Hi friends, happy Thursday! I hope you’re all doing well. It’s been a while but I’m back with the latest book I read for my Stephen King Project. Today I will be talking about his first short story collection: Night Shift.
I read this from September 20, 2020 – January 31, 2021 (4.5 months)
The Book (Published as a collection in 1978. Stories originally published between 1970 – 1977)
Jerusalem’s Lot: This short story was told in the form of letters as a man is slowly driven mad by the stories of his past. It was engaging & definitely drew the reader in but this felt like a story the reader wanted more depth into. The letters were just enough but the reader craved more. The ending was really good though.
Graveyard Shift: This short story was engrossing… and also gross but this held the reader’s attention and was just long enough to tell a tale about the rats in the basement without the reader wanting to know more. This was definitely creepy and well told.
Night Surf: This focuses on a flu that has swept the nation & they are the last 6 people immune… or are they? This wasn’t really suspenseful enough – King’s descriptive writing is good & vivid, but this story so could have done without the woman bashing. It was so unnecessary & uncalled for nor did it add to the story.
I Am the Doorway: This fast-paced short story is of an ex-astronaut who is the gateway to another species coming to earth. This was strange yet well written; King’s prose kept the reader invested with his words of horror. The ending to this one was really good and somewhat shocking.
The Mangler: This was actually a frightening tale of a iron/folding machine possessed and ready to kill. The suspense and pacing was terrifying and it was just long enough to tell the story well. The ending was frantic and horrifying but was really good.
The Boogeyman: This short story was suspenseful – the story of a man who goes to see a shrink about how his children died from the boogeyman. Aside from the offensive language & awful guy the main character is, the reader was genuinely curious where it would go. This was another short with a good ending.
Grey Matter: This is a story of a man who drinks bad beer and turns into a monster. The concept was interesting, the reader didn’t really understand some of the point to it. King kept adding random bits to give the story more info, which ultimately didn’t add anything to the story. The ending was strange and the implication was weird but overall it was a decent, not very scary, story.
Battleground: The story of a man who receives a mysterious box full of ammunition that’s alive. This was a shorter piece but it worked for this story because any longer and this would have dragged. A lot happened in a short amount of time but that made it fast paced. It took until the end for the reader to really grasp the point, but again another decent ending. Overall not scary or special.
Trucks: This short story deals with the possibility of trucks of any kind coming to life to take over the human race. This story was neither scary or horrifying as it’s a cliché topic now and the characters didn’t really emit a sense of fear when dealing with the trucks. Overall, this was a slightly entertaining, yet somewhat forgettable story.
Sometimes They Come Back: Jim dreams about his dead brother haunting him, but when his killers come back years later… they haven’t aged a day. This is probably the reader’s favourite short story so far. The pacing was good; there was just enough info that the reader got the connections & the characters were developed enough that there was a real backbone to the plot. It was just the right amount of suspense.
Strawberry Spring: This follows our main character through what is called a “Strawberry Spring” that happens every 10 years or so where a woman ends up dead and the killer unknown. At first the reader didn’t understand the point of this story; it felt very repetitive and like it was going nowhere, but King pulled through for an ending that was slightly chilling and not expected.
The Ledge: This short story follows a man who has to walk on a ledge in order to be with the woman he loves… literally. This was highly suspenseful as the reader didn’t know if the man would make it or not. It was fast-paced and full of unexpected twists that the reader really enjoyed. The reader couldn’t help but root for the main character. This was a solid short story.
The Lawnmower Man: When Harold’s lawn starts to get out of hand, he calls someone to cut his grass for him… only it’s not the service he expected. The reader has no idea what they read; the story was very, very strange and just plain weird. The plot made sense until it didn’t; the ending took a dramatic turn that didn’t feel like it fit the story.
Quitters, Inc.: This short story revolves around a man who begins to quit smoking in a very unconventional way. This story was super engrossing and left the reader hooked to find out what was going to happen to the main character. The ending waned a little, but the very last line was good. The characters weren’t too bad, they started off weak, but began to grow for the better. This definitely had a chill factor.
I Know What You Need: When Liz meets this mystery man, Ed, he tells her he knows what she needs… but sometimes it’s in the most obscure & unbelievable ways. This short story felt very long. The reader gets that the details need to be built up for it to be believable, but for a short story it went on too long & lost the reader’s interest. Otherwise, it was a good concept for a story.
Children of the Corn: When Burt and Vicky find themselves in a town lost in the past, filled with corn & a boy who is injured, they try to find help in this creepy town. This short story was quite lengthy & it didn’t feel like it needed to be this long. It lost the reader a bit of the way through but for the most part this was still a spooky read.
The Last Rung on the Ladder: Something has happened to Larry’s sister, Kitty. They used to be close as children, but once the accident in the barn happened – things were never the same. Told in a flashbacks, this gripped the reader enough to continue reading, but the ending wasn’t scary or horrifying – it was just sad. The writing was good this just left the reader with this foreboding sense of melancholy.
The Man Who Loved Flowers: What starts off sweet and innocent, a man buying flowers for his love, turns horribly when we realize the reason for buying flowers. This was super short, but got the point across effectively. The use of colour in this story was really well done to distinguish the changing of mood. Once the story is established, it becomes a frightening terror, that leaves this story haunting.
One For the Road: When a man takes a wrong turn in the middle of a snowstorm, only bad things can happen in the dead of night. This short story was on the longer side with a lot of backstory to build up suspense, which was done really well – even if it went on for a while. The throw back to ‘Salem’s Lot was great & gave this a really creepy vibe with an ending that is chilling.
The Woman in the Room: When Johnny’s mother ends up in the hospital he tries to do what he thinks is best for her. This was a slow build up plot that dealt with life and death. The reader thought the characters were raw which helped the plot. This wasn’t scary or horrifying but again left the reader feeling melancholy.
Final thoughts: For the most part this was a good collection of short stories. This started off a little rough with some stories that weren’t the best, but it picked up. There were a good amount of horrifying and scary stories, some that were more sad and others that were just downright weird, and felt a little out of place, but overall the stories were interesting to read. Most of these stories had really good endings, better than his novels, where they left the reader chilled, horrified or shocked. Even if the story wasn’t the greatest, the endings were still pretty spot on. Overall, a decent collection that had a handful of memorable stories.
1990 Graveyard Shift: Full of 80s/90s cheesy gore, this follows the premise of the short story by the same name and it starts off really, really slow but begins to pick up. It wasn’t so much scary as it was more gross and disturbing than anything else.
1986 Maximum Overdrive: This is based off the short story Trucks, where the Trucks come alive trying to kill off the humans at this one truck stop. This followed the book pretty well but was better as it brought the story to life. This film was engaging and held a lot of suspense. The acting though cheesy at parts was also really well done. The ending was terrible and too perfect. The characters road off into the sunset on a boat with text that read they lived happily ever after, basically.
1998 Trucks: Based off the short story by the same name, this film followed the book well, but was definitely more suspenseful than the book. Where the book came off boring and clichéd, the film was actually entertaining and had a coherent plot. Although the acting was cheesy and the whole plot of trucks taking over is kinda lame, this was still kinda good. This followed the 1986 movie Maximum Overdrive to a T pretty much, so if you’ve seen one, you’ve basically seen them both. Although, Trucks has the better ending.
1995 The Mangler: As a whole this movie was alright; it was gruesome and filled with gore; the plot was strange but kept the reader invested because it was so strange. Comparing it to the short story, the addition of one character was odd; the film used it to tell a bit of a different story, but it was along the same lines of the book. This character was just creepy – and not in the scary way.
2002 The Mangler 2: This is a more modern take on the original story where instead of a machine coming alive to kill – it’s a school computer system coming alive to kill. The story was actually well told and held some sort of suspense. Even though the acting was cheesy and the effects were very of its time, this felt better than the original.
2005 The Mangler Reborn: This is another modern take that loosely follows the original short story. When a man gets caught in his machine, he must now start feeding the machine in order for both the machine and himself to stay alive. This was really suspenseful; when it wasn’t deafly quiet there was eerie music playing that kept the viewer on edge. This was filled with classic horror tropes that worked to its advantage in creating a movie with very little dialogue.
1991 Sometimes They Come Back: This movie follows the short story by the same name directly. There were a few changes here and there made, but for the most part this was like seeing the short story come to life. It was done well, but it was also forgettable. The story was good, but there was nothing truly memorable about any of it once the movie was over.
1996 Sometimes They Come Back… Again: This movie took the basis of the original and turned it into this monsters version of the story, where monsters from the past come back as people to kill. The plot was pretty good and was for the most part intriguing. It was a little on the slower side and had some really cheesy moments, but this held the viewer’s attention. This is the one out of the three movies in this series that sticks out the most and is the most memorable.
1998 Sometimes They Come Back… For More: This movie took a snowy approach to the original story. Set in Antarctica, where two military officials are sent to investigate a disaster, they start seeing ghosts from their pasts and dead bodies start showing up. This was definitely an interesting take on the original; it was engaging, although left the viewer curious how it related to the original story and that’s what kept the viewer watching. The acting was really dramatic, which didn’t make this scary or suspenseful, but more comedic.
1987 The Lawnmower Man: A Suburban Nightmare: This was literally a short film that was a shot for shot adaptation of the short story by the same name. This brought the story to life in the fact that the viewer now saw the story, but it didn’t really do anything for the viewer. The acting was overacted and kinda cheesy, but still got story across.
1992: The Lawnmower Man: This was a much better story than the original short story; this had more substance and it wasn’t as weird as a naked man eating/cutting the grass. This followed a man who is disabled who cuts lawns and a doctor who needs a human subject for his experiments in virtual reality; when the two meet things work out great… until they don’t. It had weird psychedelic trips but the overall movie made sense and ended on a cliff hanger.
1996: The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace: This film was loosely a continuation of the first film and even though it had a good guys vs. bad guys plot with a lot of action, it still felt boring. There wasn’t anything that really hooked the viewer. The plot felt basic and the outcome was sorta predictable. The whole moving the physical world to cyberspace was interesting, but that was about it.
1985: Cat’s Eye: This film was a combination of 3 small stories, two of which are based on short stories from King’s Night Shift collection (2 of the best ones). It was like watching the stories come to life, they were done really well and pretty much followed the book to a T. They were just as engaging and gripping as the book. The third short film was interesting, engaging but weird. The ending was lame and not at all scary, but sweet which is strange for a horror film. The way they connected all the stories through this one cat was really well done because otherwise these stories have nothing in common with each other. It was definitely fun and entertaining to watch.
1984: Children of the Corn: This film was really well done; it took elements from the book and really brought the story to life. It didn’t follow the book all the way through and that really worked for this film. The acting was good for the most part – there was a stellar performance from the kid who played Isaac; he pulled off the roll really well. This was a solid, scary movie.
1992: Children of the Corn: the Final Sacrifice: This was a decent film – the story takes place years after the first film and adults are living in that small town again, but the children are still out there looking for someone to sacrifice. When a father and his son come to town they start to investigate what has happened. The plot was easy to follow and was good; the effects were so cheesy and kinda took the viewer out of the story, but aside from that the acting and story were captivating to watch.
1995: Children of the Corn: Urban Harvest: This was surprisingly an entertaining and captivating film. Eli and Joshua get adopted into the city after Joshua’s father mysteriously disappears. Josh starts to become a normal teenager, while Eli is obsessed with creating a congregation for the corn monster. It was still full of cheesy effects but the overall story arcs were full of suspense and the viewer never really knew what Eli was up to. Taking the story out of a small and town and into the city was a good twist. This gave the characters room to grow and become worth investing in.
1996: Children of the Corn: The Gathering: This was another interesting, yet entertaining take on the short story. Children in a small town start feeling feverish when the corn starts to wake up. This was shorter than any of the previous films and it worked well because it told the story without feeling the need to add any filler. The music left scenes with suspense, which really set the tone for the film. There was also a lot of gore, which gave it that classic horror movie feel.
1998: Children of the Corn: Field of Terrors: A group of teens on a road trip stumble across the corn field – while one of them has a special connection to the children within. Like all the films that came before this one, this was an entertaining take on the story. The plot to this one focused a little more on the sister of one of the children and it gave a different, outside perspective of these children and their cult. This film kinda gave of “I know what you did last summer” vibes, filled with gore and spooks.
1999: Children of the Corn: 666 Isaac’s Return: Hannah wants to know who her real birth mother is, which leads her to a small town filled with children and corn and lot of harvested secrets. This film was a little on the slower side, but it really messed with the viewer’s head. The guys you thought were good, could possibly be bad, and the bad guys aren’t actually all bad. Until the very end this film had the viewer on edge with what was going to happen next. Sure there was still a lot of gore and action, but this film was all about the subtle actions.
2001: Children of the Corn: Revelation: Jamie hasn’t heard from her grandmother in days so she decides to go to her town to look for her. Only once she gets to her town all she finds is an abandoned room and mysteries that surround the town and the corn field. This film was interesting; it had a simple plot that the viewer could follow and the characters were very surface level. It was entertaining to watch but nothing to get super engrossed with. The ending felt very abrupt and felt open ended. The effects were used to create a sense of confusion and paranoia, which was done well. Otherwise, this was an alright film.
2009: Children of the Corn: This remake of the first adaption was a pretty spot on version of the short story. This followed the book to a T. The relationship between Burt and Vicky was as it was depicted in the book and the story never really deviated too far from the original work. Because of that, this film was on the slower side. The chases in the corn field had momentum but everything else moved slow. This was still a worthy adaptation that had scares and gore.
2011: Children of the Corn: Genesis: This film was a little hard to follow. It didn’t follow the original story but took bits and pieces from it to create this world after the children killed all the adults. Since Cole was in the army he was spared and now lives in LA where a couple get stranded and need a place to stay – but something isn’t right with Cole or his house. This was scary in the sense that it played mind games with the viewer and the characters didn’t know what was real. By the end the viewer still didn’t really get all the connections as the ending was super vague and open ended.
Up next: The Dead Zone