Needful Things (film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fraser C. Heston|
|Produced by||Jack Cummins|
|Screenplay by||W.D. Richter|
|Based on||Needful Things
by Stephen King
|Starring||Max von Sydow
J. T. Walsh
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Edited by||Rob Kobrin|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|August 27, 1993|
|Box office||$15,185,672 (USA)|
Needful Things is a 1993 horror film and an adaptation of Stephen King's 1991 novel Needful Things. The film was directed by Fraser C. Heston. It stars Max von Sydow, Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia and J. T. Walsh.
A mysterious proprietor named Leland Gaunt, claiming to be from Akron, Ohio, opens a new antiques store called "Needful Things" in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. The store sells various items of great personal worth to the residents (some of which, like a pendant that eases pain or a toy which predicts the outcome of horse races, are clearly supernatural), and Gaunt demands payment both in cash and in small "favors", usually pranks played by his customers on their neighbors. Gaunt's first customer is a kid named Brian Rusk who buys off a rare baseball card in exchange for a prank.
Gaunt makes an impression on the towns people, who he also has pull some pranks. One of which, is a corrupt boat salesman and gambler named Danforth Keeton, who embezzled tax money to pay off his gambling debts. Keeton is paranoid that people are on to him and relies his fears to Gaunt. Gaunt also sells Keeton a toy horse race that works in his favor. Gaunt also learns of the rivalry between the Catholic minister, Father Meehan and Protestant reverend Willie Rose. The first hint of Gaunt's true nature is when he has Brian throw rocks at the house of Whilma Jerzyck, and frame Nettie Cobb. Likewise, Gaunt has another customer kill Nettie's dog, in return for a jacket. This sparks a violent fight between Nettie and Whilma, which gets them both killed. Brian witnesses the investigation and tries to talk to Sheriff Alan Pangborn about what Gaunt had him do, but is to scared to come forward. It is at that point it becomes apparent that Gaunt is not human, but a demon (heavily implied to be Satan himself).
Sheriff Pangborn later approaches Brian when he's alone at the lighthouse, and asks whats got him scared. Brian explains that Gaunt is a monster before trying to kill himself. Pangborn manages to stop him, but Brian is hospitalized. Meanwhile, Pangborn begins to suspect that Gaunt may not be what he seems, and Gaunt takes a personal measure towards Pangborn by selling a necklace to his girlfriend Polly that has a placebo effect that helps with her arthritis. Gaunt's pranks spread throughout the town and its citizens, making paranoia and anger spread with it. Keeton becomes afraid that everyone including his wife Myrtle is out to get him, and Gaunt convinces him that he's his only ally.
Later on, Gaunt starts selling his customers guns, encouraging them to kill whoever wronged them, playing on their greed and fear. In addition to this, Gaunt has another prank played on Polly to make it seem that Pangborn is in on Keeton's embezzlement. Gaunt also has Keeton attack Pangborn and his deputy Norris Ridgewick at the police station, and Pangborn breaks up a fight between Ridgewick and Keeton. Shortly after this, Keeton manages to escape and kill his wife. Following this, Gaunt has Keeton place explosives around the towns, Catholic church, where Pangbron talks to Meehan. Pangborn relies his new suspicions that Gaunt is the devil, but Meehan refuses to believe him. The church explodes, but Pangborn and Meehan manage to escape with their lives. Meehan believes that Reverend Willy Rose is behind this, and leaves to fight him.
Following this, a riot sparks throughout the town, with Gaunt watching from the sidelines as Pangborn tries to restore order. Pangborn pulls a gun on Meehan and Rose, and Gaunt encourages him to shoot them, but Pangborn fires into the air, much to Gaunt's disappointment. Getting everyone's attention, Pangborn convinces everyone to come to their senses, exposing Gaunt's true nature and web of manipulation. Everyone stops fighting and admits their pranks, but Keeton despondent after everything, walks up to Pangborn and Ridgewick, pointing a gun at them with a bomb strapped to him, threatening to blow everyone up, but is talked down by Pangborn. Keeton turns against Gaunt and tackles him through the store window, setting off the bomb, destroying Needful Things.
Defeated, but completely unharmed Gaunt emerges from the burning wreckage of his store, and saying that this wasn't his best work. Gaunt walks up to Pangborn and Polly, telling them they make a cute couple, and he will encounter their grandson in 2053, then departs, presumably to continue his vicious, evil work. He leaves in the same sinister black car (revealed as similarly supernaturally indestructible in the extended cut), in which he arrived at the beginning of the film.
- Max von Sydow as Leland Gaunt/The Devil
- Ed Harris as Sheriff Alan J. Pangborn
- Bonnie Bedelia as Polly Chalmers
- Amanda Plummer as Netitia 'Nettie' Cobb
- J. T. Walsh as Danforth 'Buster' Keeton III
- Ray McKinnon as Deputy Norris Ridgewick
- Valri Bromfield as Wilma Wadlowski Jerzyck
- Shane Meier as Brian Rusk
- W. Morgan Sheppard as Father Meehan
- Don S. Davis as Reverend Rose
- Gillian Barber as Myrtle Keeton
- Lochlyn Munro as John LaPointe
- Campbell Lane as Frank Jewett
- Frank C. Turner as Pete Jerzyck
- "Official website of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.". MGM.com. 2002-08-27. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- Needful Things at the Internet Movie Database
- Needful Things at AllMovie
- Needful Things at Rotten Tomatoes
- Needful Things at Box Office Mojo