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Stephen King
Film Journeys

Stephen King

By on September 11, 2017

It’s time once again to go on a Film Journey, and today we are focusing on career highlights of writer, and screenwriter, Stephen King. Stephen King is synonymous with horror stories, but why are we talking about him today?

Well, as this is our 50th Film Journeys we wanted to come closer to the original concept of the live broadcasts, but also do something a little different. So, this time we’re focussing on a writer, (for the first time), but we are also serving up three films which follow the original concept of Film Journeys: one which is in the cinemas now, one which you might not have seen or heard of and, finally, one which you will have seen before and will love to revisit.

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in IT (2017) © New Line Cinema

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in IT (2017) © New Line Cinema

FILM ONE: IT (2017) [ BBFC Certificate 15 ]

Our first film this week is IT (2017) – the remake of the classic story about the killer clown, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. IT is in UK cinemas from today and, despite an initial protest from fans of the original, (and, let’s face it, who can ever beat a Tim Curry performance), the new film is certainly serving up the scares in the trailers and the reviews coming in are sounding very positive too.

As with many of the films adapted from Stephen King novels, the general synopsis here is wonderfully simple: A group of bullied kids band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children in a quaint American town.

Bill Skarsgård stars as Pennywise the clown, AKA “IT”, and has got a very chilling line of delivery.

It’s an intense film, with a 15 certificate; but if you like scary movies, with good jump scares then this should definitely be on your list of ‘must-sees’ this weekend.

Timothy Hutton stars in THE DARK HALF (1993) © Orion Pictures

Timothy Hutton stars in THE DARK HALF (1993) © Orion Pictures

FILM TWO: THE DARK HALF (1993) [ BBFC Certificate 18 ]

Our second film is one that you might not have seen before, it’s THE DARK HALF (1993), based on the novel Stark, by Stephen King.

This is set in another quaint American town, and features a writer. Thad Beaumont, played by Timothy Hutton, wants to move on and put his pseudonym George Stark to sleep. Stephen King himself has published a collection of short novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, (and also a short story under the name John Swithen), and so it’s very interesting to see this feature as a line in his own work. Some of the dialogue is also very telling in this respect.

Thad stages a mock funeral for Stark, but Stark doesn’t want to let go that easily. Things get a little out of hand, people die, and Beaumont finds himself a murder suspect.

This is only one of a number of titles where King features a writer, directly or indirectly dealing with the effect their creations have on others and themselves. It’s not one of the most well known, but certainly one you should check out.

Kathy Bates stars in MISERY (1990) © Castle Rock Entertainment

Kathy Bates stars in MISERY (1990) © Castle Rock Entertainment

FILM THREE: MISERY (1990) [ BBFC Certificate 15 ]

Our final film today is one that is likely to be a choice that many have watched before; however with a cast as good as this, a script as tight as this, and a source material as striking as this I think it’s a fair bet that you’ll want to watch MISERY (1990) again … and again, and again, and again!

Key to the unnerving films success is the central performance from Kathy Bates, who went on to win an Oscar for her turn as Annie Wilkes. She was the first woman to win an Oscar for for Best Actress in a horror / thriller film. It’s interesting to note that despite the film featuring a male writer as one of the lead characters, it’s this female character that really powers the movie.

The set-up for the film is beautifully simple: Celebrated writer Paul Sheldon, (played by the brilliantly cast James Caan), has finished the final novel in his best-selling series of books based on a fictional character called Misery. After a bad car accident in a snowy remote wilderness, Paul is rescued and nursed back to health by Kathy Bates, who happens to be his greatest fan.

Things take a turn very much for the worse, however, as he slowly begins to realise that Wilkes might not be quite as saccharine sweet as she initially makes out.

It’s a stunning film on first viewing, and it doesn’t disappoint on repeat viewings either.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

 – Creepshow

– The Green Mile

– The Shawshank Redemption

– The Shining

– Stand By Me

– The Dark Tower

– Carrie

– Pet Cemetery

– The Dead Zone

– The Stand

– He also wrote an episode for The X-Files

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