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GRAVEYARD SHIFT (1990) Dir. Ralph S. Singleton. Written by John Esposito based on a Story by Stephen King. Starring: David Andrews, Kelly Wolf, Stephen Macht, Brad Dourif, Andrew Divoff, and Vic Polizos.

 Stephen King took you to the edge with The Shining and Pet Sematary. This time......he pushes you over.

Another unfairly maligned screen adaptation of a King short story, Graveyard Shift delivers a solid bit of entertainment about a drifter taking a summer job at a textile mill and getting recruited to clean out the rat-infested sub-basement with a rogues gallery of assholes. Among said assholes is the over the top head honcho, Warwick played by TV veteran Stephen Macht with one of the most entertainingly bad Maine accents to ever grace a King adaptation. While the film is chock full of King characters played by solid character actors, the show-stealer is none other than Brad Dourif playing a Vietnam vet turned exterminator with a particular hatred for rats. His greasy demeanor exits the film a little too early for this viewer, but while he’s on screen he is unforgettable, especially when telling tales of the Viet Cong’s creative use for rats and hot rice bowls. It’s a story worthy of a better film. Alas, we’re left with an atmospheric 1st act with a decent build-up of location and character, and steadily mounting suspense as our merry band of assholes begins to realize what kind of nightmare they are in for, followed by an all too brisk ending that could have done with a little more complexity. In fact, it really feels like a film without a second act and I can’t help but imagine it would have been more successful with a little more meat in the middle. The only complaint I have heard over the years that seems even halfway logical as to why this is not a more appreciated film is the Queen rat in the final scenes of the film failing to live up to expectations; a blind, winged mutant monster mother that meets its comeuppance at the hands of a cotton thresher. Perhaps, these viewers were looking for a more realistic take on the mutant monster, but for anyone familiar with the original short story and prosthetic effects circa 1990, it’s a solid effort and rather faithful to King’s story. When all is said and done, Graveyard Shift is a damn good time and highly rewatchable with a few beers and friends.    

 

 

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