Dark Half. This is finein general and does show how much of an effect the film had. To be honest, this was one of those films that seemed to just come and go and didn't have the same impact as Romero's or King's other work. However, if you are a fan of the film, it does cover most of the film's creation. Anything that is missed out is covered by the Commentary by George A. Romero and is actually a pretty good commentary although it feels more like just an interview with him that has been placed on top of the film.
Son of The Incredibly Strange Film Show was a 1989 forty minute special hosted by Jonathan Ross which focuses mainly on George A. Romero's Night/Dawn and Day of the Dead films and has nothing whatsoever to do with The Dark Half. It begs the question why it is on here and wasn't just saved for the usual re-release of one or all of those films. That being said it was great to hear from Romero and also make-up artist Tom Savini.
There are around eight minutes of Deleted Scenes. These are all fine in general and most were obviously cut for time and don't add or detract from the film. Of the five scenes, the only interesting one is the last one which was a less gruesome version of the ending, possibly to help with censors or television distribution.
Behind The Scenes are two short features one is a look at the sets and some of the make up and effects and the other is just B-Roll footage from the set of them filming, setting up shots and rehearsing, nothing interesting unless you want to see how a scene is set up. Storyboards is just a quick minute or so of footage of the original ending (which you can see in the Deleted Scenes) and just basically what you see there across a number of storyboards with sound from the film.
As well as the original Trailer and TV Spot it also includes the Original EPK which is a quick Making of/Trailer for the film to promote it. This is fine and has some nice clips, interviews and pieces from behind the scenes. Interviews is just archive clips of the cast and crew being interviewed from the time. Those speaking include Timothy Hutton, Amy Madigan, Michael Rooker and George A. Romero. This was mainly used by press to splice in talking heads for any feature they were doing on the film with them answering questions on why they came to the project and other aspects of the story and themes.
The Dark Half is not a great film and when you consider who created it I am not sure what I am supposed to make of it. The film feels more like a TV Special and not a very good one. In comparison to any other Stephen King adaptations this is not a good one and in comparison to anything George A. Romero created it is way down the list of his best work. If you like either of these you may enjoy some parts if this, but this is not a film with half the potential it should have had.