4 Stephen King Books That Became Great Movies
One of the best things about seeing a movie is being able to become a critic afterward, even for just a moment. Thanks to inpoortaste.ca/cultsploitation.com for featuring our post and for being such a fun place to read reviews on films and books. If you’ve got an attraction to cheesy B-movies, you might want to check out their review of “The Stuff.”
Stephen King’s books have been the inspiration for great movies going on several decades now. Not only are his plots highly unique, but they seem to lend themselves to very “do-able” adaptations. When I say that, I mean that their elements are not too fantastic or overly visual in such a way that a very high budget would be required.
To that point, several of Stephen King’s movie adaptations go as far back as the 80s. Budgets weren’t like they were today, and fancy computers didn’t render all of the onscreen effects. In spite of all that, there were some superb films. More recent additions benefit from advances in the filming industry but are no greater than some of the originals.
Knowing that, it’s difficult to decide which of Stephen King’s adaptations are the “best.” Instead, I’ve opted to go for some of my favorites.
- The Shining (1980)
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”—if you’ve seen The Shining already, those words alone are enough to bring chills. As one of King’s best films to date, The Shining takes us on a psychological thrill ride mixed with elements of the supernatural to deliver a piece that features everything a good movie should.
The Overlook Hotel is the setting of our story, and it captures the feeling of isolation. The film takes us through the winter of Jack Torrance and his family while they serve as caretakers at the aforementioned hotel. But something is terribly wrong: Jack’s son has a gift (for which the title is based) that allows him to experience the supernatural, and the hotel has plenty to spare.
The performances of the cast combined with fantastic screenplay writing and ambient music help deliver some of Hollywood’s most memorable moments of all time. If you’re interested in seeing a recovering alcoholic descend into madness of epic proportions, The Shining is definitely worth your time.
- It (1990)
Here’s a bit of an unusual film. Originally run as a TV movie, It was broadcast as two separate parts on two separate days. Besides its length, there’s a good reason to split the film into two halves; the first half covers the childhood of our protagonists, while the second half delves into their adulthood and the lasting effects of unresolved childhood issues.
If it sounds too psychological, it’s not; It might be metaphorically about facing your fears, but the film itself is very focused on giving its viewers long-lasting nightmares thanks in part to Pennywise the Clown, the film’s antagonist and all time horrifying villain.
As far as the full film goes, the first half is probably the better of the two, but it’s certainly not worth watching only one half (the conclusion is definitely unexpected, coming from seeing only the first half). You might also be interested in learning that a new version of It is scheduled for release in the autumn of 2017, so stay tuned to see how the newest version does.
- Secret Window (2004)
As far as Stephen King’s films go, Secret Window isn’t perhaps the highest rated, but it’s one I personally enjoyed. The plot follows Mort Rainey as he struggles through a divorce and writer’s block (one of the recurring themes in Stephen King’s stories is, of course, having an author protagonist).
Naturally, to keep things interesting, Mort’s wife is frequently present through the movie as she attempts to coerce him into signing their divorce papers. But so too is a mysterious stranger by the name of “Shooter,” who accuses Mort of plagiarizing one of his stories. At the same time, witnesses that could confirm Shooter’s presence begin going missing.
While at a certain point the plot becomes somewhat predictable, it’s still well written and has quite a few memorable moments, particularly the ending. This film is considerably less “frightening” than the previous entries in this list, but it does well as both a drama and thriller even so.
- The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The last on our list isn’t meant to be scary or horrific but serves more as a general commentary on the corruption of the American penal system. The Shawshank Redemption is all about Andy Dufresne’s time in prison after his sentence for two life sentences begins. There, he goes from a regular, abused inmate, to an integral part of the prison’s money laundering system.
Nobody is under the illusion that prison is any fun, but this film pushes the idea hard. Despite being given a position of importance, Andy is still nothing but another prisoner until the very end. While King’s films tend to have a certain feel to them, the finale is surprisingly uplifting.
The directors managed to recruit some very respectable talent for The Shawshank Redemption and the screenplay writer creates a masterful environment to absorb viewers into. If you’ve got a few hours to spare, definitely watch this one: of all the films listed here, it’s a top contender regardless of the type of films you like.
What’s Your Favorite?
With over a dozen films, Stephen King is bound to have some controversy when it comes to picking the best. Certainly this short list couldn’t possibly handle such an exhaustive task, and so we’re interested in which of King’s films is your absolute favorite. Tell us about it in the comments and exactly what it is that made the film shine for you.
About the Author: As you might expect, Cassie is a big fan of Stephen King and his works. If you liked her piece here, you can check out some more of her work on either Secure Thoughts or Culture Coverage (or both if you’d like!)