Stephen King’s original short story ”Graveyard Shift” is probably the closest the goremeister from Maine has come to the gothic shock of his prime literary influence, H.P. Lovecraft. A page turner about factory workers who meet up with a mutant thingy at the bottom of a rat-infested basement, King’s tale infuses the oozy dread of Lovecraft tales like ”The Rats in the Walls” with blunt, blue-collar cynicism. The story is a pulpy little classic, but the Graveyard Shift film version, directed by Ralph S. Singleton, expands it into a barely functional parade of horror clichés: Willard meets Alien on Friday the 13th. Having stiffed in theaters, Shift now joins the dusty video shelf of botched King adaptations.
Granted, there are some cheap yuks in watching villain Stephen Macht mangle a Maine accent (he sounds like Scotty on Star Trek), and Brad Dourif has a high time as a gonzo exterminator before he gets flattened by a runaway tombstone. Hero David Andrews is too dour by half, however, and the monster, when you finally get a decent squint at it, looks like Fozzy Bear dipped in cheese fondue. Horror completists may find Graveyard Shift worth a sit-through, but most viewers will root for the rats, who have more animal magnetism than anybody else in the cast. D+