The old Garris magic is back in action..
Lead actor: Rafael Sbarge and Silas Weir Mitchell…
Director: Mick Harris.
Look, if Mick Garris keeps appearing in those Kings in the movie reviews, I don’t know how long I can keep it up. This guy sucks. His writing sucks, his directing sucks, his choices suck.
In 1997, someone came up with the idea of making a horror series that seemed great. But you blew it when you grabbed Mick Garris and asked him to do something with it. Initially John McTiernan was associated with the management, but eventually he left the project and Harris took over.
Not that I think McTiernan could have saved that train wreck. Did I mention Mick Garris was on board? Yes, I know McTiernan directed DIE HARD and HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. But Mick Garris directed The Shining and The Stand, two weak and feeble attempts to get Stephen King on television.
For the first installment of the horror series that never existed, Harris adapted two stories, one by Clive Barker (The Body Politic, for which he chose Matt Frewer in the title role, which immediately destroys any attempt at drama or suspense that should have been present in this classic tale), and the other by King, Chattery Teeth, which is perhaps one of King’s funniest and most terrifying stories.
In the story, Bill Hogan gets a big pair of talky novelties that, according to the plot, fit in his pocket. The teeth are metal, and Hogan is suspicious, but he takes them anyway, because the supermarket salesman just gives them to him.
After leaving a roadside store, Hogan picks up a hitchhiker who then tries to rob him and take his car. Teeth attacks Hogan’s would-be assailant, Hogan crashes his van, and in the ensuing chaos, Hogan thinks he sees the clattering teeth go into his pocket and drag the hitchhiker into the desert.
Even now, I can’t seriously contemplate the story George Beam tells in his STEPHEN KING from A to Z: An encyclopedia of his life and work, called the Quintessence of the King, and a terrible little gem of history. Neither.
So, of course, this is the one Harris is tweaking and shooting.
Rafael Sbarge (Star Trek: Voyager) plays Bill Hogan and Silas Weir Mitchell plays Brian Adams, Hogan’s future thief. This is the main group, as much of the story takes place in Hogan’s van. The acting is disjointed and the dialogue is pure king cheese, adapted by Mick Harris, who apparently thinks the way people talk in Stephen King novels is the way they really talk, in the form of conversational phrases and a 1950s smarm.
This time the top teeth are the size of toasters, and the effect here is just silly and ridiculous, and when they attack Brian, my horror heart breaks just a little bit. When they are later seen dragging their bodies through the desert, I cry tears of shame for my favorite species.
And I know it was 1997, the early days of television, when just about anything could be turned on as long as it filled the time and someone sponsored it, but come on, have a little pride. They looked at the finished product and thought: Yes, this is what a horror show on television should look like. Another TOOOO much for the old mixer!? My God, he must have thought that. I want to appreciate Garris’ commitment to the horror genre, I really do, and he was on King TV for a while, but if anyone had been paying attention from the beginning, they would have realized that just because Mick Garris loves horror doesn’t mean he knows how to do horror. Either way, it’s not good horror.
It gives goosebumps for adults, except that goosebumps are not for adults!
In 1997, Stephen King had other novels that could have been adapted for television, and half a dozen of them would have been so silly that not even Mick Garris could have spoiled them. With this incredible array of work, he picks the one where the chattering teeth take the man wild!
You see, I hated that story when I read it in NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES, and I hated it when I saw it on television in 1997. Nothing would make this story a horror story in which I could suspend my disbelief, as long as it’s a story in which a bunch of chattering teeth drag a corpse through the wilderness. And I know I keep saying that teeth grinding drags the body into the desert, but that’s only because I want you, the reader, to realize how ridiculous this image is, and that it’s the same Mick Garris SHOS being adapted for a brand new, untested TELEVISION HORRORY SERIES. It’s a story he thought would captivate the audience. Chattering teeth dragged his body into the desert.
I can’t do Mick Garris anymore. When I started writing these movie reviews, I was excited to see some of my old favorites again and maybe write another objective review of some of the movies I had rejected the first time around. But I didn’t miss, exclude or misunderstand anything about Boltun’s Teeth. I understood it perfectly, I understood it clearly, and it didn’t help: this film adaptation is a piece of shit, and the reason it took so long to get to this review is that I waited to find it in free streaming somewhere because I didn’t want to pay for the DVD of QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY. No, absolutely not. My patience paid off and I ended up finding a very scary pixelated version on YouTube (and no, I didn’t misinterpret what was going on because it was such a bad transfer, it’s ALWAYS the story of a couple of chatty people dragging a corpse into the desert). Now that that’s done, I can move on to the next title, which I hope I don’t hate as much as this one.
Looking back, I realize you might think I only hated that adaptation because I hated the story it came from, so let me deny you that now. It’s not a story I don’t like: Mick Garris produces wretched horror films for television and every time he lends his name to something written by the man who wrote Carrie, SHING, DARK TOOVER, IT, PET-SEMETARY, CYCLE OF VEREVOLF and TALISMAN, he tarnishes the reputation of both. And let’s face it, King also wrote The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and Rose Madder, he doesn’t need any help besmirching his name. But even MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE is a film I can take more seriously than a Mick Garris horror film.
So my dislike of CHATTERY TEETH is not just based on the fact that it’s a stupid story, Mick Garris took a stupid idea and made it even smaller, which one might think impossible, but he managed to make it happen. And that’s why I can’t get into this adjustment: Garris may love horror, but he’s clearly trying to take the horror and make it acceptable to non-horror fans who have always been curious about this king, but don’t like to be scared. Mick Garris assures these people: Oh, believe me, you don’t. And that’s why I hate Chatterry Titus.
That and the story of how the chattering teeth dragged man into the desert.
The King on Film
1976-1992 (Carrie to the Children of the Corn II: The Last Sacrifice)
The dark half (1993)
Tommy Dockers (1993)
The Necessary Things (1993)
The Redemption of the Shawshank (1994)
Children of Corn III: Harvesting in the city (1995)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Sometimes they come back… Again (1996)
Children of the Corn IV : Assembly (1996)
The Shining (miniseries, 1997)
Gerald’s game (2017)
Sue enjoys caring for her adult children, biking and procrastinating. She is an editorial director at Silver Beacon Marketing and wants to become a Crazy Cat Lady.
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