I’m a die-hard Stephen King fan. And with over 350 million books sold over the span of his career, I know I’m far from alone. The list of film adaptations spawned from his books is just as impressive!
Mick Garris, Stanley Kubrick, Tom Holland, Brian De Palma, David Cronenberg, and George Romero are just some of the directors that have taken on the challenge of turning a King novel into a feature film or mini-series. Some work, some don’t – all are notable.
Let’s celebrate the King catalog together this week with the help of the Netflix. Although we don’t have them all, the selection is impressive — here’s what’s in the streamable queue this week on Netflix USA ( those of you in Canada and the UK look for our other editions just for you ):
Former nurse Annie Wilkes saves her idol, best-selling romance novelist Paul Sheldon, after he crashes his car during a blizzard. When she learns Paul plans to kill off her heroine in his next book, Annie injures him so that he’s unable to leave her house, morphs from nurturing caregiver to sadistic jailer, and forces him to re-write the Misery novel.
Not only is Misery one of the most critically acclaimed horror movies ever, it’s one of the most critically acclaimed movies ever, sans the horror! It rekindled the average moviegoers’ interest in the genre, was ranked #12 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments list, and currently holds a 90% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Kathy Bates won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Annie Wilkes. King himself has stated that Misery is one of his top ten favorite film adaptations.
A young couple on their way to California find themselves stranded in a rural town after accidentally hitting a young boy in the road.
Soon they fall into the sinister hands of a mysterious group of children who murder all of the town’s adults at the command of their leader, known only as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”
Children of the Corn has not aged well, and is a good reminder of what a horror movie in the 80’s looked like. If you’re a fan of connecting the character within the King catalog, ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’ is implied to be Randall Flagg in The Stand. And on the dashboard in the car is a copy of Night Shift, the King short story collection where the story first appeared.
Carrie White is a shy, diffident teenager who is the butt of practical jokes at her small-town high school. Her panic at her first period, a result of religious guilt drummed into her by her mom, causes her classmates’ cruelty to escalate, as well as her telekinetic abilities to blossom.
When the venomous Chris puts together a reprehensible prank at the school prom, Carrie lashes out with a horrifying display of her new found telekinetic powers.
Many films had featured school bullies, but Carrie was one of the first to focus on the special brand of cruelty unique to teenage girls. It’s rumored that King based Carrie white on two girls he knew, on a classmate, and one a student. Both were social outcasts from deeply religious families and both died while still in their twenties.
Successful author Thad Beaumont writes terrifying murder novels under the pen name “George Stark”. Eager to branch out, Thad plots to separate himself from the character by staging a mock killing of the alter ego.
This precipitates a string of sadistic murders matching the ones in his novels, and Thad discovers it to be the work of George Stark himself. It’s only a matter of time before suspicions turn to Thad, who is the only one who knows the real origins of his hideous twin.
This is the first collaboration between George A. Romero and Stephen King since Creepshow.
King states that the story in this film is part autobiographical and was inspired by the events that led him to revealing his own pseudonym, ‘Richard Bachman’.
Dolores, a caretaker in Maine accused of murdering her elderly employer, draws on her estranged daughter Selena to help search for answers.
Upon her visit, Selena learns the truth about not only the current situation, but also about her father’s death 15 years earlier.
Did you know that Danny Elfman scored the film? Also, we can add this one to the list of King stories being adapted for stage, the San Francisco Opera announced its premiere in 2013, and there’s a group in London currently working on an operatic version.
This was Kathy Bates’ second starring role in a film based on King’s work.
Ten people awake on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston discover that the other passengers, the flight crew and the pilots have all disappeared.
After landing the plane, the small group of survivors soon make a startling discovery — not only are they alone on the plane, they’re alone on the planet.
The air doesn’t move. The food is tasteless. And the sole sound on Earth comes from the mysterious Langoliers, who are systematically destroying everything in their path.
Another Randall Flagg reference for you – when Brian looks on the fuel port of the other airplane in Bangor, he notices a round smiley face sticker just like the one Randall wears in The Dark Tower. This screen adaptation was based on the King story in Four Past Midnight.
This is how the world ends a super-flu decimates most of the human race. After 99% of the population wiped out, the lonely survivors divide into two civilizations which are destined to clash.
It was planned to make The Stand into a feature film, directed by George Romero. King penned many drafts to make it a suitable length, but couldn’t get it short enough.
Talks began to break the feature film into a two separate films, and new writers were brought in to help shorten the screenplay. In the end, King was offered, and accepted, the mini-series for television route to keep the story as complete as possible.
Fun notable cameos include: Kathy Bates, Tom Holland, John Landis, Sam Raimi, and of course, Stephen King.
High school teacher Jim Norman returns to his quiet hometown after 27 years only to find himself haunted by malign spirits spawned by a tragedy from his childhood.
With his students expiring — and ghouls of thugs past showing up in their place — Norman realizes the horror won’t stop until he sends his tormentors back to their graves, or further.
The original short story is in King’s Night Shift collection and the film adaptation was going to be included in the 1985 film Cat’s Eye, which has two other stories from Night Shift [The Ledge, and Quitter’s, Inc.].
In a top-secret U.S. military laboratory, a freak explosion exposes unsuspecting janitor Harlan Williams to fallout from toxic chemicals. Williams soon finds the accident has reversed his aging process. But the government’s plan to use him as a human guinea pig forces Williams to go on the run, setting off a nationwide manhunt.
The series is seven episodes long, with an eighth episode that never aired, leaving a large cliffhanger. When the series was released on video, the producers changed what happened at the end of episode seven and made that the final installment.
Another fun episode seven note — one of the hippies introduces another as “Captain Tripps”, which is also the name of the flu that wiped out the earth in The Stand.
Johnny Smith awakens from a six-year coma to find he has the ability to see into other people’s futures. At first, the local sheriff — who’s now married to Johnny’s onetime fiancée — sees Johnny’s gift as a liability. But his powers ultimately prove to be invaluable.
All six seasons are available to stream, two is a personal favorite. The show had been renewed for a seventh but was abruptly cancelled due to high production costs and declining viewership, and was not honored a proper finale.
The story is loosely based on real life famous psychic Peter Hurkos, who claimed to acquire powers after falling off of a ladder and hitting his head.
This ends the latest edition of our weekly Netflix feature where we look at movies worth watching on Netflix. Be sure to check back next week for the next edition.