When you think of good audio-visual presentations of Stephen King novels, you don’t really think about the original book, but the result from a really good director. You think about Kubrick’s “The Shining”, Cronenberg’s “Dead Zone”, and, ah, gimme a moment, it’s around here somewhere. Uhm, well, there’s … hell, the best thing which has come from Stephen King has been on teevee. And there’s no shame in that, in fact, if he turned his back to Hollywood entirely, and just worked on the small screen, we’d have much better things to see on the tube.
Case in point, the recent made for teevee two-parter “Salem’s Lot“. This was King’s first novel (my first exposure to Stephen King was reading Ben Grimm in the Fantastic Four – sorta like something out of “The Ice Storm”, yes, I am get gonna all meta on your ass — reading “Salem’s Lot”, and shitting bricks when somebody startles him (well, what the hell else would The Thing shit but bricks?))
Anyways, Stephen King’s best film work in the last decade has been in teevee. As an adaptation of his novel, the teevee version of “The Shining” was actually quite good, and “The Stand” had some nudity.
And now we get “Salem’s Lot”, which has been previously made for teevee, but was campy and had too much Soul – David Soul. This version has Rob Lowe and a farmer priest, and best of all, the vampire is played by Rutger Hauer. It is creepy, tense and really captures the tone and style of King’s novel like the big screen versions don’t.
Sure, there are the in-jokes (a guy calls his dog “Cujo”, etc, and while I didn’t see it, like in “Kingdom Hospital”, there was probably somebody reading a Stephen King book) but the mini-series really rolls along on the dread suspense instead of SFX.
I guess this will be coming out on DVD just like “The Really Big Storm and A Evil Sou’wester” or whatever it was called Jeebus, I got to stop reading that snarky Duke bastard. .
This was far superior to the 80′s version, and I just might go back and get the original novel. Stephen King is really at his best when he is on the teevee.
Oh, yah, in case you didn’t know the plot, a writer goes back to his old Maine home town, vampires come to town, almost every body un-dies.
adding: Dang, I knew “Carrie” was King’s first published book, look, I’m slapping myself in the forehead, can I use the excuse he just has too much out there to keep track? However, I deliberately didn’t mention “Carrie” the movie, though it is pretty good, but it was what established Brian DePalma, and was known as the movie version of a Stephen King book, not a movie on its own like “The Shining” and “The Dead Zone”. And also “Carrie” has been remade very craptastically (but there was “Return to Salem’s Lot” — shut up!).
However, I will stand by my core assertion, that the best uses of Stephen King in AV land has been for teevee, since while there’ve been a lot of meh stuff, it doesn’t approach the sheer badness of stuff like “Dreamcatcher” in theatrical release. And it’s worth noting the best Stephen King movies are the ones which have little or no horror – supernatural elements — “Shawshank Redeption”, “Dolores Claibourne”, “Stand By Me”.