As an author, the success of Stephen King is unparalleled, but when his books are turned into movies it can be a hit or miss affair. Which are your favourite Stephen King movie adaptations? Here are mine.
The Shawshank Redemption
Taken from a short story by Stephen King, this could arguably be the most popular adaptation. King co-wrote the script, set in a prison, which brings together Andy, a banker accused of killing his wife, and Red, a convicted murderer. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are the two leads, and thanks to their rapport, the movie still shines like a well polished diamond. The strong supporting cast included Clancy Brown, another favourite of mine, as a brutal prison guard.
The Green Mile
This has to be on my list, with fine performances from Tom Hanks and one of my favourite actors, David Morse. He never takes a real leading role (except in The Langoliers, but more of that later) yet he is always a striking presence onscreen and creates a fleshed out character every time. Set on Death Row in a 1930s prison, most of the horror comes from real life, but it is heightened by the innocence of the man accused of murdering two children, John Coffey.
While rumors abound of a remake, I remain loyal to the original mini series production, which featured fine acting from Gary Sinese, Rob Lowe, Adam Storke and Ray Walston as the four men chosen to make a stand against the evil that threatens to devour what is left of the human race. Jamie Sheridan as Randall Flagg is a triumph of folksy, amiable nastiness, while Miguel Ferrer shines as his sidekick Lloyd. But my all time favourite is Bill Fagerbaake as Tom – “M O O N – that spells Tom Cullen!” I love the score as well, featuring the Blur Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper and Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowed House – all hand picked by Stephen King.
Starring David Morse as commercial pilot Brian Engle, who wakes up from a ‘red eye’ flight with nine other passengers . Everyone else, including the crew, has vanished. What follows is a race to get back to where they started and escape the Langoliers, hairy beach balls with teeth who eat up the past. It might sound hokey, but with King’s story telling skills, and a fine performance from David Morse to anchor the whole show, it’s great entertainment.
Every celebrity’s worst nightmare – a crazed fan – that’s what is waiting for novelist Paul Sheldon when he is injured in a car crash. He wakes up to find a woman called Anne Wilkes, his ‘number one fan’, who is very cheesed off when she finds out Paul is killing off his heroine, Misery. What follows for Paul is misery in the extreme. James Caan was fine as Paul, but Kathy Bates as Anne Wilkes left no stone unturned in plumbing the depths of evil. Lovely stuff.
Stand by Me
King’s coming of age drama is a bittersweet look back at childhood and the ways it ends. Starring the late River Phoenix, Star Trek’s Wil Wheaton, and that teen stalwart of the 80s, Corey Feldman, it proved once again that King is not just the master of horror (although there was a dead body in it). He is also the master of creating memorable characters and situations that readers and movie goers can identify with.
No doubt you have you favourite King movie adaptations, and your list may be very different from mine. Why not pop over to the Science Fiction and Fantasy forum and share your thoughts?
Stephen King Gift Set (The Langoliers / The Stand / Golden Years)
The Shawshank Redemption (Two-Disc Special Edition)