x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Which is better, novel or film? A comparison of seven Stephen Kings

Stephen King novels are enormously popular, in book form or on the big screen. But which ones have been better in which genre?

Stephen King
Stephen King

As fast as Stephen King churns out horror novels, Hollywood jumps all over a glossy television or film adaptation with a ferocity that would do credit to the ghastly creatures who dominate his stories. This year alone has seen Warner Bros and CBS Films announce that they are making a film version of his epic novel The Stand, and a remake of Pet Sematary and adaptation of the long-running series The Dark Tower are also in the works. The Dark Tower will be filmed in several parts - under the command of Ron Howard - accompanied by a television series to fill in the gaps between each movie.

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Out of more than 50 published books - and many more individual stories - a substantial number of King's works have already been transferred to celluloid, with varying levels of success. Here are some that lived up to the original and some that didn't.

Carrie
Plot:
The first of King's novels to be published, and the first turned into a film, Carrie tells the story of an awkward high-school teenager whose telekinetic powers turn prom night into a bloodbath.
Reaction:
A critical and commercial smash on its release, recouping almost 20 times its reported budget, the film garnered Best Actress and Supporting Actress Oscar nods for its star, Sissy Spacek, and for Piper Laurie, who played Carrie's mother. Regarded as a pivotal film in the horror genre, it gets a 91 per cent "fresh" rating on the reviews aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes.
Best moment:
When happy Carrie turns into killer Carrie after being doused with a bucket of blood at her senior prom.
Winner:
The film triumphs over the book on every level.

The Shining
Plot:
A recovering alcoholic, Jack Torrance, takes his young family to a secluded Colorado hotel after getting a job as the winter caretaker. This does not turn out to be a good career move.
Reaction: Although both book and film are regarded as classics, the cinematic version, which was directed by Stanley Kubrick, opened to mixed reviews and performed modestly at the box-office. King himself was not a fan of Kubrick's version, describing it as a film "by a man who thinks too much and feels too little". He was also opposed to the casting of Jack Nicholson as Torrance, and wanted Jon Voight or Michael Moriarty to take the role instead. King went so far as to make his own (less well-thought of) version of The Shining for ABC in 1997.
Best moment: "Heeeeeere's Johnny!"
Winner: It's a toss-up.

The Body
Plot: Set in King's favourite fictitious town of Castle Rock, Maine, The Body follows four teenagers who set off in search of a missing boy they believe to be dead. Their journey becomes a rite of passage for everyone involved.
Reaction: Less of a blockbuster than Carrie and The Shining, Stand By Me was nevertheless a massive critical success and is still hugely admired today. The film features a notably heart-rending performance from the late River Phoenix, as well as performances from Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell. The novella on which it is based appeared to little fanfare.
Best Moment: Wading across a river, their only means of getting to the dry land on the other side, the boys emerge in a fit of hysterics after finding themselves covered in leeches.
Winner: Stand By Me, which stands heads and shoulder above its source material.

It
Plot: Seven childhood friends, now adults, return to their old town to defeat an ancient evil in the shape of the psychotic flame-haired clown Pennywise, whom they failed to eliminate as children.
Reaction: The two-part TV series was named the scariest programme ever aired, in 2004, by the readers of the British magazine Radio Times. Originally shown on the American network ABC, it pulled in millions of viewers. Tim Curry, who brought Pennywise to life, was, according to the rest of the actors, so convincingly creepy during filming that he was given a wide berth by all. The mini movie has become a cult classic.
Best moment: The first appearance of Pennywise - this is where your fear of clowns comes from.
Winner: The book. The film's truly chilling beginning is let down by ropey special effects. And yes, we're talking about the moment the embodiment of evil is revealed to be ... a giant, very fake-looking spider.

Misery
Plot: A successful novelist finds himself at the mercy of his "number one fan", Annie Wilkes, after she rescues him from a car wreck.
Reaction: The book might have been nominated in the World Fantasy Award's category for best novel, but that means nothing compared with the rapturous response to the film. Making more than $60 million (Dh220m) at the box office, the film has a 90 per cent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also earned its lead actress, Kathy Bates, both the Oscar and Golden Globe for best actress.
Best Moment: When a demented Wilkes "hobbles" her captive after discovering he has become mobile enough to leave his bed.
Winner: Thanks to Bates' performance, the film takes the prize.

The Shawshank Redemption
Plot: Set in the late 1940s, The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of a banker, Andy, who is sent to prison for life after being falsely accused of his wife's murder. Befriending a fellow lifer, Red, Andy spends the next 20 years orchestrating his escape.
Reaction: Despite the glowing reviews it received, Frank Darabont's film adaptation was overshadowed by several other big releases at the time, notably Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump, all of which ultimately led to its failure at the box office. Despite this the film, which stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, earned seven Oscar nominations and is widely regarded as a classic.
Best Moment: It's hard to pick just one scene, but the look on the evil warden's face when he discovers Andy has escaped is worth repeated viewings.
Winner: Although both book and film deserve plenty of praise, Darabont's vision has the edge.

The Green Mile
Plot: It's 1932 and Paul Edgecomb is a corrections officer in charge of several death row inmates at the fictitious Cold Mountain Penitentiary. When John Coffey is brought in after being found guilty of murder, Edgecomb is astounded to find that, on top of being innocent, Coffey has the power to heal.
Reaction: Another successful offering from Frank Darabont, The Green Mile, like The Shawshank Redemption, received numerous Oscar nominations without going on to win anything. A worldwide smash, the film took in almost $300 million globally and made a star of Michael Clarke Duncan, who played Coffey.
Best moment: Coffey's final scene.
Winner: Darabont comes up trumps again.