Stephen King at the Movies: A Complete History of the Film and Television Adaptations from The Master of Horror
Palazzo Editions; None Edition
I’ve been calling myself a lapsed fan. It’s a Forgive Me, Father scenario. It’s been years since I’ve read anything by Stephen King (well, that’s not quite true, I recently read one of the co-written novellas from the last decade and it was okay, but it didn’t feel like it quite counted). When I was a kid – well a teen – I was a big-time Stephen King fan. From 13-25 I reckon; I definitely slowed down after high school but those school years it was all about the Stephen King collection – there are still a few of the classics I haven’t read (and indeed I’m finally midway through The Shining as I write this).
But I’ve felt the urge to reconnect with King’s world – big time. And I’ve done that in a few ways, revisiting some of my favourite film adaptations and catching up on a few of the good and bad that I missed. I’ve also been listening to a good podcast (The Kingcast). And then, in the middle of all of this and quite by accident I found this book.
I was surprised, actually, that such a book was not already on the market. And if there was an earlier version I missed it and I’m sure it’s totally unnecessary now that we have this.
Ian Nathan is a very safe pair of hands, a competent film writer that’s treated many great directors (Sir Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, The Coen Brothers) to book-length projects. Here he lays out every single Stephen King adaptation from across the last 45 years. That’s some 65 films and 30 TV series – and that means we go from the sublime (The Shining, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption) to the ridiculous (Children of the Corn volumes 1-10). Sequels bump the numbers somewhat but really it’s a remarkable feat just cataloguing them all – I’d seen more than I remembered. Nathan specialises in making coffee table books with grit; with a bit more substance. The quality images are there – you can pick this up and leaf through it and return to it bit by bit – but there’s enough in the writing to make you follow it through; plenty to learn.
We get, in chronological order, the films and TV projects – photos from the publicity and behind the scenes and insight, including King’s pro or anti stance. We know, famously, that he hated The Shining. But we also know that when he tried to rectify that with a TV mini-series that stuck to the novel’s plot in full detail…it was shit.
Nathan isn’t that blunt but he definitely gives you the good, the bad and the sometimes very ugly.
I’ve loved this book – particularly as part of my second wave of King fandom. It’s arrived seemingly at the right time. And it goes up to and includes the recent IT movie remake and the Dr Sleep sequel to The Shining. Touching, also, on the Castle Rock TV show which isn’t strictly an adaptation, more a case of well-meaning and fairly well written fan fiction that repurposes some of King’s greatest characters and creates meta-fictitious interconnections.
King is one of the world’s best sellers – and that’s been the case since a late-70s paydirt level was first hit. He’s kept up an inspiring, prolific burst of (mostly) great writing. And the films and TV shows continue to come. Any fan of Stephen King’s work and many movie fans in general will want to check out this book. A great gift idea for any film buff and/or horror fan in your life.
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