[SLIDE SHOW] THE DARK POWERS OF CLOTHING IN THE WORK OF STEPHEN KING

 

 

If we were to play a word association game, and if you were to hear the name Stephen King, what would be your very next thought? Don’t spend too long on it, because I can pretty much guarantee it isn’t the word “fashion.”

 

SK

 

But a great writer understands the significance of iconography. Images have meaning. Clothing reveals character. And in Stephen King’s books and then in the movies made from them, there is one piece of clothing that rules above all others:

 

Robert Henri - 'Boy in Blue Overalls, oil on canvas, 1921

 

The blue overalls.

 

In Stephen King movies, there is no wardrobe choice more powerful than blue overalls.

 

1 Stephen King

 

In the world of Stephen King, blue overalls can mean any of four things:

a character is child-like and pure of heart;

a character is an actual child and also pure of heart;

a character currently has, or will soon develop, fearsome psychic powers;

or the character is a country bumpkin, a hick, yokel, or yahoo.

 

I’ll go through some examples to demonstrate what I mean.

 

2 Danny, THE SHINING

 

Stephen King has gone on record as being disappointed with Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of THE SHINING, but Kubrick got one thing right: The blue overalls. Here’s Danny, a nice young man with a gift. This is actually one of the first Stephen King film adaptations to feature the blue overalls, which are clearly the key to Danny’s formidable psychic abilities.

 

2a Danny, THE SHINING TV MOVIE

 

In case you’re thinking the blue overalls are some random costume choice, here’s a picture of the Danny from the TV version of THE SHINING, proving they are an essential character element. It kills me that Drew Barrymore in FIRESTARTER wears a blue jeans jacket instead of overalls, but I think the thesis still holds.

 

Drew Barrymore in FIRESTARTER

 

 

3 THE STAND, Tom Cullen

 

Tom Cullen from THE STAND is a gentle, mentally-challenged man with the power of foresight.

 

4 THE GREEN MILE, John Coffey

 

John Coffey from THE GREEN MILE is the ultimate example of the power of the blue overalls. He’s from Georgia. He’s child-like and sweet. He has the powers to heal the ill, like in the movie when he helps Tom Hanks to pee again. He cries a lot. He’s sensitive.

 

5 THE GREEN MILE, Michael Clarke Duncan

 

He likes movies too. He’s like us. Great guy!

 

Blue Suspenders

 

Now, suspenders are a different matter, when it comes to Stephen King stories. Suspenders can sometimes resemble overalls, but no, they are not overalls. Similarly, to Stephen King, suspenders can be a signal that something is off about a character, such as this creep from CHILDREN OF THE CORN.

 

6 CHILDREN OF THE CORN, Malachai

 

6a STAND BY ME, Davie 'Lardass' Hogan

 

Lard-Ass from STAND BY ME wears suspenders, and if you haven’t seen the movie, let’s just say something terrible is about to go down here.

 

7 LAWNMOWER MAN

 

But back to the blue overalls. In LAWNMOWER MAN, the blue overalls are the signature outfit of this nice mentally-challenged character who is given psychic powers that end up making him totally evil.

 

8 CREEPSHOW, Stephen King

 

Here’s Stephen King himself, wearing blue overalls as Jordy Verill in CREEPSHOW. Here the blue overalls signify nothing more than basic backwoods idiocy. If you are out tonight and you see a meteorite landing, just let anybody else handle it.

 

8a George Kennedy, CREEPSHOW 2

 

George Kennedy from CREEPSHOW 2 is another country yokel who suffers an unfortunate fate.

 

8b Chopper's Owner, STAND BY ME (1986)

 

Not a major character, but this dentally-deprived dog-owner from STAND BY ME is another country bumpkin in blue overalls.

 

8c THE MIST, Random Religious Nut

 

This random religious whacko from THE MIST is proof of how easily the blue overalls can indicate the corruption of the simple-minded.

 

8D MISERY, Annie

 

Annie from MISERY. Again, the blue overalls show what can happen when country folk go bad.

 

StephenKingPetSematary

 

Now, PET SEMATARY is the motherlode of amazing costuming among all Stephen King adaptations. Here’s Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall, a well-meaning country fella, naturally enough wearing overalls.

 

9 PET SEMATARY, Jud Crandall

 

10 PET SEMATARY, Gage

 

Interestingly, Little Gage wears yellow overalls before he becomes powerful and scary. Maybe the yellow is meant to differentiate him from Danny in THE SHINING, who is a heroic figure.

 

11 PET SEMATARY Painting

 

This is the painting from PET SEMATARY. I’m including this one mostly because it cracks me up.

 

12 PET SEMATARY, Gage

 

At one point in PET SEMATARY, Gage appears dressed up like that freaky painting. Again, no real connection to the blue overalls. It’s just fantastic.

 

13 PET SEMATARY Ghost in Short Shorts

 

PET SEMATARY is also worth seeing for this ghost jogger, who wears hilarious short-shorts.

 

14 SIMPSONS Overalls

 

Throughout the arch pop culture of the 1990s, the light of the blue overalls has been dimmed by comedy and meaningless trends.

 

15 SIMPSONS Bob + Overalls

 

THE SIMPSONS used blue overalls for jokes and slapstick.

 

Child's Play (1988)

 

Chucky the Murder Doll was the nastiest perversion of the blue overalls to date.

 

16 CHER, Witches Of Eastwick

 

Movie stars started wearing blue overalls, maybe in an attempt to harness their dark powers.

 

17 Jennifer Aniston

 

Clearly a very powerful necromancer.

 

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

 

Him too.

 

19 George Clooney

 

But over the last decade or so, there have been signs that the blue overalls were returning to the eminence first given to them by Stephen King. The Coen brothers used blue overalls in this portrayal of a more heroic breed of country bumpkins.

 

20 Tucker & Dale

 

TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL has a couple ingratiating country bumpkins too.

 

LESLIE

 

BEHIND THE MASK‘s Leslie Vernon may not be a good guy, but at least he’s interesting…

 

21 PRINCE AVALANCHE.

 

2013’s PRINCE AVALANCHE is a very good movie about noble yahoos in blue overalls.

 

22 Justin Bieber

 

Here the blue overalls tip you to the presence of both a simpleton AND an evil toddler.

 

23 Minions

 

That movie right there made a billion dollars off the power of blue overalls.

 

24 Minion

 

So as you can clearly see, the reign of the blue overalls is not yet over. The blue overalls will rise again.

 

____________________

 

KGO

 

This was my routine from last Thursday’s show at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn, called Kevin Geeks Out About Stephen King. The host, Kevin Maher, is a hilarious guy who has been organizing these shows for a while now, and they’re now a regular event at the Nitehawk. I strongly recommend attending — if you enjoyed what I had to say even a little bit, you’ll definitely dig on the many talented presenters who participated. Stay tuned to the Nitehawk’s calendar for information on the shows of the future!

KGOXMASPOSTER

In fact the Kevin Geeks Out Christmas Special has already been announced — grab tickets as quickly as you can because these great shows sell out fast!

 

 

– JON ABRAMS.

 

 

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Jon Abrams

Editor-In-Chief at Daily Grindhouse
Jon Abrams is a New York-based writer, cartoonist, and committed cinemaniac whose complete work and credits can be found at his site, Demon’s Resume. You can contact him on Twitter as @JonZilla___.

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