A Quick Guide To Stephen King Movie-Watching Selections
Summer is here, and with kids home from school some families may be planning a regular family movie night. If you have teens as I do, horror flicks are a favorite genre of choice. And when choosing a horror flick the name Stephen King often comes to mind. But for those who haven't watched a lot of movies adapted from King's works or any of those he's just put his name to, selecting your movie may prove a little intimidating. Let's face it - there are more Stephen King movies out there than Baskins-Robbins has flavors.
So for those feeling lost in the endeavor, I have created a quick reference guide for making your Stephen King movie selections. Listed here are films filed under basic tenet of quality -the Great, the Good, the So-so and the downright Bad- along with a brief description* of each film. Television mini-series are included, but what you will not find are any King-written regular television series such as Golden Years, any movie that is still in production or any Stephen King flick I haven't yet watched (which, if I'm not mistaken, comes to a total of 1).
*my descriptions are guaranteed to be 100% upfront and honest, though admittedly utterly subjective...so you might want to read the "official" details printed on film box before rental or purchase.
Mike Enslin, a professional debunker of the paranormal, checks into a fabled haunted room at the Dolphin Hotel. Enslin wastes no time in offending supernatural forces with his arrogance and a real eyesore of a Hawaiian shirt.
Salem’s Lot (1979) television mini-series
A young novelist returns to his hometown to discover the undead are feasting on the living and that when his glasses get knocked off, he bears a frightening resemblance to David Soul.
It (1990) television mini-series
A lonely clown is pursued by a group of slingshot-wielding children
Needful Things (1993)
A cultured shop owner faces harassment from town cheapskates that don't want to pay their bills and a jealous sheriff who is trying to move in on his girlfriend.
The Dead Zone (1983)
After waking up from a seven-year long coma, Johnny Smith discovers married women are easy to get in bed if the guy is walking with a cane.
The Green Mile (1999)
Sesame Street's Mr. Noodle's brother, the other Mr. Noodle, befriends a talented mouse before being smoked like a Cajun sausage in the electric chair
The Shining (1980)
During a stay at a luxurious hotel, Danny and his Mom make friends with some colorfully quirky guests while Danny's father writes a motivational book.
The mom of Cheers' Cliff Clavin marries a sheriff, whose leathery good looks keep her in a perpetual state of amorous desire.
Stand By Me (1986) adapted from King’s novella, The Body.
Four young friends encounter child abuse, blood-sucking leeches, a corpse, a dog attack, a gang of thug greasers and a water-gulping deer during a horrific camping event
Storm of the Century (1999) television mini-series; original screenplay by Stephen King
As a huge winter storm descends on an island village, hostility and violence erupts when an elderly unmarried gentleman offers to adopt a local child.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Two handsome felons bond behind bars and celebrate their long-awaited freedom together on an exotic beach.
The Mist (2007)
A religious fanatic terrorizes patrons inside a grocery store and annoys the insects outside.
Silver Bullet (1985)
A werewolf is terrorized by Gary Busey's overacting.
The Night Flier (1997)
Tabloid newspaper reporter, John Dees, trades in writing lurid sensationalism to track down a lurid and sensational vampire.
Cat’s Eye (1985)
A stray cat finds a loving home after bringing chaos and death for unwitting citizens.
Graveyard Shift (1990)
A textile mill needs rat traps and the workers need showers.
Five tales of terror, lots of well-known actors, cleavage courtesy of Adrienne Barbeau and Stephen King himself in a starring role! Pretty darned cool!
Heidi's husband blames her for his unwise driving habits..
Children of the Corn (1984)
Two over-the-hill buzzkills try to destroy a socialist utopia.
A rural town erupts in racial hatred when a mother and son audition for a production of Cats.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Dire consequences ensue after Herman Munster convinces a neighbor to bury his dead child in an old pet cemetery.
Alvin, Theodore and Simon never see their dad again after he meets a seductive snake with an anal fetish.
A studious high school boy is subjected to emotional bullying after buying a solid American-made used car instead of one of the expensive new rice burners all the "cool" kids are driving.
A potentially sexy all-girl shower scene goes terribly awry when tampons are brought into the plot.
The Dark Half (1993)
A writer's alter-ego makes his life hell.
Secret Window (2004)
A writer's alter-ego accuses him of plagiarism.
Bag of Bones (2011) television mini-series
A writer is put through hell by a ghost and he plagiarizes himself.
Delores Claiborne (1995)
A reporter's mother is accused of killing the elderly woman that taught her the fine points of murdering men that trust them
Desperation (2006) television mini-series
The arrest of several lawbreaking lowlifes leads to persecution for an ancient spirit.
The Langoliers (1995) television mini-series
A handful of passengers wake up to discover the crew and their fellow passengers have vanished from the plane. Soon enough they begin to suspect they weren't abandoned simply because of their tediously boring personalities.
Pet Sematary II (1992)
A sheriff trying to provide for his family is harassed by a boy that wants his father to become a necrophiliac.
The Running Man (1987)
A reality game show host is targeted by the whiny, drama queen contestants.
When trucks and other vehicles come to life and begin to attack the residents of a small town, the gun-toting dumb southerners are sacrificed in order to save the molotov cocktail-throwing dumb non-southerners.
A whiny child and a sweaty woman with no common sense make a rabid Saint Bernard's last days more miserable than they should have been.
Hearts in Atlantis (2001) *made for television?*
A touching, nostalgic film about an aging man that returns to his home town with the single aim of putting a trusting young boy through a lifetime of psychological counseling.
A man and his daughter are chased by governmental thugs that hope to exploit their supernatural abilities to bore enemy forces to death.
Rose Red (2002) television miniseries
A group of people with psychic abilities aggravate ghosts
Apt Pupil (1998)
A young boy blackmails his neighbor into teaching him how to score with hairy-legged, Israeli-hating femi-nazi's.
Sometimes They Come Back (1991)
After moving his family back to his home town, a man is harassed by greaser thugs with bad duck tails and bad make-up.
The Lawnmower Man (1992)
Town moron, Jobe, is accidentally turned into a genius thanks to technology. While the screenplay has absolutely nothing to do with the original story, it successfully managed to make King's readers wonder what happened to the goatish naked man with the green teeth? But I suppose green teeth just aren't as compelling story devices as say Pierce Bronson trying to feign a Mid-western American accent while donning one of David Bowie's discarded 1970s glam costumes.
Sometimes They Come Back…Again (1996)
A father must man-up and protect his daughter from greaser thug ghosts while trying to live down his years of playing a wussy hippie dad on Family Ties.
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
A couple remove two children from a dangerous cult in rural Nebraska, just to transplant them to the even more dangerous streets of modern urban Chicago
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
The earlier and bigger budget adaptation of Trucks (see above). In this one, after the earth passes through a comet's tail, machines and vehicles come to life. Teen idol Emilio Estavez faces off a bunch of homicidal semi-trailers with only his wits and a cache of corny dialog.
The Tommyknockers (1993)
When his neighbors begin to show signs of deteriorating personality changes the town's alcoholic poet puts them through a 12-step program that involves blaming their condition on space aliens.
The Stand (1994) mini-series
After the human race suffers the effects of a deadly virus, a group of religious zealots set out to destroy Las Vegas, and a bitter blind woman pretends to be a prophet in order to banish the two desirable women that stand between her and absolute dominion over her cult followers.
Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992)
In this so-called "prequel" to the original Children of the Corn film (see above), a journalist and his son come upon a town where the elderly are killed off in religiously significant ways and the kids responsible give up their heathen beliefs and convert to a single-bloodthirsty-god belief system.
The Shining (1997) television miniseries
Unlike the 1980 Stanley Kubrick adaptation of The Shining (see above), this one got the Stephen King stamp of approval. Simply put, it follows the novel much closer than Kubrick's version. The unfortunate part is that it painfully focuses on those sappy but brief moments from the novel most readers forget in the context of an otherwise mesmerizing novel. So if the thought of repetitious yawning scares the living bejesus out of you, this is definitely a must-see!
The Lawnmower Man II: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)
Lawnmower man, Jobe, is resurrected by a group of scientists in order to wed the world's computer networks into one giant surveillance system so they can dominate the world. Jobe enlists the help of a hacker to disgrace the scientists, then betrays the young man in order to play Barack Obama...I mean, god.
Firestarter 2: Rekindled (2002) a Sci-Fi Channel original
Charlie McGee, having survived government agents that tried to exploit her innate talent for pyrokinensis thwarts pursuit by setting fire to any man that stands in her way. A horny young detective, a horny researcher and a group of horny government officials pursue her anyway.
Sometimes They Come Back… For More (1998)
The sons of Satan show up at a military radio post in Antarctica and subject their human prey to fiendish dialog and leave the audience begging for an appearance by Kurt Russell.
Children of the Corn (2009) a Syfy Channel adaptation
Spineless Burton Stanton and Vicky, the foul-mouthed love of his life, enjoy verbally assaulting one another like other couples enjoy sex. To get a little peace and quiet the followers of He Who Walks Behind The Rows decide to sacrifice them. But trying to convince their god to actually accept the bickering pair may prove the task of the century.
This Hub ©June 2, 2014 by Beth Perry