Arguably the most successful writer in history, Stephen King blazed a trail that no one has yet to follow. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold and that gold transfers to the big screen in many of his books, essays, and short stories. With dozens of movie adaptations, television series’ and comic book and stage plays, his work can be found at your fingertips for your viewing pleasure. King is a bigger than life human being who really shrugs it all off with a gleam in his eye. We feature some of Stephen King’s successful and some not-so successful movie adaptations below.
(Based on the novel of the same name from 1981)
The story is simple. A family drives their vehicle to a mechanic on the outskirts of town. A Saint Bernard named Cujo is the mechanics pet and introduced to the wife, Donna and son, Tad of the owner of the vehicle that is needing fixed. Later, Cujo is bitten by a bat when he sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong. As the movie progresses Cujo becomes more agitated. He gets sicker and begins attacking and killing the mechanic’s friend and the mechanic. Donna and Tad drive the Ford Pinto to the house to get fixed, but runs into the crazed Cujo, who by now is full on rabid. They become trapped in the car in the boiling heat and Cujo thwarts every attempt of their escape. Finally, Cujo gets his in the end, but not before putting everyone through hell!
The Mangler (1995)
(Based on the short story from 1972’s Night Shift Collection)
Robert England (Freddy Krueger) plays Bill Gartley of Gartley’s Blue Ribbon Laundry service. The main machine in the factory, The Mangler, is a menacing demon that preys on the workers of the factory. One lady gets cut and spills blood on the machine. This starts the cycle of death with nothing seemingly getting in the way. An older woman who drops her antacids onto the machine gets torn apart in a bloody scene. An exorcism is performed (really) and of course, it does nothing. The movie isn’t very good, but the book is a lot better. Try avoiding this movie if you can.
The Shining (1980)
(Based on the novel from 1977)
Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a drunk writer who happened upon the job of winter caretaker to the Overlook Hotel. Torrance is told that the former caretaker developed cabin fever and killed his entire family before killing himself. Mr. Torrance brings along his wife Wendy and young son Danny. Danny has ESP and has had premonitions about the evil within the hotel. Danny is greeted by the Chef, Dick Holleran (Scatman Crothers) and they immediately bond due to Danny having “The Shine” as Holleran states. Jack keeps busy with his writing and Wendy and Danny keep busy throughout the hotel. A month into the stay, stuff gets real. Danny’s imaginary friend “Tony” shows up more often and Jack is becoming more insane. Jack finally snaps and chases his family with an axe. You’ll have to see the rest on film. It’s better than you’d think it would be. REDRUM.
(Based on the novel from 1983)
This is truly a strange love story. Guy meets car. Car falls in love with guy. Car kills for guy. Car is killed by guy. A 1958 Plymouth Fury, red in color, rolls of the assembly line and begins her reign of terror. Smashing and rolling over anyone who gets in her way. Arnie the nerd buys “Christine” from an old man for $250.00 and begins to fix her up. Christine’s only voice is the on board radio station that plays only songs from the 1950’s. How strong is their bond? When Arnie is impaled by a glass shard, Christine seeks sweet revenge. Arnie’s pals Leigh and Dennis confront Christine in the tow yard and defeat her. She is then put into a crusher to become recycling. The last shot shows her as a metal cube, void of all life until the bumper begins to bend back into shape. Fast fact: Christine’s license plates read “CQB 241”.
(Based on the novel from 1987)
Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) isn’t your typical run of the mill psycho fan, nope. She’s his number one fan. She is a deranged lunatic who spares the life of famed writer Paul sheldon (James Caan) only to torture him because of a character he wrote in a book. Annie finds Paul in the woods near her home after a snowstorm caused him to wreck. He is badly injured, but Annie nurses him back to health. Her sole purpose is to bring back Misery Chastain, a character in Sheldon’s series of books. He kills her off and Annie isn’t having that mess. She gets him back to writing shape and wants him to rewrite the book, but he hesitates. She smashes his legs with the sledgehammer. He tells her the manuscript is finished and as a custom he has a cigarette and champagne. He douses the manuscript alight and they fight over it. Paul kills Annie. Fast forward to a scene at a restaurant with his publisher. The waitress looks like Annie and says “I’m your number one fan!” He uncomfortably thanks her and the movie fades.
Whether it be monsters, devils, or mad men (or mad women), Stephen King is the master at bringing the mundane to life as the most horrific thing on the planet. When you think horror writer, you think Stephen King.