Oooooohboyohboyboyboy. Where do I start.
First of all: why do I write this review? Because I'm so so tired of Stephen King and how he's ruining great stuff.
I was born to be a nerd. Being a bookseller, my mom introduced me to a few key ingredients of nerd culture. After all, I was named after a character from Frank Herbert's "Dune" for fucks sake. I grew up watching "Star Trek", "Babylon5" and lots and lots of awesome films like "Ghostbusters" and "The Little Shop Of Horrors". I was introduced very early to those vital parts of my nowaday life and I have very fond memories of watching those programs with my mom. One of those programs was Lars von Trier's "RIGET" (english: "The Kingdom").
As a child, I was frightened and terrified by the weirdness and it caused me to develop an irrational fear of riding elevators (SPOILERS). So one could say it had a massive impact on my life. And whilst I forgot most of it during puberty, I grew fond of it again after watching it as an adult with a thing for weird horror. (Coincidence? I think not.)
The source material
First of all, what the fuck is "RIGET"?
"RIGET" was created and written by Lars von Trier specifically for television.
The Plot. Wikipedia sums it up pretty nicely:
"The series is set in the neurosurgical ward of Copenhagen's Rigshospitalet, the city and country's main hospital, nicknamed "Riget". "Riget" means "the realm" or "the kingdom" and leads one to think of "dødsriget", the underworld and realm of the dead. (In norse mythology: Hel or Helheim - dødsrige. It's basically the afterlife), The show follows a number of characters, both staff and patients, as they encounter bizarre phenomena, both human and supernatural. The show is notable for its wry humor, its muted sepia colour scheme, and the appearance of a chorus of dishwashers with Down Syndrome who discuss in intimate detail the strange occurrences in the hospital."
Lars von Trier (Yes, THE von Trier) director of "Dancer in the Dark", "Dogville" and more recently "Antichrist" and "Melancholia", directed "RIGET" as well . He is well-known as an arthouse-director and for being BATSHIT INSANE while being more or less sucessful with it. And the dude has an amazing sense of humor. "RIGET" is much adored amongst (european) fans of the genre -which would be "obscure scandinavian horror-comedy"- and well known for being inspired by David Lynch's masterpiece "Twin Peaks". And despite being a miniseries, it appears as one of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Also, one of the main reasons for me to love "RIGET" is the German actor Udo "FUCK YEAH" Kier. Any fellow aficianados of strange and obscure films might know him from movies like Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (
1973) or Andy Warhol's Dracula (
1974). More recent (and bloody awesome): Iron Sky (2012).
If you're living in the UK or the US chances are high that you might've come across the "edited" five-hour movie series, rather than the original 8-episode-format that you would have seen in europe.
The first four episodes (aka the first season) ended without answering numerous questions, and in 1997 the cast reassembled to produce the second season, consisting of another set of four episodes.
This second series ended with even more questions unanswered than the first, and a third series was planned. However, due to the death of several actors in 1998 the likelihood of a third series is now very remote.
Von Trier actually wrote the third and final season, but the production was not picked up by DR (the original channel: Danmarks Radio). At that point, five regular cast members had died and it seemed impossible to continue the series. The abandoned scripts were sent to the producers of Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital, but it is unclear whether they used the scripts or not.
Kingdom Hearts eerr...HospitalThat's right, Stephen King wrote an adaption of "RIGET" for american television called "Kingdom Hospital" which premiered on ABC in may 2004. If you like to watch TV as much as I do, you might've stumbled upon this little "gem". And oh boy what a shitfest. It is pretty much known amongst former Stephen King-fans, that "the master" has become somewhat "crazy" in his "doings". In the first run, I couldn't even watch the first episode of "Kingdom Hospital" without twitching uncontrollably.
Why? First of all, King is an egomaniac who got too big for his own boots and is also more self-absorbent than a sponge. Need proof?
- Whilst Peter Rickman is jogging, we can see him wearing a sweatshirt with a "Little Tall" print on it. The island Little Tall is where King's "Dolores" and "Storm of the Century" take place.
- Peter Rickman's accident at the beginning of the series is suspiciously similar to an accident King had himself in 1999, in which he was hit and heavily injured by a car.
- The ambulance that saves him has the number 19 which holds a big role in King's "The Dark Tower"
- Many of the characters, places and incidents are named using wordplay. For example, one of the nurses is called Carrie von Trier (a combination of King's bestseller-protagonist Carrie from "Carrie" -duh- and Lars von Trier)
- Many characters read Stephen King-novels as the story progresses. For instance: Peter Rickman is reading "Misery" whilst being on his sickbed.
- The hospital-janitor, called Johnny B. Goode (OH GOD WHY) is never on duty and always substituted by someone else. Until the very end, when Johnny finally appears in person. And then he is played by Stephen King himself.
- The names of the three characters who have contact to the spirit world (Peter Rickman, Mary Jensen, and Paul Morlock) together form the name of the band Peter, Paul and Mary. (That's actually awesome)
- On the beverage vending machine which can be seen in several episodes, the name printed on there is "Nozz-a-la", a fictitious cola-brand which is also often used in "The Dark Tower"
And now, the thing that takes the cake for me:
- The german shepherd of securityman Otto is called Blondi and therefore bears the same name as Hitler's *coughcough* faithful companion and also speaks with a german accent.
Seriously folks. How douchy can one writer be.
Second of all, the stories are just not as good as the original. They seem forced and blend and simply don't have the cheeky and weird humor
the danish original had.
Another big thing that bugs me: the characters are not believable. For example he guy who hits Peter with his car straight at the beginning is a perfect example of a stereotype I call "written douche". You don't like him, but the screenplay doesn't give you any chance to like him anyway. King always had some good talent for building suspense and creating a good setting, tension and atmosphere, but the payoffs are his greatest weakness.Then the design."Welcome to Vampire: The Masquerade. The Hospital".
Most. Unfitting. Logo. EVER. (see above) Seriously, They put that thing on the frontside of the hospital.Strangely enough, the program won several awards, 2 Emmy's in 2004, for title design and SPFX). Lars von Trier is credited as an executive producer in the american version.
The original Danish opening The American version
(Ok ok, I'll admit, the american version of the intro is also nice. It'sdifferent, but is has some cool aspects to it, except for a few nagging details)
Stephen King - The Drinking Game (WE ALL FLOAT)
Wanna drink yourself into a coma like the mandatory alcoholic character in any King story?
"Oh good god man! That's been known to KILL people!"
I introduce to you, the Stephen King Drinking Game, according to the ever awesome Nostalgia Critic.
I do this to prove a point. King has become incredibly repetitive and unimaginative. And if you've ever read more than one King novel, you know exactly what I am talking about.
So, on with it. Here is the plot of "Kingdom Hospital".
(Again, thanks to Wikipedia I don't have to summarize this shitfest)
"The story tells of the fictional Kingdom Hospital located in Lewiston, Maine (SHOT), built on the site of a mill that manufactured military uniforms during the American Civil War. Previously, a hospital known as the "Old Kingdom" had been built on the site, but it burned down. The current hospital is known as the "New Kingdom". The hospital's "turbulent" nature seems to reflect its ominous logo, a crimson stylized dagger, predicting what will come. (SHOT just because it's ridiculous)
A psychic named Mrs. Druse has checked into the hospital numerous times and is taken by the staff to be a hypochondriac. She asks for the assistance of Dr. Hook to uncover the truth about the hospital and the mysterious spirits who haunt it — including a young girl, killed after the original fire; a sinister teenage boy (SHOT) ; and a strange animal that follows and protects the young girl she calls Antubis (you know, Anubis and Anteater DOUBLE SHOT because horrible wordplay and it's never explained where it came from), who is similar to a giant anteater, whose long snout opens up to a horrifying set of jagged teeth.
(EDIT: After some research, I found out what the anteater-thingie is supposed to be. It's sugested that the thing is the god of the dead Anubis and takes whichever form his "protégés" can handle. It which case, the little girl chose an anteater. She is also unable to to speak out his name correctly or realise what or who he is, hence the weird name. Still quite a stretch I believe.)
Elsewhere, Peter Rickman, a painter (SHOT) who is admitted to the hospital following a road accident (with severe injuries to his skull and spine) begins to discover the ghastly goings-on while he lies comatose in room 426.
Other subplots included the initiation of arrogant chief of surgery Dr. Stegman into the secret society known as the 'Keepers', and the challenged-at-every-turn flirtation between young Dr. Elmer Traff and sleep doctor Lona Massingale. (SHOT because again, ridiculous.)
The series is known for its tangential plots and characters who recur throughout, it is—as King called it—a "novelization for television".
- SHOT for a disappointing or anti-climactic payoff at the end
- SHOT (important!) whenever you spot a reference to the original
- SHOT if the story ties in to The Dark Tower series (A Toast to The Turtle!)
- SHOT for something that's supposed to be scary, but just ends up ungodly stupid or funny (*twitch* Blondi...)
- SHOT for a Crappy, Unfaithful or Disappointing King-Television rendition of an otherwise good story
- And 1 final SHOT just in case we may have forgotten anything.
I adore gothic horror fiction. Lovecraft, Poe and alike have always been a huge passion of mine. And King obviously tries to be some kind of a new-age Lovecraft and fails horribly while doing so.
It is sad, because he really used to be a good (decent) writer. And let's be honest people, he'll never be "the" new Lovecraft.
If you've read Lovecraft and know the basic structure of his stories, check out Stephen King's "N" and you'll know what I mean. It's an ok animated comic (with an obvious ending to anyone who knows "Call of Cthulhu")If you're on the lookout for a good King parody, I also recommend watching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
If you're interested in the material reviewed, please please please consider watching the Danish original first. It's so much better, trust me.
Take care, fellow fanboys and -girls.