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Nightmare Fuel / Misery

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Pretty much all of the horror of Misery comes from Annie Wilkes, one of the most horrifying women ever put to print and screen. How do we fear thee? Let us count the ways...

  • That one scene. You know exactly which one we're talking about. That scene is the one most people will remember. It's the one where Annie breaks Paul's ankles by sticking a block of wood between his feet and slamming a sledgehammer against each foot.
    • This is toned down a good deal from the book in which Annie chops off Paul's foot with an axe, to punish him for an escape attempt, and later his thumb, after an argument over problems with the typewriter she supplied him.
      • Only to be cranked back up when she brings him a cake. With a "special" candle. It's his thumb.
  • In the book, Annie takes a rat she trapped in her cellar and brings it in front of Paul. She proceeds to squeeze the rat until blood gushes from its mouth. Then, she licks the blood from her fingertips. Gross.
    • All whilst discussing her extremely nihilistic viewpoint of the world, with humans essentially being trapped rats with broken backs. It really gives an insight into how insane Annie really is.
  • Also in the book, Annie attacks a young cop and runs over his head with a lawnmower. Ick.
  • This moment:
    The key rattled in the lock. Annie was looking in at him, her eyes burned black holes in her face. Her right cheek was swelling up, and it looked like she was going to have a hell of a shiner in the morning. There was red stuff around her mouth and on her chin. For a moment Paul thought it was more blood from her torn lip and then he saw the seeds in it. It was raspberry jam or raspberry filling, not blood. She looked at him. Paul looked back. Neither said anything for a time. Outside, the first drops of rain splatted against the window.
    "If you can get into that chair all by yourself, Paul," she said at last, "then I think you can fill in your own fucking n's." She then closed the door and locked it again. Paul sat looking at it for a long time, almost as if there were something to see. He was too flabbergasted to do anything else.
    • To put things in the proper context, Annie hates it when people swear, and she's already been shown to be murderously nuts. So when Annie busts out an F-Bomb of her own, that's a bad, BAD sign.
  • A simple phrase from the book perfectly describes the terror that Annie inspires.
    Being here with her was like being with the Angel of Death.
  • In the movie, the scene with a depressed Annie talking to Paul about her fear of being abandoned by him starts out as a Tear Jerker, but soon evolves into this.
  • Paul makes a very mild complaint about the typing paper Annie has bought for the writing of Misery's Return. She doesn't take it well, smashing her fist down on his shattered knee before storming out of the house to get some new paper, leaving Paul in unimaginable agony. He has no choice but to pick the lock on his bedroom door and wheel himself through the house to try and find the codeine-based Novril capsules which will quell the pain (and on which he is hooked). He finds it, gobbles up four capsules and, with his pain subsiding, does a little exploring of the house. Then he hears her car turning into the driveway.
  • The very first time we see Annie show her true colors in the film. Paul wakes up from his slumber in the middle of the night to see his caretaker, or rather captor, standing by his bed in a menacing fashion, having read Paul's latest Misery book and discovers that her beloved leading character was killed off. She does not take the news well. Paul tries to reassure her that in spite of her death, her spirit lives on. Big mistake, as her response is pictured above:
    • She yells this all while violently shaking Paul's bed with her hands and upper strength.
  • While Annie is visiting her "Laughing Place," Paul ventures outside his room again for supplies. He picks up Annie's "Memory Lane" scrapbook and leafs through it. He finds out why she was "up there on the stand in Denver," and more importantly, that she's an extremely crafty serial killer who's been murdering people since she was a child. He (not to mention the reader) now knows that Annie is much more dangerous and terrifying than he ever suspected.
  • The scene in the movie where Annie convinces Paul that he needs to burn his new manuscript. While slowly tossing lighter fluid on his bed. All with a sweet smile on her face.
    • Kind of an Adult Fear for writers, or any other creative artist. Imagine working on something for months of your life, putting all you have into it... and now it's gone, and you will never be able to recreate it. Just to twist the knife, Paul thought the novel was really good, far better than his Misery novels.
  • A meta example: Stephen King has said that one of the inspirations for Misery was from an encounter with a man claiming to be one of his biggest fans. The man asked for an autograph and to have his picture taken with King, which he obliged to. This big fan was none other than Mark David Chapman, the same individual who would later murder John Lennon! Needless to say, King was rather unnerved by this.
  • Paul's solution to undoing Misery's death: she was sent into a severe coma from an allergic reaction to a bee sting and was Buried Alive, causing memories of the same thing happening to an 18 year old girl nearby who made a heroic effort to dig her way out only to suffocate just inches from succeeding, one hand with all the flesh stripped off the fingertips protruding from the ground. It's little wonder Annie is so unnerved when she expects another fun romantic adventure and gets, well, a Stephen King story.
  • The Soundtrack Dissonance and Mood Whiplash given off in the Christmas trailer for the film, especially when the trailer ends with Annie bringing down the sledgehammer for the first strike in the ‘hobbling’ scene to solemn Christmas music.


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