Stephen King

Hellraiser Cenobites

In 1986, Stephen King staged a challenge to the many respected directors who had envisioned his famous books as films: he posited that a horror writer could best any horror director given their supposedly unique relationship to the subject matter. The result of this challenge was the insanely entertaining but not at all scary Maximum Overdrive, a fascinating but notable failure of a creator’s attempt to move from one medium to another. A year later, another horror writer tried his hand at filmmaking to considerably different results. Clive Barker, who King famously christened “the future of horror,” made himself known as a force to be reckoned with in cinematic fear with Hellraiser. Barker is perhaps better known in many circles for his novels, plays and video games than his feature films, as he has only helmed three, with his most recent released almost twenty years ago. But Barker’s imagination has had a serious influence on horror cinema, producing images of violence and monstrosity that have resonated, as evidenced by the strong legacy of his work as well as his notable influence on other filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro. So here is some free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from an artist who has made a career out of raising a bit of hell.

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Shining Elevator

Each year in October, I find myself revisiting the Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining, which has surpassed broad criticism from Stephen King throughout the 1980s to eventually become a heralded classic of horror cinema. Last year, I was inspired to re-watch the movie after seeing the sometimes nutty but always thought-provoking Room 237, which offers various theories about the hidden messages in the original film – including everything from Native American genocide to Kubrick confessing to faking the moon landing. One part of the film that was examined is that iconic blood elevator sequence, first seen by Danny Torrence (Danny Lloyd) in a psychic vision. A lot of discussion has surrounded this image, including the symbolic meaning of the blood as well as how the effect was achieved. With the twisted mind I have, my thoughts went somewhere else: How much blood would it actually take to fill the elevator lobby?

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King Kennedy Time Travel Book

Netflix, prepare for war. Thanks to this handy Hulu blog post, we know the streaming service has just announced a new event series based on Stephen King‘s “11/22/63.” And we know that Hulu will be partnering with J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions to make it happen. Then, a few more details from Variety: 11/22/63 will come in the form of nine hour-long episodes, and if it’s successful, Hulu’s willing to pump out future seasons, “event series” moniker be damned. One of King’s more recent works,”11/22/63″ was published in 2011. It follows Jake Epping, an ordinary dude from New England (as is required of every Stephen King protagonist) who’s clued into the existence of a time portal in the back of a diner. He knows that great power often presents itself  alongside great responsibility and uses this newfound power to do the upright thing: destroy Lee Harvey Oswald and wipe the Kennedy assassination from the history books. I’m guessing Hulu is saving “kill Hitler” for that potential second season. This is a very wide step into Netflix’s territory. Right now, they’re in charge of all the world’s streaming TV credibility. They have the product. They have the prestige. They’re making the best use of that “release all content at once, let audiences tear through it too fast like a sack of precious Halloween candy, then let ‘em wait an entire year to do it all over again” business strategy. Netflix could use some competition, and now that Hulu has two ringers (King and Abrams) on its […]

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ABC

Quick catch up if you missed the first installment of this series: I’m a guy who missed a lot of generation-defining movies from my youth (though I did not, as many readers apparently suspect, intentionally not watch them as some sort of devious scheme). Now I’m watching them as a 30-year-old in 2014 with no nostalgia for them. It doesn’t make my opinion any more or less valid, but hopefully it’s an interesting one. Or that’s the hope, anyway. This week, I watched Stephen King’s IT. I’ve read the book, but not seen the movie. I think I might have seen a brief part of the original airing when I was six (I remembered seeing a black dog, and that was indeed in the movie), but my parents probably didn’t want me watching it because I had gotten freaked out by Pet Sematary not long before. (I’ve re-watched that one since and it was freaking ridiculous, but in fairness, I was afraid of the anthropomorphic M&Ms commercials when I was six.)

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Screen Media Films

It’s only been ten months since a Stephen King film was playing in theaters, but we’re already just two months away from the next. Once upon a time that year-long wait between adaptations would have seemed crazy– back in the ’80s and early ’90s there were frequently two or three of them in the multiplexes simultaneously — but he hasn’t been nearly as ubiquitous onscreen in the 21st century. There have only been nine feature films based on his work since 2000, and pretty much only one of them is worth a damn. His latest stab at the box-office is A Good Marriage, a film written by King from his own short story. The always fantastic Joan Allen plays a woman who discovers her loving husband (Anthony LaPaglia) may just be a serial killer. There’s no shortage of movies about couples, secrets and the possibility that one of them might be a murderer, but the ones that work best (Presumed Innocent, Jagged Edge) succeed in part because of the mystery and suspense as to whether the person is guilty. The first trailer for A Good Marriage seems uninterested in taking that route. Check out the uninspired trailer below and keep reading to see what other films King has in the adaptation pipeline.

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Gerald

Few films can boast that they came from WWE Studios, and also boast that they’re not roundly terrible in every way imaginable (although I remain cautiously optimistic about Untitled Flintstones WWE Movie and Jingle All the Way 2). Oculus is one of those films. And a heaping portion of credit for Oculus and its status as WWE Studios’ first film to not deserve a thorough suplexing goes to director Mike Flanagan. But the question remains: what is Flanagan to do now? He’s already legitimized (maybe) the filmmaking branch of a company that promotes the pretend body slamming of underdressed meat slabs. What exciting filmmaking venture will Flanagan take on next? Flangan’s sticking with the horror genre for round two — Deadline reports he’ll direct an adaptation of Stephen King‘s 1992 novel, “Gerald’s Game.” According to their reporting, Flanagan’s already written the script with his writing partner, Jeff Howard. He’ll also be working with King, naturally. Casting is underway and everyone’s prepping for a fall shoot.

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The Stand

Great cultural contributions are not fluid. A classic book does not need to automatically be turned into a feature film. A stirring song does not need to be adapted for a TV theme song. A beloved miniseries does not need to be turned into a comic book. Some things are just good as is, on their own, and in their original form. Such is the case with Stephen King’s “The Stand,” which continues to be forcibly pushed through the Hollywood studio system in an attempt to make the 1100 page-plus tome into an easily digestible feature film – sort of like movie breakfast sausage. The “film” (and, yes, we’re putting this one in quotes, because it sure as hell isn’t a real film just yet) has been through nearly every incarnation imaginable over the course of three years, cycling through writers and directors and even possible runtimes with a startling regularity that appears to lower the possible quality of the film at every turn. Think about it this way – back in 2011, we were going to have a multi-film event from the very best Harry Potter team, now this project will be directed by a guy who has just two films under his belt and, oh, yeah, it will just be one single film. How did we get here?

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greengrass

Though it’s starting to look to anyone with any sense like Warner Bros. should let their dream of putting together a film adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand” go, they seem to still be soldiering on under not just the hope that they’ll soon get a The Stand movie into production, but that they’ll get one into production under the watch of an A-list director. So far they’ve had David Yates on board to helm the film, they’ve had Ben Affleck named as the man in charge, and most recently they’ve had Scott Cooper working to bring the project to life, but one by one they’ve all dropped off of the film and left Warners twisting in the wind, searching for yet another filmmaker who has what it takes to tackle such a huge undertaking. So what are the problems that keep scaring all of the directors that Warners recruits away? If you listen to Cooper, it could be the sheer size and scope of King’s lengthy story—which is packed full of characters and subplots—and the fact that it would be next to impossible to bring everything in the source material together in a singular film that actually did it any justice. The budget on a The Stand movie would necessarily be huge, and there are reports going around that Warners is so confused about how to handle the financials that they don’t even know how many movies they plan on splitting the book into. Given all of the confusion, […]

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The Stand

Not everything is adaptable, and that’s okay. Such is the case with Stephen King’s sprawling, 800+ page epic “The Stand,” which has recently sloughed off its third high-profile director on its way to the big screen. The Wrap reports that Warner Bros. and director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) have parted ways when it comes to the project, as one source reports that the split came care of good old-fashioned “creative differences.” Cooper was brought on back to the project earlier this year, and he was set to both helm the production and re-write its script. The adaptation has already hit some big bumps on the road – the film has already cycled through experienced filmmakers like David Yates and Ben Affleck – and when Cooper was brought on to rewrite and direct the film back in August, it seemed like a bold, if not exactly advisable choice. Cooper is a fine filmmaker, but he’s only got two features under his belt, and neither of them even remotely touch upon the scale and scope of “The Stand.” Let’s put it this way – if the guy who directed the final four Harry Potter films wasn’t the right guy for the job, Cooper certainly wasn’t either. But the news still feels a bit striking, given that Cooper recently sat down (like, this week) with MTV to chat about his upcoming Out of the Furnace, and when the conversation turned to The Stand, he talked about his vision for the project and some […]

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Carrie 1976

In contrast to Stephen King’s famous tomes The Stand, The Shining, and It, the author’s breakthrough novel – 1974’s “Carrie” – is relatively fit for adaptation as a feature-length film due to its various publications rarely running over two hundred pages. That said, beyond the usual acts of restructuring typical of Hollywood treatments, the movie versions of Carrie White’s story have stopped short of recreating the third section of King’s novel, “Aftermath.” Thus, they forego the subsequent history of a town that must physically and psychologically rebuild itself after an unfathomable tragedy. This section of King’s novel surveys the systemic long-term reactions to the Carrie incident: the development of scientific research and social programs for telekinetics, the slow rebuilding of a small town, and, naturally, a nation’s serious look in the mirror on the subject of high school bullying. While such a vast third act rarely takes shape in Carrie films, it’s the act that we’re collectively most familiar with when it comes to national news stories about young people, violence, and the ever-persistent phantom of bullying (still a term that resists a stable definition in school administrations), whether these real-life tragedies take the form of suicides or mass shootings.

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review carrie 2013

2013’s Carrie opens with the title character’s birth. It’s an effective scene, conspicuously absent umbilical cord aside, that immediately makes two things clear. First, Carrie’s mother, Margaret White (Julianne Moore), is a dangerous fundamentalist highly displeased with the “cancer” that just spilled from between her legs. And second, director Kimberly Pierce‘s reboot/remake/re-imagining of Stephen King‘s novel is aiming to be more than just a rehash of Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation. Unfortunately it’s only the wacky religious nut that lands intact, as other than a new opening and ending, some updated dialogue, and an ill-fitting actress in the lead role, this is quite clearly the same old Carrie.

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Julianne Moore‘s not normally known for taking villainous roles (unless you count her turn as Sarah Palin in Game Change), but she certainly seems devoted to being as creepy as possible in this first clip from the upcoming Carrie remake. Moore’s got all the goods: crazy eyes, hair that’s just a little too long and a little too stringy, a sensible navy blue top, and a collection of self-inflicted claw marks. Anybody who’s read Stephen King‘s original novel or seen any one of the many adaptations that followed will know all the basics presented in this clip. Carrie’s (Chloe Moretz) mom is a deranged fundamentalist, and Carrie tends to express her teenage rebellion through telekinetic force blasts. The  attack on the door may come off a little too computer-y, but it still provides a reasonably compelling jump scare. Pour some fake blood over a Jesus statue and you’re good to go. It’s not clear what (if anything, really) this new Carrie will bring to the table that others didn’t, but at the bare minimum it’s got Moore and it’s got stuff that will put a mild shock into your system. And those who disagree can always spend a little time in the closet thinking things through. Go ahead and watch the clip below:

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trailer carrie2

Well, if you had never seen the 1976 original, read the Stephen King novel or heard someone describe Carrie offhandedly, then you’re going to be absolutely shocked by this trailer for Kimberly Peirce‘s 2013 remake, which basically spells out the entire movie. Just in case though, here’s the drill: Carrie White (Chloe Moretz) is different. Saddled with an uber-religious, insane mother (Julianne Moore) who believes that women are all dirty, she dresses frumpy, doesn’t have friends, and is the butt of ridicule from the mean girls at school. Carrie soon discovers she has telekinetic powers, which really come in handy when those mean girls trick her into attending prom and humiliating her in front of the whole school. Jokes on them, right? Check out the new trailer below.

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The Stand

With Ben Affleck busy donning cape and cowl to protect the streets of Gotham, it looks like someone else will have to step in to write and direct the adaptation of Stephen King‘s “The Stand” (that Affleck was previously tied to). And, thank to Deadline Hollywood, we now know the secret identity of Affleck’s replacement – Scott Cooper. Cooper’s first feature was 2009’s Crazy Heart and his Christian Bale-starring revenge flick Out of the Furnace will be in theaters this fall. Based on those two, Cooper looks to be a strong choice, but he’s got his work cut out for him. The Stand could dwarf a phone book – the original version totals a whopping 823 pages, and King’s later “Complete & Uncut Edition” ups it to 1152 pages. There’s no word yet on whether The Stand will be divvied up Hobbit-style, or if Cooper has the unfortunate task of cramming so much story into a single flick.

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Carrie

The inherent problem in making a good remake of a classic film lies in presenting something new to the audience, some fresh angle, something they haven’t seen before, even if they have watched the original a million times. Depsite previous claims to adhere more to Stephen King‘s novel than Brian De Palma’s previous feature, director Kimberly Peirce‘s Carrie looks exactly like a copy of the first film – at least if this trailer is to believed. Instead of playing with our Carrie knowledge base, this first look just rips it right off. Yup, Carrie (Chloe Moretz) is a weirdo outcast at school. Yup, her uber-religious mother (Julianne Moore) isn’t helping matters. Yup, something bad is going to go down in the girls’ showers at school (though the apparent injection of smart phones is an interesting new addition). Yup, Carrie is going to stumble into her telekinetic powers. Yup, there’s even going to be a pig-blood-bathed prom. So what’s left for this new entry? Let’s hope something beyond just a random iPhone. Go back to high school (wretched, wretched) high school with Carrie, after the break.

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Garrett Hedlund

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that was compiled today with the help of Daft Punk musical accompaniment. You may not remember much about TRON: Legacy’s story, because other than its glowing lights and its pumping soundtrack, that 2010 sequel to Disney’s cult classic TRON was pretty dull. So, let’s refresh your memory. The movie starred Garrett Hedlund as the son of Jeff Bridges’ character from the first film. He went into the computer world, found his dad, and then there was a big battle. Remember all this? Good, because Next Movie just confirmed that Hedlund will be back for whatever TRON 3 ends up being called. Disney apparently started getting a script together for a third film just last week. This, of course, means that we’ll all now be keeping our eyes open for the real news regarding this new sequel: whether or not Daft Punk is coming back to do another soundtrack.

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Saoirse Ronan

What is Casting Couch? It’s just trying to cram its foot into this shoe. Just last week, we learned that Cate Blanchett was likely to be Mark Romanek’s wicked stepmother in the new Cinderella movie that he’s doing for Disney, and now Variety gives us word that the project is closing in on its Cinderella as well. According to the trade, Atonement actress Saoirse Ronan, Anna Karenina actress Alicia Vikander, and The Three Musketeers’ Gabriella Wilde have all been in to see Romanek for screen tests. So, clearly, the sweet spot for getting this role is to have an interesting accent and some period work under your belt. Keira Knightley better watch her back, because it looks like there’s a whole upcoming generation of ladies gunning for her roles.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s where Hollywood moms come every day to find out if their actor kids have gotten a job. Remember that movie about the day JFK got shot that Tom Hanks was putting together because these days he’s such a history loving, lame dad? It’s called Parkland, and it just put together an awesome cast. According to Collider, director Vincent Bugliosi has signed the terrific trio of Paul Giamatti, Jackie Weaver, and Billy Boy Thornton to headline the cast. There’s no word on what characters they’ll be playing, but my guess is Giamatti will be JFK, Thornton will be Jackie O, and Weaver will be Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes sense, no?

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Stephen King

Stephen King seems to be having almost as good of a year as Kevin Costner when it comes to high profile news. The teaser for the big screen re-adaptation of his first novel, Carrie, just recently hit the web, and now word has come that the only unadapted tale in King’s four story collection, Different Seasons, is finally being turned into a film. The book already spawned two modern classics with Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption as well as Bryan Singer’s dark but less memorable drama Apt Pupil. The remaining tale, “The Breathing Method“, is a smaller story than any of those and readers would be hard pressed to see the cinematic angle within it. Per Deadline, that hasn’t deterred director Scott Derrickson. Fresh off of his success with the Ethan Hawke-starring horror film Sinister, Derrickson has begun development on a film adaptation of the story. There’s no script as of yet, but it will be interesting to see how it gets turned into a proper film.

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Carrie

Carrie was the very first piece of Stephen King‘s writing to see a film adaptation way back in 1976, and Brian De Palma’s film remains one of the high points in King’s cinematic canon. The story follows a teenage girl whose blossoming into womanhood opens up a powerful psychic power within her, and while her rigidly religious mother sees it as the work of the devil her cruel classmates don’t see it at all. Well, not until prom night anyway. King’s fiction has been adapted for the screen over a hundred times including feature films, shorts, direct to DVD efforts and sequels, and starting with 1997’s mini-series of The Shining his previously adapted works also started getting the remake treatment. Interestingly, all of them ended up as TV films/mini-series (including a 2002 redo of Carrie that aired on NBC). That distinction is set to change early next year though when Screen Gems/MGM will release a new feature version of King’s first novel. Director Kimberly Peirce returns to the big screen for only the second time since she burst onto the scene with 1995’s Boys Don’t Cry, and she’s joined by Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore to tell a story about bullying, teen angst and the untimely arrival of Aunt Flo. Check out the brand new teaser below.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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