Monstervision Host Segments for

Stephen King’s Needful Things (1993)

"Hey, Joe Bob Briggs with FOUR FULL HOURS of Stephen King for you tonight. You may have seen "Needful Things" before, but have you seen the special fully-restored, uncut, extended, "my daddy is Charlton Heston so I'll turn the camera off when I durn well FEEL like it" director's cut version as provided to TNT by Fraser Heston, with a running time of three hours, seven minutes and 15 seconds. I think NOT. They hired that boy to make a movie and he said, "Nawwwww, I'm going for MINISERIES."

Anyway, I'll tell you all about it later, but speaking of needful things, I was talkin to this buddy of mine this week who's a newspaper editor. And he was standing in the middle of his newsroom the other day, staring at all the young fresh-faced interns who were hunched over their computer screens, and he turned to me and he said, "Joe Bob, they're just not fornicating anymore." Only he didn't say "fornicating." Now, when you hear the word "intern" these days, you probably DO think of fornicating. But he says to me, "Monica Lewinsky--I trust her. She was fornicating. But these little well-scrubbed ones from the universities--they're not fornicating. They're buying little tract homes and fixing ‘em up. They're laying goldarn BATHROOM TILE on the weekends. When I was their age, all we did was fornicate."

I have to say, it IS hard to find anyone who will stick up for the Fornicator these days. "Recreational sex" is considered either a sin or a sign of terminal shallowness. "Womanizing" is dang near grounds for being fired from any job. I once had a woman tell me she wouldn't date me because "after all, you do have a reputation as a playboy." Ten years ago I would have said, "Really? People say that about me? Wow! Cool!" But what do I do now? I say, "It's a lie!"

I've heard of guys who like women to be virgins, or at least inexperienced. But women who want their GUYS to be virgins? When did THIS start? You can't blame it on AIDS. In the last five years, they've developed all those super-thin Japanese Magic Condoms that are so invisible women have to be convinced their man has even put it on.
You know who I blame it on? Male feminists. We've always had females who thought Fornicators were evil. But in past years men always had this understanding that, the more you got away with, the better off you were. Now we have this whole new generation of men who talk like women: "You must not have much respect for yourself if you sleep with that many women."
"You must have an inferiority complex if you have to prove yourself that way."
"I have no respect for that sort of behavior."
"I'm saving myself for the right woman." Where do men like this come from? Do they have lesbian parents or something? But God has a little joke in store for these guys. These are the guys who don't become Fornicators until... AFTER THEY'RE MARRIED!
My friend Stan, on the other hand, was known as "Great White" during his Fornicating days for his ability to chew up women at an alarming rate. Then he met The One, fell in love, got married and I've never seen a more faithful guy. IT WAS OUT OF HIS SYSTEM. Understand how it works? I'm surprised I have to explain this stuff.

Speaking of SIN, we've got a lot of it going on tonight. I'm talking about "Needful Things," the 1993 Stephen King flick with a full HOUR of restored footage in it, in which a guy with a Swedish accent who says he's from Akron, Ohio, opens an antique store in Maine and makes the locals start skinning each other's pets and flingin turkey doo-doo at each other's laundry until Ed Harris realizes that something is UP.
Unfortunately, there's about 46 subplots in this movie, and so you can't keep it exactly straight as to who hates who. The best feud, though, is between local geekazoid Amanda Plummer and down-on-the-farm chubster Valri Bromfield. They go at it with cleavers and axes in one of the greatest paint-the-walls-red stunt sequences since Nightmare. The message of the movie is: Antiques KILL.

Let's do those drive-in totals. We have:
Six dead bodies.
One dead dog.
No breasts.
Three motor-vehicle collisions, with one roll-and-burn.
Exploding church.
Exploding hardware store.
Exploding antique store.
Turkey doo-doo flinging.
Pre-teen attempted suicide.
Killer arthritis.
Ax Fu.
Cleaver Fu.

Two and a half stars.
Check it out, and we'll be here for the next four hours watching the same goldang movie. Roll it.

[fading] I say there's no breasts in this movie, but Bonnie Bedelia has some boostiay action going on that will make you believe you actually SAW breasts anyway. I'm not kiddin. You get that Dinosaur Valley effect, where you have an indentation so deep you could conceal prehistoric species in there. The scientific term for that is Twin Tetrahedrons. I say that with all respect."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #1

"Stephen King loves his New England, doesn't he? This film was actually shot in Gibson's Landing, British Columbia, but it takes place in Big Steve's mythical town of Castle Rock, Maine. Same town Stand By Me takes place in, which Rob Reiner directed. You know--Rob Reiner? Castlerock Entertainment? With the lighthouse logo at the beginning of the movie? Does it make sense now? Anyhow, this movie was NOT directed by Rob Reiner. It was directed by Fraser Heston--a guy who's made a CAREER outta being Charlton Heston's son. He started out in 1956 playing Moses as a baby in The Ten Commandments. He wrote a movie in 1980 called "The Mountain Men," starring Charlton Heston, and one called "Mother Lode" in 82, starring... Charlton Heston. He directed two movies before "Needful Things"--"Treasure Island" and "Crucifer of Blood," both starring... Charlton Heston. And one movie afterwards called "Alaska," starring... oh, shoot, who starred in "Alaska"? Oh, yeah--Charlton Heston. And incidentally, that was a Castlerock picture. Okay, before we O.D. on nepotism, let's go back to the flick. Roll it.

[fading] The only other credit of Fraser Heston's is assistant director on "Antony and Cleopatra," starring Hildegard Neil, Eric Porter, John Castle and Fernando Rey. ...Oh, and Charlton Heston. I'm sure Chuck auditioned for every one of those parts. He was just the best guy available at the time."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #2

"They don't do talkin scenes like that anymore, do they? Just Max Von Sydow and the little boy, in a room, together, talking. And it's DURN scary. And who's the first guy in town the devil picks on? A little boy. And what's the little boy's weakness? He lost his father. Just like Stephen King lost HIS father--actually his father left before Big Steve could remember him. Anyhow, Max Von Sydow is the great Swedish classical actor who makes a specialty of playing both sides of the religious fence. He was Jesus, in "The Greatest Story Ever Told," starring Charlton Heston. He was the exorcist in The Exorcist, of course. The second exorcist, the really really serious one. And, of course, he's best known for all those Ingmar Bergman films he did, where he yells at his wife and experiences Inner Turmoil a lot. Of course, here at "MonsterVision" we know that the man's absolute best work was in Conan the Barbarian, Flash Gordon, and the movie that all critics hate, "Dune." New Line Cinema cut an hour out of "Needful Things" for the theater version, but they hardly TOUCHED Max von Sydow's performance, they thought he was so good in it. All right, let's go.

[fading] Max von Sydow said he was trying to play Leland Gaunt the way Stephen King wrote him. Amen, brother. I hate it when actors say, "I didn't bother to read the book. I created the character from my own experience." Well, you know what? Stephen King has sold 50 zillion books. How many has your EXPERIENCE sold? Obviously, this is a sore spot for me. Come to think of it, he's kinda doing the exact same role that James Mason did in "Salem's Lot," isn't he? Never mind."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #3

"That's the late, great J.T. Walsh as Danforth Keeton III, better known as "Don't call me Buster." Made a career outta playing slimeballs and dropped dead in February of a heart attack at the age of 53. There is just NO justice in this world. How many great movies did this guy do? "The Grifters," "Red Rock West," "A Few Good Men," "Sling Blade." The movie "The Negotiator" is dedicated to him, cause it was his last. You can always tell who DIED by the line at the end that says "This movie is dedicated to . . ." Remember that really bad "Jaws" ripoff, "Great White"? It was dedicated to the cameraman who got EATEN BY THE SHARK. I'm sure his family was THRILLED. Then there was that big helicopter crash over in the Philippines during the Chuck Norris movie. How would you like THAT as your epitaph? The guy who had "Missing in Action 4" dedicated to him--what an honor. Course, that's better than dying in the middle of Look Who's Talking 3. They dedicate that one to you, and you go "What a WUSS--he died making this?" No disrespect to J.T. Walsh, though. One of the great ones. A darn shame that he's gone. Okay, now that we've talked about DEATH, let's get back to the movie.

[fading] A lot of those stuntmen don't wanna admit what movie they worked on. They said, "Yeah, I did some stunts in Hollywood." And then you find out they worked on "Flashdance." They needed somebody to fall off a bean-bag chair. "Yeah, that was me. They cut out the best part."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #4

"Amanda Plummer as the psycho-dork! What a stretch. Isn't that pretty much what they ALWAYS hire Amanda Plummer for? The fragile little waif who can KILL AT ANY MOMENT.

All right, the Baptists are mad at the Catholics, and the turkey farmer's mad at the psycho-dork, and this is WAY better than it was in the theaters. I'm actually enjoying this movie, and when it first came out it was horrible. You had to keep saying "Now who did what to who and why and how come and what happened and who was THAT?" because the studio had basically taken a chainsaw to it and lopped off about an hour of plot. Which Big Steve King knows all about, cause many of his books have been badly adapted to the screen. Just like many of my "MonsterVision" scripts have been brutally hacked to death by the TNT high sheriffs. Couple of months ago, we did a monologue that didn't make it to the screen AT ALL. We had dead air. "We tried to save it, Joe Bob, but it was just too controversial." Anyhow, let's not go THERE, but Stephen King and I have a lot in common. Like he used to live in a trailer. That was when he wasn't sellin any books and he got bogged down in self-pity and started drinking way too much and frittering money away on poker and bumper pool, taking his measly paycheck and cashing it at the bar and knocking em down, and before you know it, you've drank up half the grocery budget for that week. But, of course, Steve and I do diverge at some point. And that point is where he becomes a multi-millionaire and I'm still living in my trailer. Let's get back to the movie. Go.

[fading] Stephen King says if he can get something down on paper without puking all over the word processor, then as far as he's concerned, it's fit to see the light of day. But then Steve says a LOT of things that are meant to mess with our heads. This flick here is a little light on the puke scale. I prefer a slightly heavier puke factor, but just like there's no such thing as bad sex, there's no such thing as bad Stephen King. New England antiquing will never be the same, will it?"

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #5

"That was Arkansas native Lisa Blount makin eyes with Elvis there. Lisa is best known, of course, as the OTHER girlfriend in "An Officer and a Gentleman," the one who drives David Keith to suicide by saying she "don't want no Okie from Muskogee." Lisa's part in "Needful Things" got completely cut out in the original version. I think the director was going for a kinda David Lynch thing with her scenes, but it doesn't really work. This is one time I agree with the studio. Okay, this is the part where it drags in the middle, so let's get on with it. Roll it.

[fading] One of Stephen King's dramatic principles is: Never create three characters when you could create thirty. The man could write a lot of things, but Cliff's Notes is not one of them, you know what I mean?"

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #6

"Almost done in by a recipe for pie. Well, I think we could use a little DIVERSION here, what do you think? And here to divert us is our weekly visit from the ever-popular TNT Mail Girl, [Rusty enters] in the part of the show we call "Joe Bob's Advice to the Hopeless." How are you tonight, Rusty?

MAIL GIRL: I'm good, but I can't believe you haven't mentioned Ed Harris yet.
Everybody knows Ed Harris--what do I need to list HIS credits for?
MAIL GIRL: I don't know, he's just the star of the movie.
You got the hots for him?
MAIL GIRL: I only have eyes for you, Joe Bob.
Since when?
MAIL GIRL: Since, uh . . .
Since I left that big boo-kay of roses in your dressing room?
MAIL GIRL: Yeah, since then.
Then how come you never said thanks?
MAIL GIRL: Cause girls are supposed to play hard-to-get.
Rusty, you ARE hard-to-get.
MAIL GIRL: That's true. Here's an e-mail from S. Kennedy.
S. Kennedy? What kinda name is "S"?

"Dear Joe Bob,
"After watching 'Sex Ed Night' on MonsterVision with guest lecturer Nancy Friday, I was offended by her comment that 'all female babies are born lesbian...' As a nursing mother, I hardly believe that I'm contributing to the sexual disorientation of my child. Therefore, I believe that Ms. Friday is badly mistaken. Her theories of the female breasts are not only perverted, it reminds me of the idiotic poopiness of Jean-Louis Baudry's dream screen theory in which he refers to breastfeeding as a fetish. I personally do not believe that babies have any kind of 'sexual' feelings or desires, nor do I believe that a baby gets any sexual satisfaction from breastfeeding."

I'm gettin a little fired up saying that word over and over. Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding. Anyhow, uh . . .

"Ms. Friday needs to wash her perverted little brain out with soap.
"S. Kennedy."

Well, S--if that is your real name--I've used a professional hypnotist to go back in time to my own breastfeeding years, which were roughly ages zero to 13, and I can assure you that there IS a little charge there. I also feel fortunate that my mother--in the safety of our own home--contributed to my becoming such a connoisseur of that part of the female anatomy. And about your daughter being a lesbo, S, there's nothing wrong with that. If she wants to munch muffins when she gets to college, I would really try not to judge her. Let her express herself. And most of all, don't feel guilty. Especially if she becomes one of those hot-looking lipstick lesbos. Okay?

Now. You, Rusty, were saying you only have eyes for me, and I wanna know since when.
MAIL GIRL: Okay. Since Ed Harris married Amy Madigan.
Ah ha!
MAIL GIRL: You MADE me say it. [exits]

Where are you goin with those eyes you have for me? . . . She's still not telling the whole truth."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #7

ASK me if I'm happy. That was a terrible terrible thing that the TNT high sheriffs did to that great scene between Valri Bromfield and Amanda Plummer, battling to the death with kitchen knives. Here we are, showing the full three-hour, seven-minute version of the movie, and the editing department decides to hack all the best parts out of the greatest action sequence in the flick. Too violent for TNT, but it was a work of art, I guarantee you. You've gotta go get the video and see that fight. You've heard of the bitch-slappin catfight? This was a knife-slappin bitchfight. Valri Bromfield, who plays Wilma, is a comedian who used to write for "Saturday Night Live." And one day a casting director called her up and said "Valri, I met you at a party, and there's this role of a mad turkey farmer I thought you might be interested in." And Valri said, "Wait a minute, you met me at a party and you think I'd be good as a madwoman? How was I behaving?" Anyhow, she took the role, and she researched it by going to bingo games, cause she wanted to see really bitter women. They'd say nasty things when somebody would call 'bingo,' and they'd be smoking the whole time, just deteriorating as the game went on. That's how she modeled Wilma. Anyhow, let's get back to the flick.

[fading] I get offered roles at parties. Casting directors come up to me and say, "I'm working on this movie about a handsome and wealthy rancher who's married to Kim Basinger, and we thought you might be interested in this role--as the geek cousin who sleeps with his sister." Happens all the time."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #8

"Wow. They're breaking ALL the rules with this one. The grisly carcass of a dead PET DOG. Usually they NEVER kill animals, even in horror flicks. Then you've got a CHILD attempting suicide with a revolver to the head. That one's gonna make the PTAs of America very happy. I like the fact that they're so upfront about Max Von Sydow being the devil. Most movies hedge their bets. "He's a sly devil TYPE." Not "Needful Things." This guy is the day-uh-vil, and he's gonna by-God sleep with Ed Harris's girlfriend if he can. Shades of Rosemary’s Baby and "The Entity." All right, back to the movie.

[fading] How many more commercials. I can't talk all night. How much do these people wanna KNOW about Ed Harris? Why's he always wear his hair like that? That's what I wanna know. Cause he's INTENSE. He's the guy you hire when you're having a meeting and somebody says, "You know what we need for this? Intensity." It's between Ed Harris and Lance Henriksen from there on out. Unless you want sleazy disgusting Intensity. Then you hire Harvey Keitel."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #9

"I love the way they make the preachers just as EVIL as everybody else, especially since it's our two FAVORITE religions here at "MonsterVision," the Catholics and the Babtists. We've probly gotten more letters from those two religious groups than any other religions in America. How come we never get a letter from a Muslim, or a Hindu? Actually, I'm kinda hurt that we get so many angry letters from my fellow Babtists. They always wanna SAVE me. Listen up, you guys, one thing I know about being a Babtist is: "Once saved, always saved." Which is one reason I've STAYED a Babtist, because I only wanna go through that stuff ONCE. My preacher when I got baptized was kinda like Kenneth Starr--dead from the eyeballs down--and when he dunked me in the water I thought he kinda held me down there for an extra second or two, just to let me know he COULD kill me, IF he wanted. So I don't have any trouble a-tall understandin the character of the Reverend Rose, who's so DIM that he goes to the devil's house and tries to get him to put up "Say No to the Devil" bumper stickers. And so concludes our religious segment for the evening. Back to the movie.

[fading] If you were taking notes just now, then you don't have to go to Sunday school in the morning. You can get there at 10:30 and smoke in the parking lot, like normal people. The Babtists in the audience know what I'm talkin about."

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #10

"Whoa! Did Bonnie Bedelia just have sex with the devil? You know, sex with Max Von Sydow would be scary even if he WASN'T the devil. Just those TEETH alone could make you frigid. Now. May we have a moment of appreciation for Bonnie's garbonzas in those scenes we just watched? How did they do that? That's the most amazing feat of fabric-suspension since Sigourney Weaver's gravity-defying panties in the final sequence of Alien. Normally I don't like to publicly refer to a woman's Grand Tetons like this, but we've got Minneapolis and St. Paul having a state fair in this movie, if you know what I mean. Bonnie is one of those actresses that you forget about, and then she TURNS UP somewhere. Like in the "Die Hard" movies. She was in "Salem's Lot," another interminable Stephen King story we've had on "MonsterVision." In fact, we've got a whole heck of a lot of Stephen King alumni in this flick tonight. Ed Harris was in "Creepshow," and both he and Ray McKinnon, the guy playing the deputy, were in "The Stand." J.T. Walsh was in "Misery." The turkey farmer's husband, Frank C. Turner, was in "It." And why am I telling you this? Cause this movie is LONG. And I'm startin to grasp at straws here. So, roll it.

[fading] Did you know Bonnie Bedelia is Macaulay Culkin's aunt? Think about that. He got to sit on her lap a lot. And act like he didn't notice. Kinda disgusting. But then that's what we're all about here on "MonsterVision," isn't it?"

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #11

Now WHY didn't we get to see J.T. Walsh kill his wife with the hammer? We had three bodies in that last part--just what this movie needed--and we didn't get to see a dang thing. But I'm gonna calm down, because I need to stick up for my pal Stephen King for a second. One of the jurors on the 1986 Pulitzer Prize committee suggested that they at least give an honorable mention to Stephen King's book "It" and acknowledge, as the juror put it, that he's an American writer immersed in American culture and one hell of a good storyteller. And this is what another juror answered: "I regard King as the chief cancer on our republic of letters." What a weenie. Okay, back to the ENDLESS movie.

[fading] Who could insult anybody who wrote a line like "I killed my wife. Is that wrong? I didn't mean to." That one line kinda sums up America, doesn't it? "I killed my wife. Is that wrong? I didn't mean to." LOVE that line.

"Needful Things" Commercial Break #12

"Well, here we are at the TWELFTH commercial break in the Stephen King nine-hour mini-series "Needful Things." Is this a record? Did we have more commercials in "The Swarm," or is this the all-time record? Wait a minute, lemme check my butt--yes, this IS the record. Well, you'll be happy to know that this is also the LAST commercial break, and now it's Ed Harris against the day-uh-vil in the stunning conclusion of "Needful Things." Roll it.

[fading] It better be a stunning conclusion, because you guys look like you've just been to the Bahamas on one of those 72-hour casino cruises where you drink Bahama Mamas with a girl named Kika. Ernie! You okay? Looked like you were in screen-saver mode there for a minute."

"Needful Things" Outro

"Well, that wasn't bad. I'm not CRAZY about endings where the devil rides away, to return in later years. Kind of a cop-out. The director doesn't QUITE have the drive-in touch yet. It's okay, he's got time.

Lemme remind you that next week we have Jaws. Not the immortal "Jaws 3," not even Jaws 2. The original. And after that we'll show the classic documentary "4 Days in November" with special guest, director Mel Stuart. That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Did you guys hear the one about ole Fred, who'd been a faithful Christian and was in the hospital, near death? The family calls their preacher to stand with ‘em. As the preacher stands next to the bed, ole Fred's condition appears to deteriorate, and he motions for something to write on. The pastor lovingly hands him a pen and a piece of paper, and ole Fred uses his last bit of energy to scribble a note, and then dies. Preacher turns to Fred's wife, saying, "I guess I have the privilege of reading you Fred's last words." He looks at the note and reads, "Hey, you're standing on my oxygen tube!"

Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.

[fading] A man is hit by a bus on a busy street in New York City. He lies dying on the sidewalk as a crowd gathers around. The man gasps "A priest! Somebody get me a priest!" A policeman checks the crowd--no priest, no minister, no man of God of any kind. The dying man says "A PRIEST, PLEASE!" Then out of the crowd steps a little old Jewish man. He says to the cop, "Mr. Policeman, I'm not a priest. I'm not even Catholic. But for fifty years now I'm living behind St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church on First Avenue, and every night I'm listening to the Catholic litany. Maybe I can be of some comfort to this man." The policeman brings the old guy through the crowd, and he kneels down over the dying man and says in a solemn voice: "B-4. I-13. N-7."

"Needful Things" is available on DVD

Fun fact:
Director Fraser Heston was the baby Moses in Charlton Heston's movie The 10 Commandments

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