2017 saw the release of It into our cinemas; Stephen King’s award-winning novel about a group of children terrorised by a being that takes on the appearance of what they fear. Pennywise the Dancing Clown is the form that we see most, after appearing in a storm drain and severing a seven year old boy’s arm as he reaches for his paper boat. After one of the group is taken by Pennywise, The Losers Club set out on a rescue mission to get her back.
“It ranks among the better Stephen King adaptations — no small praise indeed.” – Empire
This 2014 psychological thriller is based on King’s novella from his collection Full Dark, No Stars. After a “good marriage” of more than 25 years, Darcy (played by Joan Allen) ventures into the garage to find some batteries while her husband is away on one of his business trips. Instead, she makes a horrific discovery and finds that her husband is hiding a sinister secret, which abruptly disturbs their happy marriage.
“Mr. King’s script offers a wealth of behavioral[sic] details, notably in the conversations between Bob and Darcy, which put a deliciously perverse twist on conjugal familiarity.” – New York Times
It’s taken nine years to adapt King’s 2006 book of the same name into a film, but this year will see the release of this highly-anticipated science-fiction horror movie. The film is scripted by Stephen King himself with the help of Adam Alleca and will star Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack and Isabelle Fuhrman. The story follows Clay (Cusack), a New England artist who sees an international mobile (cell) phone network re-programme most of his fellow humans into mindless, dangerous animals. Only a few survivors remain, and they must stop ‘the pulse’ (and whoever is controlling it) before it’s too late.
Children of the Corn, released in 1984, was adapted from King’s book of short stories, Night Shift. Future adaptations of stories include The Lawnmower Man and Graveyard Shift. This film is all about the children of a small Nebraskan town, who are called to murder by Isaac, a preacher boy. However, a young couple stands in the way of their plans. Interesting fact: a copy of Night Shift can actually be seen on their car’s dashboard during one scene of the film! The movie has spawned eight sequels since.
“…The inclusion of a battle against a real demonic power is what helped to make ‘Children of the Corn’ one of the best horror films of all time.” – Best Horror Movies Blog Review
Based on King’s eponymously-titled series of six short books, the film stars Tom Hanks as Paul Edgecomb – a 1930s death-row prison guard who is bemused by an inmate’s miraculous powers. The inmate, John Coffey, is played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan – a prisoner convicted of killing two children. The film grossed $136 million at the box office and, 16 years later, still has strong DVD sales. According to hearsay, Stephen King came to the set of the movie and asked to sit on the electric chair, but didn’t like how it felt and asked to be released immediately!
“The film is very true to its source and Darabont’s direction is flawless… A very classy King adaptation.” – Whatculture
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Hearts in Atlantis is one of King’s short stories adapted for the big screen by screenwriter William Goldman. Goldman was by no means new to transforming King’s stories into movies – he also adapted box-office smash hit Misery in 1990. The plot here follows Bobby, who befriends the mysterious Ted (Hopkins) who rents a room in his family’s boarding house. Bobby soon realises that Ted possesses supernatural powers.
“Likeable, nostalgic movie that walks a smooth tightrope between a coming-of-age tale and a dark, long-forgotten Twilight Zone episode.” – Film Journal International
One of King’s collections was called ‘Different Seasons’ and included a story entitled Fall from Innocence: The Body. Although not many people realise it, Stand By Me – considered one of most successful of King’s adaptations – was based on this tale. It follows a quartet of boys who embark on an adventure to find the dead body of their missing classmate, but they are followed by bullies (including Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Ace) and are forced to make some mature decisions along the way. The film, starring the late River Phoenix, won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
“Rob Reiner’s bucolic, nostalgic drama is widely agreed to be one of the most successful adaptations of a story by horror master Stephen King.” – Andrew Collins, Radio Times
Dubbed by some to be like an early version of The Hunger Games, this late-80s sci-fi movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is based on a book written under King’s pen name, Richard Bachman. It revolves around a television game show in the year 2019 where criminals are given the chance to earn their freedom by performing a deadly gauntlet.
“The fun of this movie is really in its premise, its cool confrontations between Arny & villains, the cheesy one-liners and Maria Conchita Alonso” – JoBlo’s Movie Emporium
This 2004 adaptation of King’s 1990 novella Secret Window, Secret Garden brought in over $90 million, and that’s largely down to superstar Johnny Depp’s performance. Depp stars as a confused and recently-divorced fiction author (another of King’s stories to feature a writer!) who is accused of plagiarism by an aggressive dairy farmer from Mississippi – and he is happy to resort to psychotic behaviour to see justice. The film stars Timothy Hutton, who also appeared in another King-adapted movie, The Dark Half.
“Secret Window is a moody, Hitchcockian thriller with a major story twist. Pacing is slow. There’s lots of waiting for something to happen, which enhances a sense of foreboding. And Depp’s performance is terrific”. – IMDb review
One of King’s other stories from the ‘Different Seasons’ collection was adapted into a film that frequently makes the ‘favourite film of all time’ list: The Shawshank Redemption. The movie is based on the 1982 novella called Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and stars Tim Robins as Andy Dufresne, who is sentenced to life imprisonment for a double murder he denies committing. Set in the 1940s, he and his inmate Red, played by Morgan Freeman, strive to reconcile their doomed fates.
“Top-notch performances, exceptional cinematography, and masterful direction combine to make this film something special indeed”. – ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Also drawn from ‘Different Seasons’, Apt Pupil was certainly not as well-received as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, but praise was given to Sir Ian McKellen for his strong performance in the form of an Oscar nomination. The story is based on the relationship between an ex-Nazi and a young student he is mentoring. The student uncovers a deadly secret and blackmails him – forcing him to reveal everything about his evil past. The director of this film, Bryan Singer, had recently finished the movie The Usual Suspects and went on to make X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014.
“Maybe this isn’t one of Stephen King’s most popular stories, but it’s sure one of his most realistically creepy ones”. – Rotten Tomatoes Review
Which Stephen King book would you like to see make it to the big screen? Let us know in the comments box below.