Book to Movie: You Know They Got a Hell of a Band (2006)
From the television series: Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King
Teleplay by Mike Robe
Directed by Mike Robe
Based on the story from Nightmare and Dreamscapes by Stephen King
Mike Robe’s screenplay is true to King’s vision of a town dominated by narcissistic rock stars in need of constant admiration and adulation. However, Robe dresses it up just a little for television. Overall, his teleplay is well done.
Just as in the story, Mary and Clark Rivingham are lost in the back woods of Oregon on a remote road. They are driving a vintage 1965 Mustang, perhaps to lend the story a little more of that old time rock and roll feeling.
When they stop to get their bearings, for some inexplicable reason, while Clark is out of the car investigating their surroundings, Mary looks in the vanity mirror and sees herself old and decrepit. No reason or context is provided for this vision and it is no more than a little window dressing to spice up the horror.
They continue down the rutted dirt road until they happen upon the town bearing the name Rock and Roll Heaven, OR. As they sit pondering the town, an old fashioned hippy bus, decked out in psychedelic paint, passes them as hippies cheer and jeer. They start to enter the town with a disco CD in playing. The disc ejects itself and melts on the console. No disco in Rock and Roll Heaven!
From then on, events play out just as they did in the story. Ronnie Van Zant and the Duane Allman are the town toughs, leering at them as they enter the city which is picture perfect. They go to the diner and Clark recognizes the waitress as none other than Janis Joplin. While they eat, Janis starts up the juke box and plays one of her own hits, while she lip synchs for their amusement.
They try to make their escape with Ricky Nelson in hot pursuit. Clark runs Ricky down not once or twice, but three times. But he keeps getting up. Finally, they get on the road and leave Rock and Roll Heaven.
But just a few miles up the road, the hippies have laid a trap. The bus is parked across the road and the Mustang slams into it. Jimi Hendrix steps off the bus and lays down the opening chords of the Star Spangled Banner as Mayor Elvis Presley and Sheriff Otis Redding approach from behind in a cop car. They are taken back to town.
There, they join the audience for what promises to be a really big show featuring the legends of rock and roll – a show that might go on constantly for a year or more. The audience looks on, passive and forlorn, except for Clark. He’s excited to see the show. A fan of that old time rock and roll is Clark Rivingham.
This was the last of the series to air and it went out on a high note. Congratulations to Mike Robe for not screwing up what was probably the most entertaining and creative of the stories from the Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection.