The Lawnmower Man

"The Lawnmower Man" is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the May 1975 issue of Cavalier and later collected in King's 1978 collection Night Shift.

"The Lawnmower Man"
AuthorStephen King
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Horror, Science fiction short story
Published inCavalier
Publication typePeriodical
Media typePrint (Magazine, Paperback)
Publication date1975

Plot summary

One summer, Harold Parkette is in need of a new lawn mowing service. The summer before, a neighbor's cat was accidentally killed when another neighbor's dog chased it under the mower. Harold has been putting off hiring new help for the summer, but when he sees an ad for a mowing service, he calls. A van reading "Pastoral Greenery" soon pulls up to Parkette's home. The man working for the service, a hairy, pot-bellied fellow, is shown the overgrown back lawn and is hired. Harold is enjoying a rest as he reads the paper, wondering about the lawnmower man mentioning Circe, when he hears the lawnmower outside. Startled, he races to the back porch and sees the lawnmower running by itself and the naked lawnmower man following it on all fours and eating the grass. The lawnmower seemingly deliberately chases and kills a mole and Harold faints.

When Harold revives, the lawnmower man explains that this new method, introduced by his boss, grants substantial benefits, and that he makes sacrificial victims of customers who cannot appreciate the process. Parkette, though unnerved, allows the lawnmower man to return to work. As soon as the man is out of sight, Harold desperately calls the police, but is interrupted by the lawnmower man, who reveals his boss's name: Pan. The lawnmower briefly chases Harold through his living room before brutally slaughtering him.

When the police arrive, they conclude that Parkette was murdered and dismembered by a schizophrenic sex maniac. As they leave, the scent of freshly cut grass hangs strongly in the air.


  • The story was adapted in graphic form in Bizarre Adventures #29 (December 1981). The adaptation features the original text of the short story, accompanied by art by Walt Simonson.[1] Publisher IDW rereleased the story in a portfolio edition shot from the original art in 2014.[2][3]
  • A twelve-minute Dollar Baby short film, The Lawnmower Man: A Suburban Nightmare, was released in 1987. It was written by future screenwriter and New Line Cinema production executive Michael De Luca (In the Mouth of Madness) and directed by James Gonis. The film was shot in 1985 while Gonis was a junior at New York University. Originally budgeted at $800, the final film ultimately cost nearly $5,000. It has screened at several film festivals: New York University; at Horrorfest 1989, a screening of King films at the Stanley Hotel (the hotel that inspired King's novel The Shining); a New York film festival of Greek-American filmmakers in 1991; and at the 1st Annual Dollar Baby festival in Orono, Maine in 2004.
  • A feature film, The Lawnmower Man, starring Jeff Fahey and Pierce Brosnan, was released in 1992 by New Line Cinema. This film used an original screenplay entitled "CyberGod", borrowing only the title of the short story. The film concerns a scientist, Dr. Lawrence Angelo (Brosnan), who subjects mentally challenged Jobe Smith (Fahey) to virtual reality experiments. Jobe's mental abilities improve to superhuman levels as the process continues, but he lacks the emotional maturity and character to use his powers humanely. When Angelo's employers interfere with the process, Jobe becomes a homicidal megalomaniac. King won a lawsuit to have his name removed from the credits, and then won further damages when his name was included in the home video release.[4] A video game adaptation, loosely based on the film, was released for the Super NES, Genesis, Sega CD, PC CD-ROM and Game Boy. A sequel film, The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, was released in 1996.

See also


  1. ^ "Bizarre Adventures #29 - The Lawnmower Man (Issue)". Comic Vine. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  2. ^ "IDW Announces John Buscema Silver Surfer, Walt Simonson Manhunter Artist's Editions, Stephen King & Simonson Lawnmower Man Portfolio - Bleeding Cool News And Rumors". 20 April 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  3. ^ IDW Publishing [@IDWPublishing] (12 September 2014). "Walter Simonson's Lawnmower Man: Artist's Edition Portfolio is available!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ "Stephen King wins lawsuit". Retrieved 3 October 2018.

External links

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The Lawnmower Man is considered the first, seminal film to feature "Virtual Reality" as a cautionary tale becoming the number one commercially successful independent film of 1992, budgeted at just under $6 million and eventually earning over $150 million worldwide.

Virtuosity became the first major film to feature nanotechnology set in a cyberpunk based future casting Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington together a full 12 years before they would again co-star and many Oscar nominations later in a 2007 project (American Gangster).

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The film was originally titled Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man, but King successfully sued the producers for attaching his name to the film and stated in court documents that the film "bore no meaningful resemblance" to his story. An earlier short film, also titled The Lawnmower Man, is a more faithful adaptation of the short story. It was directed by Jim Gonis in 1987.A sequel, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, was released in 1996, with Austin O'Brien as the only returning actor from the original film.

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