Moving Finger, The


“I Like Crazy Flavors”

Main Cast: Tom Noonan, Alice Playten

Director: Kenny Meyers

Probably one of the least-known Stephen King film adaptations would be the final episode of the anthology series Monsters which aired from 1988 to1990: The Moving Finger.  I first encountered this story in King’s anthology NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES, but it was a LONG time ago and I’ve only read it once, so how faithful is that adaptation, I can’t say.  But I know they got the gist of it.

Howard is at home one night watching TV when he hears a noise coming from the bathroom.  He goes to check it out, assuming it’s a mouse caught in the tub or something.  Only, when he gets in there, what he finds is even worse: there’s a human finger poking out of his sink drain.  What the WHAT?!?

Howard first denies what he’s seeing. But when he wakes up in the middle of the night about to burst from the three beers he drank before bed, he realizes he can’t go with the finger poking out of the drain, almost taunting him.  He tries to drown it out by turning on the faucets, but the thing just stays there, clogging the drain.  Then it reaches up a little further, poking its tip out of the water and splashing Howard. 

The next day, he tries drain cleaner, but all that does is anger the finger, which snakes out of the sink and slithers along the floor toward Howard.  Finally he tries the electric hedge clippers.  They work.  At first. 

Tom Noonan stars as Howard and while he’s infinitely creepy, I love to watch him work, and his performance here is no different.  He makes Howard a mild man, almost clumsy in his stature (Noonan is a giant at 6’6”), but instantly likable.

The finger is creepy–the idea alone is creepy as hell. But that creepiness is underplayed a bit by the soundtrack here, which doesn’t feel the least bit ominous and, instead, is almost jaunty.  The last thing in the world that’s going to complement and heighten the tension of a finger poking out of a sink drain is a playful score.

The Moving Finger is a very short film, about 21 minutes without commercials, and it originally aired on TV, so obviously it wasn’t going to get too graphic by then-standards. But at the very least I think it could have tried to feel a little dark.  I mean, it’s a Stephen King story. 

Truth be told, though, I only watched The Moving Finger because it was a King story, and I’ve never watched another episode of Monsters because of this episode.  It was a very intriguing idea with a ton of potential, but the finished product just didn’t suggest “horror” to me, and when a show called Monsters adapts a Stephen King story, horror is exactly what I’m expecting.  This, however, was just lighthearted entertainment with a little silliness thrown in.

The Moving Finger was for King completists, but the occasional fan is probably going to be bored by it. In the end, if HORROR is what you’re looking for, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

King on Film

Carrie (1976)

‘Salem’s Lot (1979)

The Shining (1980)

Creepshow (1982)

The Boogeyman (1982)

Cujo (1983)

Disciples of the Crow (1983)

The Woman in the Room (1983)

The Dead Zone (1983)

Christine (1983)

Children of the Corn (1984)

Firestarter (1984)

Word Processor of the Gods (1984)

Cat’s Eye (1985)

Silver Bullet (1985)

Srazhenie (1986)

Gramma (1986)

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Stand By Me(1986)

The Lawnmower Man (1987)

Creepshow 2 (1987)

A Return to Salem’s Lot (1987)

The Running Man (1987)

Sorry, Right Number (1987)

Pet Sematary (1989)

The Cat From Hell (1990)

The Graveyard Shift (1990)

IT (1990 Mini-Series)

Misery (1990)

The Dark Half (1993)

The Tommyknockers (1993)

Needful Things (1993)

The Stand (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

The Mangler (1995)

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

The Langoliers (1995)

Sometimes They Comes Back … Again (1996)

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

Thinner (1996)

The Shining (1997)

Ghosts (1997)

Chattery Teeth (1997)

The Revelations of ‘Becka Paulson (1997)

Trucks (1997)

The Night Flier (1997)

Chinga (1997)

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

Gerald’s Game (2017)

1922 (2017)

The Stand (2021)

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