The latest live-action adaptation of a Stephen King story, Gerald's Game, debuted on Netflix this weekend, continuing the author's domination of the horror world over the last few months. The film itself is a much more insular tale than other adaptations of the author's this year, but director Mike Flanagan managed to fit in a few different references to other King stories.
Earlier this year, The Dark Tower hit theaters, a film based on mythology that is regarded as the cornerstone of the entire Stephen King universe. That film featured references to Misery, The Shining, Christine and many more distinguished King stories. The fantastical nature of that film allowed for those references to easily be worked in, but the smaller scale of Gerald's Game required much more subtle nods to the author.
In the film, Jessie (Carla Gugino) is talked into an adventurous sexual encounter by her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), which results in a dire situation when a heart attack leaves Gerald unresponsive. Alone in this bedroom, Jessie must find the strength to not only survive, but escape, while her mind wanders down dark paths.
Scroll down to see how the new Netflix film referenced King's other stories!
***WARNING: The following article contains slight spoilers for Gerald's Game***
For most of her endeavor, Jessie is alone in the lake house with her husband's unresponsive body. As her mind wanders, we see manifestations of her husband and herself that she interacts with, a visual device that helps explain those inner monologues to the viewer.
Early on in the story, Jessie and Gerald encounter a stray dog, to which Jessie feeds a good piece of meat. Later on, that dog finds its way into the house and begins to gnaw on Gerald's arm. Jessie's vision of Gerald refers to the dog and his somewhat violent temperament as "Cujo."
In King's Cujo, a large St. Bernard chases a rabbit down a rabbit hole, only to discover there's a rabid bat living there that scratches the dog's muzzle. The loving dog becomes enraged from the rabies, turning on his family and anyone in his path.
The Dark Tower
One of King's most beloved series, The Dark Tower, spans eight books that were released over multiple decades. The story itself was rich with mythology that took on a nearly religious context amongst King's devout readers.
In the series, there's a literal Dark Tower that holds together various dimensions and universes, which is seemingly the epicenter of the entire King universe. This tower is supported by "Beams," which are living beings that help maintain the integrity of this tower to keep the different dimensions from colliding.
At one point in Gerald's Game, the vision of Gerald makes a reference to Jessie about these Beams, harkening to the popular line in the Dark Tower books, "All things serve the Beam."
The Long Walk
Written under the pen name Richard Bachman, King's The Long Walk explores a dystopian future in which 100 teenage boys participate in an event called "The Walk," forcing the boys to compete against one another to walk further than any other participant. The boys must continue walking, at all costs, or be killed for their failure to participate.
With the story focusing on teenage boys, the novel often references the teachers of the participants. One of the teachers of the main characters is "Miss Petrie."
Gerald's Game only shows the manifestations of Jessie and Gerald, but Jessie apparently has more voices in her head, including her second-grade teacher, Miss Petrie. It's unclear if these two characters are both meant to be the same teacher, but the coincidence of two stories having teachers named "Miss Petrie" is too specific to ignore.
In Dolores Claiborne, the title character is accused of killing her wealthy employer and the narrative unfolds as her police station confession. While Dolores didn't kill her employer, she does eventually admit to killing her husband. Dolores ends up carrying out the nefarious deed during a total solar eclipse in 1962, 30 years prior to the events of the novel.
One of the repressed memory's of Jessie in Gerald's Game is that of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. The event took place during a solar eclipse the summer of 1962 in the original novel, but with the movie being set in present day, the same connection can't directly be drawn.
Considering how closely connected the two original novels are, Flanagan knew this reference needed to be made.
“I’m just such a King nut, there’s no way I could do this without the Dolores Claiborne reference, or at least some version of it," the filmmaker told Bloody Disgusting. [In the film] I had [Jessie] describe the most common paperback cover of Dolores standing over the well. I just thought that might jog more memories.”
Other Flanagan Films
Stephen King stories weren't the only Easter eggs included in the film, as the director used a few subtle references to his own films for those familiar with his work.
Oculus tells the story of a pair of siblings who are haunted and tormented by a mirror which possesses supernatural abilities. Almost everyone who has come into contact with the mirror has met a grisly fate, with the siblings aiming to document the occurrences and destroy the mirror once and for all. The ornate frame of the mirror is recreated in the bed's headboard that Jessie is handcuffed to.
In Hush, a deaf woman is stalked by a masked intruder, with her isolation and hearing impairment causing the woman to have difficulty finding help. The woman is an author, having published a novel called "Midnight Mass," a book which appears on the nightstand in Gerald's Game.
Gerald's Game is now streaming on Netflix.