This year, we’ll be seeing more film adaptations of Stephen King’s works. Major films releases include It: Chapter Two and Pet Sematary.
The horror master’s books are often the victims of sub-par adaptations and deserve far better treatment. It’s for this reason that we put together a list of some of the better Stephen King film adaptations.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Most people associate Stephen King with Horrors and Thrillers. However, the man is very capable of writing effective crime dramas. One instance of this is The Shawshank Redemption based upon King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.
In the film version, we are whisked away to the 1940s in Portland, Maine where Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of killing his wife and her lover. He’s imprisoned as a result at Shawshank State Penitentiary. There, he befriends Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman).
The movie, for the most part, is narrated from Red’s perspective, and follows the structure and content of the novella quite faithfully. During its release, The Shawshank Redemption was well received by critics and the public.
The Green Mile (1999)
The Green Mile is another crime drama. The inherent difference between The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile is that the latter incorporates fantastical and supernatural elements.
The film version of The Green Mile differs only slightly from its novel counterpart with a change in setting. In the film adaptation, Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, a prison officer working on death row, where he encounters a supernaturally gifted man named John Coffey. Their two paths intertwine as the true events behind the murder of two girls unfold.
The film was so well received that it was nominated for four Academy Awards and remains a classic to this day.
Carrie is one of King’s most popular works. The film adaptation is considered one of the best Horror movies of all time. Although the book did receive another adaptation in 2013 starring Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz, the original 1976 version is still the preferred movie in our opinion.
The driving force behind the power of this adaptation is Sissy Spacek’s performance as the titular character of Carrie White. Spacek delivered a harrowing performance as the misunderstood 17 years old teenage girl, with psychic powers, who is wronged by her peers, and seeks bloody vengeance. Her performance was so noteworthy that she was nominated for Best Actress at the 49th Academy Awards.
The film remains the most faithful adaptation with few deviations from the novel’s narrative structure and setting. Whereas with the 2013 version, the setting is drastically changed. Carrie stands above the rest as a classic horror movie that defined the genre for years to come.
One thing you’ll notice about Stephen King’s work is that Maine is one of his choice settings. In It, we are taken to the town of Derry, Maine during the 1950s where children are mysteriously disappearing. A group of children called The Losers Club take it upon themselves to fight It/Pennywise the Dancing Clown, an evil entity, who has been terrorising Derry.
It was originally adapted into a 1990 miniseries/TV movie starring the hilarious Tim Curry as Pennywise. Whereas, the 2017 film version stars Bill Skarsgård as the evil clown.
The differences between the two adaptations can be found in their settings with the miniseries being closer to the novel’s time periods. The 2017 film deviates by changing the setting to the late 1980s. In the original novel, two narratives intertwine that of the 1950s and the 1980s, where the Losers Club face off against the otherworldly clown.
The 2017 version is our preference due to the portrayal of Pennywise. Curry is excellent but plays the role more for laughs than actual horror and suspense. With Skarsgård, his portrayal comes across as more horrifying, alien and inhumane by comparison.
The above list is a great starting point for anyone that is new to the world of Stephen King films, or fans in search of adaptations that take the source material seriously. 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for films based on his work, and we will most likely see more faithful adaptations of his work in the coming years.
Let us know your thoughts on the blog post in the comments section below, or comment on one of our social posts with your picks. We’d love to hear your feedback