Stephen King film and TV adaptations have returned with a vengeance. And to celebrate the cinema release of IT Chapter Two this month, JB Hi-Fi has curated a King-size promotion.
Brian De Palma’s masterful adaptation of King’s first novel ranks among the best of the best. This affecting revenge tale about a tormented high school teen with telekinetic powers launched the career of Sissy Spacek and established De Palma as a major Hollywood player. Kudos, too, to Piper Laurie as Carrie’s unhinged mama. It also has one of the best jump scares in horror film history.
THE DEAD ZONE
One of the very best screen adaptations of King’s work, David Cronenberg’s gripping psychic thriller is anchored by a sympathetic performance from Christopher Walken, as an ordinary guy who awakens from a coma with extraordinary powers that are both a blessing and curse. Building to an unexpected and satisfying climax, this is an underrated classic.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
King has a knack for creating strong, credible characters, and the bond that develops between jailbirds Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman is the highlight of this moving prison drama. Curiously, despite rave reviews and an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, the film wasn’t a hit at the box office and subsequently found its devoted fanbase via home video.
Hell hath no fury like a driverless, self-repairing red Plymouth Fury, which seduces its geeky adolescent owner and turns the school bullies into roadkill. John Carpenter’s slick adaptation of King’s killer car tale captures the spirit of the ’80s teen film and turns American’s love affair with their automobiles into a nightmare. An often overlooked gem in the King movie canon.
Following a stellar job on Stand by Me, director Rob Reiner delivers another quality King film. This tense two-hander, in which a popular writer is held hostage by an overzealous fan, features a knockout performance from Kathy Bates that was both career-making and Oscar-winning. A first class thriller and a faithful adaptation, Misery hits like a sledgehammer.
“Heeere’s Johnny!” Although not a faithful adaptation of King’s terrifying 1977 best-seller (the author has described the film as a “great big gorgeous car with no engine in it”), Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film version is as stately as the Overlook Hotel, and a majestic horror film deserving of its classic status. Look out for the sequel, Doctor Sleep, in cinemas November 7.
PET SEMATARY (2019)
A brand new adaptation of King’s most chilling novel rather than a remake of the 1989 film, this all-new version of Pet Sematary digs deeper into every parent’s worst nightmare and captures the grim tone of the book. It also makes a bold narrative detour at one point, which surprisingly works, but could still leave purists hissing like an undead cat.
CASTLE ROCK: SEASON 1
King’s “constant readers” will be familiar with the fictional town of Castle Rock, which has provided the setting for several of his novels. Shawshank Prison plays a major role in this slow-burn 10-episode series executive produced by King and J.J. Abrams . It’s a sinister descent into the author’s shared universe, with ample Easter eggs for fans.