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Happy Birthday to the King of Horror

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Happy Birthday to the King of Horror

Photo by: IMAGE: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Photo by: IMAGE: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Photo by: IMAGE: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A review of Stephen King books and movies

I am a horror fan. It’s pretty obvious from the horror book in my hands to the Pennywise sticker in the middle of my laptop. As a horror fan, I’m kind of obligated to adore Stephen King. I haven’t read every one of his books just yet, but I can safely say that none of them have let me down. King has written at least 90 different books over his 71 years on Earth, many of which have made their way onto the big screen. So in no particular order, here are reviews of some of my favorite Stephen King books and movies.

“Carrie”

Book published on April 5, 1974; movie released on Nov 3, 1976

The novel and movie follow Carrie White, a young telekinetic that’s bullied by her peers and is overly sheltered by her religious mother. Following a humiliating prank at prom, Carrie goes on a vengeful killing spree that shocks the nation.

This is a really quick read, just under 200 pages, but it’s masterfully structured that you’re on the edge of your seat for the entire novel. It switches back and forth between news articles and books about Carrie and the narrative of the days leading up to the school’s prom. The movie is a little outdated, so the special effects aren’t great and the acting is okay. With a 90 minute runtime, there’s a lot of padding time since the book is already very short.

“The Dark Half”

Book published on Oct 10, 1989

This novel follows an author, Thad Beaumont, whose books under the pen name George Stark. Beaumont decides to retire the pen name, but he finds out that George Stark has come to life and has no intention to stop writing. Only one of them can live, and the chase is full of suspense.

This is much closer to King’s typical “slow burn” style of writing where the mystery and terror builds slowly as the book goes on. There was a movie adaptation released in Germany in 1993, but I’ve never seen it. This is a story that doesn’t translate very well onto a screen since the concept in the book is abstract. Hulu may be giving it a try though in their series “Castle Rock”, which covers the legendary town that King made up and placed several of his novels in.

“Insomnia”

Book published on Sept 15, 1994

This novel follows an old man named Ralph who slowly starts waking up earlier and earlier until he can’t sleep at all. The lack of sleep gives him the power to see people’s auras and take power from a different plane of existence that no other humans can access. With the help of an old woman he befriends, Lois, he must stop a man driven insane from causing a mass murder that fate can’t allow.

This was an incredibly strange book with a very, very slow burn. I’m a pretty patient person, and I had some trouble getting through this. It’s a really abstract concept that’s hard to wrap your head around. With a whopping 787 pages, this is not a light read by any stretch of the imagination. Fun fact though, this story is set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, which perfectly leads into the next story…

“IT”

Book published on Sept 15, 1986; IT: The Movie released on November 18, 1990; IT: Chapter One released on Sept 18, 2017; IT: Chapter Two set to release on Sept 6, 2019

Arguably King’s most popular story, IT follows a group of seven kids fighting against an all powerful force that feeds on children’s fears every 27 years. There are two stories about the same group and how they defeat the monster as fifth graders, then come back to kill It once and for all as adults.

All I can think to describe this book is that it’s 1,000 pages of nonstop horror and action. There wasn’t one time that I felt bored while reading this, which everyone seems to assume. I liked the ‘90 movie, but it’s not long enough to cover all the information that the book does. The 2017 version took a much better spin on it by splitting the story into two movies.

“Needful Things”

Book published in Oct 1991; movie released on Aug 27, 1993

The story follows a small neighborhood in Castle Rock, Maine where a new store opens up that, quite literally, has something for everyone. Finding the item of your dreams though comes with a price, the owner of the shop will only give out the item if the customer does a favor for him. As the favors get more and more violent, the police must scramble to save the town from tearing itself apart.

This book isn’t really horror, but it’s an interesting twist of sci-fi and mystery. This is yet another book that had me on the edge of my seat of the entire ride. I never saw the movie, but we should be getting more from “Needful Things” through Hulu’s “Castle Rock”.

“The Shining”

Book published on Jan 28, 1977 ; movie released on May 23, 1980

This book follows Jack Torrence and his family, who are watching over the Overlook Hotel over the winter. As time goes on, Jack slowly begins to lose his mind and eventually winds up attempting to kill his wife and child. No wonder this was the novel that establish King as prominent horror author.

This another one of the slow burn novels, where we get to watch as Jack goes insane. The movie is another that’s rather outdated, but I enjoyed it a lot. Jack Nicholson does an incredibly creepy job of portraying a man gone mad. When I was in Colorado last April, I actually learned that King didn’t like that the Timberline Lodge was used in the movie. The book is originally based on The Stanley, a hotel in the Rocky Mountains, and I had the pleasure of visiting it when I was there. King actually made a miniseries shot at The Stanley in the spring of 1997 because he felt it was more accurate.

“The Body”

Novella released in the book “Different Seasons” in 1982; movie adaptation “Stand By Me” released in 1986

I haven’t yet got around to reading “Different Seasons”, but I absolutely adore “Stand By Me”. It’s a coming of age story about four boys who go on the hunt for the body of a recently murdered boy. It doesn’t sound like it’d be a heartwarming film to watch, but the character dynamics and acting are very good, and it does capture a good snapshot of childhood.

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