Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Castle Rock Companion - Gramma


My memories of the short story "Gramma" apparently mixed in my mind with "The Woman in the Room."  That's fairly logical, as both stories seem largely based on King's personal experiences, just one is about his mother and the other his grandmother.  So imagine my surprise when as I went to read this story again it went deep into the supernatural.  Once I got over that surprise, I was able to enjoy it thoroughly.  I like the way it starts out as a genuine, natural fear of a boy being frightened by his senile, dying grandmother and then takes that twist into the unnatural as he realizes his grandmother is a witch.  The only part that is a little far fetched is that our protagonist George just "happens to remember" snippets of conversation as he's sitting there hearing his grandmother make noises in the other room.  Besides that though, I do enjoy the dark ending the story leads to.

This story was adapted into an episode of The New Twilight Zone, appearing in its first season.  The short was adapted by writer Harlan Ellison for television.  He makes a few changes, notably that young George finds his grandmother's spell books under the floorboards of her room rather than remembering things his aunts and uncles had once said.  It makes for a slightly more natural discovery.  He also ties the spells specifically to Cthulu rather than Hastur.  They are both demons created by Lovecraft, but I guess Ellison decided to go for the more well known option.

Barret Oliver, probably best known for playing Bastion in the first The Neverending Story film plays George, and he's a strong enough actor to pull off the part.  Some of the narration (used to show us what he's thinking) comes off a little overdone but I'll admit it's better than having him just talk to himself out loud the entire episode.  The effects are pretty plain and typical for low budget television, but I think they work alright.

Another adaptation of this story was filmed last year.  Titled Mercy, it stars The Walking Dead's Chandler Riggs as George.  Looking at the cast and crew list, it's safe to say it fleshes out the story quite a bit.  Unfortunately, it seems to be one of many films produced by Jason Blum that is just sitting on a shelf rather than being released in any form.  Perhaps in time that will change and we'll get to see this film.  I'm certainly curious what they did with it.  If I'm ever able to see it, I will provide an update.

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