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Needful Things

4.0 out of 5 stars 238 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Welcome to Castle Rock, Maine, a lovely place to live if you don't mind selling your soul! Oscar® nominees* Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind) and Max Von Sydow (Minority Report) head an exceptional castincluding Bonnie Bedelia (Die Hard) and Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction)in this supernatural thriller that's dark, haunting and a hell of a good scare (LosAngeles Magazine)! Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Harris) has a devil of a problem: Suddenly all the residents of his sleepy little town are dying'to kill each other. But at least business is still booming, especially at a new antique store. The store's owner (Von Sydow) has something for everyone, and his prices are always reasonable: just one small favor oh, and, of course, eternal damnation! *Harris: Actor, The Hours (2002); Actor, Pollock (2000); Supporting Actor, The Truman Show (1998); Supporting Actor, Apollo 13 (1995). Von Sydow: Actor, Pelle the Conqueror (1988).

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Max von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia, Amanda Plummer, J.T. Walsh
  • Directors: Fraser Clarke Heston
  • Writers: Stephen King, W.D. Richter
  • Producers: Gordon Mark, Jack Cummins, Peter Yates
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: August 27, 2002
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000068IES
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,101 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Needful Things" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Daneker on September 20, 2007
Format: DVD
There's at least a 3hr version of this film, most likely longer, it aired on television and cable, at 4rhs with commercials and with the R rated material edited.

This version is okay, but it's cut down to the bare bones of the plot(s) for time and space. The longer version has never been seen on video, but we can hope!
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Format: DVD
I have seen two versions of "Needful Things" the regular theatrical cut which runs at about 113 minutes and the extended edition that used to play on TNT (which is actually better) that has a running time of about 175 minutes, the full program with commercials was about 4 hours long.

Where this version fails is that the character development is rushed and they focus more on the "deeds" than what the book does. The novel itself is very excellent and the first part allows the characters to be developed. Part two of the novel is left to the "deeds" and part three focuses on the chaos that results and the aftermath.

However, in the movie, the "deeds" and the chaos and not on the characters nor the aftermath. I think that "Needful Things" could be put on film, as long as it's a three part miniseries and not just one movie.

However, this film does have some good things about it, the main good thing is Max von Syndow's performance (although when I read the book I imagined someone like Christopher Lee). Another good thing is how accurate to the book that the "deeds" were carried out.

Some may say that this is the worst Stephen King adaptation, but I can think of a couple that are worse: Dreamcatcher, Graveyard Shift, Thinner, and Tommyknockers. This one, is only fifth worse.
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Format: DVD
The original Needful Things was an hour longer than it appears on this DVD. Also, there is no widescreen version that is produced. This is probably the best adaptation of a Stephen King book ever brought to film, but it has not yet been deemed profitable enough to put any effort into the produciton of the DVD. The movie itself is superb (for its genre), 3 and 1/2 stars easy. However, this is one of the most shoddily made DVDs that I have ever seen. It is simply not worth buying.
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Format: DVD
I saw this movie when it was first released in '93 and again recently and I liked it both times. Like all Stephen King films based on his books, "Needful Things" takes place in a small town and has a cartooney air.

What would happen if the devil literally came to town? In this case it's a small New England coastal village (shot in British Columbia). Ed Harris plays the main protagonist while Bonnie Bedelia plays his girlfriend, and Max Von Sydow plays the mysterious shopkeeper who comes to down and causes havoc by selling the villagers their most deepest desires for the price of a "deed."

So, what would happen if the devil came to town? Would he make it a paradise? A fun hedonistic haven? Not bloody likely.

Since the movie utilizes Christian themes I'll consider it from that perspective for the sake of reviewing. According to the Bible, the blessing of the Lord produces the qualities of the Garden of Eden, that is, paradise, which is why it says that the kindgom of heaven is a matter of righteousness, peace, joy and power. By contrast, the devil's kingdom produces un-righteousness, strife, war, anxiety, depression, misery, bondage and helplessness.

The fictitional town of Castle Rock was a veritable haven before Leland Gaunt (Sydow) came to town. Sure, there were the typical petty dislikes and rivalries, etc. but, generally speaking, it was a nice place to live, a small coastal paradise, which is what motivated the Ed Harris character to live there. Of course, Gaunt is intent on changing all this.

I just find it interesting the way the new shopkeeper slowly turns the town into a literal living hell. He utilizes the people's petty dislikes, paranoias and jealousies against them.

"Needful Things" may not be great and it's definitely not scary, but it's effective in a theological sense as a creepy Satanic take-over through simple manipulation of human nature.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Once again Steven King causes us to think about the reality of evil, and the hate and loathing the evil one has for each human. In the story titled, 'Needful Things' it suggests than humans are needful, and we foolishly seek valueless possessions and so endanger our eternal souls. Leland Gaunt's little black book will be used on the day we die, to argue why we each should spend eternity in the unrelenting agonies of hell with the demons who despise us and have always sought our destruction. I love the demon telling each of his victim's, " No one will ever suspect you did anything ", as if any sin ever goes unpunished, or gets blamed on the wrong soul. Jesus told us that the Ruler of This World is the father of all lies, and Mr. King gets that more forcefully than most people. Leland Gaunt destroys, souls, the town, and even the churches with nothing more than the covetous nature of people, and the lies he spews. Evil is, of course, far more invisible, and subtle in reality, it is all around us and prepared to engulf us at every moment. Only God stands in the way, for even evil can only act when given license by each of us through the free will God gave us, and then God stands back, though HE would prefer to shield us from our vile choices. It is this cooperation with the evil that seeks our eternal destruction, which makes Needful Things truly frightening, because we each have already been seduced by evil, to gain the rubbish of this vile and depraved world. In making us look at ourselves, Needful Things is a story that many a preacher and priest would do well to show to their congregations with a follow up of how it is a tale no man or woman hasn't experienced first hand, with a less obvious demon than Leland Gaunt, played wonderfully by the very talented Max Von Sydow.
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