Stephen King

GNC

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#1
This was news recently:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7941335.stm
King's clown horror 'to be film'

Stephen King's clown horror novel It is to be turned into a film by studio Warner Brothers, according to industry paper The Hollywood Reporter.

The 1986 novel follows childhood friends drawn together as adults to fight the murderous clown Pennywise.

The book was made into a three-hour TV mini-series in 1990, with Tim Curry.

Since then the film rights have bounced around Hollywood, but Warners have now signed The Invasion screenwriter Dave Kajganich to adapt King's novel.

Kajganich is also working on an adaptation of King's Pet Sematary, first adapted for screen in 1989.

Pure evil

The novel It, was a best-seller when it was first published.

In the story a group of children, who call themselves the Losers, are menaced by It, a sewer-lurking creature of pure evil which can take the form of the children's greatest fears.

Nearly 30 years later, the creature returns but the adults, who promised to fight it whenever it appeared, have only hazy memories of their childhood encounters.

The miniseries was once voted the scariest TV programme of all time by Radio Times readers.

The plot was originally set in 1958 and 1985 but the film version will be set in the present day, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
It can only be better than that miniseries, which couldn't do justice to the novel even at the longer running time it enjoyed. Although to be honest I'm glad they never used the original and dodgy ending - wonder if this new one will wisely ignore it?

So, any favourite Stephen King films? Or more likely, SK films you thought were rubbish? I love The Shining even if Mr King doesn't. Then there's Maximum Overdrive, surely the high water mark of his adaptations. Any more?
 

James_H

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#2
Loved Carrie, and The Shining. They made me making the mistake of trying to read Stephen King novels :( (actually, I enjoyed Carrie, but he seems to have given up trying to write after that). Was amused by Pet Sematry.
 

stu neville

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#3
I've always found King quite variable as a writer - some of the books are perfectly readable, but others just seem like acre upon acre of waiting for something to happen. When writing as Richard Bachmann (sp?) his work actually seems a deal crisper.

Of the adaptations, I remember being spooked by the TV version of "Salem's Lot" when it was first shown, but then again I was about thirteen at the time. I'm very fond of "The Shining", "Misery" is great the first time you watch it, the TV version of "The Stand" was quite watchable, and I thought "The Tommyknockers" miniseries was great, if a little too long*. "It" was terrible. Christine was boring (as was the film, arf arf.)


*I know, it's what I'm always moaning about - too much wasted time. Nothing wrong with long or slow books or films, provided they spend the time actually saying something.
 

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#4
I'd have to agree the books are very, very variable. Some fantastic, engrossing stories, others can be... well 'lame' would be an understatement. In fairness Mr King does acknowledge this. In his book 'On Writing' he details his drug problem, and the negative effect it had on his writing. Cujo anyone?

Still, the world would be a poorer place IMHO without, in no particular order, The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Stand By Me, The Green Mile, Misery, Dolores Claiborne, 1408, Carrie.

On the other hand, Needful Things was a brilliant concept, playing with the idea of manipulating people, and how far from normal morality they can be tempted without the 'villain' ever doing anything directly himself. The film did away with all that, and was a waste of a perfectly good evening.

I'm looking forward to the new It. Much as I love Tim Curry - and I do - the more recent adaptations seem, on the whole, to be more cleverly done, more of the atmosphere of the stories, and less clunky special effects.

BTW, have you actually checked out how many film/ TV adaptations there have been?? Dozens of the things! Bound to be a few (ok, quite a few :) ) duds in a list that long. But, I maintain the good ones are really great and worth waiting for.
 
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#5
I enjoyed It but as with so many books in the same vein, not only King's, the denouement hardly seems to justify the build-up.

Also I think It owes a debt to Peter Straub's much superior (in my opinion) Ghost Story, where a similar kind of nameless and historical horror periodically elbows its way into the normal workings of an everyday community - in this case the terror being based around all too recognisably human entities. By the end of It King seems to me to be flailing around to find an 'It' which lives up to the expectations of the rest of the book. Ultimately I think Straub's less theatrical approach seems to be far more frightening.

stuneville said:
...edit...Of the adaptations, I remember being spooked by the TV version of "Salem's Lot" when it was first shown, but then again I was about thirteen at the time...
Ditto. Still one of the best screen adaptations of a mainstream horror novel and, to my mind, one of the most frightening bits of TV ever made. Incredibly claustrophobic, if I recall correctly.
 

river_styx

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#6
King's team up with Straub on Black House one was of their best works and much better than its prequel. Apart from another, dodgy King ending.

I enjoyed Christine, Carrie, Pet Sematary, Misery and The Running Man. Cujo is pure drivel and The Stand was just one long yawn. And as for Stephen King's Desperation, I was wondering by the end whether or not that title was meant to be ironic.
 

James_H

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#7
Did anyone ever see an X-files episode called 'Chinga' (about scary dolls)? That was scripted by King, IIRC.
 
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#8
H_James said:
Did anyone ever see an X-files episode called 'Chinga' (about scary dolls)? That was scripted by King, IIRC.
Yes! It was great! An old plastic dollthat kept returning.

Around that time The X-Files had well known authors writing scripts. William Gibson did a script on about an AI.
 

GNC

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#9
river_styx said:
King's team up with Straub on Black House one was of their best works and much better than its prequel. Apart from another, dodgy King ending.
I actually preferred The Talisman, because I was a bit disappointed Black House was another Dark Tower book, as if Peter Straub had no say in the subject matter. Yeah, I know The Talisman is a DT novel, but we didn't know that when it first came out. We're still waiting on the film version, Spielberg was supposed to have been doing it for a while.

Talking of Straub, yes Ghost Story is terrific and probably a bit better than King's It (which I liked for its horror's greatest hits approach), but It is still miles better than Straub's Floating Dragon.

Shadowlands, there was a wonderful Straub book.
 

GNC

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#10
PaganMoon said:
I'd have to agree the books are very, very variable. Some fantastic, engrossing stories, others can be... well 'lame' would be an understatement. In fairness Mr King does acknowledge this. In his book 'On Writing' he details his drug problem, and the negative effect it had on his writing. Cujo anyone?
Is it true that King can't recall writing The Tommyknockers at all? I really liked that book, that was until I saw Quatermass and the Pit and thought, here, wait a sec...!

I enjoyed Christine the film more than the book. A bit of that John Carpenter magic turned it into a brisk, unpretentious horror movie.

Creepshow was good fun too. Leslie Nielsen killing Ted Danson? Who can resist that?
 

PaganMoon

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#11
I think it's Cujo that he claims not to remember writing at all, due to alcohol and drugs.

Misery and The Tommyknockers were written while high on cocaine, but apparently not in a complete fog. (They both also work rather well as metaphors for substance abuse).


Of the three I think he picked the right one to forget :)
 
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#12
gncxx said:
...edit...Talking of Straub, yes Ghost Story is terrific and probably a bit better than King's It (which I liked for its horror's greatest hits approach), but It is still miles better than Straub's Floating Dragon.

Shadowlands, there was a wonderful Straub book.
If They could See Me Now is also well worth reading. I find Straub, like King, a variable writer but at his best I prefer the former. And there's something about his early work which I think is more disturbing than the newer stuff.

And, back on topic...ish, Stand By Me has to be one of the best translations from paper to film of a King story.
 

IvanVolle

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#13
Creepshow was good fun too. Leslie Nielsen killing Ted Danson?
....and Ted Danson killing Leslie Nielsen!

The meeting of three horror masters: Stephen King, George Romero & Tom Savini. Atmospheric, creepy & hilarious. A true classic.
 

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#14
Yeah, the early King (shortish) novels worked well IMO. Unfortunately, the more successful he became the more he seemed to feel the need to bloat his books with hundreds of pages of very little happening. Rather like JK Rowling I suppose.
 

barfing_pumpkin

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#16
Stephen King has written some cracking short stories as well - 'The Raft', which featured in some portmanteu film or other (I think it was Creepshow 2), is one of his best. As for his novels, 'The Stand' remains a favourite - as it does for a lot of his fans - and I found 'From a Buick 8' genuinely unnerving. He definitely has a Lovecraftian talent for provoking unease at things which are 'other'-ish.

But of all his works, the Dark Tower series is the highpoint for me. Bizarre, self-referential, solipsistic quagmire it may be, but also epic (in the best sense of the word), sad, truly mythic and astonishing also. And I loved the extra bit at the end - the bit that Stephen King didn't really want anyopne to read - because it was just right: Roland's journey, massive as it seemed, was really just a tiny part of something even more massive. But I can say no more for fear of spoiling it for someone else yet to read this brilliant, engrossing story.

I truly hope they don't try to make a film out of it.
 

GNC

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#17
From a Buick 8 was a nice sketch, but lacked a decent ending, or any ending really. Tobe Hooper is making a film of it, and it'll be interesting to see if he makes it another Salem's Lot memory-scorcher or just another ho hum King adaptation.

Cell was a more robust novel, and Eli Roth has been promising to make it a film since it was published. Dunno if that's a good thing or not!

The Mist has become a cult movie, but that ending divides people. I thought it went too far, myself, too ironic to be believable (yeah, I know, I could believe the big monsters just fine).
 

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#18
Theyve all been mentioned here i think but Stand By Me, The Mist, The Shank are my personal faves, with Langoliers thrown in as a slight curve ball. TVM fodder certainly but had a je ne sais quoi about it....
 
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#19
I'm afraid, I've never really taken to Stephen King's cultural product. In print, or adapted. To me, it's all a bit too much like that kind of cheap, sweaty, processed ham, that you get in plastic wrapped, white bread sandwiches, in motorway service, garage shops.

It's probably just a personal taste thing. sorry. :(
 
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#20
Pietro_Mercurios said:
I'm afraid, I've never really taken to Stephen King's cultural product. In print, or adapted. To me, it's all a bit too much like that kind of cheap, sweaty, processed ham, that you get in plastic wrapped, white bread sandwiches, in motorway service, garage shops.

It's probably just a personal taste thing. sorry. :(
His earlier stuff was better, less formulaic. Its years since I read them but The Shining and Carrie were a damn good read.
 

GNC

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#21
Pietro_Mercurios said:
I'm afraid, I've never really taken to Stephen King's cultural product. In print, or adapted. To me, it's all a bit too much like that kind of cheap, sweaty, processed ham, that you get in plastic wrapped, white bread sandwiches, in motorway service, garage shops.

It's probably just a personal taste thing. sorry. :(
I know his detractors would have him as the horror equivalent of Jackie Collins or whatever, but there's an intelligence and imagination in his best work that puts him above the usual airport novel material. Some have called him the Charles Dickens of the late twentieth century, he certainly has that popularity.
 

AMPHIARAUS

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#22
Pietro_Mercurios said:
I'm afraid, I've never really taken to Stephen King's cultural product. In print, or adapted. To me, it's all a bit too much like that kind of cheap, sweaty, processed ham, that you get in plastic wrapped, white bread sandwiches, in motorway service, garage shops.(
Dont aplogise for it, I only stuck with the guy because of the gunslinger series.

Unfortunately he got got run over during the telling of the tale (and it became tainted and crap, as has most of his post accident output.). His later tales told all you need to know about the guy.
 
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#24
I have to admit, I did like, 'Carrie', when I went to see it. But, by 'Misery', King's obsession with righteously beating the crap out of crazy, monstrous, women was beginning to seem a bit pathological.
 

GNC

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#25
Pietro_Mercurios said:
I have to admit, I did like, 'Carrie', when I went to see it. But, by 'Misery', King's obsession with righteously beating the crap out of crazy, monstrous, women was beginning to seem a bit pathological.
You should read the book and see what she does to other people! Kathy Bates was upset she didn't get to use the lawnmower in the film...
 

GNC

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#26
river_styx said:
I can't believe I forgot The Dead Zone. One of Christopher Walken's finest performances.
The novel of The Dead Zone is what I'd recommend to people who haven't tried reading King and aren't sure they'll like him.
 

GNC

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#27
We have a thread for Stephen King films but not his books, so...

I've just finished Under the Dome, and thought it was great stuff, went like a rocket in spite of being about a thousand pages long. There's a quote on the back that calls it "addictive" and that's exactly how it was for me. Big Jim Rennie was a fantastic baddie, spawning evil as all the while he thought he had right on his side. Liked the theme of how cruelty equals power and the simple moral "Please be kind" (or "Don't torture insects", maybe).

If you'd given up on King recently, then give this one a go, it's his best in ages.
 

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#28
Used to like him but all his stories began to seem the same (a group of childhood friends, now grown into men and just the one woman, set out to face the evil that beset their schooldays, blah blah blah) and I got bored with him. Quite fancied 'Cell' but thought it'd be more of the same.
 

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#29
Used to like him but all his stories began to seem the same
Exactly.I had a totally different time with Under the Dome, got it out recently and was about 300 pages in when I realised that there was no point in going on, it was so obvious what was going to happen in terms of the characters, so I just read a synopsis on line and found out that I was correct. Apparently it was originally conceived as a social comedy like the hugely superior, in my opinion, Needful Things, I think it would have been much better if it had been. Also found the Iraq memories difficult because they for me at least were painfully reminiscent of Vietnam, I don't mean the war but the fact that every male American character from Magnum to the Exterminator spent the whole of the 70's and 80's trying to readjust and having flashbacks.

Still love many of his earlier books, but I have to agree he does seem to be recovering old ground now. As for 'Cell', its more in the vein of 'Desperation', but the basic story is very similar to the novel 'The Fog' so well worth a miss in my view.
 
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