Each Tuesday, FANGORIA will be presenting Terror Tuesdays on the streaming service Pluto TV, a triple feature of horror films personally selected by a member of the Fango fam. Each week, one of us will curate three titles with a theme of some sort, and the party starts every Tuesday night at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific on the Pluto TV Terror channel. It's all free!
This week, I've chosen a trio of films adapted from the work of two iconic horror authors: one from the great Stephen King, and two from Clive Barker. Each of these titles adapts the authors' previous work to greater or lesser degree (while two of them are expanded adaptations, one of them is simply a riff on characters created by one of our featured novelists), and each strikes me as undervalued in its own unique way. Let's get started, shall we?
Let's start with the King selection: 2008's 1408, directed by Mikael Håfström. An adaptation of the Stephen King short story of the same name, the film revolves around a jaded author (John Cusack, in full Hawaiian shirt mode) who makes his living writing books about the most haunted places in the world. His latest assignment has delivered him to the Dolphin Hotel in NYC, where the manager on duty (Samuel L. Jackson, making an absolute meal of his screentime) does everything he can to talk our hero out of staying in room 1408. Cusack's character doesn't listen, of course, and before long he's getting an up close and personal look at the nightmarish world contained in that (extremely) haunted hotel room. This is one of the best King adaptations, but somehow rarely comes up when most people are rattling off their favorite King films. Remind yourself how great this one is with a rewatch!
Next up: Gary J. Tunnicliffe's Hellraiser: Judgment. Often dismissed in the same breath alongside some of the other, later Hellraiser sequels, this particular entry deserves more love. The opening 10-15 minutes offer up some of the most disturbing imagery this franchise has ever produced, in an extended sequence that shows viewers what Hell's intake process is like. As the film goes on, we're given further peeks behind the curtain at the bureaucracy of Hell (Pinhead has a meeting with an angel), all of which are truly fascinating and deeply weird. Yeah, there's a whole other plotline about a cop hunting a serial killer, and yeah, some of the performances aren't up to snuff, but if you're willing to overlook these weaknesses in favor of Hellraiser: Judgment's considerable strengths, you may just find yourself in my position: defending it (with, yes, a number of qualifications) to the Haters.
And, finally, we have Ryuhei Kitamura's Midnight Meat Train, an impressive expansion of Barker's short story of the same name. Hellraiser: Judgment might have been loosely based on characters created by Barker, but Midnight Meat Train is much more faithful to its source material. This one's from all the way back in 2008, and stars Bradley Cooper ... who was just on the verge of becoming a household name (and never making another movie like this). Cooper plays a photographer named Leon who specializes in capturing NYC at night. One particularly fateful evening, he gets on the wrong subway train and crosses paths with a very large gentleman by the name of Mahogany (Vinnie Jones). Mahogany is up to some very strange, very gory hijinks down in those subway tunnels, and Leon finds himself drawn further and further into Mahogany's violent world. A great deal of gnarly bloodshed ensues on its way to an excellent ending. If you've never seen Midnight Meat Train, well, buckle up: this one's a helluva lot of fun.