Friday, September 19, 2008

Recommended reading: Part 1

So you all know I am a big fan of the horror-genre oriented podcast:, right?
Well they are planning a show in which they are having listeners review horror novels that have not been made into movies (yet) but should be.

I would love to send them an audio clip but have no way of recording due to my incredible lack of tech-savvy skills. So, I told them I would send a few reviews their way and (sorry guys) they will have to read them on the show...

My first recommendation would most certainly be 'Heart-Shaped Box' - by Joe Hill.

Most people probably know this is written by Stephen King's son. If not, crawl out from under the rock you've been under and read this book. After you finish it you will realize that to be the truth. He has alot of his dad in his stylistic writing. He uses a fantastic amount of pop culture references to keep you right in the present, yet without dating himself too much for future re-readings.

It is, however, my understanding that this book IS indeed being made into a movie by Warner Brothers, who have tapped Irishman Neil Jordan (The Brave One, Interview With The Vampire, The Company of Wolves) to direct.
Folks, this is a book that begs to be a movie. Seriously. It would have been just about as good if just simply written as a screenplay.

In any event, Heart-Shaped Box tells the story of Judas Coyne, a middle-aged rock star (think: Ozzy, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler....) winding down from an illustrious (?) career of hard rockin, hard drinking, and hard living. He's used up alot of drugs and alot of women. Wait, this is sounding more like Keith Richards. Maybe anyone from Motley Crue?

Anyway... Jude is a collector of all things morbid - a cookbook owned by a cannibal, a hangman's noose, a snuff film - those kind of curiousities. One day, his personal assistant calls to tell him about a ghost that is being auctioned online (eBay no doubt) and of course that is like candy to children. He buys the 'ghost' for a grand, and it turns up by UPS in a - you guessed it - heart-shaped box on his doorstep. Inside is a dark suit, the kind you'd wear a hundred years ago at a funeral. Inside that, a malevolent spirit determined to cause considerable woe.

I must say, the book had me right there. What a cool concept. Ghosts for sale.

Jude, however, has no idea that the ghost is no gimmick, at first.
The previous owner wanted rid of the suit that belonged to Craddock McDermott, a man who turns out to be the step father of one of the many women that Jude did wrong throughout his life. She committed suicide. And Craddock is downright pissed.
The ghost starts showing up everywhere in Jude's life. Sitting in a chair by his bedroom, in his beloved Mustang - everywhere and anywhere. It's eerie, effective, and really creepy, even to read about it.

Of course Jude tries to contact the seller to give it back, but no dice.
Jude and his (much younger) girlfriend take to the road, in an attempt to run from the ghost and track down the truth about what really happened.

So many bad and unfortunate things happen in this novel, and I loved it. I couldn't put it down and I read it entirely on one rainy saturday afternoon last year.

I can't wait to see this as a movie. I could absolutely see them casting someone like Nicholas Cage in the main role of Jude - but I would be SO much more inclined to cast someone unexpected in the role - like Billy Bob Thorton, Vince Vaughn, or Josh Brolin.
For the role of Jude's groupie girlfriend Georgia, I could see Christina Ricci, Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart, or maybe Jessica Alba. And for the role of ghostly Craddock - why not Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lee, or Ted and Tony's fave: Lance Henriksen!!
(My dream casting would be Viggo Mortensen as Jude, Eliza Dushku as Georgia, and Christopher Plummer as Craddock. I will be excited to see who they pick.
Of course Johnny Depp would be great as Jude - but seeing as how the man hasn't aged a day past 25, he looks way too young for the role!)

Oh and I really would have to suggest a rockin' soundtrack for this film, don't you think?
Maybe modern alternative bands doing takes on old school rock songs, such as Don't Fear the Reaper, Dust in the Wind, Bad to the Bone, Midnight Rider.... etc.

So check out Heart-Shaped Box, I can't see anyone being disappointed in this fast-paced horror gem. Like father, like son.

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