Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Best Stephen King Adaptations

I have said this many times before, but I am a huge Stephen King fan who has been repetitively upset by how movies and TV adapts his work.

I am not exactly sure what made me think of any of this today. Maybe its the set photos from Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" that popped online over the holiday weekend. While I am very excited, I do have my doubts. If "The Dark Tower" is adapted properly, it could be the next "Lord of the Rings" or "Game of Thrones." But they seem to making something incredibly different from the source material, and that worries me greatly. I also have doubts about the "It" remake that has begun shooting recently. I wrote last summer about my displeasure of the studio not moving forward with Cary Fukunaga's vision of the "It" adaptation. I feel he really had a deep understanding of the source material, and its some incredibly dark and weird source material. The thing was, it felt too experimental for Warner Bros. which means they want all their horror movies to fit a certain agenda, and that's infuriating to me.

I have started to notice that perhaps Stephen King is a writer whose material may not connect to the screen. Much like Alan Moore's "Watchmen" adaptation, I always felt that the popular graphic novel was un-adaptable. While I liked some things that Zack Snyder did with it, I felt it ultimately lacked in several areas as well. I think the same can be said for about 87% of King's written material. Or maybe I am wrong and most of his best work just hasn't ended up in the right hands yet. Because there are some good adaptations. Here's a list of ten Stephen King adaptations that certainly did the trick, the rub is that most of them weren't from his horror catalog. In no particular order.

The Shawshank Redemption & The Mist
I group these two movies together because they were both made by Frank Darabont and he uses the same theme in order to make two completely different movies. The message Darabont is making is that hope is a precious thing, possibly the most important thing a human being can have. Once we lose faith, we die. "The Shawshank Redemption" shows us the best possible outcome of nurturing hope, while "The Mist" shows us the worst possible outcome. The films maybe polar opposites of each other, but they speak volumes about the importance of hope and how we are virtually lost without it.

Stand By Me
 There is something special that is sadly missing from childhoods these days. Those moments of spending several days under absolutely no parental supervision. The idea would scare the crap out of several parents across the country and I am probably on the FBI's Most Wanted list for even giving the idea. But there is something special children can learn about themselves if their allowed to be free from adult supervision. "Stand By Me" is a perfect representation of that. And at times, feels like a time machine of a movie.

The Green Mile
The world really isn't the same anymore without Michael Clarke Duncan, playing man in jail for a crime he didn't commit. It revolves around the security guards of the prison and wondering if Duncan's character is truly guilty at all, despite having supernatural gifts. Its a great movie, full of elegance, tragedy and insightfulness.

The Shining
I may have lost lots of credibility here, and I really don't care. Yes, Stanley Kubrick's film is nothing like the book King wrote, and King himself didn't soften up to this adaptation until years later. Even though Kubrick did mostly his own thing with King's novel, he was able to create an immensely claustrophobic motion picture. Its soundtrack only adding to the tension and macabre of the entire film. With an incredible performance by Jack Nicholson and lots of bizarre happenings going unexplained, "The Shining" stands above many other King adaptions.

There was something truly special about the performance done by Sissy Spacek in this movie, and she easily stole the show from everything else. Not that it was easy to do. Carrie's mother in this movie gave me nightmares for several evenings after I saw this, and the final boo scare is a classic of the horror movie genre.

Salem's Lot
In a world where vampire's really aren't that scary and they are even sparkly, "Salem's Lot" from the 1970's was a huge miracle.

Dead Zone
This was adapted into a movie starring Christopher Walken and also was a shortly run TV series starring Anthony Michael Hall, and I felt both stories did a good job with the idea. About a guy who survives a tragic accident only to learn that he can see events before they happen, as well as events that have already transpired. Although the TV show is good, its the film that really gets under my skin. The creep factor is at the pinnacle of its volume and it works wonders.

Those poor bones, yeesh. This movie will make you pray you never become famous.

Secret Window
Its hard to find a movie starring Johnny Depp where he playing a bizarre looney. Especially in his modern career. In "Secret Window" Depp lets loose some vintage talent, acting that I feel made him famous in the first place. It isn't something crazy or off-the-charts, its a calm and collected performance and should be seen to be believed.

Not even close to all the good Stephen King adaptations, but certainly the best among them.

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