If only filmmakers could adapt Stephen King stories with the ease and skill with which King churns them out. "Graveyard Shift" is the latest failed attempt to visualize what King imagines so well. Since the beginner's luck of "Carrie" 14 years ago, 19 King novels or stories have been brought to the screen; of these, only "Carrie," "The Shining" and "Stand by Me" have succeeded. .
This "Shift," however, will pass quickly into that great video graveyard in the suburbs. The acting and directing are substandard. Even the hackneyed plot is barely turned over: An abandoned textile mill is reopened in a small Maine town that seems to get smaller every time somebody wanders into said mill's basement. Eventually, someone notices: "There's something down here" besides the rats that seem to have the run of the place. This is noticed too late.
More unfortunately, that "something" is some thing we never get to see full on, just in drips and stabs. Genre aficionados will recognize this right away as a surefire signal of low budget and low ambition. It's not the only one, though the producers look to have gotten a good deal on skeleton parts.
Among the miscast, there is only one name likely to ring a bell: Brad Dourif, playing a psycho exterminator. When someone asks him why he hates rats, Dourif launches into a blatant rip-off of the anti-shark soliloquy from "Jaws." Even the jaws of life couldn't extricate this film from the quick burial it deserves.
Graveyard Shift, at area theaters, is rated R and contains a tad of gore.