A book written by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. It's about a man in a dystopian future who is a contestant on a popular game show run by Big Brother. The idea is that you, a convicted felon, start in the game studio, and get a one-hour head start. For every hour you survive before you are hunted down by the show's hit men, or civilians looking for the lucrative bounty on you head, the cash prize that will be paid out to your loved ones grows. If you survive past a certain amount of time, you win the big jackpot and get to survive. The prevalence of remote cameras placed pretty much everywhere by the state made this very difficult.

This was later made into a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governer of Minnesota Jesse Ventura. In the movie, the running man had to do battle with a gauntlet of gladiators, and he wasn't supposed to win, just die.

Ah, in the movie, it is revealed that the three "winners" aren't languishing in the tropics but actually rotting, half-burnt, slumped in storage lockers. Presumably enjoying the big jackpot. What does that say about game shows?

Many things in this movie really stood out for me. First and foremost: All of the big television monitors had a widescreen aspect ratio. Does Big Brother watch HDTV? Hmmm...

Also prophetic: Not only was the show a reality-based show, but when forced to fictionalize they turned to professional wrestling (natch, this scene is Jesse "the Body" Ventura's shining moment, and one of the only times Arnold's killed on-screen) and computer magic.

Until I watched this, it'd never really sunk in how many of Arnie's movies had "I'll be back" slipped in not-so-subtly.

More information on the 1987 movie taken from the imdb

Damon Killian, ruthless, backstabbing host of the lethal game show was better known for hosting "Family Feud".

During the closing credits you hear "The Running Man has been brought to you by: Breakaway Paramilitary Uniforms, Orville Pure Procreation Pills, and Cadre Cola - it hits the spot.

Promotional considerations paid for by Elton Flame Throwers, Wainright Electrical Launchers, and Hammond & Gates Chain Saws.

Damon Killian's wardrobe by Chez Antoine, 19th century craftsmanship for the 21st century man. Cadre trooper and studio guard's sidearms provided by Colt Chester, the pistol of patriots.

Remember, tickets for the ICS studio tour are always available for class A citizens in good standing. If you'd like to be a contestant on The Running Man, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to ICS Talent Hunt, care of your local affiliate, and then go out and do something really despicable!
I'm Bill Hilgen. Good night and take care!"

The concept is certainly nothing too original. One book that comes to mind is Deathwish World by Dean Ing which describes a similar survival-based reality show. And he certainly wasn't the first, either.

A great movie, one of my favorites from the 80s. It was directed by Paul Michael Glaser and the script was written by Steven E. De Sousza (based on the novel by Stephen King). In addition to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura the cast included Jim Brown (an ex-football player), Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Erland Van Lindth, Gus Rethwisch, Professor Toru Tanaka (another pro-wrestler), Dweezil Zappa, Richard Dawson, Sven-Ole Thorsen (played La Fours in Mallrats), and more.

It may be a little cheesy by today's standards, but this was one hell of a sci-fi, action-adventure movie. They did a good job on the casting; who better to play TV-warriors than pro-wrestlers? Arnold is not asked to act outside his abilities. The movie has a good feel for the topic also. Dark at points, flashy at others (to get across the feeling of exploitation), and action-filled too.

A precursor to reality television. The most common theme being creating entertainment out of the misery/exploitation of others.

As a slight clarification to bitter_engineer's post, Richards was never a felon in the book, he was working to get the ridiculous amounts of prize money because his daughter was dying of the flu. He was never intended to win in the novel, either, it required hiding from the Hunters and the people for an entire month (although it did carry a prize of 1 billion New Dollars).

Also, the hunters didn't rely on hidden cameras to find him, instead offering cash prizes to confirmed sightings (100 New Dollars for a confirmed sighting, 1000 ND for a sighting leading to a kill), and paying by the foot for film of him. Along with offering prizes for sighting them, they used the game show to make the people hate them, such as using the fact that he killed five young, married police officers in a fire, while receiving a 100 ND prize for each of them.

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