The promotional poster of THINNER.

Thinner is a 1996 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Richard Bachman, who was later revealed to be Stephen King. It was directed by Tom Holland, of Child's Play and Fright Night fame, who earlier directed the film adaptation of The Langoliers.

Plot Summary

Billy Halleck is an obese, upper class lawyer living in the fictional Maine suburb of Fairview. Billy weighs around 300 pounds and is struggling to lose weight for his wife, Heidi, and his daughter, Linda. Billy successfully defends an underground mobster named Richie 'the hammer" Ginelli, who tells Billy that he "owes him one". Billy goes to dinner that night at the country club, and on the drive back, Heidi chastises him for eating so much. Heidi then tells him that there is "more to life than food" and proceeds to give him a blow job. Distracted by this, Billy winds up running over an old gypsy woman from the traveling gypsy carnival. Billy manages to use his friends, a judge and a police chief, to help run the gypsies out of town and get him off the hook. Duncan Hopley, the police chief, tells the court that he gave Billy a breathalyzer, when he didn't, and the judge declares Billy not guilty, and Billy gets off scot free. On the way out of the coroner's inquist, the old gypsy's father, Tadzu Lempke, a 106 year old man, brushes Billy's cheek and says "thinner". Billy is shaken badly by this, but has no idea what to think. The next week, Billy realizes that he has lost 25 pounds. Everyone is amazed, and Heidi believes it is guilt. Billy again, does not know what to think. By the next week, Billy has lost even more weight, and desperately attempts to eat as much as possible. Billy's family becomes worried, and arrange to have him checked into the local clinic. Billy travels to the judge's house, and discovers that he has gotten "skin cancer". Billy grills the judge's wife, who tells him that Lempke also touched the judge, and whispered "lizard". The judge's wife reveals that he has begun growing scales on his skin, and a tail. Billy believes the woman is crazy, but she continues to say that the three have been cursed. Billy does not believe in a gypsy curse and leaves, while the hysterical woman screams that it was all Billy's fault. When Billy gets home, he sees that a local doctor named Mike Houston is leaving. Knowing that it is very late, Billy begins to suspect that Heidi is having an affair. Heidi denies this, and tells Billy that he should check him into the clinic. Linda is confused about what is going on, and Billy leaves angrily to visit Duncan Hopley. Hopley has gotten an extremely horrendous case of facial acne, and tells Billy to take one of his guns and kill Lempke, because he believes that Lempke will never take the curse off. Billy refuses, and as he leaves, Hopley commits suicide with the weapon. At Hopley's funeral, Billy decides to leave town to find the traveling carnival and attempt to convince Lempke to take the curse off. Heidi and Dr. Mike Houston discuss about Billy's deteriorating mental condition and Billy deduces that they will commit him. While he is driving, Billy discovers that the judge has died, leaving Billy completely alone. Billy skips town and tracks down the gypsies, furiously demanding for Lempke to take off the curse, but he tells him that he will die before he will take off the curse. Billy then begs, but Lempke does not budge. Billy then tells him that he has brought the curse of the "white man from town" on them, but he is shot through the hand by Lempke's slingshot wielding granddaughter. Billy leaves the scene and phones Richie, asking for his help. Richie tracks down the gypsies and poisons their dogs, leaving a note that says "WHITE MAN FROM TOWN SAYS TAKE IT OFF", but the gypsies do not budge. Richie than decides to shoot up the gypsy camp, killing Lempke's granddaughter's husband. The next day, Richie assaults Lempke's granddaughter with a jar of acid, and is about to shoot her, but Billy arrives and tells Richie to stop. Richie agrees, and tells her to tell Lempke to meet Billy at the nearby lighthouse. An exhausted Billy falls asleep, where Lempke gives Billy a pie and cuts his hand, dripping lots of blood with the "curse inside" into the pie. Lempke tells him that the curse can only be removed by feeding some of the pie to an unsuspecting person. Lempke tells him to eat his own pie, so he can "die clean". Billy goes home and feeds the pie to his wife, as punishment for her affair. Billy gains weight back and goes downstairs where he discovers that his daughter has actually eaten some of the pie. Billy is stricken with grief and begins to commit suicide with the pie, when he hears the doorbell. At the door is none other than Dr. Mike Houston, who presumably arrived to continue the affair. Billy invites the doctor inside to share the pie. He smiles at the camera and says "white doctor from town" as he shuts the door.


The film was panned by critics and fans alike, but many found praise in the film, praising Stephen King's cameo as a pharmacist (ironically named Dr. Bangor) as well as the cast, especially Joe Mantagena as Richie Ginelli, and Michael Constantine as Tadzu Lempke. Many fans also disliked the ending, which was significantly different than that of the book's, where Billy kills himself with the pie. In the movie, Billy kills himself and the doctor who he thought was having an affair with his wife. Even the film's director Tom Holland disliked it, as it did not have the same level of dread as the book did.


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