Stephen King adaptations...Love em or hate em?

I have been a fan of Stephen King since the mid 1980's. Back then I could not get enough of his books.
The Stand, It, The Shining, Night Shift, Pet Semetary, The Dead Zone to name a few...
However, it always amazed me how badly King adapted to the screen be it television or motion pictures. Some of the books are downright frightening and classics however Hollywood always seemed to drop the ball.
Could it be casting choices or writing?
There are exceptions like The Green Mile, Shawkshank Redemption, Cujo where what he wrote just translated to the screen very well but here are some that "dropped the ball":

The Stand I read this book back in 1987 (the 750 page version not the republished extended 1100 page version). When ABC did a 3 day mini series back in 1994 I was pretty pumped to watch this. I thought it was good but my complaint would be in the casting choices (well one in particular) Molly Ringwald was all wrong for the role of Frannie Goldsmith. Molly is very limited as an actress and she did well in those 80's rat pack films but she was so miscast in this series and her performance reeks. The series is decent but whenever she is on screen it just spoils the entire scene.

The Shining I never understood why this Kubrick hogwash of a film gets so much love. I thought that Shelly Duvall was so wrong for the part of the terrified wife and Jack Nicholson always plays these roles and the part might have been better served had a more "subdued" actor played Torrance. I hated Scatman Crothers and he too was out of place. Even King himself was not happy with this film. In the 1990's he did a television miniseries to right the wrongs of the earlier film. It was not well received but I prefer it to the Kubrick film.

Pet Semetary a waste of time. So bad and never came close to the gothic terror of the book. Major thumbs down.

The Dead Zone Overblown horsecrap


  • Posts: 1,296
    Bag of Bones wasn't any good.
    (starring Pierce Brosnan)
  • Major_BoothroydMajor_Boothroyd Republic of Isthmus
    edited September 2016 Posts: 2,716
    The Mist was good.

    The two lead performances by Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh were a highlight of Dolores Claiborne too.
  • edited September 2016 Posts: 6,432
    Stand by me great movie I don't think many of Kings books/stories were adapted well, though I like many of the films based if loosely on his material.
  • edited September 2016 Posts: 6,825
    I was just about to come on here and say I'm sure any minute now someone will come along and say "The Mist was good." You beat me to it, @Major_Boothroyd!

    I recall not particularly enjoying The Mist when a friend recommended it to me a few years back. Since I've been on a Stephen King reading kick lately, I figured I'd give the film a rewatch—and I'm still not a fan. Don't get me wrong, the ending is absolutely fantastic. But the rest of the film is just wonky CGI and wonky performances. Thomas Jane fans are better off with Deep Blue Sea, if you ask me. Still, I know it's got its own cult status.

    I agree completely on Pet Sematary being a disappointment, though I remember liking The Dead Zone back in the day. Then again, I always enjoy Christopher Walken in everything.

    I'm currently reading The Shining for the first time, so I'll have to give Kubrick's version another watch when I finish. It's been years upon years since I've seen that one.

    King's horror films really don't have all that great a track record. The best I can come up with is Carrie. (Also, Silver Bullet is good, harmless B-movie fun if you're in the mood for it.)
  • BMW_with_missilesBMW_with_missiles All the usual refinements.
    Posts: 2,998
    Under the Dome was one of the worst things ever put on television.
  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    Posts: 3,777
    King novels have never translated to the screen very well unfortunately. I love his writing but the films just don't do them justice.

    Carrie (1976) for me is the best of the lot. It's also one of my favourite horror films anyway.

    Loved his collaboration with George Romero, Creepshow

    Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption are good films but based on short stories or novellas.

    Salem's Lot was a pretty good mini-series

    Films I like but are not particularly good adaptations of the novel;

    The Dead Zone
    The Shining
    Pet Semetary
    The Dark Half

    Films I didn't like

    Firestarter (shame as it's a great book)
    The Stand tv film
    The Shining tv film
  • SirHilaryBraySirHilaryBray Scotland
    Posts: 2,138
    I loved Bag Of Bones.
  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    Posts: 7,854
    I know it gets a lot of hate, but Secret Window has always been a favorite of mine. Johnny Depp was amazing, and the twist was exceptional.

    Shawshank Redemption is by far my favorite Stephen King adaptation. I don't know if I've seen better performances out of Tim Robbins or Morgan Freeman.

    The Mist is just a perfect ride from start to finish. I won't spoil the ending if you haven't seen the film yet, but you should if for nothing more than that.

    Under the Dome started with promise and devolved into crap quickly.

    Dreamcatcher isn't great, but it wasn't horrible.

    I dunno if I can count Storm of the Century, considering that was always a screenplay, but I still enjoy it.
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