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The Mist Nearly Featured a Many-Legged Monster Not Found in Stephen King's Original Novella
You know how the old saying goes: Too many monsters in a grocery store spoil the Stephen King adaptation.
Ever heard the old saying: "Too many extra-dimensional monsters in the Maine grocery store spoil the Stephen King adaptation"? Okay, so maybe it isn't a universal adage, but that verbose and oddly specific stab at axiomatic expression certainly rang true for writer-director Frank Darabont during production on 2007's The Mist (currently streaming on Peacock).
The "Taming the Beast: The Making of Scene 35" featurette — which you can find on the movie's physical home release (we caught it on the recently released 4K Ultra HD edition) — reveals that the big action sequence in which the Scorpion-Flies and Ptero-buzzards raise hell in the supermarket was originally supposed to feature a third creature not seen in King's original novella.
The Mist adaptation nearly featured a brand-new monster not featured in the original Stephen King novella
"Storyboarding something in advance is different than actually being on the set and starting to do the math on how you're going to shoot something," Darabont explains in the behind-the-scenes supplement. "In the days leading up to that scene, I started to realize that many of my storyboards were really obsolete."
"Almost none of it happened the way that it was storyboarded, the way that it was in the script," echoes editor Hunter Via.
Case in point: Darabont's screenplay includes "a monstrous centipede" that crawls into the store and terrorizes David Drayton's young son, Billy (Nathan Gamble). Irene Reppler (Frances Sternhagen) ends up saving the day by turning a can of Raid bug spray into a flamethrower.
"I just realized, 'Boy, that's never gonna cut together with everything around it,' so I pulled it out of the middle," Darabont adds. "I had to tie all those pieces together with this big gap now. Oftentimes, you do have to do that, simplify something or take what could've been several days worth of work and boil it down to a few shots. I had certainly done that before, but the extent to which this had to be done on this sequence was unique to me."
Instead, he went with David (Thomas Jane) pulling Billy out of harm's way as Ollie (Toby Jones) takes aim and guns down one of the birds. While Darabont and Jane were sad to see the centipede go, the change "helped focus the jeopardy that Billy is in, in a much more intelligent way," the director continues. "He's put in jeopardy and rather than having a secondary character get him out of it, it becomes his father, the main character of the movie, and Toby Jones, who plays Ollie. For them to be the ones to get Billy out of jeopardy kind of focuses the whole sequence for me. It really gives a cornerstone to it that it wouldn't have had otherwise."
Thankfully, Irene's big flamethrower moment was repurposed for the pharmacy expedition later in the movie, and according to Darabont, Sternhagen spent several days practicing her fiery face-off with one of the unearthly spiders. "She was a little nervous about doing that, but on the other hand, she was also really excited to do it," he recalls in the commentary track.
"Nathan had told her that she played his favorite character in the movie because she gets to kill a creature with her big fireball of flame," adds producer Denise Huth. "And she told me, 'Well, I have to do it now.' She didn't want to disappoint Nathan. And she really embraced it. She was a little afraid of it, but when she finally did it, she was badass."
The Mist is now streaming on Peacock.