Arleigh’s Top 10/Bottom 5 Stephen King Film Adaptations


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“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” — Stephen King

Last week we saw the release of the Carrie remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz and directed by Kimberly Peirce. This got me to thinking that of all the writers I grew up reading it was Stephen King whose novels, novellas and short stories made for easy film adaptations. His stories may be supernatural, horror scifi or dark fantasy but they all share that common denominator of having some basis in the real world.

They’re stories of how the real world and it’s seemingly normal inhabitants will react to something just beyond the norm, the pale and the real. In one story we pretty much have a Peyton Place-like setting having to deal with a arrival of a Dracula-like figure. On another we see the isolated work of hotel sitting during the winter turn into something both supernatural and a look into the mind of someone cracking under the pressure of issues both personal and professional.

With all the Stephen King film adaptations since the original Carrie I know I have seen them all and can honestly say that I’ve become an expert on the topic. So, here’s what amounts to what I think would be my top 10 best and bottom 5 worst film/tv adaptations from Stephen King stories.

Top Ten

1. Salem'sLot2. TheShining3. DeadZone4. Carrie5. Christine6. Misery7. TheMist8. PetSematary9. shawshankredemption10. standbyme

Bottom Five

1. GraveyardShift2. maximumoverdrive3. Dreamcatcher4. TheMangler5. ChildrenoftheCorn

5 responses to “Arleigh’s Top 10/Bottom 5 Stephen King Film Adaptations

  1. I attended a screening of “The Mist” and found it to be excruciating for the most part. I would’ve guessed it to be more like bottom five film rather than a top ten.

    For one thing, Marcia Gay Harden is meant to be some type of villainess named Mrs Carmody, her devotion to religion and God meant to paint her as some type of evangelical nutcase. The people in the supermarket are divided into two different groups, the believers and the non-believers. Now, Mrs Carmody goes about spouting all this hellfire and brimstone crap about the apocalypse, which seems ludicrous, but when incredible monsters start flying out of the mist and attacking people inside the supermarket, can you really blame people for siding up with her? Mrs Carmody goes from deranged evangelist to highly credible prophet–so why is SHE seen as the bad woman in all of this?

    Meanwhile, Thomas Jane, as David Drayton, basically bumbles around and fucks up everything–and let’s not forget what he does at the end of the film–and HE is meant to be the hero? Totally makes no sense whatsoever.

    A lot of the folks in the audience cheered when Mrs Carmody took a bullet, but they shouldn’t have, as Marcia Gay Harden’s perforamnce was one of the few bright spots in the film. When she died, whatever hope the film had left died with her.

    A lot of other things irked me about “The Mist”. It was gratuitously gory, relied way too much on (unconvincing) CGI special effects, plus the bit where the tied the rope around the unfortunate soul who was sent into the mist, only to come back as nothing more than a lower torso and legs…just plain laughable. Surely whatever sliced and diced the victim inside the mist would’ve also severed the rope (at the very least, the roped would’ve slipped off what was left of the body). Oh, did I mention how awful the ending was? Thomas Jane’s hammy acting in the last scene didn’t help, either. The best thing about this film (one of the very few positives) was the bit where Drayton makes a reference to Jonestown, quickly followed by a quip about drinking the Kool-Aid. Alas, I was the only one in the cinema who laughed aloud about this.

    Funny how Drayton is seen at the start of the film, drawing a poster for “The Thing” (presumably a tribute to John Carpenter’s film), then it gets remade just a few years later. But you know Hollywood, they plan these things well in advance.

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    • Actually, the painting of The Thing you mention was actually the original one-sheet for The Thing done by Drew Struzan. All the painting in the beginning of the film were by the renowned illustrator. Darabont is such a huge fan of the painter that he used The Mist as an opportunity to showcase some of his favorite pieces. The one Drayton was actually working on was a special Struzan painting that shows just what a Dark Tower: The Gunslinger film poster would look like.

      The Mist is one film of the King listing that one either loves or hates. There’s no middle ground when it comes to it. I know the other TSL founder doesn’t like it much either just as she doesn’t care for another King adaptation in Shawshank Redemption. The flaws you point out I actually saw as strengths and part of that King-style of trying to ground the fantastic with the real. I actually thought Marcia Gay Harden’s performance as Mrs. Carmody was just more than a tad over-the-top. There wasn’t any subtlety to her performance, but in a film trying to pay homage to the 60’s B-movie monster flicks it sorta fits.

      I will admit that some of the CGI in the film was very bad, especially the tentacles, but for the most part the CGI creatures paired up with their practical puppet effects looked pretty good considering the budget they had to work with.

      Now, that ending, I thought was the best part considering how much hope and survival was such a main thing for those who wanted out of the market. I don’t know about you, but being the person who made the decision to leave the market then realize that they’ve traded one danger for a bigger one would drive me that batshit emotional, especially after performing a mercy-killing on everyone. I can understand why some didn’t like that ending. I just thought it fit the theme and tone the film was going for and Jane’s performance was what made it work.

      I would’ve had the film higher on my list, but I who love it do think it suffers from some of what you say but not enough to be a worst or even be in sniffing distance.

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  2. Oh, I actually really do like “The Shawshank Redemption”, although I’m not quite certain if it deserves such a high listing on the IMDB Top 250. Then again, it really is a well-done story, it’s rather disturbing exactly like it should be, and the performances are most fine. Again, if I had to decide, I wouldn’t have it so high up on the IMBD Top 250, but at the same time, I’m not going to scream blue murder over the praise it receives.

    I still do wonder why Andy Dufresne didn’t kick the projector over when he was being attacked by “the sisters” as the film “Gilda” was playing. The inmates watching “Gilda” would’ve immediately ran into the projection room to see what was happening.

    Oh yeah, they also wasted a perfectly good Raquel Welch poster in the film. If Andy had stayed in prison for another ten years, do you think he would’ve replaced Raquel with a poster of Farrah Fawcett in a red swimsuit?

    I notice you included neither “The Stand” nor “The Langoliers”, both made-for-television productions. The former was a really big television event, as I recall, and I found it most disconcerting. The latter was also really good, and I really enjoyed the whole concept of the past being devoured by monsters, even if those monsters were pretty cheap special effects. But it was made-for-TV, you can hardly count on Industrial Light and Magic type stuff from a television show.

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  3. Pingback: 4 Shots From 4 Films: Stephen King Edition | Through the Shattered Lens

  4. Pingback: Horror on the Lens: Children of the Corn (dir by Fritz Kiersch) | Through the Shattered Lens

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