The Lawnmower Man (James Gonis, 1987, USA)

Before it was turned into a big-budget feature-length film from New Line Cinema, Stephen King's "The Lawnmower Man" was adapted as a short film in 1987. The original story, first published in 1975 and later in King's 1978 anthology Night Shift, is fairly simple. The film tells the story of Harold Parkette, who hires a new mowing service and soon discovers the lawnmower man naked on his lawn. The lawnmower man, who worships the God Pan, is a satyr who ends up sacrificing Harold with a lawnmower. The film ended up as one of King's "Dollar Babies". The dollar baby policy has been King's since he began his career - he grants student filmmakers the right to adapt any of his short stories for $1, provided that King still retains the rights and the film isn't made commercially available. Despite this last provision, various "Dollar Babies" have surfaced on the home video market throughout the years - marketed as the Night Shift Collection (including Frank Darabont's adaptation of The Woman in the Room). 

The Lawnmower Man is noteworthy for being written by Michael DeLuca, the future New Line executive who is now the co-head of Warner Bros' film division. The film is almost a frame-for-frame of adaptation of King's story, down to every single line of dialogue. While it lacks the atmosphere or skill of, for example, 1983's Disciple of the Crow, it at least shows respect for the source material - one of King's more bizarre stories. De Luca's later connection to New Line Cinema probably explains how New Line ended up getting the rights for the commercial feature film adaptation of the short story (that was later disputed by King, who requested that his credit be dropped - although New Line continued to use King's name even on home video releases).



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