Ghost Lives Matter

Riding The Bullet

Riding The Bullet (2004), adapted from the Stephen King novella of the same name of all things, is not one of the better King horror movies out there. Not surprising, as director Mick Garris had done four weak SK’s adaptations (Sleepwalkers/1992, The Stand/1994, The Shining re-boot that needed to be given the boot/1997, Quicksilver Highway/1997, prior to this unfulfilling mess. (Garris later went on to do several more King movies: Desperation/2006 and Bag of Bones/2011).

Riding The Bullet

Riding the Bullet is set in October, 1969. Hippies, gateway drug pot, rock and/or roll, and only one pair of bare boobies. Alan, morose college art student (i.e., hippie) is pretty certain his hot girlfriend is breaking up with him, despite her wanting to smooch his scruffy emo face. On his birthday he smokes pot, drinks non-twist top booze and attempts to commit suicide while taking a bubble bath with candles. A demon appears to urge him on. Alan’s friends bust into the bathroom to birthday surprise him, only to see he’s slit his wrist. Doesn’t anyone knock anymore?

Later finding out his widowed mom had a stroke and is in the hospital, Alan hitchhikes in the dark (about 100 miles) to emote at her bedside. His companion is his own doppelganger who calls B.S. on his poor decision making process.

Riding The Bullet

As Alan accepts rides from red flag travelers (draft dodger, old man with a hernia, greaser demon ghost), he endures alternate situation scenes and confusing flashbacks wherein his mom tells a young Alan his dad is dead, having been involved in a car accident. That’s funny; could’ve sworn he opted out by sucking on the end of a shotgun.

Riding The Bullet

As with all King movies, there’s a self-discovery underpinning that didn’t translate to the big screen this time. What works extraordinarily well on paper (say, a book), doesn’t have enough time to flesh itself out on your TV. So hit the gas pedal on the thrills – the greaser demon ghost gives Alan a ride. He died earlier years prior whilst ramming his sweet 1958 Plymouth Fury into a truck transporting pumpkins to market (same car in King’s Christine/1983), and gets his head cut off from all those super sharp pumpkin shards.

Riding The BulletThe greaser demon ghost tells Alan he has to choose between him and his hospitalized mom who gets to go to Hell, with the Ride the Bullet roller coaster ride of Alan’s youth that he was too much of a p*ssy to ride as a kid, as the metaphor for the whole flippin’ film.

Riding The Bullet

Later, adult Alan reflects on his hippie past, his now dead mom, his ex-wife (he married his college girlfriend for four years) and the greaser ghost demon, who shows up to offer him a ride. Alan tells him to go away. The end.

If you didn’t read the book (sorry, I was busy), this leaves a pumpkin truck load of questions unanswered. You’re left dangling like a severed head. For instance, what was the back story of his dad painting the walls with his particulate matter? I’m guessing it was he found out his son would grow up to be a pot-smoking emo wuss who was too scared to ride the bullet. Dad did – and look how nicely that turned out!

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