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Posts Tagged ‘The Shining’

I have strange relationship with the writing of Stephen King.  I have always found his plots and world building to be really good, but don’t like his writing style.  This is why his stories can be so perfect for adaptation.  With The Dark Tower coming out last month and IT due out later this month, it seems like a good time to remember King is about more than horror and take a look back at my favourite big screen adaptations of his stories:

  1. The Shining (1980 – based on novel from 1977) – King famously doesn’t like Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation, WHY? I first saw it when I was a kid and was understandably creeped out by it, as much by Jack Nicholson’s performance as by the movie itself.  A couple of years ago I got to see it at the cinema in a sold out Halloween screening, it was even better shared with an audience.the shining
  2. Stand by Me (1986 – based on the novella The Body from 1982) – The geniuses of Rob Reiner is the way he has always been able to convey nostalgia without sentimentality, Stand by Me is his masterpiece.  It also helps that the young cast are all brilliant.Stand by Me
  3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994 – based on the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from 1982) – #1 on the IMDb’s top 250 for as long as I can remember.  A totally faultless movie, with perfect acting and direction, it could easily have been higher on this list.The Shawshank Redemption
  4. The Mist (2007 – based on novella from 1980) – The second Frank Darabont movie to make my list.  A tense horror thriller that reminds us that humanity is more frightening than monsters.  An already great film is elevated by a perfect and devastating ending.  the mist
  5. Carrie (1976 – based on the novel from 1974) – There is something dark and seedy about Brian De Palma’s direction that is perfect for this story, as are the performances from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie.Sissy Specek as Carrie
  6. The Dead Zone (1983 – based on the novel from 1979) – If you want a creepy and unnerving movie is there a better combination than David Cronenberg and Christopher Walken? Probably not.  Some of the political themes seem strangely relevant at the moment.   The Dead Zone
  7. Misery (1990 – based on the novel from 1987) – Rob Reiner again but with a very different film to Stand by Me.  You will remember the film for a couple of moments of real horror, but there are other things that make it great.  James Caan and Kathy Bates are both brilliant.  Reiner’s direction  manages to create an uneasy sense of dread without losing the ability to shock. Misery
  8. The Running Man (1987 – based on the novel from 1982) – I had the VHS of this when I was a kid, it was one of my most watched movies for a few years.  Successful on its original release but quickly dismissed as dumb action vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In the light of reality TV, The Hunger Games, and the current political climate it’s time to re-evaluate.   The dialogue is clunky, but the story is good and the direction is solid.The Running Man
  9. Apt Pupil (1998 – based on the novella from 1982) – Three of the four stories that made up Different Seasons have been adapted into movies, this third movie isn’t as good as Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption but is still a compelling movie.  Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro are both brilliant. Apt Pupil
  10. Cat’s Eye (1985 – anthology horror film based on the short stories Quitters, Inc. from 1978 and The Ledge from 1976 and one written specifically for the film).  Anthology  of three short films linked by a cat.  The best of the three features James Woods as a man who wants to quit smoking. Cat's Eye

To give context, the other Stephen King movies I have seen that didn’t make the list are:

Creepshow (1982 – five short films; based on the short stories Weeds from 1976, The Crate from 1979 three written for the film by King) – Christine (1983 – based on the novel from 1983) – Children of the Corn (1984 – based on the short story from 1977) –  Firestarter (1984 – based on the novel from 1980) – Silver Bullet (1985 – based on the novella Cycle of the Werewolf from 1983) –  Maximum Overdrive (1986 – Directed, very poorly by Stephen King, based on the short story Trucks from 1973) – Sleepwalkers (1992 – original screenplay) – The Dark Half (1993 – based on the novel from 1989) – Dolores Claiborne (1995 – based on the novel from 1992) – Dreamcatcher (2003 – based on the novel from 2001) –  Secret Window (2004 – based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden from 1990) – Carrie (2013 – Supposedly adaptation of the novel from 1974, but they clearly had one eye on the superior 1976 movie) – The Dark Tower (2017 loosely adapted from the novel series 1998 to 2012).

My most notable blind spot is The Green Mile (1999 based on the serial novel published in six parts in 1996) Directed by Frank Darabont who makes the list above twice. 

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A few years ago I started compiling a list of my top ten horror movies decade by decade. I didn’t get beyond the 50’s and didn’t publish the list. In the latest edition of Film don’t Hurt Kia suggests that the 80’s were a great time for horror movies, so I thought I would post my top ten in response:

The Shining (1980): Stephen King doesn’t like Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his novel because it isn’t faithful to his original story. Who cares, it is an amazing movie.the shining

Near Dark (1987): Modern day western? Road movie? Metaphorical parable? Whatever you may think it is, Kathryn Bigelow’s vampire movie is probably my favourite vampire movie.near dark

Hellraiser (1987): Gory, horrific and disturbing, it is both ahead of its time and totally within the traditions of horror, it is also Clive Barker’s best movie.Hellraiser

Aliens (1986): Although essentially a sci-fi movie, Ridley Scott’s original film Alien (1979) just as much a monster movie, slasher movie and a haunted house movie. James Cameron’s sequel introduces a more action but retains a sense of dread, fear and desperation.sigourney weave aliens

The Thing (1982): John Carpenter’s The Thing falls somewhere between an remake and a sequel to The Thing from Another World (1951). A traditional monster movie utilising the best in 80’s effects.the thing

The Evil Dead (1981): Sam Raimi’s low budget classic is seminal in horror history. Although not the best film on this list it is probably the most influential.The Evil Dead

Scanners (1981): I could have filled half the list with David Cronenberg movies, I decided to just go with my favourite. Not as sexual as his earlier work or as abstract as his later work but forming a link between the two. And who can forget the iconic exploding head scenes.Scanners

An American Werewolf in London (1981): Probably the best werewolf movie ever made, and as you would expect from John Landis it is also very funny.An American Werewolf in London

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): Wes Craven’s seminal horror hasn’t actually aged that well but it is still an import milestone in horror and Freddy Krueger is a great villain/monster.a nightmare on elm street

Spoorloos aka The Vanishing (1988): Forget the crappy Hollywood remake, the Dutch–French original is a classic. More a psychological mystery thriller than a true horror, but it is disturbing enough to make the list.Spoorloos aka The Vanishing

I might get around to finishing the other decades one day!

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A little late as I have been too busy watching movies to write about them. A busy and varied month that features two movies sure to make it to my top ten of the year.

Untouchable: Clichéd, predictable and sentimental, all these things are true, but it is also honest, endearing, touching and very funny. The acting is also first rate.

Looper: Better than the film the trailer would portrayed but not as good as some reviews would have you believe.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Angst filled coming of age drama elevated by the performances of a great young cast.

Liberal Arts: The mixture of a precocious nineteen year old girl and an a 30 something man going through early onset midlife crisis make for an interesting if lightweight movie. Once again Elizabeth Olsen shines.

On the Road: A faithful adaptation of a near un-filmable book. It works on many levels, particularly the great young cast and the stunning photography but it fails to capture the spirit of the source novel.

Taken 2: A Sequel that is a cynical attempt to cash in on an average but profitable movie.

Ruby Sparks: A high concept but quirky romantic comedy that manages to hit all the right notes. Zoe Kazan has proved herself as good a screenwriter as she is as an actress.

Frankenweenie: Tim Burton’s stop motion animated comedy-horror is a return to form for a director who previously appeared to be losing his way. Not only is it a touching drama but also a fun nod to classic horror movies.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild: Stunningly shot fantasy that at its best may be metaphor for the environment and the way we treat it. It is however an esoteric mess of a film that while good, I fail to recognise the greatness others see in it.

Skyfall: I wasn’t sure if Sam Mendes would be the right director for Bond, there was no need to worry, he has crafted what isn’t just a great Bond film, it’s a great film.

I have also seen previews of Rust and Bone and Argo that will be in contention for the November movie of the month. And, The Shining A special Halloween screening of Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror showing in the longer American cut that is longer than versions I have previously seen. It is as great as ever.

Sometimes I deliberate for ages and change my mind over the movie of the month, as much as I loved some of the movies this month, there was only one real contender, the Movie of the Month is:

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As we move into the last two decades I will mention lots of films I saw at the cinema when they first came out. The films I have already mentioned fro the 70’s and before I have caught up with over time, but this is the 80’s the decade of VHS. That’s how I saw all these movies on home video.

1980: The Shining, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Airplane! Raging Bull, The Blues Brothers

1981: Mad Max 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London, Scanners

1984: The Terminator, Once Upon a Time in America, Ghostbusters, Repo Man, Streets of Fire

1985: Fandango, Back to the Future, The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Brazil

1986: Aliens, Blue Velvet, Platoon, Salvador, The Colour of Money

1987: Aliens, The Lost Boys, Evil Dead II, Hellraiser, Near Dark

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