Thursday, October 16, 2014

The King of Horror

People are not only rushing to Starbucks to get a taste of pumpking spice this Fall; it seems like everyone wants a piece of Stephen King's work as well. He's producing new material, adapting old work, and even collaborating at remaking some of his most well-known masterpieces.

In the works right now are remakes for It, The Stand, and a controversial sequel to Creepshow. King is also busy with two TV shows, Under the Dome and the somewhat successful Haven. And if that wasn't enough to keep a King busy, the court is buzzing with news of a 11/22/63 adaptation for Hulu. Omg!

So to celebrate all of this royal news, I thought I'd go down memory lane and highlight my top ten favourite Stephen King adaptations. I'm a 90's kid, I practically ate those for breakfast.


10. Needful Things

Year: 1993
Director: Fraser Heston
Actors: Max Von Sydow, Ed Harris, Amanda Plummer
Summary: A stranger comes into town and soon thereafter, strange things begin to happen to the townspeople of Castle Rock, a recurring setting for King stories. King is known for his jabs at religion and the occult. And he doesn't shy away from that here, with the story being a parallel to human greed and corruption (represented by the devil.) This movie's cover always terrified me as a kid, with that shopping bag with the hand and head presing on it. Reason why I don't touch pregnant bellies, to this day.
Interesting Facts: Amanda Plummer, who portrays the young Nettie Cobb, can be seen in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as Wiress. Also, Sydow's character, The Devil, is seen driving an indestructible black car, possibly the same as in Christine, another King project.

9. Apt Pupil

Year: 1998
Director: Bryan Singer
Actors: Ian McKellan, Brad Renfro, David Schwimmer
Summary: An older gentleman with a secret from his past befriends a young man with an odd fascination that enthralls both of them and sends them down a spiralling vortex of lies, deception, and murder.
Interesting Facts: I still remember seeing the previews for this movie when I was twelve and it scared me. Haven't seen this movie since I was a teen, but still vividly remember the awkward tension between the two men, and this before I even knew what homosexuality was. Bryan Singer, who directs this movie, later went on to direct McKellan in the X-Men movies. Also, watch out for a small role from Joshua Jackson, who was just starting to transition into more mature roles.

8. 1408

Year: 2007
Director: Mikael Håfström
Actors: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson
Summary: Following the death of his young daughter, an author dives into a world of deception and speculation and must somehow reconcile the two in order to save his sanity...inside a haunted hotel room.
Interesting Facts: This is the second "haunted house" story from King that has been adapted to the big screen, after The Shining, to gain both commercial and critical success. And those two movies share a further connection. The axe used by the fireman at the end of 1408 is the same axe that Jack Nicholson uses in the famous "Here's Johnny!" scene. Both films were also partially shot at the Elstree studio in London.

7. The Dark Half

Year: 1993
Director: George A. Romero
Actors: Timothy Hutton, Michael Rooker, Amy Madigan
Summary: A writer must battle his writer's block while also trying to stop his alter-ego from taking over his life.
Interesting Facts: King wrote this novel shortly after revealing his own alter-ego/pseudonym, Richard Bachman. This was also his last novel that he wrote before going sober, with his struggles depicted as the main focus of duality in the book. It's very auto-biographical! And look out for Sheriff Alan Pangborn, a character who appears in other King works! The transition to film was directed, with some disappointment, by George A. Romero of "Night of the Living Dead" fame.

6. Cujo

Year: 1983
Director: Lewis Teague
Actors: Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro
Summary: A young mother, coming to grips with her failed marriage, takes her son along for a ride to the local mechanics. Shortly thereafter, they are attacked and terrorized by a sick Saint-Bernard.
Interesting Facts: I watched this movie AFTER watching Beethoven and another, less popular, film called Man's Best Friend. I was just starting my fascination for horror flicks and especially King flicks. So needless to say that it stuck with me throughout the years and Dee Wallace's performance still haunts me. Nothing quite as emotional as seeing a mom trying to defend her child. Sadly, an animal DID die during production; the main Saint-Bernard died during production of the movie.

5. Children of the Corn

Year: 1984
Director: Fritz Kiersch
Actors: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, John Franklin
Summary: Typical storyline. A young couple get stranded in a small, secluded roadside town and must fight for their lives against a cult of murdering children. (Yikes!)
Interesting Facts: This was Hamilton's year, as she also appeared in the movie that would make her a household name: Terminator. I didn't even know it was Hamilton who portrayed Vicki until I wrote this blog. Haven't seen this movie in forever and so was surprised to see such a recognizable name. Also, the kid who plays Isaac (John Franklin) still creeps me out. He's just like...a grown up version of Isaac. This shouldn't be!! lol Go check his bio, dude still looks like a child from the cornrows. (Yikes!)

4. Misery

Year: 1990
Director: Rob Reiner
Actors: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Lauren Bacall
Summary: In the same vein as The Fan, Misery tells the story of an author who is rescued from a car crash by a woman who claims to be "his number one fan." It doesn't take long before admiration turns into obsession.
Interesting Facts: I didn't read this novel so was kind of surprised when I found out that Bacall's character isn't in the book as I find her to be the prime example of publishers in a movie so heavy on the hate towards editors and publishers. I mean, why didn't King come up with this character? He hates those people more than anyone else in the world. I also like that they made a nod to another King story when Annie references The Shining when she mentions that "a guy went mad in a hotel nearby." King is big on using characters and settings in a multitude of novels, so it's fun when the screenwriters keep that whimsical tradition.

3. The Mist

Year: 2007
Director: Frank Darabont
Actors: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
Summary: A small town (duh!) is terrorized by otherworldy creatures following a freak storm that leaves most of the townspeople trapped inside the supermarket.
Interesting Facts: Frank Darabont is no stranger when it comes to adapting King novels into quality movies; he is the mastermind behind The Shawshank Redemption AND The Green Mile. Also, Frank Darabont brought Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Melissa McBride with him when he started work on The Walking Dead. If it's not enough that King admires Darabont's body of work, he congratulated the director by telling him that "I am genuinely frightened by your adaptation." I would have pee'd myself right there.

2. The Shining

Year: 1980
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Actors: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Summary: A family struggling with their own problems move into an isolated hotel where not everything is as it seems. Before long, the family must battle a supernatural force that threatens their safety and their sanity.
Interesting  Facts: There are complete University classes just about this movie and all of it's hidden meanings and symbolism, so I won't even attempt to pretend I know them all! Like this blogger who did an amazing job at breaking down the elements of this movie. That dog scene though...

1. Carrie

Year: 1976
Director: Brian De Palma
Actors: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
Summary: A religious zealot who abuses her child is forced to watch her daughter develop telekinetic abilities that are quickly growing out of control.
Interesting Facts: First book from King that I ever read and also the first movie I saw that was based off of his work. Carrie has left a mark on Hollywood and this story has been remade twice, once for television and again last year. Amy Irving reprised her role as Sue Snell in the sequel The Rage: Carrie 2.

I suddenly have the urge to do a movie marathon this weekend.

Candles are out,
Eleven's Ink

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