TITLE: THE REGULATORS
AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING
PUBLISHER: SIGNET BOOKS
GENRE: HORROR / FANTASY FICTION
COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK
BLURB FROM THE COVER
There’s a place in Wentworth, Ohio, where summer’s in full swing. It’s called Poplar Street. Up until now it’s been a nice place to live. The idling red van around the corner is about to change all that.
Let the battle against evil begin.
Here come THE REGULATORS…
I haven’t read The Regulators for a long time, a couple of years at least and I forgot how brilliant it is. It was a joy to read it again and remember how damn good it is.
In many ways The Regulators is just like Desperation. An ancient evil that goes by the name Tak escapes its underground prison and takes possession of an innocent bystander and all hell breaks loose.
The Regulators and Desperation could be seen as the same story executed in very different ways. The similarities start and end with Tak taking possession of an innocent bystander.
In The Regulators, Tak is imprisoned in the mine deep under the town of Desperation and bored. He can take possession of the humans working on the mine but his powers are so great he causes the host to explode – literally.
One day Tak’s dreams come true when a young autistic boy called Seth Garin passes Desperation on a family vacation. Seth is special. He’s telepathic and has other gifts. Tak knows he can possess Seth without his host exploding. He calls to Seth and takes possession of his body.
The Regulators is King’s brilliant execution of the fall-out from this.
Seth is obsessed with an old western called The Regulators, the TV show Bonanza and a kids cartoon called MotoKops 2200. Tak uses his powers and Seth’s gifts to manifest characters and events from all of these.
Popular Street starts to turn into the old west, specifically what the town of Desperation in Nevada looked like back in the 1800’s. A child’s cartoonish impression of this anyway.
Characters from The Regulators and MotoKops 2200 band together to take out the residents of Poplar Street who have become the enemy – deadly aliens who’ve invaded earth and want to wipe out humanity. This is taken from an episode of MotoKops 2200 called The Force Corridor.
The Regulators is a bit mental. In a good way. Absolutely nuts.
The Regulators has some very scary moments.
Tak is able to make people physically close hurt themselves. He uses this to make Seth’s aunt Audrey hit herself. He makes Audrey’s husband Herb kill himself. When Audrey is able to escape her house and join her neighbours she tells them about various punishments Tak dished out including making her run head-first at the wall, over and over until she knocked herself out. Creepy as hell.
As Popular Street turns more and more into Desperation in the 1800’s the residents are hunted through the woods by freakish coyotes that can kill them but turn to dust when shot as if they were just holograms.
I loved the subtle changes in characterisation from Desperation.
Ralph and Ellen Carver are now the children and Kirsten and David are the parents.
Cary Ripton, the man who Tak possesses first in Desperation is now a young child and the first to die.
In Desperation, Johnny Marinville saves his ailing career and reputation as a womanising wastrel by deciding to write a series of stories about small town America. In The Regulators he does this by writing hugely popular children’s novels about a cat detective. This made me laugh.
There are loads of examples of this. Poplar Street is in Wentworth, Ohio. It’s the street where the Carvers actually lived in Desperation.
I think The Regulators is far superior to Desperation. I loved Desperation but The Regulators is miles better. I loved the fact there’s none of the religious nonsense of Desperation. It made me wonder what alternative versions King could write of his own novels.
I didn’t understand why King chose to put Richard Bachman’s name on the cover. By this point the world knew Bachman was his pseudonym so this seemed redundant.
THE OPENING LINE
The Regulators is an example of King at his best. Brilliant, quite scary and mad. This is one of his best from his work published in the 90’s.