Friday Flicks: Kingdom Hospital (2004)

D. Stephen King. With Andrew McCarthy, Bruce Davidson, Jack Coleman, Ed Begley, Jr., Dianne Ladd, Kett Turton, and Jodelle Micah Ferland

150 years ago, the Gates Falls Mill stood here. It employed 200 men, good Yankees all, who worked 16 hour shifts during the civil war, when the Gates Falls Mill made uniforms for the union army. The job of the men wearing those uniforms was to end a peculiar institution, the peculiar institution being slavery. When the mill burned in 1869, most of them got out. The fire started in the first floor. Most of the adult mill workers escaped. Most of the children did not….

Kingdom Hospital is a thirteen episode miniseries directed by Stephen King.  I seriously love this show. It’s campy as all hell (and now I’m envisioning a campy hell… I think it’d be like this), but it kind of treads the line of as far as I can comfortably go into the whole horror-genre thing.

There are all of these spirits haunting the corridors of the weirdly gothic hospital: a little ghost girl, relic of the mill fire, wanders around with her bell and doll; a malevolent goth-looking guy who used to be the assistant of the evil Dr. Gottriech terrifies her and somehow preys on the patients; a huge and incongruous anteater wanders through, talking to  comatose patients and occasionally revealing a mouthful of slathering, razor sharp teeth.

Ok, that’s the horror side of it. Well, the introductory elements, anyway. As to the camp… well, the doctors are crazy as all get out. The neurosurgeon whistles the beginning of The Beverly Hillbillies song before drilling into a patient’s brain (Come and listen to a story bout a man named Jed…), there’s a group sing-a-long of Sha-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey, good bye in the OR over the convulsing body of a serial-killer patient, and Dr. Hook, the most normal-seeming doctor, lives in this vast secret complex under the hospital, complete with a ridiculously macabre tracking method of  Kingdom Hospital doctors’ mistakes.

The natural and the supernatural story lines sort of mirror each other: the good doctors, led by Dr. Hook, face off against the bad doctors, led by recent addition to the hospital Dr. Stegman.  Stegman had to leave his last position after he was accused of malpractice. He has already botched a relatively simple procedure at Kingdom Hospital, leaving a young girl completely unresponsive and provoking more accusations of ineptitude. In the supernatural realm, a physical space which mirrors the layout of the hospital if the cleaning crew stopped coming for a millennium or so, Good and Evil are, of course, locked in an everlastin’ struggle.

So whether you’re up for a seven-hour marathon of spooky Halloween fare or just looking for something to fill the odd half hour between now and then, check this out. I love it. You’ll love it. We’ll all love it together. You know, in our respective homes. Not together. That wasn’t an invitation.



Fine. But bring some wine.

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