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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.


The Dark Half (1993) on IMDb

Plot Overview

tombstoneIt's 1968. Castle Rock Jr. High student Thadeus Beaumont (Patrick Brannan) experiences bird song hallucination and manual tremors as he's writing a school paper. The doctor is mildly concerned. A year later he's progressed to a mechanical type­writer & a full blown seizure. An operation removes a rare brain tumor deemed an unabsorbed twin. The doctor was happy they caught the thing in time—it was growing. His mom and dad “insisted that the excised tissue be treated as human remains.” They buried it in their Home­land Cemetery plot … with­out informing Thad. An Elvis Presley song is played as background:

Are you lonesome tonight?
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
People who have lost a twin in the womb sometimes feel a lingering sense of loneliness.

Methodology is importantTwenty-three years later Thad (Timothy Hutton) is a professor lecturing a class on writing. He's a rather pedestrian writer and drives a beat-up, gray VW beetle, but his covert alter ego writes cash cow pulp fiction and drives a tricked out, black Toranado. A drop-in student Fred Clawson (Robert Joy) knows his secret identity George Stark (Timothy Hutton) and threatens to expose him to the press. To save his reputation, Thad and his publisher Rick Cowley (Tom Mardirosian) et al stage a publicity event where they “bury” pseudonymous George in the family plot.

woman teacherSomething digs out of the grave and people associated with the publicity stunt start getting killed one by one. Thad thinks the culprit is the black­mailer. Thad's wife Elizabeth (Amy Madigan) remarks that when he writes he gets in a mood where “Jekyll turns into Hyde.” State police have enough evidence to arrest Thad, but Castle County Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Michael Rooker) holds off; he's thinking it's the work of an obsessed fan. Thad's colleague “old witch doctor” Reggie Delesseps (Julie Harris) postulates, “Stark is a conjuration, an entity created by the force of your will. … You wanted it to live so badly, it actually came to be.” The camera­man regales us with shots of flocking birds. It's a mystery.


Master of horror Stephen King has developed a macabre parallel turned inside-out by straddling the time frame around the historic Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. In the late 1960's a pregnant woman depending on what state she lived in—here Maine—had little choice but to let her child in the womb come to term and be delivered. In later decades she could still do that, or by force of will she could declare it a tissue mass and have the abortion doctor remove it with his scalpel. In contra­dis­tinc­tion the tumor in Thad's cranium would ordinarily be excised by the doctor as a matter of course. How­ever, it's been called human and given a life as fiction writer George Stark by sheer dint of will. Then it gets its vengeance with a straight razor on all who would have it cast aside.

The closest passage in the Bible coming anywhere near abortion is Exodus 21:22 in which a woman loses her unborn child during an alter­cation, and her husband with the judges determine any penalty. As a practical matter, in America it's a bunch of Supreme Court Judges relying on our founding fathers, who set the bounds of abortions. Roe v. Wade, a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, was based on a woman's right to privacy, but “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy … does exist under the Constitution” (Roe v. Wade 230), found in its “penumbra” (225–6). Neither does “The Constitution … define ‘person’ in so many words. But in nearly all [references to ‘person’ in the Constitution], the use of the word is such that it has application only post­natally” (ibid). But what about in the Constitution's penumbra? In the debate about an amendment proposed for remuneration of Congress­men, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “There is a natural inclin­ation in man­kind to a kingly govern­ment. … If we do make our posts of honor places of profit, I fear that … it will only nourish the fetus of a king” (68–71). He's not “honoring” a non-person here.

From a philosophical perspective it's impossible to prove the negative, that person as used in the U.S. Constitution could not be applied prenatally, and in fact it was applied so in the writings of Benjamin Franklin pertaining to remuneration of persons of the House of Representatives, found now in Article I, Section 6. For the purposes of this review, we point out that the interpretation of the Constitution as granting a woman a right to an abortion was not cohesive, which parallels George Stark near his end, whose skin—think penumbra—was “losing necessary cohesion.”

Production Values

” (1991) was directed by George Romero whose screen­play was adapted from a Stephen King novel titled, The Dark Half. It stars Timothy Hutton, Amy Madigan, and Michael Rooker. Hutton is very good as a guile­less writer caught by the inexplic­able. Madigan comes through favorably as the lead's endangered wife. Rooker makes a strong sheriff. The remaining cast boasts some memorable characters.

MPAA rated it R for violence and language. It's two hours long. The mood is dark and edgy. CGI is occasionally employed as needed. The eerie music is courtesy of Christopher Young. It unfortunately did not receive a lot of initial theater exposure due to a distributor's problematic promotion.

My MGM DVD display was reformatted to fit a TV screen. You can easily set your viewing aspect ratio correctly by jumping to the final (end credits) scene—it gives nothing away—and adjusting the full moon into a circle.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I found this one too dark for my taste, and I was not a fan of Stephen King to begin with. That said, I must grant “The Dark Half” a grudging respect for its solid acting and production coupled with a scintil­lating story line. It was no cheap thrills. It should appeal to the fans.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Fan Groups. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

“Are You Lonesome To-night?” By Roy Turk & Lou Handman. Performed by Elvis Presley. Courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music.

Franklin, Benjamin. The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Albert Henry Smyth. 10 vols. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1905–7, pp. 592–93, 595, as quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World. USA: National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2009. Print.

Roe v. Wade. referenced in Wallace Mendelson, The American Constitution and the Judicial Process. Homewood, IL: The Dorsey Press, 1980. Print.