Stand by Me

Emmy says:
I love it. Faithfully adapted from the original novella and lovingly moulded into a outstanding hit. The director, brilliant, the actors, outstanding, the music, infectious. Definitely a movie to watch again and again. 10/10.

Jeff says:
Some movies you know are classics – even if you haven’t seen them, you know them. This is one of those films. I had read Different Seasons many years ago, but (apart from The Shawshank Redemption) hadn’t worried about the movies. This was Rob Reiner’s third movie, and he already shows his deft hand. The cast list is full of names have have since become household, a testament to the great casting. One of the best, while still faithful, adaptations of King’s work. 10/10.

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Christine

Emmy says:
I get streamlining the story to fit a movie time frame, and the adjustment of characters to fit the altered timeline and plot, but squishing Christine until it’s basically a 2-D scribble of the original has made this movie flat and dull. The characters have been stripped to a single characteristic and pushed to the extreme. There has been no effort made to convey the sense of unease Christine creates. Would love to see this remade by someone who actually cares about the source material. 3/10.

Jeff says:
It’s fairly obvious that (as reported) John Carpenter’s heart wasn’t in this one – which is a tragedy because I think he could have done a lot with this story. Sadly, this version is a bad Google Translate of the Cliff Notes version of the story. Plot points and personalities are conflated for no good reason, there’s no building of dread around the car and there is WAY too much ‘tell not show’ which is always bad. We loved the book so much we rushed to watch this as soon as possible after finishing … I wish we hadn’t. Fortunately, the book was so good that the memory can’t be ruined by this film even though it tried. 3/10.

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Apt Pupil

Emmy says:
As a movie Apt Pupil is good, as an adaptation of a book I have read I’m woefully disappointed. The two main characters are nowhere near as disturbing as King wrote them. An entire aspect is missing from Todd, which changed the downfall at the start of act 3 to something I don’t like. The acting and directing were good, just not what I had expected. 7/10.

Jeff says:
It’s always interesting seeing how King’s shorter stories get adapted. Even for a novella, a lot was left out or truncated to make room in this 111 minute film. While I understand the reasons for changing the ending, the impact is lost from the original story. Even for a 10 year old film, I stand by our goal to avoid spoilers – so I won’t say what should have been left out to make room for what was in the book – but there were scenes and imagery added that could have been left out. Still, the creeping horror of what people are capable of is there, and that was done well even if some of the secondary characters seemed rather flat and/or pointless. 7/10.

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The Shawshank Redemption

Emmy says:
I like how dialogue was taken directly from the book for this film. The condensing of characters (like the warden) streamlined the film for audiences. The use of colour (restricted to browns, blues and greys inside, compared to outside) was excellent. A very nice film. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I have always loved this movie. There are liberties with the source story – some simplifications for the sake of time while others involved very different story arcs for those characters. There’s nothing wrong with that – and it helps keep the suspense for those who had already read the book. I consider this a great adaptation of a King story despite this. I found myself noticing for the first time the absence of background music – the real quiet was palpable at key moments. Well acted by all, and Darabont’s direction was outstanding. 9/10.

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Cujo

Emmy says:
The content of the book definitely got stripped down for this movie adaptation, only the bare bones survived. How they were executed conveyed the story well. It was not comfortable watching the final act with Cujo at his worst. 8/10.

Jeff says:
I wonder why this isn’t in more lists of good Stephen King adaptions? For a 93 minute run-time, of course things would need to be truncated which means leaving things out (or to the imagination). Honestly, there are things that could have been left out to give more time for other things … but that’s not what they did. Just about everything in the movie (except for something I won’t spoil) is straight from the book (or close enough to it). Essentially, this was Cliff Notes on screen. The dog handling was amazing, and the use of ‘Cujo-view’ to avoid having the dog-actor at risk was masterfully done. 8/10.

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Salem’s Lot (2004)

Emmy says:
A much truer adaption of the book than the 1976 film, but sorely lacking interest in Part 1. The characters are not very likeable and there is a dearth of ‘real’ conversations. I find myself not actually caring how this movie gets around to it’s version of the prologue as it is significantly different to the book. Part 2 is definitely the better half, I found myself enjoying the conversations between the characters and the unique death of vampires (hitting the ceiling and dissipating into ash). Unfortunately the lack of empathy generated by the characters leaves this feeling like a daytime movie that happens to feature vampires and does not instil any sense of fear into the viewer. Fun, but not horror, in my opinion. 7/10  (I gave the 1979 version 6/10).

Jeff says:
To be upfront, I think I wanted to see this more because it was filmed in a town we know rather than for the story. Even though it was updated to modern times (they have mobile phones!), it still had an old-fashioned quality about it. Liberties were taken from the book (but different ones to the first version), although Barlow was done more faithfully this time (even though there’s a story about Rutger Hauer not learning his lines and wanting to ad-lib). The characters were strange. After the first half, I didn’t like anyone and cared more about getting to the end than what happened. However, the second half was much more enjoyable and had some actually good moments. Still not much of a horror story apart from having vampires, but it was enjoyable enough and certainly not bad for a Stephen King adaptation. 7/10 (I gave the 1979 version 5/10).

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Reflections on The Shining

When we started this blog, the idea was to remember what we’ve seen and what we thought about it at the time. With our Stephen King thread we are watching specifically after having read the book (or rather listened to it). This allows for some deeper analysis and reflection. The Shining seems like a good place to start – it was the first Stephen King book we listened to (before deciding to read them in order) and it is currently the last of the films we’ve watched so far. Warning: here be spoilers!

Continue reading “Reflections on The Shining”

The Shining (1980)

Emmy says:
The piercing suspense music is obnoxiously loud and drowns out dialogue at times. It is seriously over used and grating; I found myself covering my ears at times during the film. The characters are thin copies of those from the book, if you hold them just the right way and squint you can see the connection. I’m disappointed in the translation of the characters from book to screen. The ‘shining’ is mostly glossed over and although an integral part of the book seems to just be a convenient hand-wave in the movie. I miss the personality of the hotel itself, the way it communicates with the Torrance family. I feel the film forgets to tell the audience that it’s the hotel itself that’s evil. Disillusioned 2/10.

Jeff says:
The book gave me nightmares when I read it as a young teenager, I don’t mind admitting. The movie didn’t (when I eventually saw it), but I still remember it being a good film. Watching it again this time, I found … it wasn’t. The soundtrack was screeching and over-loud. Shelley Duvall’s portrayal of Wendy was entirely wrong, and Danny was hardly there. It could be the version we watched, but there was so much missing from what was in the book (it was the 119 minute European cut), and yet strangely lots of things added. I love many Kubrick films, but this was terrible. 3/10.

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Firestarter

Emmy says:
A very faithful adaptation although the largely abbreviated story line left out the bits of the characters worth engaging with. Even after setting aside the cheesy 80’s “suspense music”, I only give it a 3/10.

Jeff says:
A faithful adaptation indeed. The things they trimmed made sense for the format – how DO you make 6 months becoming addicted to the knockout drugs worth watching, for example? I would say they managed to accidentally leave out the emotional connection, but honestly I’m not sure it was there in the original novel. Stephen King even said this was “flavorless; it’s like cafeteria mashed potatoes” but the original story was like that for me too – I just couldn’t enjoy it. That being the case, it’s a very good translation to screen: a bland movie version of a bland novel. 3/10.

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The Stand (1994)

Emmy says:
This is one that should not be compacted into a movie. Even at six hours I felt that a lot was left out, but for the snippets that were present? I enjoyed it. 7/10.

Jeff says:
How do you miss so much in 6 hours? I guess there is enough for a Game of Thrones length season for each part of the book (it had three parts)? Still, casting was excellent. 7/10.

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The Dead Zone (1983)

Emmy says:
Unusual adaptation, reordering of scenes and people involved in those, but as a movie it works. 7/10.

Jeff says:
Good movie, weird adaptation. Starship Trooper syndrome: liked both book AND movie even while they’re wildly different. 7/10.

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Salem’s Lot (1979)

Emmy says:
Missed some of my favourite parts of the book, and is definitely a product of its time. 6/10.

Jeff says:
I think this could be remade now and done better. The visual effects are dated. 5/10.

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