Welcome to the very first installment of Stephen King month. Why? Because I run this column and I’ll spend the rest of my time on here speaking about all the hidden Hitchcock cameos if the mood strikes me. Also it’s October, what else were we going to talk about?
Stephen King’s works are often best known for their film and mini-series adaptations than for the novels themselves, which have blown minds with their quality, in both senses. While we will always remember Kubrick’s The Shining and the original Carrie but there are definitely a few of these adaptations that deserve a second chance to fill audiences with awe and terror. Usually I’m not a big fan of remakes but sometimes they are for the better, and these six instances would be some of those times.
There’s something to be said for making a haunted car scary, but if there’s one person who could, it’s probably Stephen King. And while the original is effective and well made, think of the possibilities now that cars literally have computers inside of them. They can track people’s phones and hunt them down, they can access Twitter and Facebook, they can even electrocute someone inside the car. With all the new possibilities that these cars can do, why not see what new horrors await?
5) Children of the Corn
I reviewed this last summer, and it was a cheese-fest for all. But cheese-fests aren’t scary, and while they make for great cult classics, this one has been long overshadowed by Birdemic and the like. Jeepers Creepers proved that cornfields can be scary so why can’t we go back and give this tale of Midwestern misery another go? Sure, you’d probably have to go crazy trying to cast good child actors to actually be convincing and haunting but if you can get Jodelle Ferland in there, your job is already halfway done. And no, I don’t count the 2009 SyFy monstrosity and no one else should either.
4) Bag of Bones
Yes, I reviewed this one too and boy was this one of the most awful mini-series I have ever seen in my life, Stephen King or otherwise. Much to my shock, the book it’s based on is very dark and sharply written, something the adaptation was most certainly not. This mini-series deserves to be revisited and given to a screenwriter who can actually write characters instead of 2D lifeless caricatures, if only because they could really amp up the creepy factor. Also maybe don’t hire Pierce Brosnan again.
This movie is typically not remembered for being a Stephen King work, mostly because it deals with aliens and not supernatural creatures. This tale of alien friendship and bizarre government agencies coming to kill butt parasites in a frozen tundra received only lukewarm praise but there’s disturbing potential here if, and only if, you keep Morgan Freeman as a bad military leader who slaps people around. There’s not enough of badass Morgan Freeman in the world.
2) The Langoliers
If you’ve ever had to watch this mini-series you know how disappointing this one was. It wasn’t just that the acting was bad and the writing totally hokey but after the initial mystery when they land, the whole premise falls apart. All sense of story is lost and besides a rather touching sacrifice at the end, it’s just a bore to watch. A remake could help tighten the story, and who knows? Maybe we’ll finally get better monsters this time. You can do better than prunes with razor teeth, people. I believe in the powers of CGI.
1) Secret Window
I struggled a lot with whether to put this one on the list at all. Secret Window was not a bad film per se — the premise is excellent and the ending is even better. And then Johnny Depp came along and suddenly all subtleties go out the (secret) window. It’s not that he overacts exactly but that his lack of charisma and believability drags the events of the movie into the mud. It’s somehow soft-spoken and over-the-top all at once, which makes for a very confusing film. Even a simple recast would be enough to salvage the film, which I still hold is one of the better Stephen King movies, if only it weren’t being led by phoning-in-it pro Depp. He and Brosnan must trade tips over the craft services table.