The Dark Half (1993)

R | 121 mins | Horror | 23 April 1993

Director:

George A. Romero

Producer:

Declan Baldwin

Cinematographer:

Tony Pierce-Roberts

Editor:

Pasquale Buba

Production Designer:

Cletus Anderson

Production Company:

Dark Half Productions
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HISTORY

       According to a 10 Dec 1990 Var article, writer-director-executive producer George A. Romero began writing the screenplay of Stephen King’s 1989 novel, The Dark Half during production of his Night of the Living Dead remake (1990, see entry). In addition to King’s cameo appearance in Romero’s Knightriders (1981, see entry), the two previously collaborated on Creepshow (1982, see entry) and Creepshow 2 (1987, see entry), both based on the author’s works. First-time feature film producer Declan Baldwin, who served as line producer on Night of the Living Dead, helped budget The Dark Half to present to Orion Pictures, which agreed to release the picture on a “negative-pickup basis.” The project was produced independently by Dark Half Productions, which production notes in AMPAS library files stated was formed by Baldwin, Romero, and Romero’s wife, costume designer Christine Forrest, who served as associate producer. The story’s Maine locations were to be filmed in Romero’s hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. The 10 Dec 1990 Var stated that the male role of “Reggie Delesseps” was rewritten for Julie Harris.
       A 27 Aug 1990 DV article reported that casting was currently underway, with filming scheduled for Sep 1990. However, according to 23 Oct 1990 HR production charts, principal photography began 15 Oct 1990. The 26 Oct 1990 HR named the first location as Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, PA, and listed a $15 million budget. The 10 Dec 1990 Var stated that studio space was established inside the Army National Guard Headquarters in Philadelphia, PA. The thirteen-week ... More Less

       According to a 10 Dec 1990 Var article, writer-director-executive producer George A. Romero began writing the screenplay of Stephen King’s 1989 novel, The Dark Half during production of his Night of the Living Dead remake (1990, see entry). In addition to King’s cameo appearance in Romero’s Knightriders (1981, see entry), the two previously collaborated on Creepshow (1982, see entry) and Creepshow 2 (1987, see entry), both based on the author’s works. First-time feature film producer Declan Baldwin, who served as line producer on Night of the Living Dead, helped budget The Dark Half to present to Orion Pictures, which agreed to release the picture on a “negative-pickup basis.” The project was produced independently by Dark Half Productions, which production notes in AMPAS library files stated was formed by Baldwin, Romero, and Romero’s wife, costume designer Christine Forrest, who served as associate producer. The story’s Maine locations were to be filmed in Romero’s hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. The 10 Dec 1990 Var stated that the male role of “Reggie Delesseps” was rewritten for Julie Harris.
       A 27 Aug 1990 DV article reported that casting was currently underway, with filming scheduled for Sep 1990. However, according to 23 Oct 1990 HR production charts, principal photography began 15 Oct 1990. The 26 Oct 1990 HR named the first location as Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, PA, and listed a $15 million budget. The 10 Dec 1990 Var stated that studio space was established inside the Army National Guard Headquarters in Philadelphia, PA. The thirteen-week production schedule took a hiatus beginning 22 Dec 1990 for the Christmas—New Year holiday, and resumed 3 Jan 1991.
       Although Var named Optic Nerve as the effects makeup house working on the film in Pittsburgh, the company is not credited onscreen.
       A 24 Feb 1991 LAT news story stated that roughly 4,500 birds were temporarily rented for the production. According to the American Humane Association (AHA) review, documentary-style footage of birds was filmed in areas of Alabama with high populations of finches. Scenes featuring aggressive birds, including the final sequence, were simulated using mechanical birds, special effects, and animation. Handling of live birds was supervised by members of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Pittsburgh Animal Care and Welfare, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), and the Pittsburgh Aviary.
       The 18 Nov 1991 Var listed a fall 1992 release, as one of Orion’s twelve projects for that year, each with a $10 million marketing and distribution cost, $6 million of which was covered by cash returns from the company’s continuing projects. The opening was delayed until 23 Apr 1993, and received generally positive reviews as a faithful adaptation of King’s novel.
       Although the 23 Apr 1993 LAT review listed a 114-minute run time, other contemporary reviews listed the film at 122 minutes. The print viewed for this record was 121 minutes in duration.
      End credits misspell the name of stunt player Gregg Smrz as "Greg Smrz," and state the following: “Special Thanks” to John Amplas; "Clip from 'The Today Show' with Willard Scott Courtesy of NBC;" "Audio Clip from 'Mr. Ed' Episode 111, 'Ed The Racehorse' Courtesy of Orion Television Entertainment, Inc.;" "PEOPLE Weekly Magazine logo and trademark used with permission of the Time, Inc. Magazine Company;" and “Shot on location in Pennsylvania.” A statement from producers also gives thanks to: “KDKA TV ‘Wake Up With Larry Richert;’ ‘Sinbad, Jr.’ Episode #1: ‘Sinbad With S.K. Moe;’ ‘Me Too’ by the Children’s Education Group, Inc.; Creative Entertainment Services, Inc.; Video Toaster by Newtek, Inc.; Pennsylvania Film Bureau; Pittsburgh Film Office; the Pennsylvania State Armory Board and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Headquarters, 1st Battalion, 107th Field Artillery; the City of Pittsburgh; the Borough of Edgewood; the town of West Middletown and Mayor John Zlamal; Washington Jefferson College; Sacred Heart Parish and Elementary School; the County of Washington, its commissioners, Tina Dallator, Kathy Emry and the Sheriff’s Dept.; Pam Hanes; County of Allegheny, Department of Aviation and Bradley Penrod; TWA.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Aug 1990
p. 1, 21.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1993
p. 10, 20.
Los Angeles Times
24 Feb 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 1993
p. 12.
New York Times
23 Apr 1993
Section C, p. 10.
Variety
10 Dec 1990
p. 15.
Variety
18 Nov 1991
p. 3, 8.
Variety
26 Apr 1993
p. 68.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion® Pictures Release
A Film by George A. Romero
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills photog
Addl cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Loader
Video playback
Steadicam® op
Steadicam® AC
Best boy
2d elec
3d elec
4th elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Addl elec
Best boy grip
4th grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
Addl grip
Process projection systems
Process projection tech
Process projection tech
2d unit dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
2d unit cam op
2d unit 1st asst cam
2d unit 1st asst cam
2d unit grip
Addl photog coord
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept asst
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Draftsman
Lead set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set buyer
Addl set dressing
Addl set dressing
Addl set dressing
Addl set dressing
Addl set dressing
Addl set dressing
Addl set dressing
Charge scenic
Standby scenic
Scenic
Scenic
Scenic
Addl scenic
Addl scenic
Addl scenic
Addl scenic
Addl scenic
Addl scenic
Addl scenic
Const coord
Const foreman
Lead carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Const P.A.
Prop master
On set props
COSTUMES
Cost des
Wardrobed supv
Ward asst
Ward asst
Addl ward
Addl ward
Addl ward
Addl ward
SOUND
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
ADR voice
Sd mixer
Boom op
2d unit rec
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley walker
Foley walker
Sd eff coord
Addl sd eff rec
Re-rec at
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff prod by
Visual eff prod by, VCE
Computer generated birds & computer composited eff
Animatronics
Animatronics
Spec makeup FX asst
Spec makeup FX asst
Spec makeup FX asst
Spec makeup FX asst
Spec makeup FX P.A.
Spec makeup FX P.A.
Animatronics asst
Spec FX bird mechanicals
Spec FX supv
Spec FX consultant
Spec FX fabricator
Spec FX fabricator
Spec FX fabricator
SFX breakaway supv
SFX carpenter/Rigger
SFX carpenter/Rigger
SFX/Bird unit carpenter
SFX/Bird unit carpenter
SFX unit asst
SFX unit asst
SFX unit asst
SFX squibs
SFX storyboard artist
Opticals/SFX project supv
VCE visual eff supv
VCE opt eff by
VCE opt eff by
VCE opt eff by
VCE opt eff by
VCE opt eff by
VCE anim eff
VCE anim eff
VCE anim eff
VCE FX photog
VCE FX photog
VCE FX photog
VCE miniatures
VCE ed staff
VCE ed staff
VCE prod coord
VCE admin
Motion control op
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Main title des
Opticals & title photog
MAKEUP
Makeup eff created by
Makeup eff created by
Key makeup/Hairstylist
Asst makeup/Hair
Addl makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Prod attorney
Asst prod coord
Office P.A.
Office P.A.
Loc supv
Asst loc supv
Key loc scout
Loc scout
Unit loc P.A.
Unit loc P.A.
Stage mgr
Stage P.A.
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Accounting P.A.
Scr supv
Animals supplied by
Bird coord
Bird trainer
Bird trainer
Bird trainer
Bird trainer
Bird trainer
Bird trainer
Bird trainer
Bird asst
Bird asst
Bird asst
Medical consultant
Contact lens consultant
Intern
Picture car wrangler
Picture car asst
Financial representative
Key set P.A.
Set P.A.
Addl unit P.A.
Addl unit P.A.
Addl unit P.A.
Day player casting
Extras casting
Extras casting asst
Promotions coord
Unit pub
Catering
Catering
Catering
Craft service
Craft service
Asst to Tim Hutton
Asst to Amy Madigan
Nurse
Paramedic
Transportation coord
Teamster capt
Teamster driver
Teamster driver
Teamster driver
Teamster driver
Teamster driver
Teamster driver
Teamster driver
Addl driver
Addl driver
Addl driver
Addl driver
Addl driver
New York City courier
New York City courier
Security coord
Prod asst
Alabama animal damage control
Alabama animal damage control
Arkansas animal damage control
Arkansas animal damage control
Tennessee animal damage control
Post prod supv
Post prod P.A.
Voice casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Dark Half by Stephen King (New York, 1989).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Are You Lonesome Tonight," by Roy Turk and Lou Handman, performed by Elvis Presley, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music.
COMPOSERS
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 April 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 23 April 1993
New York opening: week of 23 April 1993
Production Date:
15 October--22 December 1990
resumed 3 January 1991 in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington, PA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Prints
Original Photography and Release Prints Eastman Motion Picture Films
Duration(in mins):
121
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1968, Bangor, Maine, teenage writing student Thaddeus “Thad” Beaumont suffers a series of painful headaches accompanied by the overpowering sound of chirping birds. During an operation, surgeons discover a tumorous growth containing an eyeball, nostril, and two teeth protruding from his brain. They deduce these are remnants of an underdeveloped twin absorbed by Thad during gestation. When one of the nurses excuses herself from the operating room, she and other staff members notice thousands of birds swarming outside the window. Twenty-three years later, Thad asks his wife, Liz, to read pages from his newest manuscript before leaving to teach his college creative writing class. In the lecture, he speaks of the duality of writers who must release their “inner being” in order for their work to flourish. Afterward, a man named Fred Clawson approaches Thad and threatens to reveal that the professor has published a series of lurid bestselling crime novels under the pseudonym “George Stark.” Fred demands money to remain quiet, and returns to New York City to allow Thad to think it over. Liz suggests he avoid controversy by revealing “Stark’s” identity to the press himself, but Thad worries that giving up his profitable alter ego could jeopardize his family’s financial stability. Convinced that Thad can successfully write under his own name, his publisher and agent agree to issue a press release exposing him as “George Stark.” Liz is relieved to see the end of the intense mood swings and alcoholic tendencies Thad experiences while writing as “Stark.” At the Beaumont’s cabin, Thad is interviewed by People magazine reporter Mike Donaldson, and explains the origin of ... +


In 1968, Bangor, Maine, teenage writing student Thaddeus “Thad” Beaumont suffers a series of painful headaches accompanied by the overpowering sound of chirping birds. During an operation, surgeons discover a tumorous growth containing an eyeball, nostril, and two teeth protruding from his brain. They deduce these are remnants of an underdeveloped twin absorbed by Thad during gestation. When one of the nurses excuses herself from the operating room, she and other staff members notice thousands of birds swarming outside the window. Twenty-three years later, Thad asks his wife, Liz, to read pages from his newest manuscript before leaving to teach his college creative writing class. In the lecture, he speaks of the duality of writers who must release their “inner being” in order for their work to flourish. Afterward, a man named Fred Clawson approaches Thad and threatens to reveal that the professor has published a series of lurid bestselling crime novels under the pseudonym “George Stark.” Fred demands money to remain quiet, and returns to New York City to allow Thad to think it over. Liz suggests he avoid controversy by revealing “Stark’s” identity to the press himself, but Thad worries that giving up his profitable alter ego could jeopardize his family’s financial stability. Convinced that Thad can successfully write under his own name, his publisher and agent agree to issue a press release exposing him as “George Stark.” Liz is relieved to see the end of the intense mood swings and alcoholic tendencies Thad experiences while writing as “Stark.” At the Beaumont’s cabin, Thad is interviewed by People magazine reporter Mike Donaldson, and explains the origin of “Stark’s” career. Mike laughingly suggests that Thad could be schizophrenic, and the photographer, Homer Gamache, stages a “gag” photograph of Thad and Liz posing next to “Stark’s” false tombstone with an epitaph that reads, “Not A Very Nice Guy.” That night, a physical embodiment of Stark rises from his grave and kills Homer, prompting an investigation by Sheriff Alan Pangborn. Although Thad was on a publicity tour in New York City at the time of the murder, Pangborn reveals that his blood and fingerprints were found inside the photographer’s truck. Believing he is being set up, Thad gives the deputies the name of blackmailer Fred Clawson, but police find him dead in his New York City apartment with the phrase, “The sparrows are flying again,” written in blood on his wall. As Thad works on his novel, he again hears birds and unconsciously scrawls the same words across his page. When Pangborn reveals that Thad’s fingerprints were also found in Fred Clawson’s apartment, Thad confesses to Liz that he has no recollection of writing the phrase, and worries that his tumor may be returning. Later, Thad is overcome by the chirping sounds, this time accompanied by Elvis Presley’s recording of, “Are You Lonesome Tonight.” Meanwhile, George Stark forces the former wife of Thad’s agent to leave a telephone message for Thad, then slits her throat. Thad reports the incident to Pangborn and provides a description of what he believes the killer looks like based on the identity he created for Stark. Meanwhile, Stark murders several police officers, Thad's agent, and Mike, the People magazine reporter. Stark then telephones Thad and instructs him to write another crime novel. Police trace the call to Thad’s own telephone calling card, prompting Pangborn to suspect Thad is orchestrating the murders with an accomplice. One day, Thad falls into a trance and telepathically communicates with Stark, who writes his responses by taking possession of Thad’s pencil. The script grows more erratic, until Thad eventually stabs himself in the hand. Before returning to his hometown, Thad asks Reggie Delesseps, a colleague at the university, to investigate the literary significance of sparrows. In Bangor, Maine, his childhood surgeon recalls the discovery of Thad’s partial twin and the swarm of birds that appeared during the operation. As Thad reviews his medical records, Stark discreetly murders the surgeon and escapes unnoticed. Thad telephones Liz to warn her of Stark’s close proximity, but Pangborn orders her to stay in the Beaumont family house under police protection. Reggie Delesseps tells Thad she believes he mentally willed Stark into existence, and that “the dark half” was embodied in the fetus of Thad’s former twin. She explains that sparrows are commonly viewed as “conductors of souls between the land of the living and the land of the dead.” Another swarm of birds circulates overhead as Thad learns that Stark has taken his family hostage. He arrives at their cabin to find Stark, the skin on his face partially decomposed, pointing a gun at one of his infant twins. Thad grabs the other child, and the two men head upstairs to the study, leaving Liz tied to a living room chair. As Stark furiously writes another book, his wounds transfer to Thad. However, Thad punctures Stark’s carotid artery with a pencil and he collapses on the floor, seemingly dead. Stark revives, but the birds’ chirping intensifies as thousands of sparrows peck through the walls and pick flesh from Stark’s body. Downstairs, Pangborn bursts through the front door and releases Liz, who runs to embrace her husband and children. Once Stark’s skeleton crumbles, the birds fly away, disappearing through a vortex-like portal in the night sky. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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