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Scenes From Stephen King Books Too Awful For The Big Screen

Updated June 2, 2021 4.9k votes 1.1k voters 93.4k views10 items

List RulesVote up the nastiest scenes from Stephen King's novels that were not included in the film versions.

In the conversation about horror novels and their film adaptations, it can be argued books are the more disturbing of the two, because no matter how realistic the special effects in said movies are, they can never replace the effectiveness of the imagination. This is certainly true of Stephen King movies. They often contain scenes faithfully adapted from their source books, but they lack the emotional heft of the written word. And yet, there are some scenes from King's novels that are simply better left on the page, either because Hollywood standards keep them on the cutting room floor or because they're so gruesome.

Here are several of just such scenes, but beware of SPOILERS.

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  • If you've only ever seen Lewis Teague's film version of Cujo, you might think King wraps up his novel about a rabid Saint Bernard up with a nice, neat bow of a happy ending.

    You'd be completely wrong for thinking that. The book features one of the bleakest endings in King's bibliography, perhaps even bleaker than Pet Sematary. While in the film four-year-old Tad only appears dead before his mother Donna successfully resuscitates him via CPR, in King's novel, the proceedings are much, much darker:

    Donna repeatedly and fervently attempts to revive her son in vain. King prolongs this awful scene for what feels like several pages, though its really only paragraphs. Adding insult to injury, Donna also begins to succumb to a rabies infection from Cujo. Numerous paramedics and cops alike try to pull her off the body of her son, but she is too frantic and strong for them; she even bites a Rescue Unit worker, forcing him to later get treatment for rabies. 

    The scene finally ends with paramedics sedating Donna and loading Tad onto a stretcher, but the distraught mother breaks away once again to pummel the dead dog.

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  • Included in neither Tobe Hooper's 1979 TV movie nor the 2004 miniseries adaptation starring Rob Lowe, this scene from Salem's Lot isn't at all bloody, but it's certainly upsetting. It involves one Sandy McDougal, a young mother who abuses her infant son Randy. She really doesn't seem to care about the baby at all - that is, until she finds Randy in his bedroom after a visit from young vampire Danny Glick. The child appears to be deceased, but he is, in fact, undead.

    Sandy attempts to wake him in vain. As a last ditch effort, she carries him into the kitchen, sets him in his high chair, and grabs a jar of baby food from the cabinet:

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  • There are plenty of scenes from King's wildly popular It that will likely never appear on the big screen, but none of these moments are as singularly awful as the death of a brief but memorable character, Eddie Corcoran. He's one of the nebulous "missing children" that cast an air of anxiety and dread over Derry, Maine in 1957-1958, but unlike several of the others that King mentions in name only, the author describes in grisly detail just exactly what happens to little Eddie.

    The scene begins with Pennywise, AKA It, terrorizing Eddie in the form of his brother, who died a few months back. As Eddie runs, It transforms into the Creature from the Black Lagoon, one of many movie monster forms the hungry entity chooses during its reign of terror:

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  • The 1984 film Children of the Corn was an adaptation not of a King novel, but of a short story featured in his collection Night Shift. It's a thoroughly Hollywood film experience, rife with special effects and trite heroics (dude saves the day and saves the girl, and they both live happily ever after). King's work, however, seems to be a critique of male dominance and chauvinism, as his protagonist, Burt, plunges himself and his wife Vicky straight into their demises. The horrors they experience in the adult-free little town are a direct result of Burt's bull-headedness, as is the bloody sight - of Vicky sacrificed to He That Walks Behind The Rows - that ultimately breaks him:

    • Category: Book
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