Stephen King goes to the movies...

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Reggie W, Jun 19, 2017 at 6:49 AM.

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  1. 1 Jun 19, 2017 at 6:49 AM
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017 at 8:40 AM
    Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    I am not sure if there is a writer that has had more of his work adapted for the screen than Stephen King. There have been so many King stories brought to the screen (and many more coming) that he has nearly become his own genre. In New England King is basically seen as a local hero as this guy from Maine seems to have been able to capture the imaginations and send shivers down the spines of people all over the world. His IMDB page lists 59 credits on major motion pictures alone. Then there is the work that has been adapted for television. It would seem Hollywood and the general public can't get enough of Stephen King and his dark visions.

    So, because I was trying to look at King stories that have been turned into films and because there is so much King material on the way to movie screens (The Dark Tower, It, Gerald's Game, 1922 all due out this year!) and a new special edition of Children of the Corn coming from Arrow...I thought an entire discussion should be devoted to Hollywood's favorite writer. Plus there are just so many King films I have not seen them all and I am curious what people thought of these.

    Of course, I am looking for you to list your favorite King adaptations, the films you thought were terrible, or the films that most frightened you, the best of what is on blu-ray...but because there is such a large body of work to choose from I thought we would break things down into decades and we could begin with the first decade of Stephen King at the movies...

    1976-1986

    This pretty much covers the period that begins with Brian De Palma's Carrie and ends with Rob Reiner's Stand by Me.

    Here are the films:

    1986 Stand by Me (novella "The Body")
    1986 Maximum Overdrive (film by) / (written for the screen by)
    1985 Silver Bullet (novella "Cycle of the Werewolf") / (screenplay)
    1985 Cat's Eye (screenplay)
    1984 The Devil's Gift (short story "The Monkey")
    1984 Firestarter (novel)
    1984 Children of the Corn (short story)
    1983 Christine (novel)
    1983 The Dead Zone (novel)
    1983 Cujo (novel)
    1982 Creepshow (screenplay) / (short stories "The Crate and Weeds" - uncredited)
    1980 The Shining (novel)
    1976 Carrie (novel)

    Also in this time there was a television Twilight Zone episode based on a King story and of course Toby Hooper's Salem's Lot the first big television mini-series event of King's work. So, feel free to comment on those if you so desire.

    In this first decade directors like Kubrick, De Palma, Cronenberg, and Carpenter all brought versions of King stories to the screen and the man himself took his first and I think only turn in the director's chair with Maximum Overdrive.

    Carrie.jpg Shining.jpg

    Dead Zone poster.jpg Christine poster.jpg
     
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Christine is easily my favorite King movie and probably my sentimental favorite King novel. I like Carrie and The Shining now more than I ever used to but the books are much better. As a huge fan of EC Comics, Creepshow gets closer to those stories than Tales From The Crypt TV show ever did. The Dead Zone isn't bad but it's one of the great David Cronenberg's weaker efforts.

    Firestarter (the book and movie) aren't that great but the fire stunts in the movie are amazing. Children Of The Corn is OK as a story but the movie is crap. I haven't seen Cat's Eye in years but I don't remember liking it. That being said, one of the short stories in CE is called The Ledge and that is fantastic and suspenseful.

    In terms of shlocky enjoyment, Silver Bullet is cool and has a fun cast of character actors (Everett McGill, Terry O'Quinn, Lawrence Tierney, Bill Smitrovich). Maximum Overdrive is almost too bad to even be enjoyed on an ironic level but somehow it succeeds in being so bad that it's good.
     
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  3. Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    Children of the corn.jpg Maximum Overdrive.jpeg

    Stand By Me.jpg Firestarter.jpeg cujo.jpg Silver_bullet.jpg
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I am a big fan of King's writing, but most of the film adaptations of his stories leave me a little flat. I do really like the film of The Shining, but Kubrick really made that his own story, and Nicholson's performance, while over the top, is still so memorable. I do remember, after seeing the film for the first time, being disappointed that the shrubbery animals coming to life was replaced in the film with the hedge maze, but I've gotten over that. I also like the film adaptations of Stand By Me, Carrie and Christine, but most of the others I didn't care for or have not seen.

    I do remember watching Salem's Lot during its initial TV airing back when I was in high school. I watched it in our dark basement with a couple of buddies, and it scared the crap out of us then. However, I recently picked up the BD release, and it did not have the same impact -- although there were still a couple of parts that creeped me out.

    I will be interested to see how It turns out. That book really got to me. I have not read it since it's initial hard cover release, but it has been on my Kindle wish list to pick up and re-read for some time now.

    I'm not sure how The Dark Tower will turn out. I got bored with the books part way through, and never did finish the series.

    We did recently watch the mini-series 11.22.63. My wife really enjoyed the series (she did not read the novel), and I thought it did a good job of capturing the essence of the book.
     
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  5. Jimbo64

    Jimbo64 Second Unit

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    I just ordered "The Mist" this morning from Amazon, looking forward to seeing it on blu-ray and also to see the black and white version. I wanted to brush up on it before the mini series starts.
     
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  6. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    The Dark Tower is the only Stephen King story I've (tried to) read that left me completely uninterested. I could only make it through the first couple of dozen pages. With a few exceptions, the western milieu doesn't interest me. Not interested in the movie. Novels such as It and The Stand are engrossing reads. I've found most movies based on Stephen King stories to be enjoyable.
     
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  7. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Over the past few years, I've been reading or re-reading all of King's books in chronological order and after reading the first Dark Tower book, it left me wondering "Everyone thinks that is so great?" However, I got to the second book and that was excellent. I've read the third one as well and that was really good too. I guess what I'm saying is that you might want to fight through the first book because it really picks up after that.
     
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  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    It was either the fifth or sixth book where I got too bored with the story and stopped reading. I cannot remember which it was, as I still have both on the shelf, but cannot remember if I had bought #6 before I got bored with #5, or if it was #6 where I finally gave up. I never picked up the remaining books in the series.

    At one time, I had considered picking up the series again, but I would need to start at the beginning, as it's been a long time since I read those first few. and the thought of re-reading all those books again just didn't thrill me... maybe some day I'll feel different.

    BTW, I had a similar experience with Under the Dome. I realized about a third of the way through the book that I didn't like any of the characters, and really didn't care if any of them lived or died. At that point, I stopped reading. That experience kept me from having any interest in the TV series based on the book -- I never bothered watching a single episode.
     
  9. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    I've read over half of King's books, and at some point will finish them all.

    But I'm not a big fan of most of the film and television adaptions I've seen. I love The Shining, but Kubrick makes it his own.

    For better or worse, when King is trying to be scary, his writing can scare the crap out of me. The movies don't accomplish that, which makes them a lot less fun. It, The Dead Zone, Pet Semetary, etc were all books that were really scary to read. The movies just kinda bored me by comparisons.

    I'm open to giving the films a try but I'm generally disappointed by them. I'm not a big horror movie fan in general and that may be part of it for me. What works so well on the page for me is often unconvincing on the screen.
     
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  10. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Yeah, I rarely get scared by a book (or movie) but Pet Semetary was legitimately scary. 'Salem's Lot had a few parts that freaked me out too.

    The opening chunk of The Stand also worked on my germophobia.
     
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  11. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    I love the creepy/scared feeling I can get reading a King novel. I wish I could get that from movies.

    The entire horror film genre kinda baffles me because they're never scary to me. They're so popular and I genuinely would like to better understand what the audience that watched and loves those films gets out of them. Are they scary to other people? Is it the violence/gore, or the suspense from the possibility that violence and gore could be coming soon? I really would like to get it.

    The King books are a unique reading experience that I love. I remember reading a recent novel of his, Revival, and being flat out terrified the last couple hundred pages but unable to put it down. And yet, if I saw the same story on screen, I don't think it could be filmed in such a way that I'd have the same feeling.
     
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  12. 12 Jun 19, 2017 at 7:06 PM
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017 at 12:20 AM
    WillG

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    I've never read the short story, but the movie is awesome. King even says he likes Darabont's ending better than his own, that's all I'll say about that.

    As far as King adaptations go (as far as the ones I've seen) this is how I generally regard them.

    Superlative:
    Carrie
    The Shining (I know King doesn't care for it and it wasn't tremendously well received when it was initially released, but it is generally regarded now as a horror classic)
    Stand By Me
    The Mist
    The Shawshank Redemption
    Misery
    The Green Mile
    The Dead Zone

    Decent to "Mediocre but watchable"
    Pet Sematary
    Christine
    Cujo
    Firestarter
    Cat's Eye
    The Stand
    It (TV version)
    The Running Man
    Apt Pupil

    Pretty Lousy:
    Maximum Overdrive
    Dreamcatcher
    Lawnmower Man
    Sometimes They Come Back
    Secret Window
    Carrie (TV version)
    The Shining (TV version)
    Children of the Corn (I know some consider it a classic but it really isn't a good movie)
    The Mangler
     
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  13. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    With the exception of The Shining, the King adaptations I tend to like best are the ones based on non-horror stories. Those don't have to transcend the boundary of "things that are scary to me on paper but not on screen" and I'm able to enjoy them better.
     
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  14. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Same here. It is such an easy, but good read. I think I broke a speed record the first time I read it.
    I found 'The Body'(Stand By Me) another great one. as a mini novel it worked great.
    I read it after I watched the movie, and there was so much more story content that wasn't in the film, especially near the end. It makes "Ace" out to be an even bigger creep than he was in the movie.
     
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  15. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    "Needful Things" was the book where I first really discovered Stephen King. I could hardly put the thing down when I read it. I was kind of disappointed in the adaptation, since it was a good size book and difficult to condense into a two hour film. They made an extended version for TV, but I don't believe that version has ever been released to home video.

    Of the films in Reggie's original post, I hink my faves would be Silver Bullet and Christine. I just watched Carrie for the first time about two weeks ago. That was pretty good, too. I still haven't read the original novel of "Carrie," or some of King's other early books before "Needful Things". I also haven't seen some of the films considered favorites by others, such as Shawshank, Stand By Me, or The Green Mile. I can't recall if I've ever seen 'Salem's Lot in it's entirety, though I know certain scenes are familiar to me, possibly from just watching bits and pieces on cable over the years.
     
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  16. 16 Jun 19, 2017 at 8:45 PM
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017 at 10:52 AM
    Brent Reid

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    Off the top of my head I reckon Shakespeare, Dickens and Agatha Christie might beg to differ. Percentage-wise, I also believe a young up-and-coming author named J. K. Rowling is likely well ahead too. I'm sure there must be many others. ;)

    By the way, I bloody love The Mist (2007) and extol its virtues to anyone who'll listen – and anyone who won't. In fact, only two minor annoyances keep it from being perfect...
    • Marcia Gay Harden (Mrs. Carmody) – her strange, piggy-looking nose job just sticks out of her many close-ups. Yuk.
    • Samuel Witwer (Private Wayne Jessup) – his unsubtle mascara and overplucked, pencilled-in eyebrows look really odd and never fail to take me out of the film. I've screened it for friends on several occasions and each time someone inevitably says, "So what's with that soldier's eyebrows?" At which point others chime in with, "Yeah, I was wondering that too!" What on earth was he and/or the make-up department thinking?
    Yup: I'm that shallow.
     
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  17. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I hear you, sometimes I'm susceptible to things like that. For example in the Fargo Season 3 thread I talked about how Carrie Coon has the biggest Layrinx I've ever witnessed in a female and that watching it is actually a distraction.
     
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  18. 18 Jun 20, 2017 at 5:00 AM
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017 at 5:06 AM
    Tino

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    I thought neither the book or film The Dead Zone was scary but The Dead Zone is a terrific film and one of the best SK adaptions. Probably my favorite Cronenberg film too. It's sooo powerful and chokes me up every time I see it.

    Love it.
     
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  19. Brett_B

    Brett_B Supporting Actor

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    Out of curiosity, how would people classify/rank "Storm of the Century". I remember really liking it when I originally saw it, but it has been a long time since I last saw it.
     
  20. Reggie W

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    OK, I don't think any of the writers you mention, Brent, actually beat Mr. King. Here's why I would say that:

    Shakespeare - While he has an impressive number of credits at IMDB the old bard only wrote I believe 38 plays. Basically, his big numbers are based on the same works being made again and again. You could say William is the king of remakes. However, my take on this is King has completely out paced him in terms of output and so in terms of separate original works being adapted for the screen...King wins and as King is still working and they are still making pretty much everything he writes into a film...well...he will crush poor Willie.

    Dickens - Again King crushes Dickens (15 novels, 27 short stories) in terms of quantity of original output and Dickens is in the same boat as Will in terms of his credits being a lot of just making the same stories into films over and over. I mean how many versions of A Christmas Carol have been done over the years. So, again King wins and will continue to win as they are going to turn many more of his works into films in the coming years.

    Christie - She is actually a genuine challenger (72 novels, 14 collections of short stories) but she is again subject to the issue that much of what they bring to the screen are the same stories again and again. They are still remaking Christie for the screen (Murder on the Orient Express again this year) but she still lags behind King (59 for King 49 for Christie) in terms of feature films made from their work. And much of the Christie stuff is again the same stories getting remade. While King has had some of his work remade most of his credits are all separate works...so again advantage King. Also I think in terms of future films being made from King's work it is likely Christie won't be able to keep up.

    Rowling - Well, this one goes to King in a landslide. Rowling is not even in the same ball park.
     

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