The Lawnmower Man

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"The Lawnmower Man"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror, Science fiction short story
Published in Cavalier
Publication type Periodical
Media type Print (Magazine, Paperback)
Publication date 1975

"The Lawnmower Man" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the May 1975 issue of Cavalier, and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.

Plot summary[edit]

It's summer and Harold Parkette is in need of a new lawnmower and boy to help. The summer before, a neighbor's cat was accidentally killed when another neighbor's dog chased the feline under the mower. Harold has been putting off hiring new help for the summer, but when he sees an ad for a mowing service he calls. A van reading "Pastoral Greenery" soon pulls up to Parkette's home. The man working for the service is shown the overgrown back lawn and is hired. Harold is enjoying a rest as he reads the paper, when he hears the lawnmower outside. Startled, he races to the back porch and sees the lawnmower running by itself and the naked lawnmower man following it and eating the grass. Harold faints.

When Harold revives, the lawnmower man explains that his behavior grants substantial benefits, and that he makes sacrificial victims of customers who can't appreciate the process. Parkette, though unnerved, allows the lawnmower man to return to work. As soon as the man is out of sight, Harold desperately calls the police, but is interrupted by the lawnmower man. The lawnmower man briefly chases Harold with the lawnmower before brutally slaughtering him.

When the police arrive, they conclude that Parkette was murdered by a schizophrenic sex maniac. As they leave, the scent of freshly cut grass hangs strongly in the air.

Adaptations[edit]

  • The story was adapted in graphic form in Bizarre Adventures #29 (December 1981). The adaptation features the original text of the short story, accompanied by art by Walt Simonson.[1] Publisher IDW has announced that this adaptation will be rereleased in a portfolio edition shot from the original art in June, 2014.[2]
  • A feature film, The Lawnmower Man, starring Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan, was released in 1992 by New Line Cinema. This film used an original screenplay, borrowing only the title of the short story. The film concerns a scientist, Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Brosnan), who subjects mentally retarded Jobe Smith (Fahey) to virtual reality experiments. Jobe's mental abilities improve to superhuman levels as the process continues, but he lacks the emotional maturity and character to use his powers humanely. When Angelo's employers interfere with the process, Jobe becomes a homicidal megalomaniac. King sued to have his name removed from the credits. A video game adaptation, loosely based on the film, was released for the Super Nintendo, Sega CD, PC CD-ROM and Game Boy. A sequel film, The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, was released in 1996.

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