Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

The Dark Half

The Dark Half
Timothy Hutton and Amy Madigan

Rated: R For language and violence.
Reviewed by: Chris  
Release date: April 23, 1993 Released by: Orion Pictures

When Writer Stephen King and Director George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) team up for a film, you know you're in for a wild ride.

In 1968, a young boy, Thad Beaumont, experiences debilitating headaches and is rushed to the hospital for surgery. When the doctors operate, they find a strange growth in his head, which they remove and bury.

Twenty-three years later, Thad (Timothy Hutton) is a serious writer and college professor, who has had more success writing violent pulp novels under the pseudonym George Stark than in writing the important book he longs to write.

A sleazy opportunist finds out Thad is the author and seeks him out to offer his silence for a cash payoff. So Thad and his wife (Amy Madigan) decide to beat him to the punch and announce to the world that he's really George Stark. They have a mock burial to kill off his darker half. This act leads to everyone around Thad being violently killed, with Thad as the prime suspect (and believe me, there's a lot of killing going on here)!

As Stark tries to take over the personality and soul of Thad so he can live again, his outer body begins to disintegrate, giving the make-up crew a chance to really be lavish with blood and gore. In fact, because Stark is pretty handy with a razor, there's a lot of blood splashed around.

Whenever Stark appears, sparrows flock overhead, so an abundance of swooping and chirping birds gather throughout the film, giving even Hitchcock a run for his money in the bird special effects department.

Julie Harris plays a nice role as a kooky professor who helps Thad deal with his evil alter ego.

Hutton plays nice guy Thad with his usual laid-back ease and really sinks his teeth into the wicked Stark, who looks like a crazed Elvis wanna be. At times, it was difficult to tell it was really Hutton playing both parts.

Director Romero uses the quiet time with Thad and his wife and children (he has baby twins who smile and gurgle adorably) to give the audience a false sense of calm before a harsh outburst of violence occurs, which is quite effective. King has written a compelling and interesting story with a conflict between good and evil, and Romero brings it to the screen with a visual flair that's scary and well done.

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