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5.12.14

A KING FOR EVERY SEASON: Slaughter Film's 10 Favorite Stephen King Adaptations

By CORY CARR & FOREST TAYLOR
It was only a matter of time before we packed our bags and headed to the sleepy town of Castle Rock to visit some of our favorite Stephen King adaptations. King's body of work is enormous, as is the list of film and television adaptations. There is much to choose from but these are our all time favorites.

We each made our own list and in doing so made an effort not to repeat any titles. So it goes without saying that The Shining, among others, is a favorite of both of ours. And with that said, here is Slaughter Film's 10 favorite Stephen King adaptations.

FOREST'S FAVORITE 5

STAND BY ME
Not all Stephen King stories are horror stories and this one, based on the novella "The Body" from King's "Different Seasons" is one of the best coming-of-age stories I've ever seen. The film does a great job taking us back to a simpler time; a time that we sadly could never re-enact in today's PC world. There are also some terrific performances from a dedicated group of young stars.

CARRIE
The first Stephen King adaptation based on his first book. Carrie proves the haters wrong by taking a horror story and elevating it to the level of high art. The story works by having almost no horror elements in the first half and focusing entirely on a shy young girl's coming of age. Of course, the end is pure horror, but because we've followed her for the entire film, we still can't help but feel sorry for Carrie and almost sympathize with her. Sissy Spacek rightfully received an Oscar nomination for this film and Brian DePalma's direction in impeccable.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
The other story from King's "Different Seasons", this one based on the novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption". I'm not as in love with this film as other people seem to be, I.E. I don't think it's the greatest film ever made. However, it's still an incredible story and one of the most hopeful tales you're ever likely to see. Both Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman give amazing performances and the story perfectly builds up to its unforgettable climax. I feel weird for saying this about a Stephen King story, but it's one of the most inspiring tales you're ever likely to see.

THE DEAD ZONE
Everything I wanted to say about this movie I already said in my first King Month podcast, but it's worth repeating. This film is an absolute masterpiece! Christopher Walken gives the best performance of his career as Johnny Smith, the most unlikely hero you'll ever meet. He gives an unbelievable amount of sympathy to his character as he slowly realizes that his powers could possibly save the world. David Cronenberg's direction is top-notch. I had heard that Cronenberg only took this job for a paycheck. It's amazing what a tragic and emotional story he could tell even though his heart wasn't entirely in it.

THE SHINING
Yeah, I know, this movie is almost nothing like King's original novel. I don't care! This is one of the scariest horror movies of all time and I'd be lying if I didn't put it at the top of my list. Jack Nicholson gives the performance of a lifetime as the writer driven mad by a haunted hotel. Stanley Kubrick films the Overlook Hotel as if it's in another dimension! The gliding camera work and the other-worldly soundtrack give The Shining a true ethereal quality. If you want to know how to make a film with slow-building but unrelenting terror, nothing beats The Shining: not only my favorite King adaptation, but one of my favorite horror films period.

CORY'S FAVORITE 5

IT
While I'm compelled to write about The Running Man, it isn't what I think of when I think King adaptations. It, on the other hand, is. I watched It as it aired on television and still have a recorded VHS copy that I occasionally re-watch just for the commercials. I could pick apart the film -- pointing out the way Pennywise manifests as the fears of the children, isn't obvious, and by the end, the viewer doesn't have a firm idea of what "it" is. This can be confusing. But it does get a lot right. The scares and the jokes have and will remain memorable for years. The performances of the child and adult cast are top notch. But Tim Curry's killer clown is amazing. He makes the movie work. If anyone hasn't seen It and has no interest in seeing It, they are mistaken. Curry alone is reason enough to check it out.

THINNER
Based on the story of the same name from King's "Bachman Era", this flick has been one of my favorites since it aired on HBO back in the '90s. I have already shared me love of this movie during one of our King Month podcasts, but here's what I think anyway. Thinner has a wonderful blend of EC Comics style horror and humor. The top notch practical effects help Robert John Burke portray a man's transformation from obese, to "normal", then emaciated. This of course brought on by a gypsy curse. Not since The Wolfman have I seen a film feature a gypsy curse. It may not blow anyone's mind, but I've always appreciated for being a simple but imaginative story wrapped in a well executed film.

CHRISTINE
Here we have an age old tale of; boy meets car, boy falls for car, boy meets girl, car becomes enraged with jealousy and sets out on a murderous killing spree. Who hasn't had the same thing happen to them a hundred times? While the story about a nerdy teen who buys and restores a supernatural car which later develops into an abusive relationship, certainly is interesting, what makes Christine shine is the handy work of director John Carpenter. John Carpenter made it... I shouldn't have to say anything else. Great camera work. Great characters. Great special effects. Great soundtrack. Great film!

MISERY
Based on the book of the same title, Misery does a great job of pulling the viewer into the world Paul Sheldon, James Caan, which is one that avoids the supernatural elements of other King tales and focuses on a very real terror...crazy people. Every element of this film, from the directing to the acting, tells the story masterfully. But what glues it all together is the performance of Kathy Bates as the obsessed fan and caretaker. The way she manipulates her character, passing back and forth between cheery and benign to homicidal is down right terrifying.

PET SEMATARY
This might not be everyone's favorite, but it is mine. This is one of the few King films that I watch every Halloween, as it inevitably will air on television. It was also one of the first King adaptations I ever saw. As a child, the idea of Indian burial grounds, killer cats and curses bringing the dead back to life was something that really stuck with me. Now as an adult I can appreciate how all those things are classic horror tropes that, to this day, still haven't lost their "creep-factor".

The entire film has an ominous and unwelcoming atmosphere that hangs over it, making the film creepy from start to finish. Much of this "creepy" is perpetuated by the helpful neighbor, played by Fred Gwynne. The way he informs the grieving Louis Creed of the "Pet Sematary", and how "sometimes dead is better". This movie is a timeless example of what horror should be.

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1 comments:

Gex said...

No love for The Green Mile huh?