Stephen King Books, Film, and TV

We don't seem to have a general thread involving Stephen King, and as he was a rather formulative author of my youth and has a new book pretty much every year and usually either a movie(s) and/or TV shows based on his works each year, I thought we could use a general thread about him and his new work.

Just saw It; the new film. Color me a happy fan boy. It was a very formulative
book for me. I read it when I was just old enough to know longer really consider myself a kid and it was really the first book I ever read that seriously looked back at a phase of life I had passed by. I adored the book and read it twice in one year and given how long it was and that was a big feet. I also, sigh, loved the miniseries. Yes looking back at it now it's goofy as all heck, but it sure wasn't for me at the time.

Now as an almost 40-year-old seen the film made me remember why I loved the novel and after the film I purchased it on audible because books on tape are pretty much the only way I have time to read anything these days.

The film has some of the best childhood acting I've seen in years. It's not perfect, there are some tonal problems with it at times, but overall a darn darn good adaptation.

You read my mind, I just came here to mention the IT movie. We saw it this morning and it was miles better than the tv version, but... it felt to me like a series of jump scare scenes. Granted, the book has 1000 pages to flesh out characters and settings, and to be fair the movie did what it could in the (relatively) short allotted time, but due to it being one set piece after another, the scares were predictable (my teen said so too and he hadn't read the book). To me, the only scary moments were provided between human beings (Bev vs her dad, Losers vs bigger losers) and not the cgi baddies.

One King movie that I seldom see aired on tv that I really liked is Salem's Lot. Made for tv movie, but still creepy as hell and one of my favorites. I almost don't want to include The Shining in the running for best King movie because to me that's more of a Kubrick joint.

IT was my second horror book I ever read when I was entirely too young. The first was Skeleton Crew.
So I had a lot riding on this being good, too (I went back and rewatched the 90's mini series again recently and it's really, REALLY not aged well at all).

I had only two Beverly story related issues with the film, otherwise it was damned near freakin' perfect (minus maybe a few too many traditional Hollywood friendly jump scares that were totally unnecessary).

Issue 1 - I'm really not sure why they changed the nature of the abuse she was enduring from her father? That seems like a totally unnecessary change because...they figured just plain ol' physical abuse wasn't bad enough?

Issue 2 (spoilers in this one)

Spoiler:

They freakin' Damseled Beverly. WTF? Granted, to their credit she's not captive for long, and she gets a fair innings at beating on the creature's pennywise guise, but still... bad show! Especially since it robs her of the whole slingshot sub plot.

Hell, if they were going to do that, why not make Stan be the one kidnapped - it'd make more sense given how traumatised his character is and where he ends up later as an adult.

Other than that, I think they did a pretty darn good job, hitting most of the important stuff from the book (although I'm still disappointed I didn't get my Patrick Hockstetter eaten by fridge maggots scene).

Spoiler:

The creature's lair was a really cool design, and I liked how you get little hints at it's not-really-but-kinda "true form" during the final battle, including the use of the Deadlights. I'll be interested to see how they handle some of the more cosmic horror elements at the end of the grown-ups portion of the story.

The kids were AMAZING, but I am particularly fond of Beverly and Ben's actors. They knocked it out of the park, big time. The Stranger Things kid was pretty good as Richie, too. I liked the shift form the sixties to the late eighties.

And yeah. They managed to get a couple of Turtle references in there too, which is neat.

Also, happily, they never included any attempt to replicate THAT SCENE. *shivers*

I missed the turtle reference. What was it?

Running Man wrote:

You read my mind, I just came here to mention the IT movie. We saw it this morning and it was miles better than the tv version, but... it felt to me like a series of jump scare scenes.

I've heard that complaint before but don't share in it. I wonder if it's a matter of how many horror films you see? How many do you see in an average year? They worked on me, but I probably see 1 a year or less.

pyxistyx wrote:

Issue 1 - I'm really not sure why they changed the nature of the abuse she was enduring from her father? That seems like a totally unnecessary change because...they figured just plain ol' physical abuse wasn't bad enough?

Is it sure that they changed it? I remember him as a major kreeper in the book and felt him not wanting her to hang out with boys was part of that.

Does he ever
(touch you)
worry
an
awful
lot?

I don't see many modern horror movies, mostly older ones I've seen before. Given enough time the director could have built more suspense, but I get that they needed to cram as much material in as possible. If there's ever a director's cut that adds 10 minutes to each scene, I think it would be a much more effective movie. But then we'd be well over the 3 hour mark.

jrralls wrote:

I missed the turtle reference. What was it?

There's a Lego turtle in Georgia's room which bill picks up and accidentally breaks,

And I could have sworn someone said something about a turtle in the quarry swimming scene, but I might have imagined that.

jrralls wrote:
pyxistyx wrote:

Issue 1 - I'm really not sure why they changed the nature of the abuse she was enduring from her father? That seems like a totally unnecessary change because...they figured just plain ol' physical abuse wasn't bad enough?

Is it sure that they changed it? I remember him as a major kreeper in the book and felt him not wanting her to hang out with boys was part of that.

"Sometimes I worry about you, Bevvie. Sometimes I worry a lot!"

Pretty sure in the book, her father was just physically violent, mostly when drunk, unless there was some reference to other abuse I missed/don't remember. Also her mother was around as well in the book I think.

pyxistyx wrote:

The kids were AMAZING, but I am particularly fond of Beverly and Ben's actors. They knocked it out of the park, big time.

Ditto.

I'm going to say it; Best ensemble children's acting since Stand By Me.

Did anyone notice the Tim Curry IT easter egg?

Spoiler:

It was in the clown room for just a second.

Started listening to the Audiobook version of Skeleton Crew (Matthew Broderick? Paul Giamatti? :O )

The Mist is still far and away one of my favourite things he's written (but that might partly be down to the fact it was the first thing of his I'd ever read, too). Plus - I'm always a sucker for weird monsters in my fiction.

I think once I'm done I'm going to re-listen to IT as well.

Slytin wrote:

Did anyone notice the Tim Curry IT easter egg?

Spoiler:

It was in the clown room for just a second.

yes! but only because I'd been spoiled on it online beforehand so was deliberately watching out for it.

pyxistyx wrote:

Started listening to the Audiobook version of Skeleton Crew (Matthew Broderick? Paul Giamatti? :O )

"The Jaunt" has stayed with me for over 25 years. In my memory it's one of the scariest things I've ever read. I wonder how it would hold up?

that's pretty good too (always made me wonder if that was the inspiration for Doom, given that The Mist was the original inspiration for Half Life!). I'm looking forward to The Raft, too. That's another favourite.

Night Shift was my first Stephen King book back in the seventh grade, and I still remember The Boogeyman as the scariest story ever. I've read all of his books ever since, including It, of course, and I thought the movie was fantastic. I think having the story take place in the 80s was the most inspired idea in the film, right along with

Spoiler:

having the kids not grow up.

Most of the time, it felt like I was watching an episode of Stranger Things, especially since the actor that plays Richie was in that show too.

I would put the movie up there as one of my favorite adaptations of a King story, without a doubt.

I don't want to derail the conversation too much, but after loving the recent IT film, where do I start reading Stephen King? Short books definitely preferred, as I struggle enough as is with my weekly comic stack.

Would it be ok to start with Carrie, or should I read something more, um, refined? I've heard his stuff gets better later on. I've also heard you should read around his Dark Tower stuff? I'm lost!

If you want something short and outstanding, I would read Joyland. The Wind Through the Keyhole is also a great choice, even though it's supposed to be book 4.5 in The Dark Tower series. Other than the first 30 or so pages, nothing else really requires you to have read a single page of the previous four books, because the novel is a story one of the characters tells the others.

As far as older books are concerned, The Eyes of the Dragon is a personal favorite, and of course Misery is great.

If you want some novellas, Full Dark, No stars is fantastic, and the older Four Past Midnight and Different Seasons are also amazing.

Thanks Mario! I'll see which of those I have laying around from the various op-shop book hauls my partner and I have been on.

Skeleton Crew. Definitely Skeleton crew. Or Night Shift. To be honest, ANY of his short story collections are worth a read, including the recent one, Bazaar of Bad Dreams.

Also, a lot of his early books (Carrie, Pet Semetary, etc) are relatively short reads so they are probably good places to start as well. I'd also highly recommend The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It's short and light on the horror (it's about a young girl who gets lost in the woods) but I absolutely loved it...despite the fact I know/care nothing about Baseball.

Other personal favourites : Salem's Lot, Needful Things, Revival (good for that cosmic horror vibe...has a REALLY bleak lovecraftian twist to it) and the Green Mile.

I have a soft spot for The Tommyknockers too, but it's very, very silly (I think it was written at the point where King's drug/alcohol addiction was starting to become a problem and he started to do something about it).

The very first King book I read was Nightmares and Dreamscapes, a collection of short stories so that is what I recommend you start with.

But it is a really good collection of fun quick reads.

No problem. I'll be curious to see which one you end up reading!

I also subscribe Pyxistyx's recommendation of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and I don't know anything about baseball either.

Slytin wrote:
Slytin wrote:

Did anyone notice the Tim Curry IT easter egg?

Spoiler:

It was in the clown room for just a second.

yes! but only because I'd been spoiled on it online beforehand so was deliberately watching out for it.

I had to google it to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.

jrralls wrote:
pyxistyx wrote:

Started listening to the Audiobook version of Skeleton Crew (Matthew Broderick? Paul Giamatti? :O )

"The Jaunt" has stayed with me for over 25 years. In my memory it's one of the scariest things I've ever read. I wonder how it would hold up?

Beautifully well.

Personally, "Word Processor of the Gods" has given me literal chills a number of times while reading it - not scary, but tense.

If we are talking about audio-books of his, I think there is something to be said to listening to the Dark Tower read by Stephen King. He's not as good an orator as a professional reader but he knows what parts he wanted to stress and didn't want to stress.

And if we are talking about great Stephen King books narrated by the man himself, On Writing and Bag of Bones must be mentioned, especially On Writing. Such a personal, autobiographical book could only be read by King himself, and he knocks it out of the park. In my opinion .

And I didn't know he read The Dark Tower. Surely not all of them?

I only remember him reading the first one, but that was also back when Books on Tape were . . . on tape so I could be misremembering it.

Hey, some of my students last week didn't know what a walkman was...

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but the first Dark Tower book is by far the one I like the least, yet somehow it's the only one in the series I've read twice.

Short stories I like.

The Jaunt: Holds up today, would make a great Black Mirror episode.
Mrs. Todd's Shortcut: I liked it as a teenager...it's not quite as good now.
Quitter's Inc.: This is a little different and still decent.
The Road Virus Heads North: I don't know why, but this one still creeps me out. Classic King campy horror.
Sometimes They Come Back: Top notch lost boys feeling story.
1408: This is another classic. Messes with your head. Best read in one sitting late before bed.
Survivor Type: I first read this one as an early teen and it has messed with me ever since.

Sadly, I think most of King's short stories are best read as a mid-late teen. Most all of them are a lot of fun just once though. The Bachman books is the best start IMO. I long for a minimalist movie of The Long Walk. Black and white, very little dialog.

Okay, to update: I got a bunch of his works on my Kindle and took it to work to read between customers.

I'm half way through The Jaunt, since it was being discussed here. I love how it's written, back and forth between the main character and his retelling of history. The tension of somewhat knowing what's happening, and the anesthetist slowly approaching the family is really gripping! It's a page turner alright! And yep, I'm feeling a bit of Doom's tone here, I'd be very surprised if this wasn't even a small influence over the game.

If this is anything like the rest of his stories, I'm so ready for more.

Edit: Well, sh*t.

Longer than you think.

Homard wrote:

The Road Virus Heads North: I don't know why, but this one still creeps me out. Classic King campy horror.

Ooo, I'd forgotten about that one! That one is good!

Also, Stationary Bike. Not particularly creepy, but super neat.