Shot at Washington & Jefferson College and in Edgewood, right across the bridge from Tateh Cuda’s garden, The Dark Half found George Romero again working with a big studio and adapting a Stephen King book.
It has Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton) trying to escape the lowbrow horror books he writes under the name Goerge Stark for the highbrow world of literature, even burying Stark in a fake grave. The problem is, well, Stark is real, the soul left behind by a vestigal twin — the brain surgery scene in the beginning is astounding — making his way to Castle Rock to destroy all of the goodness in Thad’s life.
King knows all about this, as his Richard Bachman pen name came from writer Donald E. Westlake, who wrote his more violent fiction as Richard Stark.
Sherriff Alan Pangborn, played by Michael Rooker in this movie, is the same character Ed Harris played in Needful Things. As you can imagine, he has a hard time trying to understand the fact that Thad has a dark version of himself because he’s a man who believes in facts.
I wonder if the extended time Romero spent with Dario Argento led to him portraying Stark as a bandage covered, black hat and cloak wearing giallo killer, complete with a razor blade. He’s always surrounded by swams of loud birds, which is a great tension builder.
Beyond Hutton and Rooker, Romero has a great cast here, including Amy Madigan as Thad’s wife, Julie Harris as a friend who knows Thad’s secret, Chelsea Field as Alan’s wife, plus Royal Dano and Rutanya Alda.
While I like Romero’s smaller productions, I really ended up liking this way more than i thought I would and plan on going back in to watch it again.