It’s almost never been better to be a fan of Stephen King.
From It to Gerald’s Game to 11.22.63, we’ve been getting absolutely pummelled with knockout after knockout with material based on the author’s work. And even though there have been a few duds – The Dark Tower really, really missed the mark – we should be thankful for the soon-to-be classics that have been introduced as of late.
The monetary success of It alone should be enough to get any horror fan excited. Things were looking somewhat bleak earlier in the year with Friday the 13th’s cancellation, due to poor performances on seemingly surefire hits like Rings. Thankfully, Stephen King has always been a dependable source for scares, and the numbers don’t lie. It was a commercial and critical success, and you can be sure that we’re about to see a lot more with the author’s name on it based on that alone.
And if things continue the way they have been, I’ll be a very happy person. Gerald’s Game, for those who haven’t seen it, is nothing short of phenomenal. “That scene” in particular – those of you who have seen it will know what I’m talking about – is sure to end up on a lot of people’s lists for scariest and most cringe-worthy horror moments of all time in years to come. But before any of you gorehounds freak out, hear me out; yes, I acknowledge that there have been much more extreme sequences in films before, some that may even rival the one in Gerald’s Game, but its placement during the film and execution is almost unparalleled. This isn’t a movie that is aiming to push Fulci out of the spotlight; this is a movie that, for the most part, is devoid of any other real extreme gore, making its inclusion that much more surprising and altogether terrifying.
We’ve not seen this much wealth in the realm of Stephen King films since the 1980’s. And even then, though there were many, many classics being produced, there were also a lot of missteps. For a while, it seemed like King was getting a reputation of being a silly pulp writer because of it. A movie bearing Stephen King’s name, at least for a while, didn’t really mean that you were in for anything truly horrifying. Fun, yes, but it was much lighter than where we are today.
We then had one of the worst films ever made in Dreamcatcher, further sullying his reputation in film. It wasn’t like the man was responsible for directing them – it was simply that many of his ideas are so out there, so outlandish, that what worked on paper was incredibly hard to replicate on film.
Which is also why It was so surprising. It’s one of the more fantastic, epic novels the author has ever brought into this world, and yet, Andy Muschietti’s film seemed to capture all of it perfectly. For those who are still uptight about the 1990 miniseries, I’m here to reaffirm that it’s more than okay to prefer the new version. I certainly do. Pennywise has found a new avatar in the form of Skaarsgaard, and I find no reason to look back, wonderful as Curry was. I think it a lot of people were more honest with themselves and less afraid to fight nostalgia, they’d admit the same thing.
I’d like to see some more updated adaptations with the way things have been going. Children of the Corn, for example, would be a great choice, as would Pet Sematary. A lot of filmmakers have now grown up with a love for King and his novels and their respective adaptations; true love that has shaped their desires to work in film or literature. These are the kind of people we need working on his films. For a while, this was not the case; as John Carpenter said himself, Christine was simply a job he was hired to do. Though the results were fine enough, it was unfortunately devoid of passion. You can say what you will about It, Gerald’s Game, and even 11.22.63 (though really, what bad could you possibly have to say about that one?), but criticizing them for being without passion is simply false.
Luckily, it doesn’t appear that this train is slowing down anytime soon. 1922 has just been released to mainly positive reviews, and Hulu’s Castle Rock is on the horizon, which is hopefully going to live up to expectations. Sure, The Mist has been canceled, and I can’t help but refer back to the disappointment that was The Dark Tower, but for all of the letdowns, the stronger entries seem to be so overpowering that those flubs can be overlooked.
As a huge fan of the novelist, I feel very lucky to be alive in a time where there seems to be such a renewed interest in getting his works the adaptations they deserve. In 2017, we’ve amassed such a wealth of classics, both modern and nostalgic, that it’s overwhelming in scope. Appreciate what you have, folks, because King is one in a million.