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Novelist Paul Sheldon doesnt remember the blinding blizzard that sent his car spinning off the road. He doesnt remember being nursed back from unconsciousness. But he will never forget Annie Wilkes.
James Caan and Academy Award winner Kathy Bates star in the bone-shattering thriller Misery, adapted from the novel by Stephen King. As Paul (Caan) recuperates from his injuries in the secluded cabin of his benefactor Annie (Bates), he begins to discover that beneath the seemingly kind and naive exterior of his self-described "number one fan", lurks a mind that is cunning, unhinged, and bent on keeping her favorite writer as her personal prisoner for the rest of his "cock-a-doodie", life ... and Sheldon must engage his savior-turned-captor in a battle of wills that will push them both to the brink.
Adapted by two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman and directed by Rob Reiner (Stand By Me, The Princess Bride), Misery is considered by critics and fans (number ones and others) to be among the greatest horror-thrillers of all-time. Revisit this classic tonight with your friends ... after all, Misery loves company.
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Seems like Rob Reiner and Frank Darabont were born to direct King's novels for the screen. William Goldman does a terrific adaption of King's novel (he also wrote the script for "Hearts in Atlantis" which suffers only from the flaw of having most of the references to The Dark Tower series removed at the request of the director). Kathy Bates gives an Oscar winning performance as the woman obsessed with the Misery series of novels and James Caan as Paul matches her note for note in his role. "Misery" along with "Stand By Me", "The Green Mile", "The Shawshank Redemption", "The Mist", "Carrie", "The Shining" , "The Dead Zone", "Dolores Claiborne" and "The Dark Half"(although King hates Kubrick's take on the novel), and " Hearts In Atlantis" are among the best King adaptions out there (some would also argue for John Carpenter's "Christine" and Tobe Hooper's "Salem's Lot" as well) stands out as some an example of one of the best films from King's work. Luckily, King has been well treated by more directors and writers than the average writer. King was so impressed that he wrote the character in "Dolores Claiborne" specifically for Kathy Bates (it's a pity this underappreciated film hasn't garnered a larger audience. Yes, it steps away from King's normal horror area but he's darn good at just about any genre he tackles).
The previous Blu-ray was a flat, lackluster transfer that didn't do the film justice. This new transfer done from a 4K restoration done from the original film elements. The transfer here also looks really nice. The audio also sounds strong as well with a nice 5.1 audio transfer as well.
Shout Factory packs on the extras here. We get two commentary tracks one with William Goldman and one with Rob Reiner. There's also two new interviews one with Reiner discusses the making of the film and make up artist Greg Nicotero discussing his work. We also get a nice featurette cleverly entitled "Misery Loves Company" as well as a a magical misery tour focusing on the music from the film with composer Marc Shiaman. There's also an interesting array of shorts on stalking and anti-stalking law. A trailer rounds out the extras and, as usual, we get a reservable cover with one side featuring an adaption of the original poster artwork.
As a long time King fan (oops, honestly Mr. King I AM your #1 fan but I promise no sledgehammers), King's original novel does a marvelous job of delving into the psyche of a truly disturbed individual and her obsession with a fictional universe. Likewise, Reiner does a marvelous job of bringing "Misery" to the screen. Both remind us that fans come in many shapes and sizes and some of them that are dangerous.
It's the story of a popular writer who gets into a car accident. He is pulled to safety by his number one fan. How could things possibly go wrong? That's where the brilliance of King comes in. The #1 fan isn't a normal admirer, but someone psychologically volatile.
It's all played brilliantly by the, largely unknown at the time, Kathy Bates, who received an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role. The story would've been good on its own, but elevated by Bates' acting. At times normal and happy, but underneath there is something dark in her, and there is some careful stepping around needed. To counter her is the brilliant writer, played by James Caan. It's a subtle game of cat and mouse in which Caan tries to outwit Bates to get out of his situation.
Misery is a classic movie and a must-watch through and through. Give it an uninteruptted watch and enjoy. Recommended.
I'd also like to add that with the rise of the Internet, fanbases have been more vocal in their disdain for creative minds (George Lucas comes to mind). This movies' themes seem even more relevant today than they were in 1990. It's definitely a film for the ages.