One point of view on the best Stephen King movies

Steven KingAt the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious (it wouldn’t be the first time) Stephen King is great writer. However, when his name comes to mind you think of gore, horror and being scared out of your wits. Interestingly enough, his best movies (in my opinion) are movies about fantasy, hope and the strength of the human spirit.

He’s no longer considered to be just a horror writer, he’s crossed over to the mainstream and is up there with James Joyce, Herman Melville, William Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and the other heavyweights of literature. History will remember him much more fondly once he’s gone in my opinion, all the other writers I listed are all deceased and have had a much longer time to have their works read and critiqued over a longer period.

In contemporary literature, he’s considered to be the best in the business. Not everybody will agree with me, but he’s simply one of the most popular writers there is.

 

1-The Shawshank Redemption.Shawshank

It was a box office dud when it came out in 1994, but it is one of the most popular movies in DVD rentals and among online movie afficionados. Frank Darabront was an unknown commodity until he directed this powerful tear jerker of a movie. Darabront was 35 and a starving artist/director when he was picked to film this short story written by King in 1982 in his collection of short stories in Different Seasons.

The protagonist in this movie is banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and facing life in prison. During his time in prison he meets Red (Morgan Freeman, he also narrates it) and they develop a good friendship. Dufresne works for a corrupt warden and eventually escapes, sending all the sordid details of the warden to a local newspaper before he heads to Mexico. It’s a noble movie that inspires confidence and inspiration, it’s a story about hope and never giving up regardless of your circumstance.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

“Hope, it’s the best of things.”

2-The Green Mile.

green mile

This movie and Shawshank are two of my favorite movies of all-time, I can watch both movies over and over without getting bored. Darabront also directed this film as well, in addition to other King movies.

An old man, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is recounting his time as a head prison guard in charge of executions. One day, John Coffey (played by the deceased Michael Clarke Duncan) arrives on death row guilty of raping and killing two little girls. Over the course of the movie, Coffey exhibits healing powers and often reminds the guards of a living miracle. He’s put to death, but not before passing along something to Paul.

It’s a fantastic movie that tells us we should never give up magic, fantasy and the always possible miracles that some people can possess in them.

3-Stand by Me.

Stand by me

A coming of age story about four kids, Gordie LaChance (Will Wheaton), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), and Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) who go to look at a dead body in 1959 after the victim was hit by a train. It includes the usual cast of bad guy characters led by Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) and a somewhat predictable storyline of good vs bad but it’s directed well by Rob Reiner or “Meathead” from All in the Family.

Another movie I can watch anytime and never get bored with it.

4-The Shining.

shining

Now, we come to what made King a household name, his scary stuff. As a long-time King afficionado this is one of his scariest movies, it’s about a schoolteacher by the name Jack Torrance (the always impressive Jack Nicholson) that is battling his alcoholic demons and goes to a resort to look after it during the winter, in addition to working on his novel. Because all schoolteachers are wanna-be writers, right?

Taking his wife (Shelley Duvall) and young son with him, he learns about Cabin Fever and how it can drive a person insane. Mix in some supernatural elements and you have a great movie (and novel), not to mention it was directed by movie icon Stanley Kubrick.

REDRUM has to be one of the most chilling statements in horror movie history.

5-Cujo.

Cujo

It was either this, Pet Cemetery, or Carrie, but I liked Cujo immensely and it scared the Hell out of me when I was watching it as a kid for the first time. We may not watch horror movies for their “believe-ability”, but this could strike fear in the heart of anybody.

A friendly St. Bernard family dog (Cujo) comes down with rabies and goes on a reign of terror in a small American town. Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace) stars as a frustrated mother who was just caught by her husband after having an extramarital affair. She and her son happen to come across Cujo and he’s developed a taste for human flesh.

And the games begin.

It’s not a great movie at all, but it holds true to the novel King wrote and it’s scary, it’s something most dog lovers can identify with, when the beloved family pet turns bad. The only thing worse for animal lovers would be if their child suddenly developed a taste for blood.

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Big time sports fan of the Lakers, Raiders, Angels and Dodgers. From 1990-1995, I worked at the Glendale News-Press and I had a blast. I covered mainly high school sporting events and Glendale Community College athletic events, but also attended Dodgers, Raiders, and Rams games. I also write for Joel Huerto (former co-writer and editor at the GNP) at onemanfastbreak.net. I watch a lot of sports on TV (basketball, football, usually just postseason MLB) and UFC.

5 Comments

  1. I had no idea King wrote both Shawshank and Green Mile until I read your blog. Both were outstanding. It’s the other stuff, the scary stuff that keeps me from picking up his books. I believe he said that when he was younger he was afraid of the dark and he would create a monster in his head and then think of a way to kill it. However he did it, whyever he did it, he’s one prolific writer.

  2. Never saw Shawshank in the theaters but it was really considered a dud?

    That to me is amazing because when I first saw that pic it had me hooked from the beginning to the end. Didn’t hurt that it had Morgan Freeman in it.

    Still, it is in a small group of movies that I can go back and watch and still enjoy it almost as much as the first time I saw it.

    It’s funny becaue I just got finshed reading a King book…Bag of Bones… for the first time. I had brought the book back in the late 1990s and had just stuck it on a bookcase shelf and forgot about it simply because I had other stuff I was reading at the time. And, now I am re-reading Dreamcatcher.

    My top five list…. Misery or Shawshank at the top… Needful Things… Stand by Me… and The Shining with The Dead Zone at #6

  3. Barely broke even on it’s budget to make the film, Joe. Investors aren’t looking to break even.

    It was a huge hit later, though. I’ve watched it at least 75 times, I love it.

  4. Okay DJ, you kind of hit onto my home turf here. I have been and always will be a HUGE SK fan. I agree totally in your top 3 pics for movie enjoyment. After that we differ greatly. I don’t know if it is because you have not seen the other movies out there or that those listed are actually your top choices.

    My choices and differences from your list follows:

    #4. The Stand
    #5. Misery
    #6. Delores Claiborne

    Even tho Jack Nickolson did a great job in “The Shining” the movie failed miserably for me compared to the book. They veered away from the original story line too much for me.

    Here are some additional movies based on SK stories that some of you may or may not have heard of or watched.

    Creep Show
    Maximum Overdrive (stars Emilio Estevez)
    Silver Bullet
    The Mist
    It
    Salem’s Lot
    Children of the Corn
    Pet Sematary
    Tales from the dark side
    Christine
    Dead Zone
    Thinner
    Secret Window

    And the one that hardly anyone knows SK wrote, “The Running Man” starring Arnold S.

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