Stephen King Movie Discussion

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Scott Weinberg, Nov 7, 2003.

  1. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    I was inspired by Martin's thread (and Carlo's responses) to open up a topic that's fascinated me ever since I was old enough to read "grown-up" books -and- rent whatever movies I wanted. (I'm guessing I was about 14.)

    Carlo opined that the best of the King adaptations were the ones that stuck most faithfully to the source material. His examples were The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and The Green Mile. I added Misery to the relatively short list.

    But that leaves a whole lot of other movies out in the cold. I've read essentially every one of King's novels and have seen ALL of the films based on 'em. I figure that most of you could also claim the same thing, and perhaps it would be interesting to discuss the books, the films and the vast differences that may lie between them.

    Like...who here remembers the Lawnmower Man short story from Night Shift? Could the movie version possibly be ANY different than the story? I'd venture a NO there. There's an interesting story behind how the movie got to use King's title, but I won't bore you with that because mostly everyone already knows the tale.

    But back to the "good" ones. Dolores Claiborne is not a movie that gets a lot of attention, but I think it's a DAMN good film. It's been many years since I read the novel, so I can't comment on how "close" they are, but both are quite excellent in their own right.

    One that seems to get knocked around a lot is the movie version of Needful Things; a movie I think is perfectly entertaining - if laden with more than a few slippery plot holes and other small problems.

    If I remember correctly, King was not too thrilled with De Palma's Carrie or even Kubrick's The Shining...yet both certainly seem well-liked by movie fans.

    I still think that Mary Lambert's Pet Sematary is as creepy and entertaining as its sequel is pointless and ugly.

    I was prepared to rattle off a dozen more, but then I figured it might be better to save some for the next chap into this thread.

    OK, one more:

    Cronenberg's The Dead Zone = Just awesome.
     
  2. Brian Kissinger

    Brian Kissinger Screenwriter

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    I used to be a huge King fan. I say "used" but should say am. It just that I haven't read much by him lately. In fact, almost all his books I read in the teen years.

    But something I noticed (and this is just for me personally) is that if I read the book and caught the film in a fairly close amount of time (say within months) the film has almost always disappointed. However, if I saw the film first, it has basically stood the test of the book.

    Examples:

    The Shining- Might as well start with the big one. This movie (talking Kubrick here not mini-series) seems to split the King fans. I happen to love the film, but I also saw it first. The book enlightened me with more good stuff and motivations, but the film is still a favorite (of any films not just King films) of mine. I never did catch the mini-series...but I heard it was bad.

    Pet Sematary- This is another one I enjoyed when I saw it. Then I read the book. I remember the book being vastly superior to the film. But I still dig the film, although I haven't watched it in years.

    Christine- Loved the movie. And here is some embarrassing info for you. I read the book and loved it. I then proceeded to write a sequel to the book. The thing was around 80 hand-written pages, and ended with our hero firing a silver arrow with dynamite attached into Christine's radio. When you're 13 (just a guess) that was a sweet ending! The changes from book to film didn't (and still don't) bother me.

    Most of the rest I read the book first. And most of the rest disappointed me. The few exceptions:

    Misery- I had to have caught this around 16 or so. I remember being upset that she didn't cut his foot off in the movie, but other than that....I loved it.

    Thinner- The movie seemed to grab the "gritty" feel that the book had. The movie wasn't perfect, but I felt it was one of the better adaptions of his work.

    Most of the others I wasn't too disappointed in I hadn't read in years. All those damn drugs ruined all the detail in my memory from the books.
     
  3. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    What I would love to see is a series of movies based on his Dark Tower books. BTW he has now finished writing the series and all the books should be out within the next year. The most recent one was or will be released shortly.

    From the getgo with this series I always pictured Eastwood as the Gunslinger. Unfortunately Clint's time is past and I couldn't find anyone else to take up the slack. Now I have a replacement in mind - Viggo Mortensen! Based on his work as Aragorn I think he would do an excellent job here.

    Scott - Dead Zone is also one of my favourite King adaptations.
     
  4. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    I also hold the miniseries adaptation of The Stand as a fairly good King adaptation that holds close to the abridged version.

    Just looking over his stuff at IMDb, I'm amazed at the number of films and mini-series we'll be seeing in just the next year or two. And the breadth of subjects he covers in his novels is evident even in the 'what works' list you have posted.

    Another interesting observation is that sequels to King movies are among the worst in existence. It can be challenging to find anything worse than Lawnmowerman 2: Jobe's War. The same holds for The Mangler 2 (and the first was no masterwork), any of the Children of the Corn sequels, and Sometimes They Come Back... For Dessert!
     
  5. MartinTeller

    MartinTeller Screenwriter

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    I was a huge King fan in my teens, but I got pretty fed up with him after IT and Tommyknockers (I know people love IT, but I really despised it). So, I kinda stopped watching the movies too. But here's my thoughts on the ones I've seen:

    The Shining (Kubrick) - obviously way off from the book. It's really not good to even think of this as a Stephen King movie, because Kubrick took it on a very different path. I view them as separate entities. I like Kubrick's movie a lot, but if I think of it as a King adaptation it's terrible.

    The Shining (mini-series) - great idea, hobbled by lousy actors. And the ending was really hokey.

    Misery and Carrie - the 2 best all-around King movies I've seen, in terms of staying true to the source AND being good movies.

    Creepshow and Creepshow 2 - most of the stories just didn't work.

    Christine - I never read the book, but the movie was fun.

    Salem's Lot - don't remember much about the movie now

    The Shawshank Redemption - I liked it. That's all I'm saying.

    The Running Man - bad adaptation, bad movie. This could have been really good but they fucked it up.

    Stand By Me - don't like the story much, don't like the movie much

    The Langoliers - bad

    The Lawnmower Man - utterly ridiculous. Scott nailed it -- this movie has nothing to do with the story.

    The Dead Zone - thinking about this makes me want to read the book again. But the movie was only okay.

    Cujo - hated the book, worked better as a movie

    I ought to see Pet Sematary, The Stand and Firestarter some day, those are three of my favorite books by him.


    I wish they would make (good) movies of "The Mist", "The Long Walk" and "Rage". They could all be excellent.
     
  6. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    My favorites are Misery, The Night Flier, Needful Things, and Pet Sematary. I also enjoyed Storm of the Century, though that was an original screenplay rather than based on a novel.


    They also took out the lawnmower scene. [​IMG]
     
  8. Steve_Tk

    Steve_Tk Cinematographer

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    I've read the Stand, It, and The Dead Zone in the past year. I've refused to rent them because I've heard that if you love the books you will hate these films. You will picture these two bit actors next time you read it and will picture the cheap sets. Ruins the book the 2nd time. At least that's what I heard.

    Maybe you all could shed some light.
     
  9. Harold Wazzu

    Harold Wazzu Supporting Actor

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    Don't forget Maximum Overdrive, I love that movie!!!
     
  10. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I've kind of given up on King as a novelist (awful output as of late), but here's my take on film adaptations of his works, starting with my favs:

    The Shawshank Redemption - Arguably the best movie derived from a King source, ironically it's not even a horror story.

    The Dead Zone - Pretty faithful as far as I can remember, a solid film with a good performance by Christopher Walken.

    The Shining - Incredibly, I've never read the novel. I can therefore only judge the film, which is suitably creepy (as a ghost story should be). Kubrick's craftsmanship and Nicholson's wacky performance make it a (very) minor genre classic.

    Carrie - I remember virtually nothing about the book, but the movie holds up on its own merits.

    Dolores Claiborne - Fairly faithful to the book (inasmuch as I can recall) and a pretty good movie in its own right.

    Misery - Another solid adaptation, though softened up a bit (unfortunately).

    Pet Sematary - What Scott said.

    Stand By Me - Fairly faithful, but the film overplays its hand a bit. Still good.

    Salem's Lot - Really need to rewatch this, seem to remember liking it.

    Firestarter - Haven't seen it in ages, but remember thinking it was decent.


    I'm lukewarm on these:

    The Golden Years - Decent enough, and entertaining.

    The Green Mile - A solid film I guess, but it really failed to engage me.

    Christine - Not at that faithful to the book, and a forgettable movie.

    Cujo - Ditto.

    Hearts in Atlantis - Some good moments, but an overwhelming sense of deja vu weighs it down.

    Apt Pupil - Flat adaptation of one of King's most chilling stories.

    Thinner - Forgettable, but not especially bad.

    Children of the Corn - Ditto (though they wimped out on the ending).

    It - Ditto again.

    The Stand - Not bad, but could have been a lot better.

    The Night Flier - Seem to remember thinking it was okay.

    Needful Things - Just okay.

    The Dark Half - Ditto.

    Creepshow - Used to like it more, now it's just okay, due mostly to its being uneven.

    Maximum Overdrive - Fun in a drive-in movie kind of way.


    I don't think so:

    The Tommyknockers - Derivative and forgettable.

    The Lawnmower Man - WTF?

    Sometimes They Come Back - I remember nothing about this movie. (Probably a good thing.)

    Sleepwalkers - Ditto.

    Graveyard Shift - Ditto again.

    Cat's Eye - Triple ditto.

    Silver Bullet - Been awhile, but seem to remember it being pretty routine.

    The Langoliers - Interesting story, pat execution on film.

    Creepshow 2 - If I remember correctly, this sucked. (Not sure how much King had to do with it.)

    Running Man - Stupid and bad adaptation of one of King's better stories. Too bad.


    I think that's it for me. [​IMG]


    Re: Viggo Mortensen. While he would be good as Roland, I doubt he'd go for the part.
     
  11. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    The Dead Zone TV series takes soem liberties on order to make it work as a series, but stays fairly close overall. I love it.

    Carrie (TV). I don't think this worked. The new ending felt completely wrong, as did structuring the story as a police procedural, which shifted the focus away from the title character and caused perspective problems.
     
  12. Sean Campbell

    Sean Campbell Second Unit

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  13. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    The Shining is Stanley Kubrick's film, which is merely inspired by the rather mundane novel by King.

    As a writer, King is strictly bestseller, potboiler stuff. Storytelling is everything in a King novel or story — such literary conventions as metaphor and symbolism are tossed aside in favor of giving his fans a "good read." More page-turner stuff than mind-provoking material.

    And this is what makes it all the stranger that King has been so poorly served by Hollywood, given that the big studios aim squarely at the lowest common denominator. Given that King doesn't aim at the intellect so much as does the visceral, you'd think Big Hollywood would be a perfect fit for him.
     
  14. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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  15. Dennis Castro

    Dennis Castro Second Unit

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    I am a huge King fan from about the time of Christine, that was my first king novel. My mother refused to let me go see he film, so I got mad and bought the book, turns out that the book was much more graphic than the film.

    His recent novels have been mediocre at best, I couldn't even get through Dreamcatcher and film well.....

    The Dark Tower is his best work and I will be ready to devour the next novel that comes out. I too pictured Eastwood as Roland but it's a bit late or that now. I do agree that Viggo Mortensen would be great in that role.


     
  16. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    While I've enjoyed King's meat-and-potatoes offerings (on up to about the early '90s), and while I've respected King for admitting in Time magazine that he writes the "literary equivalent of a Big Mac," the man's stories would seem to be in line with Hollywood's ethic. But they aren't; Hollywood, as I said, doesn't serve King well. Also, quoting extensively from a polemic by Orson Scott Card doesn't persuade me on anything (Card has a vested interest in being an apologist for entertainment fiction — and Ender's Game's popularity among SF enthusiasts baffles me).

    Also, I happen to like some of King's galloping potboilers.

    Of the film adaptations to capture the spirit of a King novel faithfully, I'd give the nod to Misery.
     
  17. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    No kidding. That diatribe was a particularly noxious bit of anti-intellectualism. As someone who's heading towards academia, I'm getting so sick of people who think the "intelligentsia" can't simply enjoy anything and only want art that flies over the head of "regular" folk. I found his assertion that escapist literature is actually deeper than academic literature absurd. His claim that academic writing is teachable because it carries one meaning placed there by the author, while popular fiction must be experienced is simply not true. Doubtlessly, Card has never heard the post-modern theory that works of art have no stable meaning; rather, meaning is culturally mediated. A work's meaning is determined by what the author and receiver alike bring to the table, based on their own cultural experiences as well as political factors. Therefore LOTR's meaning is no more fixed than any of Joyce's works are. Card appears to be stuck in modernist thought, where culture is separated into "high" and "low." Much of current academic thought is devoted to breaking down such distinctions and moving away from such concepts (or "metanarratives") as "genius" and "greatness." I don't know when Card wrote that, but if it was recent, he's clearly behind the times.

    Oh yes, and I like King too (although I haven't read any of his work, or any fiction for that matter, in a while).
     
  18. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    one of my favorite guilty pleasures is the langoliers. its such a bad movie, but i watch it all the time. i also enjoy IT and the stand. havent read the shining. i could never get nicholson out of my mind as jack torrance. dont want to either. i could forget about shelley duvall as wendy though. gimme the bat.

    CJ
     
  19. Rob P S

    Rob P S Cinematographer

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    Besides The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, I have also enjoyed Misery, The Shining, and Dolores Claiborne. And I am one of the few and the proud who loves Hearts in Atlantis.
     
  20. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Graveyard Shift - A so-so story turned into a mega-sloppy rat-attack movie.

    The Running Man - Lots of fun. Has a different tone than the novella, but it works.

    Creepshow - The best of the horror anthologies

    Creepshow 2 - "The Raft" is awesome. [​IMG]

    Silver Bullet - Not half-bad.

    Sleepwalkers - Odd and silly; it kinda grows on you.

    The Mangler - Absolutely so awful it's hilarious.
     

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