Josh Samford on Stephen King on Cinema – By Josh Samford

As a fan of Stephen King’s literature work, I’m sometimes puzzled as to why I often feel the need to shy away from my love for his work when talking with those more savvy in the ways of modern writing. First of all, to make a grosse and possibly arrogant generalization, I usually find book geeks to be some of the more snobbish geeks out there in the world. Perhaps just from limited experience with that particular faction of mega-geeks, but this stereotype has helped me to avoid MANY overly-intellectual conversations with college kids who have tried to turn me on to "edgy" and "controversial" writers, which is usually just some bag of wind college professor talking about bagging a bunch of chicks and smoking a ton of grass; to which his students undoubtebly go out and buy in the droves. Okay, so I buy into a lot of stereotypes and I’m not the most open-minded twenty year old; but I’ll bet I’m the only young person you know currently listening to classic Roy Orbison! Okay, that had absolutely nothing to do with anything, but served as an excellent promotion of this killer Best of Roy Orbison CD I picked up last week. So yes, that’s my blanket generalization and ancient rock & roll reference for this review, all I need to do is squeeze in something about Japan, throw out some hip hop lingo and go on and on about Mr. T and the A-Team and this article will have the makings of a classic. Yet, I digress and try to move back on topic. Stephen King and movies. I might be more than a little crazy, but I think the staple that his stories generally make terrible movies might be a little on the false side – if there is any true or false in the world of opinion… but that’s a little too deep to think about for an article like this. Okay, yes, there have been some pretty horrendous flicks made; but along the way there have been some classic films of cheese – and who am I to deny a good B-Movie or an underrated classic? So, having read my fair share of Stephen King novels, I’ll try and show any insight I may be able to muster and hopefully make a film sound even better than it actually is – because lying to you is what I’m paid to do… and I’m paid in oak nuts.

So, there have been some films out there that have deviated from King’s original novels and sure, some were made for the better and some were made for the worst, but hey, while I’m looking for filler I might as well talk a little about a couple of them. First of all, there’s Cujo. Now, what sucks about talking about the deviations Cujo made are that the two biggest departures for me are the climax, and another scene about a male reaching climax. The first situation is the total conclusion of the film and I hate to spoil it for either the reader or viewer in either case, but, well, if you’ve seen Cujo – imagine a not so happy version of that same scenario. As for that second departure, well, I just don’t like to talk about it on a family oriented place of cinematic fandom such as Rogue Cinema. Basically we have the wife’s bedfellow from outside of marriage getting a bit unhappy with their current relationship and releasing his tension all over their bed while the husband is out of town and the wife is cornered by the bloodthirsty dog of the film’s title. So, the second film to leave it’s original story that springs forth to mind is "It". Now, if that bit about that guy doing dirty things to some blankets was hard for me to talk about… this is even worse. For those of you who haven’t read the book, you probably scoff at the idea of the story featuring dirty, dirty sex – you would be wrong. Let’s just say that by the time those kids think they finish off Pennywise down in the sewers… well, they get up to some dirty business. You think I’m kidding. No, one girl, about six guys… seriously, do the math. I am not joking, for real. The kids get down and dirty, in the raw muck no less! Nasty! I think I could go to jail for reading that… Anyway, the final thing I can think of that was taken out of a book was for Hearts in Atlantis. What was taken out was… well, pretty much everything. I understand that the book Hearts in Atlantis was taken from several short stories that all connected, but the removal of the main story where the film actually gets it’s title hurts the worst. A story about a bunch of guys at college that become obsessed with the game of Hearts – it’s probably the best part of the whole book, and losing it to the cinematic dumps is a shame to this day.

And without a doubt if you’re going to talk about film adaptations of Stephen King’s work, I think it’s best to mention his work as a screenplay author. Sometimes he is on the ball and delivers something amazing, sometimes not. My favorite case of him delivering something extraordinary in the form of an original script is with his mini-series Storm of the Century. When Storm first premiered it had moderate success, although none would ever triumph the quite faithful (although the casting was a bit odd, Corin Nemec as the jealous and written-as obese character Harold Lauder was especially hard to swallow) adaptation of King’s magnum opus (well, in some critic circles, I definitely stand by The Dark Tower series more for that) The Stand – as far as financial success goes. Storm of the Century truly was one of the more frightening horror stories to ever be told on a national level. It’s a shame that such a fantastic piece of work goes unnoticed, but I guess when you have such a tremendous length that sort of thing is kind of expected. I still believe it is a film that horror fans the world around should take a chance on, as a fan since first seeing it on ABC those few years ago I have been loyal to it from the get-go. I can’t reccomend it higher. Since then however we have seen a string of relatively uneventful King works on the small screen. Including the quite boring Rose Red (though I have heard some say otherwise, I just disagree) and the short lived series Kingdom Hospital – which I don’t really think anyone took the time to watch.

Yet, with all of this said, I can’t help but mention King’s one time gig working as a director for his own script and screenplay: Maximum Overdrive. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll either hear it’s the greatest thing since microwavable Ramen or it’s absolute crap. Well, let’s just say it kicks the crap out of Ramen. Yeah, that’s right. A cinematic masterpiece of epic proportions. I’m not afraid to say it. I would take a bullet for the legacy of Maximum Overdrive… without even thinking. Not that I do much of that anyway. So, after all is said and done, there’s just WAY too much to cover for just one article. Perhaps I’ll come back further down the line and go over just why Pet Semetary is one of my favorite films of all time, or why It truly was better without the all-children gangbang. Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t need to be explained, but if someone could go back and explain that whole giant talking turtle bit from the last dozen pages or so of the book I would be very happy – and would probably kiss you, provided that you are an attractive female who loves brunette Southern boys with a sharp wit and a gentleman’s way of carrying himself. So, with that last plug at my own lack of female attention, I shall call this article a finish. Keep on the lookout though, I’m just getting started. Fool.