Needful Things

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -3 1/2

Satan comes to Castle Rock thinly disguised as the proprietor of a new novelty store called Needful Things. Leland Gaunt (Max Van Sydow) stocks his store very carefully to make sure he has something special for everyone in the New England village. One by one they come to browse. One by one they die horrible deaths. Diabolical Leland offers his unique merchandise at ridiculously low cash prices. However, before they leave his shop, the purchasers have agreed to literally do the "work of the devil." He knows their dark secrets and hidden fears, and by pitting the townspeople against each other, Leland masterminds their self-destruction. Only the sheriff (Ed Harris) suspects the charming but mysterious shopkeeper is controlling the epidemic of local violence. Co-starring Bonnie Bedelia, J. T. Walsh and Amanda Plummer, NEEDFUL THINGS is based on the novel by Stephen King. The movie merely serves as a vehicle to string together a series of bloody scenes involving too many people and too little explanation.

Greed allows evil to thrive, and Leland delights in manipulating a town based on that premise. Even the religious leaders of Castle Rock, the Catholic priest and Baptist minister, fall into the trap. They are portrayed as sexually frustrated and bigoted, easily swayed by the demonic Leland. The horror scenes include a dog's skinned carcass hanging, two women killing each other with a knife and a meat cleaver, a young boy so traumatized by his own evil that he tries to kill himself, vicious fighting, kicking and shootings. Extensive property damage, explosions and a fire are all intensive. Many profanities, obscenities and crudities don't seem to fit the quaint New England setting. One suggestive scene implies that Leland seduces a young woman. Besides its gory violence, the demeaning portrait of religious leaders and many profanities make this film especially offensive.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Columbia Pictures, 711 5th Ave., NY, NY 10022

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (32) times - Mild 10; Moderate 22

Obscene Language: Many (42) times (f-word 18; s-word 20; other 4)

Profanity: Many (29) times - Exclamatory 8; Regular 21

Violence: Incessant - Mostly severe (bloody corpses; killings with knife and meat cleaver; dog's hanging corpse; shootings; vicious fighting, kicking; young boy attempts suicide off-screen)

Sex: None but implied once

Nudity: Near nudity once (woman in revealing undergarments)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Phallic symbol shown

Drugs: Drunkenness shown but not favorably

Other: Baptist minister portrayed as a bigot; Catholic priest sexually frustrated

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