Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dollar Bin Horror Spotlight:Desperation

By Eric Polk of

What more can be said about the master of the modern horror novel, Stephen King, that hasn't already been said. Since the release of Carrie way back in 1974, Mr. King has gone on to write over 40 novels, all best-sellers. His books have been the basis for countless films, t.v.shows, etc. Personally, Mr. King did the best thing he could do for me, inspire me to write my own stories.

1996's Desperation was written at the peak of his literary powers. It takes place along the desolate Highway 50 in Nevada. Several people are abducted by one Collie Entragian, the deputy of the fictional mining town of Desperation. Entragian uses various pretexts for his abductions, from an arrest for drug possession to “rescuing” a family from a nonexistent gunman.

The captives quickly realize that something is wrong with Entragian, as his bizarre statements and mannerisms soon escalate to brutal assaults and murder. They come to understand that he is possessed by an ancient evil, a supernatural entity that calls itself Tak, which had been imprisoned in an old abandoned mineshaft until recent activity by a local mining company unearthed it. Tak has the ability to control the local desert wildlife, such as buzzards, snakes, spiders, scorpions, and coyotes, and can also take more direct control of human hosts, though such manifestation causes rapid deterioration of the host's body. As such, Tak needs to frequently find new hosts to inhabit in order to travel outside the ini, a well in an underground chamber and Tak’s entryway into this world.

Among the travelers is a boy named David Carver, who is able to commune with and receive guidance from God; in addition, he is able to perform Christ-like miracles such as producing sufficient food for a large number of people from a very small amount.

As the survivors eventually manage to escape the clutches of Entragian/Tak, their first inclination is to escape Desperation, until David reveals that it is God's will that they confront Tak and seal it in again.

Many writers at some point in their lives tackle the oft-maligned subject of religion. To his credit, Mr.King puts a balanced spin on God. He's cruel yet kind. Perfect. The rest of the story is classic King. The settings, the characters, the monsters are all richly developed and nunanced as well they should be from him.

Of course,he does get a bit long-winded especially during the scenes when the Magnificent Seven are chilling in an old theater, but other than that, this is King at his best. 8/10


Eric Polk said...

My apologies to our readers. I didn't intend to post this till Friday but I accidently hit send. Sorry about that.

R.D. Penning said...

Good review, but you didn't mention the companion novel at all- The Regulators. People need to know that the two books are basically a two-part series. Great books though. The Desperation movie wasn't too terribly great though, haha.

Rabid Fox said...

Good review, and I concur with R.D. that The Regulators is an equally chilling tale and companion to this one. I think it's even the predecessor to this book, if I recall correctly. REgulator is more of an acid trip though, with all of the crazy sh*t that goes on.

One of King's scarier works, this one.

Eric Polk said...

Thanks for the compliments, guys. I didn't mention The Regulators as a companion novel because I haven't read yet.

I am aware though it is a mirror novel to Desperation.