I’ve been a Stephen King fan since I was young. Probably too young, actually. However, it was not his books that interested me at the time, it was his films. The glow, Carrie and That were some of my favorites and later the epic miniseries The support it also became a favorite. It was around when The support It was released in the early 1990s that I started reading some of his books, short stories and novels.
I know there are many who would not classify King as a good writer. I remember sitting in a creative writing class in college and we all had to go around the room and list some of our favorite authors and, conversely, some of our least favorite ones. One hipster girl said quite casually, “Shakespeare is king. Stephen King sucks.”
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I think Stephen King is a great talent and has become a beloved American author; not only for his horror novels, but for sentimental and nostalgic stories like The body and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank’s Redemption. He may never have written such a legendary line as: “Oh Romeo, Romeo, why is it you, Romeo?” but Uncle Stevie’s collective work will not be soon forgotten and he continues to write. Here are my five favorite movies or TV miniseries that are based on Stephen King’s written material:
There is something in this incredible story about a “super flu” that takes the lives of almost everyone and the inevitable struggle between good and bad that is left behind. You have a few people hanging out in Vegas working for Randall Flagg (“Nice to meet you. Hope you guess my name”). Then you have people following a very old woman who still bakes her own bread and God just happens to be her best friend. It’s an amazing story with some of King’s best-developed characters. The cast is large and impressive (Gary Sinise, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Rob Lowe, just to name a few) and there are even some pretty outstanding cameos, but I won’t spoil them for you. Keep your eyes peeled.
stay by me
Everything is perfect here. The casting (River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss), the direction (Rob Reiner), the writing and even the soundtrack all work in perfect unison. It is more than a movie about four children who go to see a corpse. It’s like a time capsule that everyone can relate to. Unfortunately for me, I identified more with the fat kid (Jerry O’Connell). And, yes, it was predominantly because he was fat and I was fat. When he almost lost his dinner over the campfire and freaked out, I felt empathy.
Once again, King turned away from any royal blood, guts, or supernatural happenings when he wrote the novel. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank’s Redemption. It is more about a friendship between two men who have made some major mistakes in their lives. It is about standing up against a corrupt authority. It’s about patience. It’s about listening to the opera as loud as you can and enjoying every syllable, even if you don’t understand the language. And it’s about the surprise behind Miss Hayworth. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins are the two main leads in this Academy Award-nominated adaptation of Frank Darabont (who also directed adaptations of The fog and The green Mile). It is even listed on the popular IMDB website as the number one movie of all time by its users. So if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s probably a freak.
The running Man
Yes, I added The Running Man. This is a great guilty pleasure movie for me. It’s not a good movie and it doesn’t exactly stick to the story that Stephen King wrote, uh, I mean Richard Bachman. But it does have Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the same kind of role that he usually does and unfolds his usual lines (“I’ll be back” is pronounced in this movie). You have Jesse Ventura screaming, like he usually does. And then you have the fabulous Richard Dawson from Match Game and Family Feud and he plays a … well, he’s a game show host. It’s not a movie at its finest, but it’s guaranteed to produce a laugh.
The Shining (1980) / The Shining (1997)
Yes, I included the Stanley Kubrick version and the ABC miniseries. They are both good, in their own way. Kubrick took King’s story and molded it to fit his own creative and disturbed needs. Jack Nicholson puts on an incredible performance and goes completely insane, wielding an ax and yelling at poor Shelley Duvall, whose main job in this movie is to look scared all the time. There are many spooky moments and certain scenes that stick in my memory, like the spooky twins asking Danny to play, blood gushing from the elevator, and “All work and no play makes Jack a boring boy.”
The miniseries was taken almost entirely directly from King’s novel. You felt that the father, Jack Torrence (played by Steven Weber in this production), really loved his family and was being driven insane by the forces of evil at the hotel. In Kubrick’s movie, I had the feeling that Jack Torrence wanted to kill his family even before he moved into that hotel. Just a vibe that I have. The miniseries was filmed in part at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, where King wrote the novel. King can also be seen in the film as the director of the band. Overall, I’ll probably always like Kubrick’s version better, but for those looking for something that’s more true to the novel, the miniseries is for you.