I may make this feature a Tuesday regular, purely because “Top 10 Tuesday” rolls of the tongue! Or I could make it on Thursday…Last week, we saw the teaser trailer for the film adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘IT.’ So why not do a Top 10 List of Stephen King film adaptations? It’s probably a list full of obvious choices, but here we go anyway…
- ‘The Running Man’
A classic Arnie 80s sci fi film that celebrates its 30th anniversary this year (and also takes place this year!). Okay, maybe using the term ‘classic’ is an exaggeration. But for pure 80s cheesiness, Arnie one-liners and a great concept, ‘The Running Man’ is brilliant. It’s based on Richard Bachman’s book. Bachman, of course, was a pseudonym for Stephen King. The book is vastly different from the film (and the ending is shocking, especially today). But the film strips down the novel to its essence, adds Arnie one-liners and a hammy villain, and makes movie magic.
This is up there with ‘The Running Man’ in terms of corniness and schlockiness, but when it terrifies, it terrifies well. The story sounds ridiculous, that of a car which is possessed by a spirit. But John Carpenter plays in with his tongue in his cheek, but always knows when to push the audience’s fear buttons. Even with the dated effects, it’s hard not to become indulged in Christine’s reality.
King’s book is a cracker, and so is the film adaptation. An author crashes his car and is found by his biggest fan…who won’t let him go. It’s a claustrophobic masterpiece that’s full to the brim with tension. Will he escape? What will the woman do to him next? Gives me chills just thinking about it. Kathy Bates as Annie fully deserved the Oscar she won. One of film’s all time great villains.
- ‘The Mist’
This is pure B-movie goodness right up until the shocking finale. It’s best viewed in black and white (which is an extra on the Blu-Ray, I think), as the colour scheme brings it closer to its 50s cousins of the same genre. The CGI may look a bit dodgy in full colour, but it black and white they look like legitimate demons from hell. It’s another story of claustrophobia, as a group of people are trapped in a supermarket and surrounded by monsters. As a satire of religion, it’s also worth a gander. But the ending..oh, the ending…
- ‘The Green Mile’
I think ‘The Green Mile’ is overlong. Sure, it drags only occasionally, but why not make it about half an hour shorter? You could still have the same experience by taking out bits here and there. But it’s an uplifting and heartbreaking film all the same. The story of a wrongly convicted black man on death row makes you want him to be pardoned. Michael Clarke Duncan is great as John Coffey, the wrongly convicted man. He’s even better than the main character, played by Tom Hanks. A great film that could have been better with half an hour trimmed.
- ‘Stand By Me’
Coming of age films don’t come much better than this one, based on a short story by King called ‘The Body.’ Although it’s set in the 50s, I reckon films/TV series/books that look back on the 80s (and 80s kids in particular) use this film as an influence. King always likes going back to the 50s (when he was a child), and it always feels authentic. So does the film adaptation. The child actors are great, Kiefer Sutherland as the teenage bad boy is great as well. One of the best films of the 80s.
- ‘The Dead Zone’
A man who can see the future sees a nuclear apocalypse happening at the hands of a Presidential candidate. So he plans to stop the candidate becoming President. Christopher Walken chews up the scenery (in a positive way!) as the psychic. But Martin Sheen’s Presidential candidate is another fantastic movie villain, practically exhaling evil as he breathes. It’s the rare 80s Cronenberg film that isn’t body horror, but proves that Cronenberg is so much more than body horror.
The original, and some would say best, King film adaptation. Yes, it’s been remade (and had a sequel), but they only served to highlight the brilliance of the original. It’s about a girl whose onset of puberty also brings on telekinetic powers. The first scene of Carrie suffering her period is horrific, but merely sets the scene for things t0 come. Like ‘The Mist,’ it’s a damning satire on religion as well. It has aged slightly, and some aspects look corny, but as a horror film, there’s not much better out there (apart from another King film adaptation…)
- ‘The Shawshank Redemption’
Often hailed as the greatest film of all time, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ doesn’t lose its power after several viewings. I won’t debate on whether it’s the greatest film of all time, but it up there somewhere. King’s tale of Andy Dufresne, a banker sentenced to life for the murder of his wife and child, is at times bittersweet, but ultimately one of the most uplifting experiences film has ever produced. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman bring a sense of earnest and realism to their roles that make the prison drama.
- ‘The Shining’
‘The Shining’ is one of my favourite horror films. When I first watched it, I confess to disliking it. It moved too slow and had little to do with the book that I had just read. But it stayed it my mind, and the horror began to grow in my head. On the second viewing (and pushing the book to the back of my mind), the true nature of its horror struck me. Yes, it may not be the most faithful adaptation of King’s books, but it’s certainly the most terrifying. Stanley Kubrick uses imagery, sound (or lack of it) and camera angles to induce a sense of horror that’s rarely found in horror films. Jack Nicholson is terrifying as Jack Torrence, the father and husband who takes his family to look after the Overlook Hotel over the winter period. Blood gushes out of elevators, twin sisters haunt his young boy, and Jack makes out with a decaying corpse. Horror at its very essence.
Agree or disagree? Any you’d take away or add? What is your Top 10?