Top 10: Stephen King Films
For a while now I have wanted to have a marathon of Stephen King films. I thought it would be great for Ames and I to do a list of our top 10 in order to get us in the mood for such an event. After the last list all I’ve wanted to do is watch High Tension and May. I figure this one can inspire our choices for a Monster Movie Monday.
Once we put our list together and had a look at what we came up with, it was clear that we tend to favor a lot of the late 80’s to 90’s stuff that was at the height of it’s popularity when we were kids. I’m gonna quote Ames now cause I think she really nailed it with her description – “all of our choices are oldschool because we wanted to bring back that warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feeling when the blood on the screen hit our eyes like double rainbows in the sky.” Blood spatter – it’s a beautiful thing.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984)
This happens to be one of my favorite films. First of all, children are scary regardless of their proximity to corn, and I think everyone can agree on that. Back before Linda Hamilton’s face looked like it was melting, she and her doctor man, on their way to who-cares-where, decide to take the scenic route through Nebraska. Meanwhile, one of the eeriest scenes I’ve ever seen in a film is taking place in a coffee shop in the town of Gatlin. When you watch emotionless kids butcher their parents and other elderly townsfolk in cold blood, it doesn’t necessarily scare you as much as it irks you and brings on an increased level of discomfort.
So Linda and Hot-Doc hit a snag on their journey and end up stranded in Gatlin. Bad timing. With no other adults around, they stick out like a sore thumb and instantly become a target for Isaac and his gang of Gatlin gutters. These kids are ruthless, the setting is creepy, and it spawned several sequels in case you wanna keep going back for more.
Remember when you were a kid and you watched this film and then proceeded to draw corn stalk impaled stick figures in an array of different crayon colors?
My favorite character is Malachai. I love to run around in the corn mazes and scream “MALACHAI!” and “OUTLANDER!”. Courtney Gains is one of my favorite actors whom often flies under the radar. Check him out in The ‘burbs,, Back to the Future, Can’t Buy Me Love and he even has a small part in Rob Zombie’s Halloween (he’s not credited on imdb, but he is definitely one of the orderlies and I knew it the second I saw him. He is listed in the credits on the actual film) If I had a cat or a bug or something, I would definitely name it “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”. This movie is freakin’ awesome. [Ali]
THE SHINING (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is my all time favorite Stephen King novel turned movie. Although the movie didn’t cover key elements in the book, Stanley Kubrick captured the intensity and the insanity of ‘cabin fever’. (Ali here, hijacking Ame’s blurb to quickly say that Cabin Fever is also an awesome movie! But do go on…)
Consulting my book-to-movie comparison I wrote for a grade eight school project, it seems that the naked bathtub chick really struck a cord with me. This movie is responsible for the most iconic images we remember in film today:
- Creepy Diane Arbus inspired twins (one smile, one frown)
- Jack Nicholson’s face through a door
- Hallways of blood
- “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”
- Shelley Duvall’s scared, freaky looking face
- Hedge Maze in the Winter
- Jack’s frozen face
- The poster of the naked black woman with the afro…
Kubrick’s grand understanding in lighting and eye level shots create atmosphere, mood and most importantly reality. It’s the realism that shocks us through the spiraling of the characters behaviors (and of course the shots intercut between the current reality and that of the freaky ghost past accompanied by blood floods).
Where else can you find a movie where a black chef (R.I.P. Scatman Crothers) and a little white suburban boy share a rare and fantastic ability? Or find Jack Nicholson’s best performance and range of beautiful to scary face? This flick has it all! [Ames]
Every time I say Cujo, I say it to the tune of “Koodoo”, how annoying is that? I’m doing it in my head right now… Anyway, I had never seen this film up until about a year ago. As a kid, dogs terrified me, so I definitely experienced some flashback moments of being forced into my back yard to spend quality time with the dog I was given for graduating kindergarten… a German Shepard named Max (more like Mad Max) I wonder if my mother is reading this and if so, why mom? WHY?!
This film is super intense. Who would have ever thought a St. Bernard to be frightening? The disgusting slime that collects on his lower lip and drips off in thick un-breaking strands is so disgusting it makes you want to gag. You feel so bad for it, but you also want it to die. It really plays with your emotions…
The thought of not being able to protect your children is terrifying for parents and Dee Wallace does a fantastic job of showing how a parent’s fear can cause them to break down and snap on their children, regardless of how much they try to hold it together.
There are so many horror/thriller/sci-fi films that involve animals and the reason this concept can work so well is that animals are so unpredictable. Humans and creatures can be too, but animals have the ability to pull sympathy from you regardless of the harmful things they do because they are helpless and do not know any better…like children….
They say that when it comes to film and television, child actors and animals are the most difficult to work with – THIS IS WHY! They are freakin’ creepy as hell and this dog is an epic giant that makes even the friendliest of dogs seem evil.
So when he looks up at the camera with his old man sad eyes and tries to plead for you, the audience, to help him- Don’t fall for it! He’s a damn liar and he’s just going to bite your face off! [Ali]
OMG CATS. Omgomgomgomg I love cats soooooo much. Kittens are okay… but give me a cat any day! A full grown adult cat. And you get plenty of these in Sleepwalkers.
Other special touches include appearances by Stephen King, Clive Barker, Glen Shadix, Ron Perlman AND OMG a cute cat named Clovers, which I believe to be the star of this show.
I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a completely tacky flick or if the cast and crew gave up and realized the story was pure silliness.
We have a new blond high school boy in town. Watch out for this tomcat. He’s some kind of cat-man breed. And he’s out of Kitten Kaboodle! He’s out to seek a virgin to survive off her blood. Human blood survival? I thought that was vampires or mosquitos? Can’t they think of something else for the cat people? Why are their reflections of alien like creatures? If our eyebrows weren’t raised enough, we get to watch him make out with his mom. Oh and apparently they are in rivalry with actual cats.
To go with this bizarre mutation, even his car has to transform. The car mutates from a blue t-roof Pontiac Trans Am into a red Ford Mustang convertible… not even the same make?! I guess nothing has to make sense at this point.
I’m not sure if I recommend this movie per say, I just love all of the cat shots. A lawn filled with cats in front of the cat-people house is my favourite image in this movie. OOooo they best watch out.
CATS WIN EVERY TIME.
In your face, cat people! [Ames]
CREEPSHOW (1982)/CREEPSHOW 2 (1987)
Creepshow, inspired by EC Comics, is made up of 5 horror shorts. It showcases the collaborative efforts of Stephen King and George A. Romero and the second one has Michael Gornick directing. I love Creepshow because it seems like the absolute perfect movie to see at the drive-in. For me, horror shorts can be more fun than a feature length because it just gets to the point. You have fun with it, it’s done, you move on to the next one. There is no time for them to screw it up or disappoint. It’s like hearing stories around a campfire. There is just something so classic about it.
The collaboration doesn’t stop at the writing and directing. The list of amazing actors that make up the cast is extremely impressive. Hal Holbrook, Ted Danson, Ed Harris, Leslie Neilson, Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Savini to name a few.
Everyone has a favorite tale of terror within this movie and I had to include Creepshow 2 because my favorite is actually The Raft. Don’t get me wrong, I love the first Creepshow, The Crate and Something to Tide You Over are my definite favorites there, but The Raft just reminds me so much of 70’s/80’s horror like Friday the 13th mixed with something classic like The Blob. It’s just got that campy, stupid teenagers are gonna die type of vibe that gets me every time.
*Side note: I really enjoy the formula of this film so it’s easy for me to love newer films in this style such as Trick’r’Treat as well as other collaborations like Grindhouse and Masters of Horror. You gotta love people coming together for the greater good of scaring the shit out of you. [Ali]
If you were a kid in the 90’s, you had to rent this flick as a two-part VHS (originally made-for-tv-movie). If you were a patient child like me, you could actually sit through it… and I did as if I were watching paint dry on an abandoned, dilapidated barn. I found this flick very intriguing and by the end, it always left me a little off for the day. In this, I find success.
The part I could relate to at the time is the fact the story is based around a crew of kids. IT inspired me and my crew at the time to play make-believe based around killer clowns. We ranged from having an intense fear of clowns to glorifying them. We would take turns pretending to be a killer clown or its victim. Ohhh memories! If you meet someone who has some bizarre fear or fascination with clowns, I will place my bets this movie *could* be responsible.
Stephen King often writes from children’s perspectives and the differences of our minds as we grow into adults. IT captures King’s child to adult comparative. We see the adult versions of the crew with their new lives, jaded attitudes and formalities. Maybe that’s the scary part of the movie… you know other than ♥Tim Curry♥ running around in a clown suit murdering people.
What keeps this movie playing is our craving to see that freak face one more time! [Ames]
THE MANGLER (1995)
Machines can be frightening. Especially when they are back-lit. More especially when you have a step-father who lost fingers to a machine at his factory job. You can’t sit there and tell me that you’ve never quickly pulled your hands away from an electronic device for fear that it might shock you or suck in your hand…damn vacuum cleaners.
This is yet another great one from my youth, probably rented during a 9th grade slumber party. Man, were we ever blood hungry teens -a different breed from the sparkly vampire lovers of today.
Directed by Tobe Hooper and starring Robert Englund and Ted Levine, this movie is about an old laundry factory and its demonic machinery. The only thing this possessed folding machine wants to fold is your skeletal system. This machine feeds on the blood of its innocent workers and instills a fear strong enough to keep them doing as they are told. This makes the boss’ job a lot easier, well except for having to keep the machine well fed with fresh meat. Mmmmmmm steamed flesh, delicious.
This demon machine will not stop no matter how much mechanical work and exorcisms you throw at it. It’s got a mind of its own and it’s not long before it gets tired of waiting around to be fed and goes out into the world to hunt for itself. Yeah it seems pretty weird to visualize a machine getting up and walking away if you haven’t seen the movie, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense. [Ali]
This movie might not have the best lighting, setting or editing but it does have gypsies, curses and Joe Mantegna (aka Fat Tony from The Simpsons – if you grew up in my decade). The flick starts off with a young gypsy brunette showing off her cleavage, panties and her middle finger. Sometimes she spits in anger. I have a good feeling about this.
Billy (Robert John Burke, aka Robocop), a successful and happy lawyer with a wife and daughter, has a little bit of weight problem. He’s 300 something pounds and he can’t stop thinking about food. On a drive home one evening, his wife tries to stray his mind from the gluttonous and towards bringing his sexy back. Billy, fuzzy minded from the sexual daze, accidentally hits an old gypsy woman while his wife was going down on him. Windshield wipers slide her gypsy blood back and forth. (Not that the wipers were on before this scene.) P.S. Before walking in front of the car, the gypsy woman *was* stealing from the local pharmacy. And right in front of the pharmacist, played by Stephen King himself! Us King fans get giddy when he shows up in own stories.
This case gets thrown out as an accident and life is happy again… but the gypsy’s father is less than impressed. Why is he the father of this woman by the way? I thought it was his wife or even his mother! Damn, she was old. When I was 12 enjoying this flick, I remember the shivers down my spine watching the old gypsy man’s hand slither across Billy’s face, cursing the word ‘Thinner’. The judge as well had been cursed, but with the word ‘Lizard’. So now we have a skinny guy and a lizard man running about town.
At first, the weight loss for Billy seemed great, but this ain’t no Jenny Craig diet. He withers away and becomes a paranoid, angry and spiteful character. We watch his body become emaciated as he seeks vengeance/sympathy from the gypsy man, demanding to lift the curse. There is a way to lift this curse but it isn’t pretty. Let’s just say, this movie begins with eating and ends in eating.
The transformation of his body is definitely enticing to watch. Even in personality, he was much happier when he was fat…
Notation: My favourite scene is in a men’s wear shop when the tailor seems to be more than excited to fit him for new clothing. The tailor bends down to his belt, exclaiming “Well, let’s do it!” as he licks his lips. [Ames]
PET SEMETERY (1989)
Stephen King must really hate animals and children ‘cause here he goes again making you want to kill them.
When I was a kid, myself and other kids would go on and on about how scary this movie was. I think it’s mainly because, for a kid, it’s easy to relate to the sadness of losing your favorite pet and the idea of how wonderful it could be to bring it back. So you’re watching the movie, your little 8 year old eyes widening with joy as “Church” the Creed family’s cat comes back to life to rejoin their family. But good ol’ Church doesn’t seem to be the same. He seems a little creepy. Then BAM! The little boy is hit by a truck and your sitting there stunned because you’re 8 and didn’t expect to see anything like that. Didn’t that just rattle your bones? I think this was the first time I had ever seen a child killed in a movie.
So now you’re watching this grief stricken family fall apart- the zombie cat has become a terror, the mother is slowly going crazy-seeing images of her creepy sister who died a billion years ago, the little girl just wont shut up and poor dad has to deal with it all. So why not try to make it better by burying baby Gage in the magic pet cemetery that brought ol’ Churchy back to life? Really? Why not? Because he will fucking kill you!
You buried your baby in the soils of hell and now he’s back and he has a new daddy and his name is Satan. This guy never learns. Death makes things fall apart, but that’s life… or death… or whatever. Bottom line is you can’t tamper with it. You’re messing with fate and fate bites back. So to make matters worse, now your kid has to die again and this time, you have to be the one to kill him. That blows man, that really blows.
This was the movie that made the name “Gage” so popular at my high school. Teen moms love watching movies that make their parenting skills seem superior. [Ali]
This movie gives us blood, blood and more blood.
How would you handle annoying high school girls tantalizing you on the first day of your period? “PLUG IT UP PLUG IT UP PLUG IT UP”
Bitches had it comin’.
This film could have been a bad teen horror if it got into the wrong hands; luckily it didn’t and Brian De Palma is successful in portraying Stephen King’s complicated character Carrie. Sheltered under an overbearing, oppressive, religious single mother, Carrie is easily a socially awkward teen, oblivious about life in general. She has all of the ingredients to become the school outcast.
As all outcasts harbour vengeance, we can’t wait to see the outcome of all of the characters we love to loathe in Carries life. Thankfully she inhabits super telekinetic powers to use to her advantage and entertain us with ideas on how she will draw blood. “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I don’t think Carrie heard that one.
Carrie, in the end, does not utilize her powers for love, good or the pursuit of happiness. She is a confused, rebellious and angst filled teen with newfound powers, that if set off the edge just one more time…! As you know, prom is a big deal to some chicks. All Carrie just wanted to do was have a nice time with a nice boy and prove to her mother that nobody would laugh at her. This is taken away from her because of John Travolta and his pigs’ blood. Blood on ma dress, say what! We watch the horror and infamous split screening of Carries vengeful face amongst screaming dying teens. Vengeance had!
Every child, that’s right, child, needs to see this movie. This movie needs to be on the front lines of the Anti-Bullying campaign. Watch what happens when you’re rude to someone. Oh and maybe avoid prom… [Ames]
Now we almost didn’t go through with this list because Horrornews.net just posted one and as a fan of their site we did not want to seem like we are taking our cues from them; However, our list is a little different and Ames and I often favor films that pile on the cheese. So if you don’t agree with our list, that’s totally cool, there’s a good chance you might dig theirs! Check it out – http://horrornews.net/39884/top-10-stephen-king-films-of-all-time/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Hugs and Killings,
Ames & Ali