King’s March: ‘Stephen King Films FAQ’

Posted 25 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

When I saw that Rory at Fourth Street Review and Wendy at Wensend were doing a month of Stephen King, I knew that I had to get in on the action. I just couldn’t figure out exactly how I wanted to do it.

If you’ve been around for any length of time you know that Stephen King is one of my two all time favorite authors. I read a lot of Stephen King, but I think the last thing that I read by him was Doctor Sleep when it came out. I haven’t really been in the mood to pick up a novel by him so I just kind of sat on the idea.

When I saw Stephen King Films FAQ by Scott bon Doviak on NetGalley I knew that I had a contender. Wow, we gotta talk about this book.

Source: Publisher: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Over the past four decades, the Stephen King movie has become a genre unto itself. The prolific writer’s works have spawned well over 100 adaptations for both the big and small screen, ranging from modern classics of horror (Carrie, The Shining) to Oscar-nominated fare (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) to unapologetic, B-movie schlock (the King-directed Maximum Overdrive). The filmmakers to put their stamp on King’s material include acclaimed auteurs Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and Brian De Palma; masters of horror Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and George Romero; and popular mainstream directors Rob Reiner, Frank Darabont, and Lawrence Kasdan.

Author Scott Von Doviak provides background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films and television productions, including “Bloodlines” sections on related works and “Deep Cuts” sections collecting additional odd facts and ephemera. All you ever wanted to know about the king of horror onscreen can be found here.

When I picked up this book I expected a glossy coffee-table book that would be a lot of pretty (or gruesome) pictures and a few fun facts. Wrong. Let me re-emphasize: This is not a coffee table book. While this book is billed to be about the Stephen King genre of horror – it starts out as a history of horror films themselves. The first few chapters chronicle the earliest silent horror films through Universal Studios ‘creature features’ which we know inspired the young King. It’s an extraordinary look into the history of cinema. I really enjoyed these chapters despite them not being strictly about Stephen King films.

Once Von Doviak delves into the King ‘genre’, there’s really no turning back. This book is four hundred pages and it is dense. There are photographs and pictures, but not as liberally as expected. He tries to keep the films in chronological order within sub-categories. So all of the theatrical releases take up a chapter, followed by made for TV movies, right into the mini-series. The scope of Stephen King filmmaking is breathtaking, he’s been nearly as prolific in movies has he has been as an author, and that’s really saying something.

Von Doviak brings up King movies that I didn’t even know existed. If nothing else this volume is thorough. I found it to be an extremely enjoyable read – but then I’m a hard-core Stephen King fan. (Still, how did I not know that Rob Reiner directed Misery?) Each movie is summarized (with no regard for spoilers), analyzed, and then the reader is given some history behind the making of the film. 

The author also covers Stephen King in other media, including comic books, musicals, and yet-to-be-produced films and TV projects. 

On a personal note, I have always enjoyed the ABC mini-series of The Stand (please please please if this is made into a movie, let it be a trilogy) – this book was able to articulate what exactly was unsatisfying about it. I always felt something was a little ‘off’ with the mini-series and Van Doviak posits that it’s the actor cast as Randall Flagg. YES. NOW I KNOW. 

I’d recommend this book to serious Stephen King fans and serious horror movie buffs.

What’s your favorite Stephen King movie/production, Reader?

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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