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Adapting Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift: The 1990 Rat Fest Is The Textbook Definition Of A ‘Bad Stephen King Movie’

Director Ralph S. Singleton was first approached about making Graveyard Shift into a film on the set of Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary (on which he worked as an associate producer), but he didn’t actually act on it until production on the 1989 movie was completed. When he finally got around to reading the short story, he was sparked to its potential, and then made moves to get it made as quickly as possible. Singleton discovered a pre-existing, unauthorized script by a first time screenwriter named John Esposito, and in April 1990 he sold the idea to Paramount with the promise that they would be able to release the latest big screen Stephen King adaptation in time for Halloween.

It was a deadline that the production was able to hit… but there’s also a very good reason why most movies are made with more than a six month production schedule to work with.

Clearly I am not a fan of the film, but as a King adaptation it has all rights to be a subject of discussion in this column – and it is nonetheless still interesting to look at the history of the short story, discuss how the movie compares to the source material, and critique it more than 30 years after its original release. So let’s dive into Graveyard Shift for the twentieth edition of Adapting Stephen King.

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