#36: The Running Man — dir. Paul Michael Glaser
“Who loves you and who do you love?!” There’s so many reasons to love this film, beyond just the groan-out-loud one-liners and epic script by Steven de Souza — my spiritual beast of guidance through screenwriter land.
1. It’s a Stephen King story. I always laugh when people say, “Oh, I don’t like Stephen King. I’ve never watched any of his stuff.” And I said, “Did you like Stand by Me? Did you like Shawshank Redemption? Then, you, my friend, have embraced Stephen King.” And that’s from his actual works — both from Different Seasons — which is the book I give highly recommend to anyone who is looking to get into Stephen King but doesn’t know where to start. But Running Man comes from his oeuvre as Richard Bachman. The Running Man is probably the least of his Bachman books, and yet, made for a great film (we’ll touch on that in a sec). And I long for the days if/when Rage, The Long Walk or any of his others make it to screen. Though, Rage will never happen, and you’ll be hard pressed to find it available anymore. It’s an astonishingly well done school shooting story.
2. It’s an adaptation that’s nowhere near the source material. I’m usually the first to bitch and moan when they leave things out of the film version of books. I understand, different medium, blah blah. But if they have the blueprints in front and they choose to build a shitty addition instead of what’s right in fucking front of them, I’m angry. I’ve appreciated the changes they’ve made to The Walking Dead while keeping the spirit of the story. Dexter is another example where they pretty much kept one bit and threw out everything else. But with The Running Man it could not be more different. The book is basically same concept — a game show where a prisoner runs for his life while being hunted. Only there are no gladiators. He runs through the city, and people can call in sightings for prizes. The book ends very drastically different, and if they aren’t going to do Rage because of school shootings, well, they’d never do the original version because of 9/11. Also, Killian is black. Which really changes the story.
3. Killian. All the performances are great in this film. But particularly, Richard Dawson. Knowing him mostly from his Family Feud days, it’s super hard to remember that he started out as an accomplished actor. And his version of Killian is his Dawson host brought to sinister scales. It’d be like Alex Trebek becoming a Bond villain. It’s awesome on several levels.
I really could watch this every time it’s on, kind of like From Dusk til Dawn. It’s just popcorn nostalgia terribleness, and I love every moment of it.