Editor's note: Every week we ask people around the office a question to see what makes them tick. In light of the success of the movie "It," this week we wanted to know what their favorite Stephen King movie was.
I like "Stand by Me" (Columbia Pictures) because it's one of the few Stephen King adaptations where it doesn't feel like there are big chunks missing. It may have helped that it was based on a novella ("The Body," from "Different Seasons") rather than the typical massive tome King is known for. It's also just a good movie with some great performances from Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell.
Based on a 1999 short story of the same name by Stephen King, the movie "1408" (Dimension Films) tells the story of a washed-up author, Mike Enslin (played expertly by John Cusack), who tours alleged haunted houses then writes books and articles about them. But then he gets a mysterious message "Don't enter 1408" on a postcard from The Dolphin luxury hotel in New York City. When he gets there, the hotel manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) warns him that everyone who stays in room 1408 ends up dead after just an hour.
The rest of the movie takes place in one room as Cusack shows how believable he can be going slowly insane. While "1408" almost feels like an extension or prequel to King's more famous story "The Shining," the movie is very underrated as a mind-bending horror film.
"Maximum Overdrive" (De Laurentiis Entertainment Group) is a car crash of a killer truck movie and is the perfect embodiment of '80s trash cinema. Stephen King admits he was coked out of his mind while directing it (the only time he's tried directing a movie), and aside from Emilio Estevez, the cast is a who's who of classic scenery chewing character actors, including Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon in Tim Burton's Batman movies), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson's voice), Frankie Faison ("Silence of the Lambs") and even a young Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad"). But the best part is the all-AC/DC soundtrack, released as the album "Who Made Who."
Dan Ackerman - section editor
Published:Caption:Jason ParkerPhoto:De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Hands down, for me it's "The Shawshank Redemption" (Columbia Pictures). This movie is easily one of my favorite of all time. Tim Robbins plays a perfect flawed protagonist convicted of killing his wife. (Side note: I still insist we don't know for certain that he's innocent.) Red, also known as the man who can get things, may go down as Morgan Freeman's greatest role.
There's no doubt Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (Warner Bros.) is one of the greatest films of all time. While not a perfectly faithful adaptation of King's work (and he actually hates the movie, allegedly), it still stands as a horror masterpiece. To this day I find the "all work and no play" scene to be one of the scariest moments in film, even though the line isn't in the book. You have to admire a Stephen King adaptation that's somehow even scarier than its source material, and all the actors do an amazing job.
Rebecca Fleenor - executive assistant
Published:Caption:Jason ParkerPhoto:Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET
The Shinning: Treehouse of Horror V - The Simpsons (1994)
It's more of a parody of Kubrick's movie "The Shining" than of King's novel, but in my opinion "The Shinning" (you never said it had to be an actual movie) is superior to both because it's hilarious. In this particular Halloween special, the Simpsons are employed as the hotel caretakers when Mr. Burns cuts off the cable and takes all the beer and Groundskeeper Willie is afraid of copyright infringement. Hilarity ensues. There are so many quotable lines. Here are a few:
"Hmm, that's odd. Usually the blood gets off at the second floor." - Mr. Burns
"No TV and no beer make Homer something something." - Homer
"Go crazy?" - Marge
"Don't mind if I do." - Homer
"Can't murder now. Eating." - Homer
"Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover. Urge to kill fading..." - Homer
It was the perfect summer distraction: The inhabitants of a little town were trapped under a mysterious dome. It had mystery, paranormal elements, action and even some romance.
That being said, I am not a big Stephen King reader and my favorite book of his is actually "On Writing." I loved it because it was a sort of memoir about the struggles of trying to become a professional writer and overcoming alcohol addiction. He even gives very specific advice on how to write and edits some of his own book excerpts.
I'm going with "The Mist" (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). I can't speak on behalf of the new TV series, but that film from 2007... woof. That changed me as a person ... at least that ending did (no spoilers!).
Directed by Frank Darabont, the movie took an intentional turn away from the source material, which Stephen King himself praised. It had excellent monster design, even better character structure, and I HIGHLY recommend watching the black-and-white director's cut above all else.
I first read the book in junior high, but then I saw the movie: "Carrie" (United Artists). I loved it from the get-go because I was also coming of age at the time and I could sympathize with Carrie's (Sissy Spacek) angst. Further, it taught me to befriend everyone in school because you never knew if the girl next door had telekinetic powers and could burn the high school gym down. It was a fantastic adaption from the book.
You don't want to watch a scary movie with me. I usually think they're dumb, so I tend to make fun of them (sometimes out loud). Or, given that I'm a wimp when it comes to violence, I spend a lot of time with my eyes buried in the arm of the person next to me.
Stephen King's "Misery" (Columbia Pictures) was a whole different experience for me, and the fact that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen was a testament to the writing, the story line and the actors, particularly lead Kathy Bates. (It may have also had something to do with the lack of blood and guts.)
Bates won a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of former nurse Annie Wilkes, who rescues novelist Paul Sheldon after a serious car crash. Wilkes starts off sweet, one of Sheldon's "biggest fans." Then she turns cray-cray -- particularly after she learns Sheldon is killing off one of her favorite characters from his novels.
The film is so scary. But I watched the whole thing and never felt prouder.
I love a lot of the movies on this list, but I also really like "The Green Mile" (Warner Bros.). If you've never seen it, the name of the movie figuratively describes the longest walk a person can make; the walk to the electric chair to be executed (on Cold Mountain Penitentiary's green floors).
Directed by Frank Darabont, the movie weaves a fantastic tale with incredibly rich characters (and great actors including Tom Hanks) as we learn about the guards, the doomed prisoners on "the mile" and how one prisoner has a unique and supernatural gift.
I read the books years ago (it came out as 6-part serial novel originally), but the movie is still amazing. It's the type of movie where every time it comes on TV, I have to watch it to the end. Excellent.