As a die-hard Stephen King fan, one either appreciates how his best-selling novels are adapted for film or television, or you simply loath it. Too many of his novels have been turned into complete rubbish (Dark Tower, Cell, Dolan’s Cadillac, to name a few) but there have also been a couple of gems. One of his gems is about to get a well-deserved make-over.
Misery, released in 1990 and directed by Rob Reiner, is getting a 4K Ultra HD upgrade just in time for Halloween lovers. Kino Lorber Studio Classics has announced that the Kathy Bates-led horror film will debut its 4K makeover on October 12, 2021.
The updated Stephen King release will include both the 4K Ultra HD disc presented with HDR Dolby Vision as well as a Blu-Ray disc. The 4K disc will include such extras as the audio commentary from both Reiner and screenwriter, the late William Goldman, and 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Lossless Stereo sound.
Rob Reiner and William Goldman (who worked previously with Reiner on The Princess Bride) brought Stephen King’s best-seller to the screen and for the most part, remained faithful to King’s story. One change, insisted on by Reiner, was the most gruesome scene in the story, where Annie Wilkes lops off one of Paul Sheldon’s feet with an ax.
Reiner was insistent on changing the scene to where Annie only breaks Paul’s ankles (still gruesome with the sledgehammer) and though Goldman first fought to keep the ax in the scene, he eventually said it was the correct decision so the audience would sympathize with her madness rather than outright hate her.
It’s always interesting when looking back on movies such as Misery and how they came together. Take, for instance, the names of actors who were approached prior to James Caan taking on the role of Paul.
William Hurt was offered the film twice but turned it down. Then there was Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, and Robert Redford. They all turned down the role.
Warren Beatty was intrigued and interested, but he requested to change the character into being less passive. Reiner didn’t go for that, so Beatty moved on. James Caan says thank you.
As for the part of one of Stephen King’s most classic characters, Annie Wilkes, Kathy Bates wasn’t even on Reiner’s radar when it came to casting. Anjelica Huston and Bette Midler were two actresses offered the part, but both declined. It was Goldman who first suggested Bates and it was a role that Bates took all the way to a Best Actress win at the Academy Awards.
The story, as you all may know, follows Paul Sheldon, a best-selling author of Victorian romance novels that center around the popular character Misery Chastain. But Paul wishes to turn his writing career into something different, so he pens a story in hopes it will start a new chapter for him.
One day Paul is driving in a blizzard when his car spins out off the road. When he comes to, he finds himself in the house of nurse Annie Wilkes, the self-professed number one fan of Misery and Paul Sheldon.
Paul decides to thank Annie for saving him by letting her read his new manuscript. She finds the profanity in his new work appalling. Annie is also reading Paul’s latest Misery novel and things go from bad to psychotic when she reads at the end of the book that Misery dies.
The struggle becomes real for Paul, especially when she shows up at the foot of his bed with a sledgehammer.
When Rob Reiner sat in the director’s chair for Misery, it wasn’t the first time he’d been part of a Stephen King film adaptation. Four years earlier, Reiner took the helm for another great Stephen King adaptation with Stand by Me.
The coming-of-age Stand By Me brought Reiner some well-deserved attention which he turned into The Princess Bride and then When Harry Met Sally…before he took on Stephen King once again.
Rob Reiner would go on to more hit films that include A Few Good Men (one of the best films around), The American President, Ghosts of Mississippi, The Story of Us, Rumor Has it…, and The Bucket List. Of course, Reiner made his feature film directing debut with the classic mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap, which he also starred in.
There has always been much debate as to which Stephen King novel has been best adapted for the big screen. Many, inexplicably, land on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (which Stephen King has said time and again he can’t stand). But Misery, along with Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Dead Zone, and Carrie are films that consistently sit in many fans’ top ten.
So, if you’re wanting to give your Halloween a 4K Ultra HD upgrade, look for Misery being released in 4K on October 12.