Stephen King : Master of Horror
Stephen King, author of the books Different Seasons and Desperation, has risen to
be one of the most famous writers in the horror industry. This is because of his ability to
go on for page after page of massive descriptions on scenes of people's death, pain, and
suffering. He digs deep down to every last detail to bring out the best in a book. King
digs deep into the human psyche to reveal a person's inner and most deep emotions.
In one scene in the novel Desperation, Stephen King uses nearly three quarters of
a page to describe the short scene of a buzzard landing on the character Johnny
Marniville, and attacking him:
It was the smell that told Johnny what it was - a smell like meat gone feverish
with rot. It's huge unkempt wings flapped against the sides of his face as it
solidified it's position, driving it's stench into his mouth and nose jamming it in,
making him gag. He saw a shepherd tied to a rope, struggling as another one of
the peeled looking bald things pulled at it's tail and feet with it's beak. Now one
of them was roosting on him - one which apparently hadn't heard that buzzards
are fundamental cowards and attacked only things that are dead - and it was
plowing his scalp in furrows, bringing blood. (Desperation. Part One, Chapter
Five, page 162)
In reality, this scene would have only taken approximately twenty seconds to occur.
However, King used the most part of a page to give us full detail, bringing a better image
to our minds.
In the story Apt Pupil, from the book Different Seasons, the old man, Mr.
Dussander, has an odd obsession with murder. He lures homeless people into his home
with the supposed intent to offer them food. Then he slits their throats and buries the
bodies in his basement. Stephen King takes the time to imagine what it could be like to
be stabbed in the neck, and then puts it into words:
...Dussander agreed from behind him, and then rammed the butcher knife into the
bum's neck. There was a sound of rippling gristle, a sound like a drumstick being
torn enthusiastically from a freshly roasted chicken ... The stewbum threw his
head back and tried to scream. Nothing came out but a hideous whistling sound.
His eyes widened...widened...and then his head thumped soggily forward onto the
read and white checked oilcloth that covered Dussander's kitchen table. The
stewbum's upper plate slithered halfway out of his mouth like a semi detached
grin. (Apt Pupil. Chapter 17, page 216)
The Warden, Sam Norton in the story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank
Redemption, from Different Seasons, is a man who gets angry very easily. At one point
in the story, the main character, Andy Dufresne, tells the Warden that he will not do his
taxes anymore. "Get H&R Block to do your dirty work." This pushes the already peeved
Warden Norton over the edge. He goes overboard and throws Andy into solitary
Warden Norton's face turned brick red...and then all the colour fell from out of it.
"You're going into solitary for that. Thirty days of bread and water, and another
black mark on your record. And while you're in, you can think about this: If
anything that's been going on should stop, the library goes. I will make it my
personal business to see that it goes back to what it was before you came here.
And I will make your life...very hard. Very difficult. You'll do the hardest time
possible. You'll lose that one bunk Hilton down in cellblock five, and you will
lose any protection the guards have given to you against the filthy sodomites.
You'll lose everything. Is that clear?" (Shawshank. page 71)
As you can see, he treats Andy very harshly. Instead of resolving their conflict fairly, the
Warden threw Andy into solitary confinement. Stephen King, once again, shows us with
excellent description just how cruel minded Warden Samuel Norton really is.
Stephen King digs deeply into the human psyche to show us, his readers, that he
has a great talent for describing a person's deepest feelings and emotions, their pain, and
their suffering. Clearly King is a master of horror and will go down in history for writing
many wonderful books.
King Stephen, Different Seasons. Penguin Books USA Inc. New York, New York. 1982.
King Stephen, Desperation. Penguin Books USA Inc. Nw York, New York. 1996.