Dreamcatcher Book vs Movie

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King (2001)

Dreamcatcher directed by Lawrence Kasdan (2003)

Hello and thank you for joining me here at ehy the book wins where I copare books with their movie adaptations. And rtoday im talking about Stephen king baby!

It’s been a while since I did a King book vs movie, the last one being Doctor Sleep back in August! As far as the book goes, it was great to be back reading King and afterwards I was very excited to see the movie. Unfortunately, the movie is pretty bad, but I’m still glad to be here talking about Stephen King again. I have some King plans for the near future, so stay tuned for later in the video to get a sneak peek into what I have planned!


Taken from goodreads

“In Derry, Maine, four young boys once stood together and did a brave thing. Something that changed them in ways they hardly understand.

A quarter of a century later, the boys are men who have gone their separate ways. Though they still get together once a year, to go hunting in the north woods of Maine. But this time is different. This time a man comes stumbling into their camp, lost, disoriented and muttering about lights in the sky.

Before long, these old friends will be plunged into the most remarkable events of their lives as they struggle with a terrible creature from another world. Their only chance of survival is locked in their shared past – and in the Dreamcatcher.”

Book Review

This book was definitely a page turner and features some of the hallmarks of King. We have childhood friendships, telepathy, alcoholism, seeing someone physically in someone else’s mind (reminded me of Doctor Sleep, which he wrote about ten years after this one), and some gross, grisly scenes. Harm towards animals isn’t usually something I have a hard time reading, however in this book there is something that happens to a dog that I did not enjoy reading about and I just felt so bad for this poor pup! So, if violence towards animals is something you can’t read, steer clear of this one.

I enjoyed reading when we were with the four main friends-Henry, Jonesy, Pete, and Beaver. But when we were seeing what Owen and Kurtz were up to, I just had zero interest! The Kurtz character in particular was so poorly written, one dimensional, and so much of his story was so unnecessary and should have been cut.

It also got pretty repetitive at times with certain phrases or events being talked about over and over again. I also didn’t like that in the flashback when they meet Duddits, they are headed to a warehouse to see a dirty picture and King goes into too much detail into the mind of Pete and why he is interested in seeing the picture.

The plot also got a bit convoluted at times, and I wasn’t even sure about some aspects of the book when all was said and done. The details of which I will get into later.

Despite all this negative, I did enjoy reading it and I was always excited to pick it up again. I went back and forth between listening to the audiobook and reading it. I would listen to the audiobook while running and it was very fitting because the days I listened it was very snowy and cold so it was the perfect atmosphere.

Movie review

I saw the first part of this movie back in 2006 (my sister worked at a Hollywood Video and we could rent movies for free! My dad chose this one). There is a character who dies at the 45-minute mark and after that whole scene, I was like, I’m good, and left. It has therefore always been in my mind as a scary movie because I was so grossed out/creeped out/scared by that scene! One reason I wanted to cover it was to face my fears (plus I also used to have a crush on Jason Lee and still kind of do). Anyway, this time around I still found that first death scene to be creepy, until the CGI comes into play. It does not hold up and really takes you out of the experience. Even if it was good CGI though, this movie is seriously so bad! They made some big changes to the second half and they basically took a decent book and turned it into a terrible movie. I will say, if you watch this with a group, I could see it being one of those movies that are so bad it’s good.

I do feel bad for the director though because he said this movie hindered his career and afterwards there were other projects, he wanted to do but never got greenlit on them due to this movies flop.

Before getting into the details of the book and movie I want to warn you there will be spoilers for both book and movie from here on out!

The friends

The book and movie are the same with the set-up of the four friends. We get a look into each of their lives and see they have telepathic abilities of some kind, and that Pete can also find things. In the book, Henry calls up Jonesy and suggests they visit Duddits that weekend, and he also feels the need to warn Jonesy to be safe and look out for “Mr. Gray”. Henry says this, not even knowing who Mr. Gray is. In the movie, it is Jonesy who calls up Henry saying they should visit Duddits, and then Beaver calls Jonesy and warns him to be safe.

In both, Jonesy ends up being hit by a car and technically dies twice before his body made a turn for the better and he lived. By the way, this was the first book King wrote after he himself was hit by a car.

We see them then go on a hunting trip up in northern Maine, a trip they have taken every November for about 25 years. Their first time going was the November after they had met Duddits for the first time.


Speaking of Duddits, early in book and movie we get a flashback to when they met him for the first time. Duddits attended a special school for kids with mental disabilities and the school was near the high school. One day, they are walking to some trucker office area because they hear there is a dirty picture hanging up. They end up hearing crying and see Duddits being bullied. Beaver steps up and tells the kid to back off and all four of them get the teenager-a guy named Richie and two of his friends, to leave Duddits alone. From there they walk him back home and become friends with him. Walking to and from school together, playing cribbage, and just hanging out.

The movie leaves out that their first time at Hole in the Wall (the hunting cabin they go to), one night they wake up from a nightmare that had felt so real. They realize they all dreamt the same thing-that they had caused Richie and his friends to get in a car accident and die. They realize that through the power Duddits possessed, they had locked in together mentally, and unintentionally killed Richie because he had threatened to get them back, and so their subconscious killed him. They feel terrible about it, and never speak of it again.

The third major flashback is years after they meet Duddits (in the movie it seems to be around the same time, but in the book, it was like four years later) they see a girl from Duddits school is missing. They know that with Duddits they will be able to find her. They gather in a park and hold hands, and they once again all lock in mentally. After this, Pete is able to see a line, leading him to the girl and they save her.

In the book, when Henry thinks back on this and the purpose of their powers, we read, “Is it to find one lost girl who probably matters to no one but her parents? Was it to kill one brainless  bully-boy, joining together to somehow make him drive off the road, doing it, oh for God’s sake doing it in our sleep? Can that be all? Something so great, something so wondrous, for such tiny matters? Can that be all?”

In the book and movie, they had all lost touch with Duddits (though not really, because mentally they always felt that pull and he was often on their minds and especially so leading up to the hunting trip). Part way through the book, Henry goes to get him and we learn he is dying of cancer.

In the movie, we see that Duddits is an alien who came to earth with the intent of saving the world from Mr. Gray. Which explains that his power that he shares with the boys was for something more. In the book, this is never straight out stated. I think it may have been implied, but maybe if anything, Duddits had at one time been infected with what the aliens have and that’s why he has these powers… If you know the solid answer to this in the book, I would love to get your input! But as far as I could tell, Duddits was human. But yeah, in the movie he becomes a full-on alien.

Hunting trip gone wrong

Back to their last hunting trip though. They all get together and things are great. Jonesy has a limp from his injury but is doing well. In the movie, he tells Henry he saw Duddits across the street, and that is why he had crossed. In the book, his memory of that whole day is blacked out and he doesn’t remember the accident at all. In the book, once Mr. Gray takes over he does time travel in a way by visiting different memories and experiencing them all over again and he goes to the day he was hit and he realizes Duddits had been there as well as the memory version of himself.

In the movie we also have them talking to Jonesy about what he calls his memory files and we see a visual of Jonesy inside his memory bank getting rid of some memories to make room for new ones.

In the book, we don’t get any of those conversations and get right to Jonesy almost shooting a deer, only to realize it is actually a man in a brown jacket. They guy is stumbling and walks up to the cabin door and Jonesy runs over to him and lets him in. The guy has this weird rash on his cheek and is very disoriented, saying he has been lost in the woods overnight.

Beaver shows up, and he and Jonesy see that something is very wrong with this guy because he keeps burping and passing gas that has these severe and unnatural smells. They have the guy lay down, but later see blood trailing from the room he was in, to the bathroom. In the room they see a bunch of blood on the bed and when they knock on the door the guy says he just needs to use the toilet and can’t they leave him alone. Beaver and Jonesy push the door open, and find the guy sitting on the toilet, cover in red fungus stuff-the same thing that he had said was a rash. It is all over the bathroom as well and when they try to get the guy’s attention, he falls over dead with a huge wound on his backside, and something in the toilet. Jonesy shuts the toilet lid, and Beaver sits on it while Jonesy goes to the shed to find some tape. Up until this point, I think the movie is pretty good. I think it is very creepy and unsettling, and gross what is happening with the guy and when they walk in the bathroom, I think the red fungus really looks good as well.

Beaver, who has the nickname because his whole life he chews on toothpicks and pencils, tries to reach for a toothpick, and he rises off the lid and the eel thing inside pushes its way out. The worm/eel thing looks pretty bad and this is when things take a negative turn in the movie due to the CGI. But Jonesy returns to see Beaver battling the worm and it eventually kills Beaver and Jonesy shuts the door.

But then a shadow is behind him and when he turns around, he sees a huge alien and it explodes and Jonesy inhales the spores it releases.

Pete and Henry

Pete and Henry had been coming back from the store when they see a woman sitting in the road and they crash the car to avoid hitting her. She is in the same state as Rick, the guy the other two found. They take her to this shed used by troopers, and Pete stays with her while Henry goes to their cabin to get the snow mobile.

Pete ends up going back to the truck to get the beer, and when he returns the worm has come out of the woman. He battles with it a bit but hides out and lives. Meanwhile, Henry can sense that Beaver is dead, and Jonesy is mentally somewhere else. The book says that Jonesy has the telepathy power the strongest, and Henry second. Though Pete is the only one that has the power to find things.

Anyway, Henry knows something is wrong at the cabin and when he shows up, he sees Beavers dead body, and the worm guarding some eggs it has laid. Henry burns the place down, and then gets skis to head back to the store they had just come from. He knows that Jonesy has been taken over, and also senses that Jonesy picked up Pete along the way. Mr. Gray, the name of the alien intelligence, needs Pete to direct him to where the highway is. In the book, Pete is infected with the fungus (called Ripley by the soldiers, and byrus by the aliens) and he is dying as the mold grows over his body. Eventually he officially dies, but in the movie the alien kills him soon after picking him up.

I thought it was a real missed opportunity for the movie not to get more detailed with the fugus growing over people. In the book it is described in a real body horror way, especially when it takes over someone’s eyes. I think the fungus looks good in the movie, but when it is growing on someone, they could have gone even further with it.

Jonesy and Mr. Gray

In the movie, the voice of Mr. Gray has a British accent (the actor playing him is British in fact) and the accent is one way we can tell when it is Jonesy or Gray speaking. Jonesy is in his memory warehouse and can look out the windows to see what is happening in real life. I thought this was cool in the book and well done in the movie. I didn’t like his accent, and in general found the stuff with Mr. Gray pretty cheesy in the movie.

In the movie, it also seems Mr. Gray chooses to keep Jonesy alive because he has found him useful. In the book, he wanted to kill Jonesy, but Jonesy was immune. The fact that he stays alive, locked away in part of his own brain, is infuriating to Mr. Gray in the book. In the book we also just get more with Jonesy in his mental office and the different ways Gray tries to lure him out and the ways Jonesy is able to outsmart Gray.

Ripley, Kurtz/Curtis, and Owen

In the book, the aliens have telepathy, and it is contagious so everyone around the area of the landing has varying degrees of telepathy. Henry and them have it stronger, but they can speak with others outside their friend group mentally thanks to the aliens. If you ingest the byrus, there is a good chance you will grow one of those worms and if you just get infected with it topically, it will grow on you but you won’t grow a worm. All of this is left out of the movie.

In the book, when the military goes to kill the remaining aliens, Owen purposefully plays their recorded pleas for the other men to hear as a way to soften them up. They are shot down anyway, and after this Kurtz has it out for Owen. In the movie, Owen and Curtis are on good terms until Owen leaves with Henry.

As said, in the book I found the Kurtz storyline so boring. We learn about his backstory and the history he has with Owen but I could not have cared less! When Owen leaves with Henry, Kurtz follows so he can get revenge and kill Owen even though he acknowledges he will also likely die. It seemed so dumb that he would go on this suicide mission just to get back at Owen and not even care about stopping the aliens. He was written in such a one-dimensional psychopath way.

In the movie it isn’t much better. Even Morgan Freeman with crazy eyebrows couldn’t make this character interesting. He almost seemed even more pointless in the movie.

The long chase

I’m skipping some details, but Mr. Gray kills a trucker who has a dog. Mr. Gray feeds the dog some Ripley or dead alien or something, causing the dog to grow the worm. This is in book and movie, but in the book, it was especially hard to read about the poor dog growing this giant parasite.

Henry is with Owen and they are tracking Mr. Gray. They also stopped to get Duddits on the way, and Duddits is able to communicate with Jonesy and knows where he is and he leads them along. In the book there were times we saw what was going on with Duddits before Henry picked him up, because he can sense things he knew when Beav and Pete had died and knew they were coming to get him. In the movie we don’t get any of that.

Meanwhile, in the book, Kurtz is following Owen with this other guy with him along with a third guy who is also growing a worm. Because he is growing the worm, his telepathy is stronger and they need him to guide them to Mr. Gray, which will lead them to Owen who Kurtz wants to kill. In the movie, Curtis put a tracker on Owens gun and that is how he is following him.

This chase goes on for quite a while in the book. It was interesting at times and we get two scenes where Mr. Gray stops to eat and finds he loves bacon. Duddits gets him to stop the second time for more bacon so they can close the gap. He eats bacon raw and this makes Jonesy’s body sick and slows Mr. Gray up even more than they could have hoped.

In both, Mr. Gray is going to a reservoir to dump the dog, which will release the worm and the byrus into the drinking water, effecting a huge section of the eastern population and eventually take over the world.

The book had this added story about a woman who jumps in the water tank thing, and I didn’t think we needed to get all those details. I get it shows how Jonesy knows about the reservoir and therefore Mr. Gray also knows. But we got the whole story with her and it was unnecessary.

Killing Mr. Gray

In the book, thanks to Duddits, Henry is able to lock minds with Duddits and Jonesy and they meet up in what looks like a hospital (the same hospital Jonesy was in after his accident). The alien figure of Mr. Gray is in a hospital bed and as he (in the real world) is approaching the manhole that leads to the water, Henry tries to smother the alien with a pillow. This doesn’t work though, and Jonesy then slits its throat, finally killing Mr. Gray.

When Henry returns to his body (he and Duddits were in a car outside of the reservoir), Duddits is dead and he goes into the reservoir to see what is happening.

Long story short-Kurtz shoots Owen, but then the guy with Kurtz kills Kurtz and since Owen is on deaths door, he finishes the job. Henry then shows up, and he and Jonesy are taken to a military area to be debriefed for a few months. Jonesy also needs surgery because Mr. Gray rebroke his hip.

In the movie, Henry shows up and tries to find out if Mr. Gray is alive or not. He almost thinks it really is Jonesy, when Duddits walks in, and says it is still Mr. Gray. This is when Duddits transforms into an alien creature and he and Mr. Gray battle it out before they both die. It seems all is well, but then the egg from the worm hatches and the tiny worm is heading to the water, only to be stepped on in the last minute by Jonesy.

Oh, and Owen and Curtis have a shootout while Owen is on the ground and Curtis is in a helicopter and they both kill each other.

The dreamcatcher, the aliens, and Jonesy

In the movie, early on they reference dreamcatchers and we see them call Duddits their dreamcatcher. In the book, the dreamcatcher aspect doesn’t come into play until like the last third of the book. Henry and Jonesy realize that Duddits is their dreamcatcher and is what was holding the four friends together and tied their dreams and memories together.

They talk about “going into the dreamcatcher”, meaning to get into the locked minds thing, I think.

They also say the humans influenced what the aliens looked like, which is why they have the typical, cartoony look, “It is a child’s rendering of an alien, trolled directly from the subconscious minds of those who first came in contact with the byrum. They never existed as actual creatures, aliens, ETs. The grays as physical beings were always created out of the human imagination, out of the dreamcatcher, and knowing this affords Jonesy a measure of relief. He wasn’t the only one who got fooled. At least there is that.”

The book also talks about how Mr. Gray was another side of Jonesy in a way. This is another common King thing-the dark alter ego we have. The alien force tapped into Jonesy’s dark side, including his love of horror movies and books. In the epilogue Henry is talking with Jonesy saying, “He also stole your basic personality. That included the subconscious kinks. Whatever there is in you that liked  the Mario Bava horror movies and the Sergio Leone westerns, whatever it is that got off on the fear and the  violence . . . man, Mr. Gray loved that shit. And why wouldn’t he? Those things are primitive survival tools. As the last of his kind in a hostile environment, he grabbed every damned tool he could lay his hands on.”  “Bullshit.” Jonesy’s dislike of this idea was plain on his face. “It’s not. At Hole in the Wall, you saw what you expected to see, which was an X-Files–slash–Close Encounters of the Third Kind alien. You inhaled the byrus . . . I have no doubt there was at least that much physical contact . . . but you were completely immune to  it. As, we now know, at least fifty percent of the human race seems to be. What you caught was an intention . . .  a kind of blind imperative…there’s no word for it, because there’s no word for them. But I think it got in because you believed it was there.””

It’s interesting Henry seems to insinuate that Jonesy’s love of horror turned against him. He also says in the book that since everything, he no longer watches or reads horror. King himself is a horror author, yet he almost seems to be warning against it.

Book vs movie

The book wins by far with this one. It has is flaws for sure, but the movie is just too much like a B-movie. It’s definitely different, and like I said, it’s one I think would be fun to watch in a group. The book is one I could see myself rereading one day, if nothing else just to make sense of it. Again, if you read the book and have a better handle on Duddits and the dreamcatcher and the aliens-I would love to hear your thoughts!