Wednesday, 26 November 2014


Hot on the heels of the announcement that the big-screen adaption of Stephen King’s epic The Stand will be split into four films, here are six more adaptations of the King of Modern Horror’s work that are worth checking out.
(Please note that while The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and The Green Mile are undoubtedly great, they don’t quite fit the horror theme of this blog — so I have declined to include them. But they are all amazing and well worth your time. Also, It and Salem’s Lot were television adaptations and not films so I’m afraid I have to disqualify them from the list. Boooo!)

(John Carpenter, 1983)

There are plenty of Stephen King adaptations out there that are probably better stories than this one. But this is JOHN CARPENTER (quite possibly my favourite director of all time) directing a story by STEPHEN KING (quite possibly my favourite author of all time). The tale of a possessed and sentient 1958 Plymouth Fury and its obsessive love for its teenaged owner, Christine is an odd film, but one that needs to be seen.

(Mary Lambert, 1989)

Much like Christine, this is a film that isn’t the greatest quality King adaptation (I think fair arguments can be made that 1408, The Dead Zone and Apt Pupil are better films), but it is one that had a profound effect on me. Watching Pet Sematary when I was barely old enough to cope with its very dark and twisted story, I was creeped out for days afterwards. A modern take on The Monkey’s Paw, with a plotline that still horrifies me now I have become a father, the film is a must-see for horror fans, not least for the fantastic performance from Fred ‘Herman Munster’ Gwynne.

(Rob Reiner, 1990)

Kathy Bates.
James Caan.
THAT hobbling scene.
Misery is an iconic film, with an Oscar winning performance from Bates as one of the most terrifying screen psychos ever. If you haven’t seen it, you are a fool. Do it. Now.   

(Frank Darabont, 2007)

The most recent King adaptation on the list, this is yet another case where Darabont and King = GOLD. Based on one of my favourite King short stories, The Mist follows a group of survivors trapped in a convenience store by an otherworldy fog that hides numerous deadly monsters. Soon the dwindling group of survivors start to realise that not every threat comes from outside. This film boasts incredible visual effects and, while I preferred the ending of the novella, kudos must go to the studio for giving the film an even bleaker ending than its source material! If you get the chance, check out the sterling black and white version.

(Brian De Palma, 1979)

In most lists, a film of this quality would take the top spot. The real strength of De Palma’s astonishing film is that it manages to be more about character than gore (despite that bucket of blood). The worst horrors of the film do not come from knives or axes in flesh, but the darkness and cruelty of people towards those who are different. Carrie White may well be the one who causes the fiery and chaotic climax, but it is her tormentors (particularly her unstable and fanatically religious mother, played to perfection by Piper Laurie) who are the true monsters. Featuring a career-defining performance by Sissy Spacek, Carrie is one of the greatest horror films of all time.

(Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Perhaps it is one of the entertainment industry’s biggest ironies that the adaptation King himself has been most outspoken against is the very film that most critics hail as easily the finest.
Kubrick’s film is shot beautifully, using claustrophobic camera shots, a beautifully desolate setting, genuinely disturbing set-pieces and an incredible performance by Jack Nicholson to ratchet up the tension to breaking point. The Shining is a true masterpiece, consistently voted one of the greatest horror flicks of all time (along with The Exorcist for those keeping count). I’d go one further, The Shining is not just one of the best horror films, it is simply one of the greatest cinematic works of all time.

So, any thoughts on the list? Can you think of any I’ve missed?
Feel free to drop any comments below. I may even get enough for a second list!

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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