night of the living dead

Shocktoberfest 2017! Day Eight: The Dark Half

The Dark Half (1993)

Written and Directed by George A. Romero

"Sugar...give me water."

"Sugar...give me water."

George Romero tends to only get recognized for his living dead films, which is fine, because those movies are legitimate masterpieces, but it's a shame that his films outside that universe get shoved into the corner more often than they should.  There are uneven but interesting films like Bruiser, but then there's also masterpieces like Martin.  And then there's The Dark Half, a film that's not quite a masterpiece, but still a solid, fun and impressive genre piece from a genuinely gifted filmmaker.  The Dark Half pulls off something that a lot of other films fail at: the ability to be both brooding, intense, and dark, while also being playful and slightly tongue-in-cheek.  Based on a Stephen King novel (that I haven't read yet, so I can't compare the two), The Dark Half is the story of Thad Beaumont, a man who was born to write.  Even as a young boy, he's been full of stories.  After experiencing strange noises and crippling headaches as a boy, he's operated on, where it's discovered that there is a consumed twin living inside his brain.  As a man, this supposedly dead twin returns from the grave as a manifestation of his "dark half" if you will, rampaging against those that Beaumont loves.  There's a kind of beautiful, magical realist quality to how the evil twin, George Stark, appears.  It's a lot like how Leonard Smalls is treated in Raising Arizona.  In fact, the movie's biggest misstep is when the story tries to explain logically how George Stark manifested itself.  It's much more fun to just take it at face value that this metaphor for evil is now a walking talking person for no reason.  Timothy Hutton is fantastic in the dual role and is also surrounded by some great supporting cast members as well, including a young Michael Rooker (You know, from Guardians of the Galaxy).  There's never a dull moment, even when the movie starts to lose its footing a bit.  This is a forgotten gem that's worth rediscovering.

Four out of Five Broken Black Beauty Number 2 Pencils