Stephen King is a very successful author who specialises in the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres. For decades his extensive work has been translated to film, with some excellent examples like, The Shining and Stand by Me, as well as some that were not so good like, Secret Window and Dreamcatcher. Whatever the success of the film adaptations, it is clear that King’s writing is popular and both filmmakers and screenwriters cannot wait to adapt whatever he writes next.
Published in 1974, Carrie was King’s first novel and it established him as one of the best horror authors to emerge. The film adaptation came two years later and portrayed Carrie (Sissy Spacek), a painfully shy high school student who is constantly teased and bullied by her peers. Piper Laurie also stars as Carrie’s extremely religious mother, who shelters Carrie and tries to protect her daughter from the ‘evil’ in the world. With violent horror films like Halloween, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre becoming popular at the time, Carrie offered something new to the genre and was relatively calm for the duration of the film until the terrifying prom scene that was as effective as any other horror film. Stephen King’s writing proved that sometimes less is more.
The Green Mile
The Green Mile is a moving and mysterious story, which begins with an elderly man in a nursing home telling the story of his life and extraordinary events from his past. The film stars Tom Hanks as a correctional officer and Michael Clarke Duncan, who is a wrongly accused man with a supernatural gift. Director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) adapts Stephen King’s novel on screen almost perfectly, capturing all the elements that made people fall in love with the novel.
The Shawshank Redemption
This is definitely one of my favourite films ever. It has everything you could possibly want in a film; an interesting plot, great characters and effortless performances, which is mainly due to King’s brilliant novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It was a departure from King’s usual science fiction/horror genre, but that doesn’t take away from the story. It probably makes it even better, especially when the audience finds out the lengths that a normal man called Andy (Tim Robbins) went to, to ensure his freedom.
Kathy Bates brought King’s deranged character Annie Wilkes to life in the 1990 film Misery. After rescuing writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) from a car accident, Wilkes proceeds to keep him in her home, initially to help him get better, but then things become more disturbing and it becomes evident to Sheldon that she is not willing to let him go. This tense psychological thriller is another example of King’s ability to create suspense and tension, in other ways that are not limited to monsters or the supernatural.
The Shining would have been an obvious and worthy choice in terms of great Stephen King film adaptations (Although King famously despised the film), but I chose to go for It. The two part miniseries or three hour long film (however you choose to watch it) horrified me as a child. King was able to identify what many children loved and turned it into something that would give them nightmares. Set in the 60’s and 90’s in a fictional town called Derry, the film follows the lives of a group of children who are tormented by a creepy clown and again as adults. Watching the film back now it seems a lot less sinister, but the fact that it scared many children and has forever instilled a fear of clowns in some people (not me!), means that King’s intention to take what people did not initially fear and make it terrifying, was indeed a success.
Images courtesy of It, Misery, The Green Mile and Carrie