Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Castle Rock Companion - The Moving Finger

The drains in our homes are strange little routes to places we can't see.  When I bought my first home, they did an inspection of the drains, sending a camera down there to make sure there weren't any serious clogs or maybe signs of decay.  All they found were a couple roaches, and the man doing the inspection told me that wasn't a concern, just a natural thing that happens especially when a house has been on the market for a bit not being used.  It still freaked me out, and when they gave me a CD copy of the footage they had filmed, I never touched it.  I didn't want to see that ever again.

Usually, bugs are the worst thing we'll ever see coming out of the drain holes in our home.  But what if a finger started poking out?  What if you could hear the fingernail scraping and scratching its way out of your sink?  This was an idea that apparently once occurred to Stephen King, and this story resulted from it.  A quiet man hears the sound and sees the finger, though his wife never does.  While initially we're led to believe it may all be in his head, the finale in which the cop shows up after the man's fight with the very long finger guarantees that it is not just his imagination.  The story ends on a cliffhanger, leaving their fate uncertain, but the imagery of that long finger and what it could be attached to are really the key to fear in this story.

This story was adapted as the very last episode of the Monsters TV series, and I have to admit the finger they use is just a little too obviously fake to truly be scary.  There even seems to be moments where the material they used for the skin cracks in places and it took a lot out of it.  Of course a more recent adaptation would just use a CGI finger, and I'm not sure if that would truly be scary either.  It's quite possible this is the kind of thing that's always going to work a little better in your imagination.

The episode is pretty faithful to the story, only really dropping the idea that the main character is the type who is afraid to use public bathrooms, and therefore spends a a good portion of the short story fretting on how he's going to use the bathroom if he can't use his own.  They also drop all mentions of Jeopardy and instead make it an unnamed quiz show, but that is to be expected.

The main difference is the ending, and I have to admit I found it really disappointing.  The finger he fights with is very long, several feet at least, and yet the hand that jumps out the toilet at the cop has only slightly longer fingers than a human.  I suppose the idea is that it can stretch, but that hand minus one digit is so underwhelming that it really ends the short on a down note.  I can't help but think it might have been more effective to just have the cop scream and not show us what she was seeing.

While I would recommend reading the story if you have a copy of Nightmares and Dreamscapes, I can't particularly recommend going out of your way to find this episode.

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