Stephen King vs Directors
I’ve been reading Stephen King books since I read the Gunslinger back in the 80s. His style and plotting instantly gripped me and I’ve always dreamt about my favourite novels being turned into movies or a TV series. But wait, some of them have! Not all are as great as the novels, but there are a few amazing adaptations and I’m going to list my favourite.
1 – The Shining
Okay, I saw the Stanley Kubrick movie of The Shining before I read the novel and maybe that’s why I prefer the film. Don’t hate me for this. I know Stephen King will, who famously disliked the film version of his masterpiece. It’s a very different interpretation, but compared to the book, I find it much scarier. Jack Nicholson is crazy from the start and there’s no way I’d be going to a remote hotel to stay on my own with him. In the book, the hotel is after the little boy’s ability to Shine, where the movie shifts the story to the hotel after his father, Jack, encouraging him to kill them. The movie is very claustrophobic with amazing visuals. Where I found the novel a slow burn, the movie goes right into it, brakes off and skidding into a snowbank. Here’s Joooohny!
112263 was a massive book and the only way it would translate is a television series. It’s not a traditional King horror, but it’s full of his usual great characters and intriguing idea. Like the novel, the series follows Jake who finds a portal into the past, specifically to the sixties a few years before Kennedy is assassinated. Each time Jake goes through the portal, it resets all the events he changed, taking him back to that same first day. The series follows the book quite closely, with a few changes, but I can live with that. The main difference I found was the addition of a new character who helps Jake after discovering what he’s trying to do. In the book, Jake works alone, but I guess the writer of the television series needed that character to give Jake’s thoughts a voice, rather than narration. I enjoyed this series, and like the book couldn’t stop watching.
I first saw Salem’s Lot way back in the 80s and it terrified me then, a scene of the dead kid tapping on his friend’s bedroom window sticking in my mind. I still sleep with the curtains drawn tight! Unlike the book, the Vampire, Barlow, is a hideous Nosferatu creature that doesn’t talk. In the book, he’s human looking and appears intelligent and cunning. They give his lines to his assistant in the film version. I’m guessing they did this to make a really scary monster. Aside from this, the two-part miniseries, which has been cut into a movie version, follows the plot quite closely.
I loved the original IT TV mini-series with Tim Curry as the clown Pennywise. It breaks the series into two parts with the first one about the kids, the second featuring them as adults returning to face Pennywise. It strays quite a lot from the book and doesn’t go into the same depth of this mighty tome. How could you cover it all? IT omits the ancient Turtle, IT’s nemesis, but it doesn’t take away from the story. Unfortunately, after a great performance from the kids, the adults don’t do a great job. Top performance from Curry, who clearly enjoyed the role as the evil child killing clown. I enjoyed the new film, but I have a soft spot for the series, though it’s cheesy in parts.
The Dead Zone
The Dead Zone is another 80’s movie from an era that turned a lot of King’s books into classics. The film follows the story of John, played by the brilliant Christopher Walken. After an accident that puts him into a coma, John awakens with a gift to see the future when he touches someone. After a meeting with a politician, he has a vision of him starting world war three. It poses the question: if you knew what Hitler would do, and if you had the chance, would you kill him? A brilliant adaptation of a great novel and reviewed well at the time. This is one movie they shouldn’t remake, though I’m aware of a miniseries of this which I never watched.
Those are my top five, but there are so many more I loved. While The Stand suffers from 90’s TV productions, I think it’s a great adaptation, unlike the recent Dark Tower. The Dark Tower is very loosely based on the series of books and is stripped of all mythology, characterisation and build up. However, on watching it as a standalone without thinking of the novels, it’s not too bad. The Dark Tower would’ve made a great Netflix series, but I guess we’re not going to get that now.
Kevin Grover is an indie author of supernatural thrillers. His books are on Amazon and his website, Indie Bookshelf, shares various tips and experiences about his indie career.
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“Hello Horror Fans – King , check and mate! Thank you Mr Grover for that great insight into your favorite Stephen King Books and Films. And if you’re looking for something to SCREAM about, check out Kevin Grovers books over on his profile page. Let us know what YOU’RE favorite King adaptations are? Just head on down to the comments below and let’s CHEW the cud on all things King!