Ngebray.com,- Since 1976, when horror movie Carrie hit the big screen, more than 100 movies have originated from Stephen King stories. And despite his reputation as the Master of Horror, adaptations of the author’s work aren’t limited to the one genre. They include dramas like The Shawshank Redemption, widely regarded as one of the best films of all time.
Thrillers, such as Misery, a film that saw Kathy Bates win the Oscar for Best Actress. King’s even written sci-fi, such as The Running Man. An Editor of The Darkside, Allan Bryce, said “He’s such a great storyteller, particularly in an age where we seem to rely a lot on recycled remakes and franchises. Stephen King has now become a bit of a franchise himself anyway. But in this case, there’s enough variety within that franchise to deliver a lot of interesting plots and movies.”
It is the latest of King’s novels to get the feature film treatment. The story about a monster taking the appearance of a clown who hunts children. A story that was first told in a TV mini-series back in 1990. Cult Programmer of British Film Institute, Michael Blyth, stated, “I think there was so much missing from the original it that’s in King’s novel that you could remake a new version. It could be completely different from the version that we saw before. Like the original mini series, the new film will be split over two parts, and again, I think having this kind of long form really works. I mean, the original novel is 1,500 pages. It’s a huge, huge endeavor to go about adapting that. I think it could be an eight-hour film and it still probably wouldn’t be able to cover everything. But the idea that it’s over two movies, so at least we can get a good four hours out of it is quite exciting.”
Carrie was Stephen King’s first novel and also his first novel adapted for the big screen. It’s also the film that propelled director Brian De Palma to the mainstream and attracted other visionary directors to King’s work. They included Texas Chainsaw Massacre director, Toby Hooper, Halloween director, John Carpenter, and Scanners director, David Cronenberg. Indeed, King’s stories have long been targeted by filmmakers in large part because of the author’s openness to adaptations of his work, accepting that a film is a film, and a book, a book.
In the mid 80s, King even helped student filmmakers by licensing their rights to his work for just one dollar. Michael Blyth added, “They’re called his dollar babies, so you could buy the rights to a short story for one dollar, and then you could make your student film out of it, and use King’s name on it.” One director who took advantage of King’s dollar babies was Frank Darabont, whose first King adaptation was short film, The Woman in The Room, back in 1983. 15 years later, he’d go on to make what are arguably some of the best King movie adaptations, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist.
But many, including Children, of the Corn, Dreamcatcher, and Maximum Overdrive, the one movie that King actually directed himself, haven’t fared so well. And the recent thread on discussion website Reddit asked why so many King movie adaptations failed. The biggest reason is King creates brilliant characters, and his plots always exist to serve them, not the other way around, said Lenny Ray. The good adaptations- ‘Shawshank’, ‘Green Mile’, and the like-are the ones that recognize this. The bad ones, I’m looking at you, The Shining, put the horror, action, thriller aspects above everything else.
King too didn’t like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, describing it as, like a big, beautiful cadillac with no engine inside it. Allan Bryce said,”Jack Torrance, in the film, Jack Nicholson, he starts out crazy. So the whole point about the book, if you read it, is that the guy is normal, he’s a family man. And then he becomes crazy as the hotel, but it’s Jack Nicholson. He’s Jack Nicholson from the word go, acting a bit mad from the very beginning.”
In the UK, the British Film Institute is running a Stephen King on screen season to celebrate the author’s 70th birthday. More than 20 films will be shown, including Stand By Me, King’s favorite adaptation of his work, as well as horror fan favorite, Salem’s Lot. “My main intention I wanted to get from the season was to combine the well-known with the lesser well known, with the overlooked and possibly with the unloved. And kind of look at Stephen King’s body of work as a whole and look at his impacton cinema, which is, you can’t underestimate the impact these had on modern cinema, not just horror cinema.”
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