US movie (1991). Orion. Pr Declan Baldwin. Exec pr George A Romero. Dir Romero. Spfx Ed Fountain, Carl Horner Jr. Vfx VCE/Peter Kuran, Video Image. Animatronics Tom Culnan, Ken Walker. Mufx Everett Burrell, John Vulich. Screenplay Romero. Based on The Dark Half (1989 UK) by Stephen King. Starring Julie Harris (Reggie Delesseps), Timothy Hutton (Thaddeus Beaumont/ George Stark), Robert Joy (Fred Clawson), Amy Madigan (Liz Beaumont), Michael Rooker (Sheriff Alan Pangborn). 122 mins. Colour.
1968, and young Thad Beaumont wants to be a writer but suffers a brain tumour; when his skull is opened the surgeons find rudimentary organs developed from a Twin foetus. As the excision is completed, the hospital is attacked by a vast flock of sparrows. 1991, and Beaumont is a respected but obscure novelist, also secretly writing successful thrillers as "George Stark". A blackmailer, Clawson, threatens to reveal all, so Beaumont confesses to the press, gaining enormous publicity; "Stark", he announces over a mock grave, is dead. But Stark, who is almost Beaumont's Double, has become a tulpa; he hauls himself from the grave and hideously murders Clawson and most of Beaumont's professional colleagues, with the aim of forcing Beaumont to write one more "Stark" book, believing this will allow him continued life in the writer's place. An Identity Exchange begins. But a host of sparrows attacks the house, breaking it apart in scenes reminiscent of The Birds (1963), and devours Stark's flesh before bearing his Soul away to Hell.
The Dark Half is one of King's more interesting novels, a flawed Crosshatch of notions from various fields. The movie adaptation is very faithful, and so suffers the same flaws. Yet it has much to excite the imagination, and its direction is expert. [JG]