Monday, October 25, 2010

The Master Of Horror

I hate Mondays. I'm still not a 100% better and the fact that after 9 posts and still no followers I'm discouraged to the point where I don't care enough to write for literary snobs. That being said.

I don't actually know if Stephen King is the master of horror. I've heard Wes Craven, John Carpenter, and Clive Baker with the same title. Maybe they are equally all the masters? When I looked up to see how many film adaptions of his books there are I was baffled, I've seen a good amount of them and a lot of that amount I really like, narrowing 20 down to 10 down to 5 was impossible so for this Monday, the last of the month, it's going to be doing a top ten list. Top Ten Stephen King Adaptions:

#10. Carrie (1976)

Stephen King said it himself, high school is hell. There's a fairly good chance that you were most likely not blessed with the gene of beauty or likability therefor you were probably awkward. Thus being the case with Carrie, the sheltered girl with telekinesis powers. The scariest part about the film is the relationship between Carrie and her mother. The best part about this film is the end because Carrie gets her revenge and since I wasn't at the top of the food change the revenge was sort of sweet for me as well. Of course I wouldn't want to burn my entire class to the ground but it's the brilliant thought by King that counts here.

#9. Children of the Corn (1984)

You'll notice a few related elements with Stephen King's work, sort of like a thumbprint to have proof of creation. Several of his novels and stories have a character who's a writer and a kid whose developed beyond his normal psyche, whether that being supernatural or just a greater understanding of the current reality around them. Children of the Corn does this with more than one kid but unlike previous novels this one has the children as the evil. Malachai and Isaac in particular, arguably ranking high on the list of creepiest kids ever. With Malachai killing adults off like its a basic every day thing and Isaac preaching a disturbing religion to impressionable kids Children of the Corn subtext is fairly scary, specifically to adults.

#8. It (1990)

Its not that I necessarily grew up on horror movies it's just that I watched them more than most because they fascinated me. Of course I watch a ton of Disney stuff as well but as odd as it may seem It was one of my childhood movies. This is what I was referring to in the previous paragraph, the kids conquering evil despite their size and limits. It's maybe not the most quality film out there but it's not a bad adaption and it's a pretty good made for TV movie. I personally prefer part 1 to part 2 as I find the kid's experiencing with the clown a lot more terrifying than the adults. Not to mention the cast isn't half bad (John Ritter, Annette O'Toole, Tim Reid, TIM CURRY) and a few of the child actors grew up to do good films (Emily Perkins in the Ginger Snap series, and of course Seth Green). Unfortunately this, Hellraiser, and Pet Sematary are among the few of my favorite horror films that are being remade.

#7. Cujo (1983)

King writes a lot of supernatural based horror novels but Cujo is one of the exceptions that is plausible. Yes, the chances of you ending up outside of a auto shop with a rabid dog are slim but I'd say its more likely than a raid of vampires attacking your small town. The main horror element here though is, IMO, the claustrophobia or the seclusion of the mom and her son.

#6. Rose Red (2002)

Rose Red technically isn't an adaption, but Stephen King did write the screenplay. The intended idea with this was to perceive that Rose Red was a real house and the Rimbauers were real people, none of it is factual, but the build up inside the movie revealing the history of the house, the comparison of those who died to those who disappeared is a great effect. It actually holds my attention more than it did in his novel The Shinning, which took a similar approach but not nearly as interesting. Basically though the build up made the actual ghosts more effective, and I also liked that they didn't overuse the ghost or the bumps and noises such as other haunted films tend to do.

#5. Misery (1990)

Misery is interesting because its not exactly a film I relate too it's just good and creepy. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her role as Annie Wilkes, the mentally unstable fan of a famous author, and I believe it's well deserved. She's rather insane in this I must say, from shouting about cartoons to whacking Paul's ankle with a hammer, proving to be a disturbing character.

#4. The Shinning (1980)

I struggled with this list because it was so long and I had a hard time placing where each of these films should go, this one especially. As a Stephen King fan and a Stanley Kubrick fan I've been torn since I've read the novel and realized that, in all honesty, this is a pretty awful adaption. But it's not an awful horror movie, in fact it's probably one of the best horror movies. The film and the novel work on two different levels of horror, King's story is scary because you feel for this family that's having a hard time and watching the father descend into madness is slow and cautious but overtly effective. King has said in an interview that Kubrick's film is empty, and it's that emptiness that creates the horror. The isolation reaches to the viewers more since it's evidently present and the father initially being not all the way there proves to be as scary as the character in the book. Either way the film is scary, it makes the list, horrible adaption or not.

#3. The Stand (1994)

I believe I like Stephen King's miniseries more than I do the actual movies because they are in their raw Stephen King state, unfortunately though that means they are between 3 and 4 hours long, that being the case with The Stand. But if you do get a few hours to spare I'd recommend it. This and his other novel Desperation are heavily about religion, specifically good vs evil which fits nicely in the post apocalyptic world backdrop. There's great acting on several people's part (Gary Sinise, Ruby Dee, Rob Lowe). I suppose my only qualms with the film are Molly Ringwald (sorry but I stopped liking her after Breakfast Club) and Randy Flag's fashion sense (I know it was the 90's but denim-on-denim-on-denim?!)

#2. Pet Sematary (1989)

Pet Sematary is the only film that still haunts to the point where I can't walk to close to a bed without getting paranoid. I swear to God every time I stand by a bed that's frame doesn't go fully to the ground I think of the scene in this film where Gage cuts Mr. Munster's tendon with a scalpel. Its absurd that a scene could stick with me for that long and I have no hope that the fear will fade soon, I'll likely be afraid of walking by a bed for the rest of my life all because of that fucking scene. Moving on though I really like Pet Sematary because it's a supernatural horror that encounters the real life horror of losing a child, which is one of if not the worst thing that could happen to a person. Its hard subject matter because of course all parents would want to bring their child back but to return as something unnatural? It's hard choice by the father in this and tragic that it doesn't work out.

#1. Stand By Me (1986)

Unconventionally I pick a Stephen King adaption that is not a horror movie. It's ill fitting for the intended purpose of these lists (Halloween=horror) but it's honestly my favorite film from his novels. In the paper I had to write the other week I mentioned him in it, stating that the reason I believe he's so successful at horror and as writer in general is because he has pays equal attention to plot and character. Stand By Me (as basically all his novels do) demostrate that as its about four friends traveling to see a dead body. While the story and the bits of action are appeasing it's the characters that hold it above the rest of the films on the list. Mainly River Phoneix character Chris, as the bad boy with more depth than usually alloted to his type of character. Kiefer Sutherland is also in it playing a 1950's bad boy again. It's a sound capture for it's time frame and primarily a film I can watch more than once.

Honorable mentions: I'm sure if anyone ever reads this they'll think that I either have bad taste or am just ignorant of not including Shawshank Redemption on the list somewhere, I have a clearly logical explanation for it not being on this list, I've haven't seen it all. In fairness I've seen most of it but there are still parts I've managed to miss and because of those parts I considered it unseen. I'm sure that when I finally finish it I'd update this list and it'd land somewhere in the top five, if not the number one spot. Other: The Dark Half (1993) a fiction writers alter ego beings taking over his life. The Langoliers (1995) corny Sci-fi made for TV movie with horrible graphic effects, stupid decisions made by stupid characters, but ulitmately forces you to watch from start to finish. The Green Mile (1999) great prison movie about a inncocent inmate with an exceptional gift. The Mist (2007) film about a group of towns people trapped inside a grocery store with obscencly large bugs outside and a crazy religous preaching Marcia Gay Harden inside.

If you've made it this far post your own.

1 comment:

Demented Dreamer said...

Love that Stand By Me made the Number 1 spot. Still one of the best films about the bonds of Friendship. A dark and heartbreaking little film. My favorite Stephen King movie is still The Shining. Nothing can top that for me.