Stephen King might be known as the "King of Horror" but not all of his 75 stories are scary. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, for example, is the story of a man spending two life sentences in jail for allegedly killing his wife and her lover. After biding his time for almost thirty years, he escapes and leaves clues for his fellow inmate to join him.
Needful Things is another story that deviates from the normal horror movie narrative. While it incorporates elements of violence and centers around the Devil and supernatural occurrences, it is not the scariest of King's tales. The book was published in 1991, and quickly grew popular, resulting in it being made into a feature film two years later. It was subsequently converted into a television special in 1996. It was released on DVD in 1998 and 2002, and again on Blu-ray in 2015. Now, Kino Lorber has taken it a step further and produced a 4K version set to hit stores this week.
The story is set in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. Castle Rock's typical sleepy ambiance is disturbed when Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow, Flash Gordon) opens his Needful Things store. The store's unusual assortment of items leaves the townspeople curious and, almost immediately, things start changing. The story culminates in the near destruction of Castle Rock and the deaths of a number of the residents, all triggered by the arrival of the Devil himself.
The cast of the film comprises several veteran actors, with Max von Sydow leading the pack. Ed Harris (Westworld) impressively portrays Castle Rock's Sheriff, Alan Pangborn. His fiancé, Polly, is brought to life by Bonnie Bedevil (Die Hard) while J.T. Walsh (A Few Good Men) gives a terrific performance as the corrupt boat salesman, Danforth Keeton III, who embezzled money from the town to cover his gambling debts. The supporting cast helps the story with their portrayal of quirky, diverse townsfolk.
In terms of video quality, the opening of the film may initially seem disappointing. However, a minute in, the 4K native (2160p) resolution kicks in, dramatically enhancing the visuals. The vibrant colors, sharp lines, and clean presentation make the viewing experience impressive. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, matches the video quality in excellence.
The combo pack comes with two discs. The first disc houses the UHD version of the film and the audio commentary. The second disc offers a Blu-ray quality, upgraded version of the 191-minute television cut version of the film.
Special features in the pack include:
- Brand New HDR/Dolby Vision Master (Theatrical Cut) - From a 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
- Audio Commentary by Director Fraser C. Heston, Moderated by Scorpion Releasing's Walt Olsen
- 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Lossless Audio
- Brand New HD Up-Res Master of the 191-Minute TV Cut
- New Interview with Screenwriter W.D. Richter
- Theatrical Trailer
- Optional English Subtitles
Despite a promising premise and excellent writing, the film does suffer from slow pacing. Directed by Fraser C. Heston (The Crucifer of Blood), the film's redundant scenarios eventually become tedious, resulting in a predictability that hampers the overall impact. Despite this, fans of Stephen King will want to include this 4K release in their home entertainment library. It is, without a doubt, a significant upgrade from previous releases.