All hail the King from Maine! This was a big year for King as there were FOUR King productions: we got the monster hit It: Chapter 2, the reboot of Pet Semetary, The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, and the Netflix production In the Tall Grass. Plus, the television series Castle Rock. We live in a Stephen King world, and now The Scariest Things settles in to talk about it.
There is probably no one more important to modern horror storytelling than Stephen King. The sheer volume of work that he has produced will probably never be matched. Perhaps only Shakespeare has more writing credits for film adaptations than he does… and maybe not even the Bard can match him. From the risible Dreamcatcher to the brilliant The Shining, King’s films run the full gamut, and yet there is a tonal consistency to them. Even some of his bad movies can be entertaining. Maximum Overdrive is absolutely awful but oddly watchable. Two of his very best film adaptations aren’t even horror movies (Shawshank Redemption, and Stand By Me) demonstrating his storytelling mastery.
Though his subject material varies considerably, you know what you’ll get with a Stephen King movie. They are pop culture savvy constructions, with just enough gore to satisfy ardent horror hounds, but are almost universally accessible even to fans outside the genre. When he’s at his best, the films are conversational. This is comfort food horror. A familiar and comfortable brand of scary.
They can range from low-budget schlock like Graveyard Shift, to blockbuster productions like It. The recent impressive financial returns for the It franchise has re-ignited what was something of a dormant period for King, and with the nostalgia bandwagon for his heyday in the 1980s, the demand for his work has never been higher.
It is not always the easiest thing to try and convert a massive Stephen King novel to condense to a feature film. And, conversely, you’ll find sometimes a short story stretched a bit thin when trying to make a full movie, and it isn’t a surprise that some of the best King flicks are anthologies that pick up on his short stories that actually can get in and get out without floundering at the finish line like he sometimes gets accused of on his bigger stories. (Ahem… It… Ahem.) Some of our picks will be familiar, but we hope to have unearthed a few recommendations for underappreciated Stephen King gems for you to check out.
So, without further ado… Episode 82 awaits!
Editor’s note: I’m kicking myself for not picking Gerald’s Game. That’s a recent King film that you should really check out!