Question about Stephen King movies brought to the silverscreen

Discussion in 'Movies' started by todd stone, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

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    Most of his movies are generally considered flops.

    My question is, if Stephen King is supposed to be this fantastic writer etc, why would a big name director ie. spielburg, lucas etc not want to direct his adaptations?
     
  2. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    Todd, quite a few big name directors have done Stephen King adaptations- Rob Reiner, Brian DePalma, Bryan Singer, Frank Darabont, Lawerence Kasdan, David Cronenberg, George Romero, and Stanley Kubrick. Of course, not all of these directors made good movies when they adapted King's work.

    Spielberg has owned the rights to The Talisman for years and has strongly considered directing it himself several times before turning it over to acclaimed "House of Sand and Fog" director Vadim Perelman.
     
  3. Jim Williams

    Jim Williams Second Unit

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    Another factor to consider is that most of Steven King's novels are long with extensive character development. Once it is translated to the screen, so much is lost that the film itself ends up being weak. The best Steven King movies came from short stories like Stand By Me and The Green Mile. although The Green Mile was eventually published as a novel, it was originally was published as a series of short stories that made up a "serial novel".

    Steven King felt that The Stand would not hold up as a 2 or 3 hour movie so he did it as a TV mini-series so most of the feel of the original novel could be conveyed to the screen.
     
  4. jonathanR

    jonathanR Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with you Jim. It also seems like alot of the recent King adaptions to Film, within the last 10 years, have had terrible endings. Or endings that just don't hold up to conclude the movie.
     
  5. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    My three favorite King books (Christine, Firestarter, and The Dead Zone) were all made into dreadful movies. Kubrick's take on The Shining didn't bother me as much, since I saw the movie before reading the book.

    As for your question... Big name directors have had no problem tackling King's books in the past. Hell, John Carpenter is responsible for my least favorite King movie, Christine [​IMG]
     
  6. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Do you really think The Dead Zone is dreadful? I've always loved it and thought Cronenberg did a masterful job with the film. It's a very haunting movie, and I think that it's the *only* King screen adaptation that faithfully captures the creepiness of the novel. Christopher Walken, Tom Skerrit, Brooke Adams, Herbert Lom - they're all great in their roles. My only gripe with casting is Martin Sheen as Greg Stillson. I thought he played the character over the top, and it almost derailled the movie. But in the end The Dead Zone remains my favorite King story on film. I'm just curious as to why you find it so bad.
     
  7. Robert Anthony

    Robert Anthony Producer

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    you didn't like Dead Zone? Really? I thought that was one of Cronenberg's better films.
     
  8. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Like the others have said, King's stories don't really hold up all that well as high concept ("Get this, the car is possessed and make people evil!")-- rather 90% of the keys to his novels are the characters. He creates really believable and likeable people, AND THEN puts them through hell.

    When you have 2 hours on screen to tell the story, it often falls flat because his "plots" aren't necessarily as strong without the connections with the characters, connections we arrive at via internal dialogs and a more omniscient point of view: something that you simply can't simulate easily on screen.

    Most great books make pretty mediocre movies in comparison... it takes a very special writer/director hand to know how to translate the material- and some material is simply destined to never translate well... no matter how masterful the director or screenwriter.
     
  9. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Movies

    Carrie (1976) from the 1974 novel
    The Shining (1980) from the 1977 novel
    Cujo (1983) from the 1981 novel
    The Dead Zone (1983) from the 1979 novel
    Christine (1983) from the 1983 novel
    Children of the Corn (1984) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    Firestarter (1984) from the 1980 novel
    Cat's Eye (1985) (partially) from the 1978 Night Shift short stories Quitters, Inc. and The Ledge
    Silver Bullet (1985) from the 1984 Cycle of the Werewolf novella
    Maximum Overdrive (1986) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Trucks
    Stand By Me (1986) from the 1982 Different Seasons novella The Body
    Creepshow 2 (1987) (partially) from the 1985 Skeleton Crew short story The Raft
    The Running Man (1987) from the 1982 Richard Bachman novella
    A Return to Salem's Lot (1987) from the 1975 novel Salem's Lot
    Pet Sematary (1989) from the 1983 novel
    Graveyard Shift (1990) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    Misery (1990) from the 1987 novel
    Sometimes They Come Back (1991) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    The Lawnmower Man (1992) from the 1978 Night Shift short story (barely)
    Children of the Corn 2: The Final Sacrifice (1993) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Children of the Corn
    The Dark Half (1993) from the 1989 novel
    Needful Things (1993) from the 1991 novel
    The Shawshank Redemption (1994) from the 1982 Different Seasons novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
    The Mangler (1995) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    Dolores Claiborne (1995) from the 1992 novel
    Children of the Corn 3 (1995) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Children of the Corn
    Sometimes They Come Back...Again (1996) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Sometimes They Come Back
    Children of the Corn 4 (1996) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Children of the Corn
    Thinner (1996) from the 1984 Richard Bachman novel
    Quicksilver Highway (1997) (partially) from the 1993Nightmares & Dreamscapes short story Chattery Teeth
    The Night Flier (1997) from the 1993 Nightmares & Dreamscapes short story
    Children of the Corn 5 (1998) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Children of the Corn
    Apt Pupil (1998) from the 1982 Different Seasons novella
    The Rage: Carrie 2 from the 1974 novel Carrie
    Sometimes They Come Back...for More (1999) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Sometimes They Come Back
    Children of the Corn 6 (1999) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Children of the Corn
    The Green Mile (1999) from the 1996 serial novel
    Hearts in Atlantis (2001) from the 1999 novel
    Children of the Corn 7 (2001) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Children of the Corn
    The Mangler 2 (2001) from the 1978 Night Shift short story The Mangler
    Firestarter 2 (2002) from the 1980 novel Firestarter
    Dreamcatcher (2003) from the 2001 novel
    Secret Window (2004) from the 1990 Four Past Midnight novella Secret Window, Secret Garden
    Riding the Bullet (2004) from the 2002 Everything's Eventual short story
    The Talisman (2005) from the 1984 novel
    Bag of Bones (2005) from the 1998 novel

    TV Movies and Mini-Series

    Salem's Lot (1979) from the 1975 novel
    It (1990) from the 1986 novel
    The Golden Years (1991) original screenplay
    The Tommyknockers (1993) from the 1987 novel
    The Stand (1994) from the 1978 novel
    The Langoliers (1995) from the 1990 Four Past Midnight novella
    The Shining (1997) from the 1977 novel
    Trucks (1997) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    Storm of the Century (1999) original screenplay
    Rose Red (2002) original screenplay
    Carrie (2002) from the 1974 novel
    The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (2003) from the 2002 Rose Red mini-series
    Kingdom Hospital (2004) original screenplay
    Salem's Lot (2004) from the 1975 novel
    Desperation (2005) from the 1996 novel

    Original Story / Screenplay Credit

    Creepshow (1982)
    Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
    Sleepwalkers (1992)
    Michael Jackson's Ghosts (1997)

    TV Episodes

    Tales from the Darkside (1984) from the 1985 Skeleton Crew short story Word Processor of the Gods
    Tales from the Darkside (1984) from the 1985 Skeleton Crew short story Sorry, Right Number
    The Twilight Zone (1985) from the 1985 Skeleton Crew short story Gramma
    Monsters (1988) from the 1993 Nightmares & Dreamscapes short story The Moving Finger
    The X-Files (1993) original screenplay: Chinga
    The Outer Limits (1995) original screenplay: The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson

    Short Films

    The Boogeyman (1982) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    The Woman in the Room (1983) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    Disciples of the Crow (1983) from the 1978 Night Shift short story Children of the Corn
    Cain Rose Up (1999) from the 1985 Skeleton Crew short story
    Paranoid (2000) from the 1985 Skeleton Crew poem Paranoid: A Chant
    Strawberry Spring (2001) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    Night Surf (2002) from the 1978 Night Shift short story
    Rainy Season (2002) from the 1993 Nightmares & Dreamscapes short story
    Autopsy Room 4 (2003) from the 2002 Everything's Eventual short story

    ---

    OK, I did all that just to get organized. Feel free to correct any errors I may have made. [​IMG] (This is one of my favorite movie topics, in case you couldn't tell.)

    As far as the directors go, let's look at the 'bigger' King adaptations (leaving out the endless Corn sequels)...

    Carrie (1976) Dir: Brian De Palma (Dressed to Kill)
    Salem's Lot (1979) Dir: Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
    The Shining (1980) Dir: Stanley Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange)
    Cujo (1983) Dir: Lewis Teague (Alligator)
    The Dead Zone (1983) Dir: David Cronenberg (The Fly)
    Christine (1983) Dir: John Carpenter (Halloween)
    Children of the Corn (1984) Dir: Fritz Kiersch (Um...Tuff Turf)
    Firestarter (1984) Dir: Mark L. Lester (Commando)
    Cat's Eye (1985) Dir: Lewis Teague, again
    Silver Bullet (1985) Dir: Daniel Attias, went on to do a LOT of television directing
    Maximum Overdrive (1986) Dir: Stephen King [​IMG]
    Stand By Me (1986) Dir: Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride)
    Creepshow 2 (1987) Dir: Michael Gornick, another guy who went on to TV work
    The Running Man Dir: Paul Michael Glaser (The Cutting Edge)
    A Return to Salem's Lot Dir: Larry Cohen (It's Alive and many others)
    Pet Sematary (1989) Dir: Mary Lambert (The In Crowd)
    It (1990) Dir: Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween 3)
    Graveyard Shift (1990) Dir: Ralph Singleton, has moved on to producing
    Misery (1990) Dir: Rob Reiner, again
    Sometimes They Come Back (1991) Dir: Tom McLaughlin (Friday the 13th Part 6)
    The Lawnmower Man (1992) Dir: Brett Leonard (Virtuosity)
    The Dark Half (1993) Dir: George Romero (Dawn of the Dead)
    Needful Things (1993) Dir: Fraser Heston (Alaska)
    The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Dir: Frank Darabont (The Majestic)
    The Stand (1994) Dir: Mick Garris (Critters 2)
    The Mangler (1995) Dir: Tobe Hooper, again
    The Langoliers (1995) Dir: Tom Holland (Child's Play)
    Dolores Claiborne (1995) Dir: Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman)
    Thinner (1996) Dir: Tom Holland, again
    Quicksilver Highway (1997) Dir: Mick Garris, again
    The Night Flier (1997) Dir: Mark Pavia, mia
    The Shining (1997) Dir: Mick Garris, again
    Apt Pupil (1998) Dir: Bryan Singer (X-Men)
    The Green Mile (1999) Dir: Frank Darabont, again
    Storm of the Century (1999) Dir: Craig Baxley (I Come in Peace)
    Hearts in Atlantis (2001) Dir: Scott Hicks (Snow Falling On Cedars)
    Rose Red (2002) Dir: Craig Baxley, again
    Carrie (2002) Dir: David Carson (Star Trek: Generations)
    Dreamcatcher (2003) Dir: Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill)
    The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (2003) Dir: Craig Baxley, again
    Secret Window (2004) Dir: David Koepp (Stir of Echoes)
    Kingdom Hospital (2004) Dir: Craig Baxley, again
    Riding the Bullet (2004) Dir: Mick Garris, again
    Salem's Lot (2004) Dir: Mikael Salomon (Hard Rain)
    The Talisman (2005) Dir: Vadim Perelman (House of Sand and Fog)
    Bag of Bones (2005) Dir: Peter Care (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys)
    Desperation (2005) Dir: Mick Garris, again

    --So just scanning over this list I see Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma, Rob Reiner (twice), John Carpenter, Taylor Hackford, Tobe Hooper (twice), David Cronenberg, Frank Darabont (twice), Bryan Singer, Scott Hicks, Lawrence Kasdan, George Romero, David Koepp, Vadim Perelman...

    I see genre favorites like Lewis Teague (twice), Tom Holland, Mick Garris, Tom McLaughlin, Brett Leonard, Tommy Lee Wallace and the great Larry Cohen...

    Plus I also see a lot of filmmakers coming back to adapt King's work on more than one occasion. For the most part I'd say Mr. King has had fine directors...for the most part.

    She never really became a bigtime 'player' but I'm still blown away by the job Mary Lambert did on the original Pet Sematary.

    And I'm with those who adore The Dead Zone. Great, great movie.
     
  10. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    Totally agreed. Another thing about King's work- there is a lot that happens "internally" that can be very hard to visualize. Dreamcatcher is a great example- A large portion of the book takes place inside a character's mind that King describes as a very elaborate fileroom. The movie adapts this idea to the screen literally and what I thought worked in the book was an utter failure cinematically.

    Dialogue is an issue too- King rights very distinctive dialogue that can be difficult for some actors to pull off. Dreamcatcher is an excellent example once again- Lawerence Kasdan had an excellent ensemble cast and most of the dialougue was straight from the book but it never sounded credible coming from any of the characters.
     
  11. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    The Dead Zone is my favorite King adaptation. I would have thought it would be near the top of any King fan's films. It's also my favorite Cronenberg film too.

    Extremely powerful, moving, creepy and ultimately tragic. Christopher Walken gives an Oscar worthy performance as John. To this day, the final scene brings me to tears.

    Dreadful?[​IMG] Yikes! Talk about different strokes!
     
  12. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    The Ice is going to break!

    Love that moment.

    From The Dead Zone in case you weren't sure.

    The TV series is well done too.
     
  13. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    Out of the one's I've seen I enjoyed Kubrick's The Shining the most - though I prefer the novel.

    Carrie, The Dead Zone, Stand By Me, Misery & The Shawshank Redemption are all excellent to very good as well.

    Christine, Cat's Eye, The Running Man, The Green Mile, Hearts in Atlantis & Dolores Claiborne were all ok I guess

    The rest I've seen Cujo, Children of the Corn, Firestarter, Silver Bullet, Maximum Overdrive, Pet Sematary, Graveyard Shift, The Dark Half, Needful Things, The Mangler, Thinner, Apt Pupil & Dreamcatcher, range from mediocre to very bad.
     
  14. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Oh, put the pitchforks down, will ya? [​IMG]

    I just don't think it has anywhere near the depth of the book, which is a problem I have with all the films I mentioned. I know the amount of detail King put in those novels can't be fully captured, but I was left wanting more. For me, watching an adaptation of those novels is like watching the story play out with me watching through a foggy window: I recognize the story being told, but I find myself missing all the details.
     
  15. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    The irony of the Shining is that while the Kubrick version is not objectively the greatest film ever made (It's no secret that King himslef was unhappy with it) Many people consider it to be a horror classic. When they mad the miniseries that was more faithful to the novel, it turned out awful.
     

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