A/V Brew – Stephen King Works that Need New Adaptations
Stephen King is receiving more notice these days, not only because of his political commentary but also for numerous upcoming adaptations. From the CBS All Access miniseries of “The Stand” to a big-screen version of “The Tommyknockers,” we’re seeing fresh new takes on the king of horror’s works.
Although many people are sick of reboots, some films and series did not age well with time. Other than Tim Curry’s performance, the 1990 TV miniseries of “It” is questionable (at best), and some films weren’t merely bad but had nothing to do with the material whatsoever.
A quick check shows that almost all previous adaptations have had or will have a remake. If they’re anything like the 2017-2019 It movies, they’ll hopefully be a significant improvement.
However, that same check shows a few of King’s books that aren’t receiving new adaptations. Instead, Hollywood is more concerned with his recent works and remaking “Carrie” for the fourth time.
I feel this is a grave injustice because these other adaptations deserve a modern take (and effects). While the old movies can still hold up, they’re 20-30 years old, and sometimes it’s nice to have a fresh take.
The following includes four novels I believe deserve a new film or miniseries, as well as one that doesn’t. This list does not include the numerous novellas, short stories, etc., by Stephen King, although I’ll also discuss an idea for those.
One of my favorite books, and an enjoyable movie adaptation, we need more of the car that was “bad to the bone.” King’s tale of a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury who perverts their owners and kills any threats would be a welcome break from the usual monster franchises.
The 1983 film was pretty good, with a decent cast and impressive effects for its time. Still, I’d love to see what we could do with 21st-century technology, literally bringing the car to life.
While some would be inclined to update the era or car, as they did in 2017’s It, I think this would be the wrong choice. While the setting could be today, the 1950s American cars and their association with the toxic culture of that period would still be relevant today.
Long before Stranger Things, there was Charlie’s tale, a pyrokinetic locked up by a secret agency. King capitalized on the fears of mid-20th century government experiments and the results on the children of participants.
While the cast was decent, with Drew Barrymore in her next role after E.T., it also was notorious for whitewashing a Native character and flat acting and directing.
An updated, diverse cast and a focus on current government atrocities with children would bring the old material into the 21st century. Add in some modern effects, as long as you don’t go all Dark Phoenix, and you have the perfect formula for a pertinent supernatural thriller.
King’s story of a mysterious figure turning a small town into a war zone by appealing to their desires still resonates today. I can’t think of a story more adept at reflecting the rampant individualism, nationalism, and divisiveness of America right now.
While critics blasted the original movie, I thought some of the castings were excellent. In particular, it will be challenging to find a Leland Gaunt as good as Max von Sydow.
Still, an updated version with a better (more loyal) script could be the perfect thing. Especially today, when the Devil himself could (or already did) fool so many people into turning on their neighbors over petty desires.
Another novel that resonates today is Thinner, written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. King warns of the consequences when a white lawyer uses his wealth and privilege to avoid the negligent murder of a Romani woman.
Like the novel, the original movie is dated in its portrayal of the Roma, even using the G-word. It’s also one of the worst adaptations, with reviews calling it “bland,” “banal,” and focusing too much on the villainous protagonist’s revenge on those he’s already wronged.
An update would need a more accurate representation of Romani culture or even bypass that trope (and replace it with some other magic practitioner). Thinner still resonates, however, with its examples of nepotism, privilege, and affluenza.
I mentioned one movie that should not have a remake, and that is Cujo. This sad tale of a rabid St. Bernard was never good horror, not even in the novel; it’s a depressing tale of a family pet who is lost to a ravaging disease.
Despite the mixed-to-positive reviews, the movie only made the story worse. It focused too much on the trauma of a woman and her child caught in the car, completely ignoring the plight of Cujo himself.
I’m sorry, but making a dog out to be the villain simply because he’s contracted a mostly fatal disease isn’t a good story. It’s borderline speciesism and has no place in modern storytelling.
Before I leave, there are many King stories not mentioned despite receiving no remakes. I couldn’t go into the long list of short stories and novellas, many of which have had horrible adaptations.
That being said, I think a case could be made to turn these shorter stories into an anthology or miniseries. Like the Twilight Zone or Norway’s Bloodride, King’s smaller works would make excellent 30-60 minute standalone tales of terror and suspense.
What do you think? If you have a favorite King adaptation you feel could use an update, which one(s) would you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!
I enjoyed Pet Semetary remake and Dr. Sleep both a lot last year. I would vote to see a Christine remake.
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