Rated: R for language and lots of violence. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: August 27, 1993 Released by: New Line Cinema
The devil, in the guise of a kindly old man (Max Von Sydow) moves into Castle Rock, Maine, a sleepy little coastal town in the newest Stephen King film from the novel of the same name.
Leland Gaunt (Von Sydow) opens an antique store which holds a vast selection of goodies. Gaunt has an uncanny knack for knowing what each person who enters his store desires. But, each item costs a price much dearer than mere money, a precious trade is required.
One by one, the unsuspecting townspeople enter his shop. They see a little trinket in the lace-curtained window that strikes their fancy and a deal is struck. To take home their purchase, they have to agree to sabotage one of their neighbors.
Gaunt has neighbor against neighbor, until all hell breaks loose. Some of it is just silly pranks, like throwing apples through windows, but most are violent and brutal murders for revenge.
Amanda Plummer plays a strange, waif-like character (her specialty) who goes after a female farmer with an axe, J.T. Walsh overacts as a bumbling embezzler who resorts to murder, and even the parish priest and Baptist minister have a knockdown, drag-out first fight in the middle of town.
There people are naturally mean-spirited and it seems a very small amount of prodding is all it takes to send them running after one another with a gun or knife in hand.
A basic goodness is missing in everyone, except for the town's levelheaded Sheriff (Ed Harris). For some reason, he's the only one who doesn't fall prey to this guy. Even his fiancee, played by Bonnie Bedelia, thinks she needs Gaunt to cure her arthritis.
Gaunt conducts his business with a mock grandfatherly concern, but if you look closely, you can spot the yellow-decayed teeth, long fingernails and the small smile that appears whenever he witnesses trouble,
The story of the devil moving into a New England town and wreaking havoc has been done before (The Witches of Eastwick), but never with such violence. Director Fraser Heston (Charlton's son) uses a lavish hand spreading around the blood and gore.
Von Sydow, who's charming, evil and stately at the same time, is the main reason to see this one. He even makes all of this chaos a little more understandable.