Literature / The Regulators
is a 1996 novel written by Stephen King
under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
In the town of Wentworth, Ohio, an autistic boy named Seth has gained power to control the reality around him (thanks to the machinations of the sinister Tak) and turns it into a caricature of The Wild West
based off the shows that Seth watches. Creatures from Seth's imagination begin to attack the town and the residents are forced to work together to stop Tak.
This work contains examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Gary Soderson.
- Alternate Universe: Desperation, another book by Stephen King, is an alternate universe version of The Regulators. It has the same characters, but in different roles (a brother and sister become a married couple for example, with their parents in one book becoming their children in the other).
- Anyone Can Die
- An Arm and a Leg: Marielle Soderson gets her arm almost completely blown off by the Regulators.
- Bang Bang BANG: Gunshots are incredibly loud; a sound of a shotgun is described as the sound of "a detonating backpack missile". Justified, because the shooters are actually figments of Seth's imagination, made real by Tak.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: Between Seth and Tak.
- Body Horror: Less so than Desperation in which Tak's possession of the body would cause the host to expand and eventually fall apart; here, his possession of Seth is more of the psychic variety. That being said, Tak is unable to possess anyone else but Seth because their minds are too strong. When he tries, their heads explode.
- Captain Ersatz: The characters of Seth's favorite cartoon MotoKops 2200 are a cross between G.I. Joe and the Power Rangers.
- Cartridges in Flight: Early in the novel, a handful of characters try to identify what sort of gun a large, pointed metal slug could have come from by looking for features such as the indentation from a firing pin or a stamp bearing the caliber or manufacturer's name. Made even more glaring by one of the characters mentioning they used to help their father reload ammunition- meaning they'd at least know how a bullet works- and another having been on the ground in the Vietnam War.
- Darker and Edgier: To Desperation given that it's written by Bachman.
- Demonic Possession: Tak's possession of Seth.
- Eldritch Abomination: Tak.
- Enemy Mine: In Seth's favorite show, the heroes team up with their enemy to stop something from destroying Earth. Tak channels this as the final assault on the protagonists.
- Evil Phone: The Tak-Phone.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Various television characters from Seth's imagination wreak havoc on the block.
- Gorn: It's definitely of King's goriest works.
- Happy Place: Seth manages to create such a refuge for his aunt/guardian Audrey (using a vacation she took in her college days as source material) to give her a way to get away from Tak's various torments.
- Hypothetical Casting: After Johnny Marinville and his black neighbor, Brad Josephson have a hard time climbing a fence to escape from monsters, Johnny jokingly suggests that they should make a movie called Black Men Can't Climb Fences, where Brad would be played by Laurence Fishburne.
- Kitsch Collection: Kirstie Carver collects Hummel figurines. Her goal in life is to design one that looks like her son. When Johnny sees them, his first thought is "and the Carvers had seemed so normal in other respects."
- Ludicrous Gibs: When one character gets shot by the Regulators, she's described as simply disappearing, and then a second later a rain of blood falls to the ground.
- Mauve Shirt: Mary Jackson is introduced and given a rather full backstory, such as the fact that she's on her way back from cheating on her husband, and how she realizes she's not wearing any underwear, while she's in the act of dying. This is done to the point that she even believes that her husband and the neighbors, who are gathered after the death of the paper boy have figured out she is cheating are there to confront her moments before she is killed. This is especially jarring given in Desperation she is a much more prominent character who manages to survive, against all odds, to the end of the book. This makes sense, considering The Regulators is in many ways an inversion of Desperation.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Seth draws pictures of the drive-by shooting in which his entire family was killed. The pictures are actually included in the text.
- Open Heart Dentistry: Subverted. Marielle Soderson's arm is torn off by a gunshot. Tom Billingsley, a vet, tries to treat her, but she soon dies. Billingsley remarks that she needed a trauma unit, not "an old veterinarian with shaky hands".
- Orphaned Punchline: When Mary Jackson is shot to death and falls down, Johnny sees that she's not wearing underwear, and thinks of a punchline of an old joke: "I don't know about the other two, but the guy in the middle looks like Willie Nelson". (The joke itself is never told in the book; it's about a woman who has the faces of celebrities tattooed to her thighs.)
- The Rainman: Seth.
- Reality Warper: Tak.
- Scrapbook Story: Interwoven with the narrative are diary entries from Audrey detailing her life with Seth and Tak's growing influence, as well as newspaper clippings, letters, pages from books, and Seth's drawings.
- Sibling Switch Squick: Thanks to the alternate universe, the Carver family from one version of the story reverts who are siblings and who is married. In other words, David and Kirsten/Pie would be brother and sister in Desperation, and their parents Ellen and Ralph, but in The Regulators, they're married, with Ellen and Ralph as their children.
- Stepford Suburbia: Stephen King spends the first 5 or 6 pages of the novel practically gushing over Poplar Street's all-American normalness with narration so upbeat it's almost manic. And then everything goes straight to hell, in typical King style.
- Trash of the Titans: The Wyler/Garin household; Seth/Tak doesn't care what the place is like, and his aunt/guardian Audrey, the only surviving adult in the household, has much bigger problems occupying her time and energy. As a result, the place is a huge mess.
- "Wanted!" Poster: A baseball card wrapper turns into one about Jeb Murdock (the main villain from Tak's favorite Western).
- Your Head Asplode: The result of Tak's failed attempt to possess Cammie.