These are the caveats that perfect Autumns are made of. And the good news for Stephen King fans is that they won’t have to wait until Halloween to get their fill of fall fright. In fact, the season sees not one, not two, but a trifecta of terror from the master scribe as three of his cinematic adaptations finally come home to Blu-ray. The 1979 television mini-series Salem’s Lot and the 1985 big screen anthology Cat’s Eye both made their Blu-ray debut last week; King’s other epic 1990 TV mini-series, It, hits shelves on October 4.
Though now decades old, all three films benefit from their new Blu-ray cleanups. The Salem’s Lot vampires look even more un-deadlier, the Troll King of Cat’s Eye is less herky but still just as jerky and It’s Pennywise, the living embodiment of fear wrapped in clownskin is still…well, Pennywise…but a whole lot sharper (and there’s not much more unsettling than an HD Pennywise). Though none of the trio feature much more in the way of Blu-ray extras than audio commentaries, each respective film holds its own against bigger budget/bigger screen counterparts.
And like all things King, some hefty narrative is woven into the spooky fringes. Much the same as in many of his other works (Carrie, Children of the Corn, and even the dog-centric Cujo, who makes a brilliant cameo in Cat’s Eye), the protagonists in these three Blu-ray beauties are all faced with the inevitable loss of innocence.
Young Ralphie and Danny Glick (Ronnie Scribner and Brad Savage) are forced to leave their childhoods behind when they become some off the earliest victims of vampirism in the cursed hamlet of Salem’s Lot.
In Cats’s Eye, although little Amanda (Drew Barrymore) is certain a belligerent imp is haunting her room, she can’t seem to convince her parents. If she wants to survive, she will have do the grownups’ job and combat the pint-sized evil herself (with a little help from a protective tomcat).
And Losers Inc., the ragamuffin protagonists of It, must confront their darkest fears long before anyone should have to, but later realize that adulthood can still be plagued by the demons of youth.
This loss of innocence is more than mere narrative vehicle for authors or producers. It is, one could argue, the original heartbreak of God. In the book of Genesis, just as Adam is stitched together from the dust, God grants him dominion over Eden…save one tree. This sacred shrub, the Tree of Knowledge, is to be avoided at all cost, God warns. Later, Adam’s female counterpart, Eve, succumbs to the Serpent’s temptation, eating of the Tree’s fruit before sharing a piece with Adam. Immediately, she and Adam feel shame when they realize they are naked. Man and woman, God’s perfect creations, are instantly made imperfect because of their disobedience to their creator.
The Serpent had convinced Eve that eating from the Tree would make her as knowledgeable as God and she felt for it, bringing Adam along for the ride. It wasn’t that God was worried about having humans on par with him; he knew that was just another of the Serpent’s lies. What broke His heart is that even though they had everything they needed—including His fatherly love—that wasn’t good enough. They wanted to leave Him behind, to grow up on their own, and follow the harmful lie instead of His loving truth. And as a result, they were unnecessarily exposed to the ugliness that lay outside of Eden.
It’s a hard road, this growing up. As a parent, nothing scares me more than to watch my own kids turn into adults. As Genesis (and Salem’s Lot and Cat’s Eye and It) prove, it can be downright horrifying. But the great news is, whether we’re a parent or child, we’re not alone. Maybe a vigilant cat or a vampire hunter isn’t watching over us, but God is. He didn’t abandon Adam and Eve after they were cast out of the Garden; in fact, he spent the whole rest of the Bible taking care of his creation. And He’s been on the job every day since, still looking out for us, his children. So when you’re confronted by the big bad world, remember He’s got your back.
Don’t be such a baby.
But don’t grown up too fast.