HELLO!!!! Have you listened to the first episode yet? You should have. It’s fantastic! Here is my first PODCAST DIARY!
I wanted to take some time to spend some extra time on the Stephen King adaptation discussion we had on the podcast. We spent a lot of time on The Shawshank Redemption, but mentioned other Oscar winners and garbage. Stephen King would even adapt himself when writing, directing, and producing ‘Maximum Overdrive’. As an add on to that discussion, I wanted to provide you with my Top 5 Stephen King adaptations. This will not just be films (though mostly), as King adaptations are as numerous as they are varied.
5.) Carrie (2013) – Yes, I am going to start this Top 5 off with a remake. I want to emphasize that I believe the Brian De Palma’s 1976 Carrie is a strong adaptation and earned its awards. However, this is a list of not the best, but my favorites and the remake actually plays to me much better than the original in this case. While Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie give much more memorable and bombastic performances as mother and daughter, Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore play as a more grounded and tangible family. I buy their relationship much better than in De Palma’s operatic horror film. I think in general this movie’s supporting players are much better realized. Both antagonists and supporting protagonists have more dimension here and I will honestly say the acting from the likes of Ansel Elgort and Portia Doubleday is surprisingly real and strong. Not to over compare, but Ansel is almost giving a charming Brando (like) performance in this film. The telekinetic effects are exceptional, and I believe the film rises to a more brutal and thrilling climax.
4.) Apt Pupil – This may be one of the oddest choices of my list. It is a thriller that delves into the relationship between a hiding Nazi war criminal in suburban California and a 16 year old student obsessed with the Nazi atrocities. It involves brutal and potentially offensive imagery as well as a taboo bending mind game relationship between an elderly man and a minor. It is one of Bryan Singer’s (yeah X-Men and Usual Suspects Bryan Singer) most audacious and challenging films. It also features a strong and pit inducing performance from Ian McKellen. It may offend, and it will challenge – but it has strong ideas of maturity and blackmail.
3.) Misery – The best adaptations of King typically see an actor or actress in their finest moment on film. We’ll see more of this at the top of the list and it is very true here. Kathy Bates is an actress with incredible presence, but she is rarely as threatening and scary as she is here. She deserved the Oscar and brings life to Annie Wilkes in a way that both honors and elevates the character on the page. The sequence with wood block and hammer still wakes me up to check my ankles in the middle of the night. James Caan is off-type in a strong way in this film, as the writer character trapped by Annie. This twisted story of obsession has stuck with our culture for decades and it earns that praise.
2.) The Shawshank Redemption – We spoke a lot about this film on the podcast, but let me spill a little more ink on this character study of incredible heart. There are a handful of films I put on when I need to bring out all of my ‘feels’ and this is one of them. It has some of the most warmth of any King adaptation. It is one of those moments where everyone is cast in their perfect role, and the mixture captures lightning in a bottle. This is the perfect vehicle for Tim Robbins. I like Tim and think he has some talent – but much like I feel like with Jodie Foster in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ – this role play makes best use of him. Morgan Freeman is also probably at this best here, as the kindly advice spewing ‘Red’. The character study of Andy Dufresne is one of the most well paced and ‘flushed’ out in film history.
1.) The Shining – The 1980 Stanley Kubrick film based on the 1977 novel. The story of the Torrance family who take over winter care taking of The Overlook Hotel. Plagued by malicious forces, the family tries to stay together and sane over the harsh Colorado winter. This is #1 for sure – it is possibly my favorite Stephen King book and possibly one of my favorite Stanley Kubrick films. A movie that takes its source material and sidesteps it to create one of the most shocking, chilling, and well-regarded horror movies of all time. It is Mona Lisa mixed with Escher’s Relativity. Beautiful and simple if you want it to be, but it’s winking at you because there is an un-untangle-able mass of puzzles and subconscious suggestion. Shot so beautifully, its visual style still works as its images burn into your dreams. Are there ghosts? Who’s really crazy? Is Jack Torrance a re-incarnated version of himself? It is hypnotic. So much so, that like its characters, the viewer gets lost inside The Overlook.
Do you have a favorite Stephen King adaptation? Think my list is good, bad, or just off the mark? Come to the comments section and let us know or find me on Twitter (BobHolt58) and we can discuss King’s work. Hope you enjoyed the first episode of the podcast!
**Bonus Honorable Mention** Bizarre Adventures #29 – It is the first time Stephen King crossed into comic books and boy it is a trip. Distributed by Marvel Comics in 1981, it is a comic book version of ‘The Lawnmower Man’ short story from the ‘Nightshift’ collection. It does not take the techno-VR trip that the film with Pierce Brosnan does, but instead faithfully depicts the strange imagery of the hooved, grass covered Lawnmower Man from that story. If you can track it down, it is definitely not great, but is worth the King fan’s time.
Culture Babble is now a proud contributor to the Musings of Geek Network, and you should check them out if you like deliciously geeky nerd culture. They specialize in entertaining podcasts and articles about comics, gaming, books, movies, and most anything else you can think of!