Stephen King is a horror staple in both film and literary circles. More Stephen King books have been adapted into movies than the works of nearly any other author. King is known to weigh in periodically on what he thinks of these adaptations, and he is brutally honest. Although he appreciates what Frank Darabont did to the end of The Mist, what he has to say about The Shining will be hard for Stanley Kubrick fans to hear. If you thought Brian De Palma's artsy adaptation of Carrie was better than the book, cried at the end of Stand by Me, or are still waiting for Cujo to receive its Academy Award, you might be glad to hear King's opinion.
King has been writing successfully for decades, and shows no signs of slowing down on the printed page or the silver screen. Whether it's his praise for movies that successfully adapted his work in natural and creative ways, or a few choice words for projects he probably wishes he could remove his name from altogether, what Stephen King has to say about his movies might be of interest to both film and literary fans.
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
In Pet Sematary, Fred Gwynne headed a cast of otherwise relatively unknown actors in a story about a father who deals with death by burying his loved ones in a rural pet cemetery known to resurrect its tenants.
When asked about this 1989 adaptation of his novel, King said:
Dale Midkiff is stiff in places. I think Denise Crosby comes across cold in places. I don't feel that the couple that's at the center of the story has the kind of warmth that would set them off perfectly against the supernatural element that surrounds them. I like that contrast better.
I think it does what horror movies are supposed to do. It's an outlaw genre. It's an outlaw picture. A lot of the reviews have suggested very strongly that people are offended by the picture, and that's exactly the effect that the horror movie seeks.
- Actors: Stephen King, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby, Susan Blommaert, Miko Hughes
- Released: 1989
- Directed by: Mary Lambert
- Photo: Warner Bros.
King has love for both versions of IT: the 1990 made-for-TV version starring Tim Curry as Pennywise, the malevolent, shapeshifing clown, and the 2017 adaptation starring Bill Skarsgård in the role.
When asked about the TV classic, King said:
A whole generation of kids between the ages of eight and 14 were scared sh*tless by Tim Curry, and when the new one came out it was a chance to revisit that particular experience in their childhood. Then there was this weird viral bulge in stories about creepy clowns. That was in the press all over the place. So it was a number of different things. It was the right movie at the right time.
The remake exceeded King's expectations:
I had hopes, but I was not prepared for how good it really was. It's something that's different, and at the same time, it's something that audiences are gonna relate to. They're gonna like the characters. To me, it's all about character. If you like the characters... if you care... the scares generally work. I'm sure my fans will enjoy the movie. I think they're gonna really enjoy the movie. And I think some of them will go back two or three times and actually savor the thing. I went back and saw it a second time, and I felt I was seeing things the second time through that I missed the first time.
- Actors: Tim Curry, Seth Green, John Ritter, Annette O'Toole, Jonathan Brandis
- Released: 1990
- Directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace
- Photo: Warner Bros.
The Green Mile is another King prison story, but is very different than The Shawshank Redemption. When inmate John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is brought into custody for the murder of two young girls, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) and his fellow guards notice that he is able to perform healing miracles that lead them to question his guilt.
King loved director Frank Darabont's adaptation:
I would have to say that I was delighted with The Green Mile. The film is a little "soft" in some ways. I like to joke with Frank that his movie was really the first R-rated Hallmark Hall of Fame production. For a story that is set on death row, it has a really feel-good, praise-the-human condition sentiment to it. I certainly don’t have a problem with that because I am a sentimentalist at heart.
- Actors: Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell, James Cromwell, Michael Clarke Duncan
- Released: 1999
- Directed by: Frank Darabont
- Photo: United Artists
Carrie is the story of a telekinetic teen and her overprotective mother. It was King's first big book and he was paid just $2,500 for the rights. He is pleased with what director Brian De Palma did in the 1976 film adaptation, however, saying:
De Palma's approach to the material was lighter and more deft than my own - and a good deal more artistic. The book seems clear enough and truthful enough in terms of the characters and their actions, but it lacks the style of De Palma's film. The book attempts to look at the ant farm of high school society dead on; De Palma's examination of this "High School Confidential" world is more oblique and more cutting... Carrie is a good movie. It hasn't aged as well as some of the other ones, but it's still pretty good.
He was, not, however, interested in the 2013 remake. King wondered, “Why, when the original was so good? I mean, it's not Casablanca or anything, but a really good horror-suspense film, [that's] much better than the book.”
- Actors: John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Nancy Allen, Amy Irving
- Released: 1976
- Directed by: Brian De Palma