The best film of all time was based on his subject, directed by a flop himself: The master of horror celebrates 75


Carlito Brigante

21. 09. 2022

His name is synonymous with fear, fun and success. The undisputed king of commercially successful literary authors with a crossover to the silver screen is celebrating his 75th birthday. Which works of Stephen King made it to cinemas and how did they score with the audience?

Stephen Edwin King is celebrating today 75th birthday. He is still among the most productive and popular literary authors, whose works have been eagerly awaited for over five decades. A proud native of Maine in Portland, where most of his works take place, he also penetrated the film world. How did the adaptations of his books do? And how does the author himself react to them?

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Carrie (1976)

Debut like thunder! The very first film inspired by King’s book was a huge success with the academic community and audiences. Carrie is an uncompromising social critique of the petty bourgeoisie and religious fanaticism represented by the main character’s mother. The film was directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface, Carlito’s Journey) and is still one of the formative milestones of the horror genre.

Enlightenment (1980)

The most famous work, which brought the status of immortality to all involved. And this despite the fact that King himself called the film the worst filmed adaptation of his work. It was a very personal project that was based on the author’s real experience. King basically reflected on some strange things at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. Again, it was a total hit. Why not when we can watch Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick in top form. Kubrick, known for his meticulousness and terrorizing the crew, once again lived up to his reputation and inflicted lifelong trauma on actress Shelley Duvall. The author himself is much more in tune with the 2019 adaptation of Doktor Spánek.

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Revolt of the Machines (1986)

The macho experience with Kubrick prompted King to take matters into his own hands and write down the first and last directorial cuts. And how did it turn out? Like a huge loser. The debuting director was addicted to cocaine during filming and, as he later admitted, often did not know what he was doing. Crazy machines under the influence of an extraterrestrial civilization didn’t really impress anyone, it was a financial harakiri, and the group AC/DC prematurely capitulated on the possibility of ever participating in a film soundtrack. One big regret and pissing on your own link.

Stand By Me (1986)

King needed a hit, and he got it that same year with Stand by Me. The teenage drama about the search for a dead body and one’s self was a hit with the younger audience in particular. The author himself considers this film to be the most successful adaptation of his work to the screen. And although it is a lighter and essentially family work, even here he managed a couple „cmetallurgy”. Who could forget the legendary scene with leeches, which was part of the original short story The Body from the novella Four Seasons from 1982.

Misery Won’t Die (1990)

Lifetime role of Kathy Bates, who won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance. And also one of the most successful adaptations of the king of horror. The great film tells the story of the writer Paul Sheldon, who became famous as the author of historical novels about the girl Misery. However, she wishes him as a creative person, so he decides to end her fate once and for all. During the return trip, however, he has a serious accident and falls into the clutches of former nurse Annie Wilkes. And the hardcore fan Misery is not going to accept the end of her most popular character just like that, so she prepares real torment for Sheldon. Stephen King is basking in happiness and heading for the pedestal. But the real peak is yet to come…

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The best and most popular movie of all time? The famous Shawshank Redemption has always been talked about only in superlatives. An incredibly powerful human story about friendship, hope, betrayal and values ​​can boast the status of the best film of all time according to film fans (on ČSFD and IMDb). And this despite the fact that he scandalously did not convert even one of the seven Oscar nominations. But here it was about much more. A celebration of humanity and a critique of the American justice system, King wrote the original novella based on all the memories of prison movies he watched as a boy. The moral appeal of the film is also evidenced by the fact that the famous writer never cashed the check he received from the studio for the film rights. Instead, he had it framed and sent it as a gift to director Frank Darabont with a note “In case you ever need bail money. With love, Steve”. As if he suspected that their paths would cross again.

The Green Mile (1999)

And indeed it was. Again, it was one of the most fundamental films of cinematography with an almost identical theme. Get your tissues ready, the Green Mile is coming! For many, the most moving film and one of the best films of all time. For King himself, the most plausible adaptation of his work. Why not, when the name Richard Bachman also appears in the Green Mile, which is his author’s pseudonym, under which he performed at the beginning of his career. Thanks to his excellent relationship with director Darabont, the otherwise quite aloof hitmaker took part in the shooting in an unusually committed manner and even tried the electric chair, but after a while he asked to be released because he didn’t like the feeling at all. However, the audience and critics cheered, and the duo King and Darabont recorded another legendary feat!

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To (2007)

No one will take away the status of an icon from a fresh 75-year-old, so we will surely forgive the slightly duller period in the 2000s. The most significant contribution to the film world seems to be the processing of the legendary It from 2017. The classic plot, which returns us to King’s beloved Maine, tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of children with the legendary clown villain Pennywise. This is already the second film adaptation of the same material (the first was created in 1990), but this time it turned out much better. And we carried the fear of clowns into the new millennium.

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Opening photo: Profimedia