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The Ultimate Stephen King Marathon

Updated on October 2, 2017
Alec Zander profile image

Alec is a film critic with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his reviews and articles will help launch his career.

Prologue

Throughout the month of September I had the Ultimate Stephen King marathon. 67 films/tv shows. Some great, most good, several bad. In this article I will break down the marathon and give short reviews for each film/show. As always, I will also include a film list with all my ratings. Shall we begin?

Days 1 & 2

  • 11/22/63 - A fantastic miniseries that brings up the question that still burns in many minds: what would have happened if JFK had not been assassinated? Every episode was brilliant and kept you wanting more.
  • Bag of Bones - Pierce Brosnan brings one magnificent performance in this miniseries about a man who is being guided by the spirit of his dead wife to capture a killer. Great series, just a little bit slow at times.
  • Children of the Corn - The original adaptation was fantastic. Nothing beats creepy kids with sinister intentions.
  • Children of the Corn - The remake of the classic dulled down the creepy and was nowhere near as spectacular as the original.
  • Creepshow - Mostly silly, this anthology film is okay but doesn't really impress.
  • Creepshow 2 - Not better or worse than the first. Still silly, but at least it's consistent.
  • Dark Tower - This long-awaited film was a bit of a disappointment. The performances from Elba and McConaughey were fantastic, but the screenplay was not well written and a lot of explanation was needed for those unfamiliar with the books.
  • Shawshank Redemption - One of the best adaptations, the film captures the gritty reality of prison and also gives us one of the best stories about an unbreakable friendship and one amazing con.

Days 3-9

  • Dead Zone (film) - Christopher Walken delivered one fantastic performance in one unforgettable film about a man who gained the gift of foresight after a horrific car crash.
  • Dead Zone (series) - The series based on the film took a few episodes to get into but once it got its hooks in you, it never let go until the final moment. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger but then again maybe that was the point. Johnny was the only one who really knew what was coming throughout the show. Why should the ending be different? Maybe we aren't supposed to know what happens.
  • IT (Curry) - Tim Curry was frightening as Pennywise but the writing rushed through the story and didn't take the time it needed to get things right.
  • IT (Skarsgard) - Bill Skarsgard ups the creepy factor in the new version of IT, delivering plenty of scares and heart-racing moments. This film focused on The Losers' Club as kids which was good because it was able to tell the first part of this story without rushing.
  • Under the Dome - The show started out well, making the viewer want more with each episode. The last half of season 2 started pulling the show downhill and season 3 was just bad altogether, ending an on a cliffhanger and never being resolved.

Days 10-16

  • Carrie - Sissy Spacek was perfect as Carrie. She had the look, the acting, and the intensity. This is by far one of the best King adaptations.
  • Carrie - Chloe Grace Moretz delivered a good performance but she's way too pretty to be Carrie. Carrie was the outcast, especially because of her looks. Chloe looks like she should be the popular girl. That was really the only issue aside from the average acting from the other cast members. The final prom sequence makes up for all the flaws.
  • Christine - The story of the killer Plymouth is chilling, thrilling, and still frightening 34 years later.
  • Cujo - A St. Bernard dog is bitten by a rabid bat, causing him to slowly slip into insanity. This story was truly scary because this kind of thing actually happens.
  • Firestarter - King sure loved characters with mental abilities and this is a rather good one, even though at times it could be a bit slow.
  • Kingdom Hospital - It had an overall good story but sometimes it could be a bit too silly and all over the place.
  • Misery - The Fan mixed with Stephen King equals one white-knuckle thriller that will not be forgotten any time soon.
  • Mist - The film is closer to the original story and acted incredibly well. The ending is beyond heartbreaking. The film is a true horror, playing on several different fears and making you think about what you would do in this situation.
  • Mist - This series is nowhere near as good as the film and I absolutely expect it to be cancelled and not picked up for a second season.
  • Mr. Mercedes - Captivating, riveting, and heart-racing - the series is a fantastic adaptation and should definitely be renewed as long as it keeps to King's vision.
  • Nightmares & Dreamscapes - Enjoyable miniseries with mostly good stories and just a couple of duds. William Hurt and William H. Macy had the best stories out of all of them.
  • Pet Sematary - Creepy and downright unnerving, the film focuses on a man who, after his daughter's cat dies, buries it in an Indian burial site. The cat comes back to life but hostile and evil.
  • Salem's Lot - The original two-parter was a bit slow but it eventually turned into one frightening story.
  • Salem's Lot - This "remake" very loosely based on King's book was so far from the story that it shouldn't have even shared the same title. Disappointing is a huge understatement considering Rob Lowe was the star.
  • Stand - This miniseries had a slow start but it eventually hit its stride and introduced one of the greatest villains ever written: Randall Flagg.

Days 17-23

  • 1408 - John Cusack is top-notch in this creepy supernatural thrill fest.
  • Apt Pupil - This one messes with your head a bit. It's pretty intense in places and in others not so much. Ian McKellan is superb.
  • Big Driver - This is basically I Spit on Your Grave only with Maria Bello. Joan Jett's cameo was awesome and Maria's acting was wonderful but there's really nothing new about this film's plot.
  • Cat's Eye - This was an interesting film. Three stories are told and all are connected by the same cat. This is what Creepshow should have been: fun and interesting both.
  • Dark Half - Pretty good but honestly Secret Window did this plot much better.
  • Desperation - This was fantastic. Ron Perlman was born for this role and, even though Tom Skerritt could have done better, it proves to definitely be one of the best adaptations.
  • Diary of Ellen Rimbauer - Slow, dull, and boring - this prequel to Rose Red did not do Rose Red justice. Instead, this backstory will cure your insomnia.
  • Dreamcatcher - One of the better monster films, it finds four friends who each have a special mental ability that find themselves in the middle of a monstrous invasion. Humorous and thrilling both, it's definitely a must-see.
  • Golden Tales - Decent, but still could have used some work with the acting.
  • Good Marriage - HORRIBLE. I barely made it through this film. The story was dull and boring and the acting was surprisingly horrendous.
  • Green Mile - Fantastic and heartbreaking - the directing, writing, and acting are all top-notch.
  • Hearts in Atlantis - Beautiful and tearjerking, young Anton Yelchin plays well with expert Anthony Hopkins and both deliver amazing performances.
  • Langoliers - This story was creepy and unnerving until we saw the Langoliers which were some of the worst CGI creations ever.
  • Mangler - It was decent but not the best. The acting wasn't great and the plot was just plain ridiculous but somehow it managed to keep you entertained some of the time.
  • Mercy - One of the WORST adaptations. Shyamalan's The Visit pulled off this same plot so much better.
  • Quicksilver Highway - Christopher Lloyd has the gift to be ultra funny and ultra creepy. This film tells several different stories with fantastic moral lessons.
  • Rose Red - Truly scary with depth and considerable thought, this miniseries is gripping and keeps you glued to the screen the whole time.
  • Secret Window - Johnny Depp has a creepy side and it shows in this superb film. Even though this was based on a short story, it was still made far better than The Dark Half, which essentially had the same plot.
  • Shining - The film adaptation had a slow buildup but the climax made up for the flaws. Jack Nicholson is creepily perfect.
  • Shining - The miniseries is far better than the Nicholson adaptation. The series was far closer to the book and it had a deeper story.
  • Sometimes They Come Back - For a small-time film, this was incredible. The emotion and intensity that the actors put into their roles just made the film all the more superb.
  • Storm of the Century - One of the darker and deeper stories, this film certainly grips your heart and mind and makes you really think about what's important.
  • Tales from the Darkside - In the film adaptation of the series, Stephen King weaves together three stories in one as told by a young boy who is trying to stall a witch in order to outsmart her and prevent her from cooking him for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Tommyknockers - What would aliens do if they came to earth? That has been a question asked since the dawn of time and King's tale answers that question in an interesting way.

Days 24-30

  • Cell - Surprisingly good! Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson reunite in another King adaptation, this time attempting to survive the technological apocalypse.
  • Dolan's Cadillac - This was a decently good film but it felt a little too mainstream to be a King film.
  • Dolores Claiborne - Fantastic story and performances all around, especially from Kathy Bates who by now must be King's go-to creepy lady.
  • Everything's Eventual - Another psychic is added to the bunch! Sometimes it can get aggravating or predictable when a writer writes about the same topic but King always manages to keep bringing back that new feel. All-around great watch!
  • Gerald's Game - I may be one of the few that think this but I was rather unimpressed by this film. It had a good plot but it was considerably dull except for a handful of moments.
  • Graveyard Shift - The film was rather blah but I do have to give credit to the director for making the atmosphere of the film seem very creepy and claustrophobic.
  • Maximum Overdrive - It may be an homage to Christine but the final product is silly and more of a parody.
  • Needful Things - It has a good story but the characters were not done justice and the acting was a bit meh.
  • Night Flier - What do you get when you cross a serial killer and Stephen King? A vampiric serial killer! Interesting plot and fantastic acting.
  • Riding the Bullet - It has a good idea and plot but the execution was a bit off. It definitely could have been improved but it was still good.
  • Running Man - Schwarzeneggar meets King in an outstanding futuristic film that most likely inspired the film Gamer.
  • Silver Bullet - A boy and his uncle have to work together to face the fact that a werewolf is in town...and they're next on its list. Fantastic all around, especially Gary Busey. Who says Gary sucks at horror?
  • Sleepwalkers - Weird and frankly cringe-worthy! This definitely goes on the trash pile.
  • Stand by Me - Truthful and full of heart with amazing dramatic performances.
  • Thinner - The story of a man who just can't stop losing weight no matter what he does. Don't play around with curses, people.

Complete Films and Ratings List

  1. 11/22/63 - 4/4
  2. 1408 - 4/4
  3. Apt Pupil - 3/4
  4. Bag of Bones - 3/4
  5. Big Driver - 2.5/4
  6. Carrie (Moretz) - 3/4
  7. Carrie (Spacek) - 3.5/4
  8. Cat's Eye - 4/4
  9. Cell - 3.5/4
  10. Children of the Corn (original) - 4/4
  11. Children of the Corn (remake) - 2.5/4
  12. Christine - 3.5/4
  13. Creepshow - 2/4
  14. Creepshow 2 - 2/4
  15. Cujo - 4/4
  16. Dark Half - 2/4
  17. Dark Tower - 2.5/4
  18. Dead Zone (film) - 4/4
  19. Dead Zone (tv show) - 3/4
  20. Desperation - 3.5/4
  21. Diary of Ellen Rimbauer - 2/4
  22. Dolan's Cadillac - 2.5/4
  23. Dolores Claiborne - 3/4
  24. Dreamcatcher - 3.5/4
  25. Everything's Eventual - 4/4
  26. Firestarter - 3/4
  27. Gerald's Game - 2/4
  28. Golden Tales - 2.5/4
  29. Good Marriage - 1.5/4
  30. Graveyard Shift - 2/4
  31. Green Mile - 4/4
  32. Hearts in Atlantis - 4/4
  33. It (Curry) - 2.5/4
  34. It (Skarsgard) - 3/4
  35. Kingdom Hospital - 2.5/4
  36. Langoliers - 3.5/4
  37. Mangler - 2/4
  38. Maximum Overdrive - 2/4
  39. Mercy - 1/4
  40. Misery - 4/4
  41. Mist (film) - 3.5/4
  42. Mist (miniseries) - 2/4
  43. Mr. Mercedes - 3.5/4
  44. Needful Things - 2/4
  45. Night Flier - 3/4
  46. Nightmares & Dreamscapes - 3/4
  47. Pet Sematary - 3/4
  48. Quicksilver Highway - 4/4
  49. Riding the Bullet - 2.5/4
  50. Rose Red - 4/4
  51. Running Man - 3/4
  52. Salem's Lot (original) - 4/4
  53. Salem's Lot (remake) - 1.5/4
  54. Secret Window - 3.5/4
  55. Shawshank Redemption - 4/4
  56. Shining (miniseries) - 3.5/4
  57. Shining (Nicholson) - 3/4
  58. Silver Bullet - 3/4
  59. Sleepwalkers - 1.5/4
  60. Sometimes They Come Back - 4/4
  61. Stand - 3/4
  62. Stand by Me - 3.5/4
  63. Storm of the Century - 3.5/4
  64. Tales from the Darkside - 3.5/4
  65. Thinner - 3/4
  66. Tommyknockers - 3.5/4
  67. Under the Dome - 3/4

Conclusion

I was unable to get to Haven, but I still think this marathon has been a huge success. Stephen King is a true master of horror, even though a few adaptations of his works were less than great. I absolutely love his works and look forward to what comes next.

© 2017 Alec Zander

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    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 

      11 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Its a priority to watch more films based on his work!

    working

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