With IT Chapter 2 hitting theatres, I thought I’d reflect on past Stephen King adaptations. King has ruled over the horror genre for decades. Given the level of imagination in his stories, you’d think they’d easily make for good flicks, right?
King’s work is notoriously difficult to adapt. You never know if you’re going to get a Shawshank Redemption or a Sleepwalkers.
I’m going to spotlight a few notable works that I feel don’t get much ink. And man, does their quality vary. Trust me, it’s going to get weird. Let’s get started!
Directed by horror master John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog), Christine is the story of a nerdy teenage boy who becomes linked to a car possessed by an evil spirit. Don’t you hate when that happens?
It’s funny how Carpenter ended up directing this one. Following the critical and financial failure of 1982’s The Thing (now considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time) Carpenter just wanted a job to take his mind off the flop.
Good thing he did, because we ended up getting a rock solid horror movie full of terrific practical effects and stunt work.
The human characters are fine and all, but Christine is where it’s at. She’s the heart of the movie. The team does a hell of a job of bringing her to life. Carpenter frames the Fury in such a way that she comes across as oddly charming.
When it comes to the car action, this movie does not disappoint. My favorite scene involves a fiery Christine chasing after a school bully. The smooth camera work and eerie score perfectly captures the furious essence of this maniacal car.
Christine is a fun time, full of great kills and old school special effects. Definitely worth the ride!
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
So…this is a movie. I checked. I’ve actually seen it. But just…oh boy. It’ll be easier to show you than to try and explain.
So I present to you, the soda machine scene
…am I the only one who finds that scene hilarious?
Welcome to Maximum Overdrive! One of the worst movies ever made, but also one of the greatest movies ever made. Let’s discuss!
The basic premise is a comet passes over the Earth, causing machines to come to life. Somehow. And they of course then go on a homicidal rampage. Because reasons.
Stephen King wrote and directed this himself, his first and only time directing. Why? Watch the movie.
Being a former alcoholic and drug-addict, King has gone on record that he was coked out of his mind during the making of this movie. No kidding.
The story is illogical nonsense, the characters are morons, the kills/scares come across as hysterical, the score sounds like a keyboard mouth-sexing a mega-phone and the dialogue is just the worst.
And I loved every stupid second of it!
Want to see Emilio Estevez play a short-order cook who uses a rocket launcher to blow up a semi-truck with a giant Green Goblin face on it’s grill? We got you covered!
Maximum Overdrive is drug-induced fever dream of the highest order and a must-see for every person, living or dead.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
While trying to rekindle their love life at their remote lake house, Jessie (Carla Gugino) must to survive after her husband (Bruce Greenwood) dies suddenly, leaving her handcuffed to the bed.
Director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) delivers a taut psychological thriller anchored by an earth-shattering, powerhouse performance from Carla Gugino.
Flanagan had the difficult task of adapting a tricky premise, as our protagonist is cuffed to a bed pretty much the entire time and in the book most of Jessie’s discussions are internal.
The film’s tight script manages to capture the emotional complexities of the novel and then some. The themes of trauma and abuse carry through as richly here as they do in King’s writing.
The movie is also genuinely scary. Flanagan frames his shots in such a way that you feel like your in the room with Jessie, experiencing everything as she does. It’s an unnerving experience with one key scene that is sure to make you scream.
The soul of this film is Carla Gugino who delivers the best performance of her career. She has to juggle with Jessie’s mental extremes and shoulder the weight of the film. She does so flawlessly.
Gerald’s Game combines horror with poignancy to create one of the finest Stephen King adaptations to date.
And that’s that! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and are keen to watch some crazy-pants Steven King movies. Start with Maximum Overdrive, then continue with Maximum Overdrive until you grow old and dusty.