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Literature / Dreamcatcher

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Dreamcatcher is a 2001 novel written by Stephen King.

Gary Ambrose "Jonesy" Jones, Pete Moore, Joe "Beaver" Clarendon and Henry Devlin are four lifelong friends. As kids, they saved Douglas "Duddits" Cavell, a boy with Down syndrome, from a group of bullies. Upon doing so, Duddits bestows the boys with telepathic powers.

As adults, they go on an annual hunting trip where they come across a delirious stranger talking about lights in the sky. It becomes revealed that he's infected by an alien parasite. The army arrives led by the psychotic Colonel Abraham Kurtz who puts the area under quarantine. As the infection develops, the plot thickens.

Was made into a film directed by Lawrence Kasdan in 2003.

The novel provide examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Although he attempts to deny it, Pete is definitely one.
  • Anyone Can Die: Beaver and Pete both die in the first half of the story. By the end of the book, Jonesy and Henry are the only surviving characters.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Between Mr. Gray and Jonesy.
  • Body Horror: The aliens are referred to as "shit-weasels". Guess where they come out of infected people. Later on, Kurtz is infected by the Byrum, and it grows on his face like a mold infestation that's squeezing and cracking his skull.
  • Canon Welding: Takes place in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, the site of previous King novels IT and Insomnia. At one point a character comes across a memorial written by the Loser's Club from IT. Scrawled on in graffiti is "PENNYWISE LIVES''.
  • Deconstruction: Of Alien Invasion fiction in general. King set out to rationalize a species being advanced enough to travel the cosmos while still desiring to invade and conquer pre-spaceflight planets. He came up with the Byrus; (semi)-intelligent parasites spreading throughout the universe using whatever tools available. The ones in the book were just lucky enough to have stolen interstellar craft from a far less belligerent species.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The animals are seen fleeing in mass migration.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Kurtz, to an extent. Doesn't make him any more likable, though, especially when he goes too far in treating all people infected with the Ripley as though they're doomed when infection is only occasionally fatal.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Mr. Gray's head explodes, infecting Jonesy with hundreds of alien spores and transferring Mr. Gray's consciousness into him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mr. Gray is at least initially polite in most interactions.
  • Going Native: Jonesy tempts Mr. Gray with this several times after seeing how much he enjoys human senses and emotions. Mr. Gray, for his part, seriously considers it several times, but cannot bring himself to go against his species' Hive Mind. Just before he is killed by Jonesy, Mr. Gray laments that he should have accepted Jonesy's offer.
  • Groin Attack: This is how one character dies in the novel.
  • Humans Are Special: Mr. Gray mentions several times how Humans have put up more resistance against them than any of race they have assimilated. In the end, it is revealed that over half of the human population is naturally immune to the Byrus.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Mr. Gray quickly realizes this, as he is tempted several times (and nearly accepts) by Jonesy to abandon his mission to infect the world and simply enjoy experiencing all the human senses and emotions. While he refuses, by the end of the novel he gradually grows, speaks and acts more human.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Duddits is of the Type C variety.
  • Meat Moss: A component of the aliens' invasion, spreading gradually across whatever surfaces it can. It's likelier to be fungal in nature, but still has a visceral, fleshy look.
  • Mook–Face Turn: First with Owen Underhill, who decides to free Henry and help him take down Mr. Gray, and then with Freddy Johnson, who realizes that Kurtz is crazy and subsequently shoots him.
  • True Companions: Jonesy, Henry, Pete, and Beaver are this, along with Duddits.
  • Sad Clown: Beaver turns out to be this, when he tells Jonesy that "he has to be happy for the rest of them".
  • Sense Freak: Mr. Gray, in Jonsey's body becomes this, his race of "sentient mushrooms" having never experienced human emotions and senses like taste and anger. It takes a dark turn when Mr. Gray realizes how much he enjoys killing people.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: How Henry blows up one of the two Hummers to kill the final shit-weasel. Double-subverted, since at first nothing happens and Henry even laments that in real life this kind of thing apparently doesn't work the way it does in Hollywood movies, but then fuel tank explodes after all.
  • Shout-Out:
    Perlmutter had read Heart of Darkness, had seen Apocalypse Now, and had on many occasions thought that the name Kurtz was simply a little too convenient. He would have bet a hundred dollars (a great sum for a non-wagering artistic fellow such as himself) that it wasn’t the boss’s real name-that the boss’s real name was Arthur Holsapple or Dagwood Elgart, maybe even Paddy Maloney. Kurtz? Unlikely. It was almost surely an affectation, as much a prop as George Patton’s pearl-handled .45.
    • The government nickname for the alien fungus is "The Ripley" after Sigourney Weaver's character from the Alien movies.
      • Jonesy is also the name of Ripley's cat from Alien.
    • And Duddits's love for Scooby-Doo (despite not being able to pronounce the theme song's lyrics).
    • "Sympathy for the Devil" is Kurtz's anthem.
  • Spock Speak: Mr. Gray at first. He loses it and speaks more naturally as time goes by and he experiences more of Jonesy's emotions.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Mr. Gray loves BACON.
  • Unfortunate Names: Owen Underhill had a childhood neighbour named Dick Rapeloew.
  • Vorpal Pillow: How Mr. Gray is killed.
  • Water Source Tampering: Mr. Gray's plan of spreading the alien infection.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Mr. Gray's head explodes early on to infect Jonesy with his spores. Later on, Kurtz's head is blown off with a gun.

The film version has examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the book the minor character Trish had brown hair; in the film she has blonde hair.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The film changes Kurtz to Curtis because of the Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness reference. King asked them to change it to a name that still sounded similar to Kurtz.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Well, not heroism per se, but Henry was kind of a jerk in the book (of the intellectual persuasion), but not so much in the film.
  • Evil Brit: Mr. Gray speaks with a British accent, despite possessing an American.
  • Groin Attack: This is how one character dies in the film.
  • I Am a Monster: Colonel Curtis' pre-asskicking speech during the Apache gunship attack.
    "Now if anyone's thinking: Why those poor, helpless little folk, all naked and unarmed outside their crashed intergalatica winnebago. What kind of monster, could hear that heartbreak and go in just the same? I'm that dog! I'm that monster! These little mothers are as harmless as a fox in a henhouse! And I'm here to kick some ass!"
  • I Never Told You My Name: A woman who lost her keys meets Pete and he says her name without her telling him. He then helps her find her keys, demonstrating knowledge of her car, her prior movements and the exact place she lost her keys. He then asks her on a date at a restaurant which he says is located "right on [her] way back". She is understandably creeped out.
  • One-Winged Angel: Both Mr. Gray and Duddits are able to transform into monstrous creatures as their 'final form'.
  • Race Lift: The white Kurtz from the novel is played by Morgan Freeman.
  • Telepathy: Weaponised , as the gunship crews hear the aliens pleading for them not to. Curtis responds with a Rousing Speech.
  • Unexplained Accent: Jonesy speaks with a British accent whenever Mr. Gray is controlling him, for some strange reason.
  • Vagina Dentata: The mouths of the "shit-weasels" give this impression; as a whole they look something like a lamprey from hell.