It rained fire : "The Running Man" from Bachman to Schwarzenegger

MANN, Craig Ian (2017). It rained fire : "The Running Man" from Bachman to Schwarzenegger. Science Fiction Film and Television, 10 (2), 197-213.

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One of seven books to be published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, Stephen King’s THE RUNNING MAN (1982) is a dystopian sf novel written in 1971, during a time of severe civil unrest under Richard Nixon, but not published until after the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s New Right revolution. A countercultural and scathingly anti-capitalist work, it tells the story of an impoverished family man selected to take part in ‘The Running Man', a grotesque game show that offers cash rewards to contestants willing to be hunted on television. A film adaptation arrived before the end of the 1980s, but the cinematic version of THE RUNNING MAN (Glaser US 1987) is often lambasted for transforming a leftist novel into a conservative action blockbuster. This article examines the differing cultural contexts in which THE RUNNING MAN was written, published and adapted in order to investigate the thematic continuities between King’s book and a film that shares both its writer and star with COMMANDO (Lester US 1985). It illustrates that, despite many scholars’ criticisms and several changes to King’s narrative, the socialist message of the Bachman book survives, rendering THE RUNNING MAN one of the few 1980s action films to criticise the Reagan administration.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Humanities Research Centre
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Department of Humanities
Identification Number:
Page Range: 197-213
Depositing User: Craig Mann
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2017 13:57
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 16:31

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