Stephen King Adaptation Guide Part 1

'I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud'
Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King was born in America on September 21 1947, from an early age he showed a great aptitude for writing. At just twenty six, he got his first novel published, 'Carrie', that only 2 years later would be developed into a successful movie, becoming King's first introduction to the world of cinema.
Specialising in the horror and suspense genre, he quickly established himself as a household name, becoming one of the most famous contemporary  writers in the world. Whose novels would go on to sell more than 350 million copies in numerous countries around the world.

Over  a number of decades his stories were brought to the screen, with varying degrees of success. Directors like Rob Reiner and Frank Darabont  managed to accomplish the most satisfying number of King adaptations, best capturing his indelible style.

Unsatisfied with the later translations of his work, King took it upon himself to bring his stories to the screen. From collaborating  with George A. Romero on the 'Creepshow' series, to directing the abysmal, 'Maxim OverDrive'. He also contributed to a number of genre shows, such as writing an episode for the cult favourite 'The X-Files'.

The latest cinematic adaptation of King's work is the epic fantasy series 'The Dark Tower'. Scheduled for release in 2013 with Ron Howard on directing duties, and starring Javier Bardem.

As of 2011, King has written and published 49 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, five non-fiction books, and nine collections of short stories.

The Movies:
1.Best Adaptations
These are the most successful translations of King's work, featuring a wide variety of directors and genres. These movies show that if captured right, his story's can make electric, onscreen entertainment. 

Carrie 1976

'Carrie' was the first Stephen King novel to be published and the first to be adapted into a feature film. Directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen, The film  tells the story of a socially outcast teenage girl, Carrie White. Who discovers she possesses Telekinetic powers, that seem to manifest when she becomes angry or otherwise distressed. Carrie's powers take on a dangerous edge after she's humiliated by her classmates, teachers, and abusive mother, resulting in a fiery tragedy at the school prom. 

Starring  Sissy Spacek as Carrie and a wonderfully demented turn by Piper Laurie as her mother with support by Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, and a young John Travolta.

Although it was a low budget film, the word of mouth quickly spread and the movie ended up grossing $33.8 million at the U.S. box office, a great deal more than it's meager budget of $1.8 million. With the success of 'Carrie', King quickly became a sought after name, starting the idea of Stephan King as a brand.

The Shining (1980)
King has been quoted on a number of occasions as saying that although Kubrick made a film with memorable imagery, it was not a satisfying adaptation of his novel. Even going so far as to call it his least favourite movie based on his work. King thought that his novel's important themes, such as the disintegration of the family and the dangers of alcohol, were ignored. He has admitted he suffered from alcoholism at the time, when he wrote the novel, and as such, there was an element of autobiography in the story, that he felt protective over. He Especially viewed the casting of Nicholson as a mistake, being too much of an indicator to the audience, that the character Jack, would eventually go mad. At the time Nicholson had a habit of playing manic characters, like McMurphy in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'.
King had suggested that a more 'everyman' actor such as Jon Voight or Michael Moriarty play the role, so that Jack's subsequent descent into madness be more unnerving. Along with these complaints he also suggested that  the supernatural element of the film was downplayed, which he felt took the bite out of the story. The full context of King's well-known quote is
'Parts of the film are chilling, charged with a relentlessly claustrophobic terror, but others fall flat. Not that religion has to be involved in horror, but a visceral skeptic such as Kubrick just couldn't grasp the sheer inhuman evil of The Overlook Hotel. So he looked, instead, for evil in the characters and made the film into a domestic tragedy with only vaguely supernatural overtones. That was the basic flaw: because he couldn't believe, he couldn't make the film believable to others'
Besides King's misgiving, director Stanley Kubrick, who co-wrote with novelist Diane Johnson, crafted one of the finest horror movies of all time.  The movie is a perfect example of turning a wordy novel into a stripped down, frighteningly psychological movie. Taking the novels story about a writer with a wife and young son who accepts the job of off-season caretaker at an isolated hotel. Kubrick instead pulls out a tense descent into madness accompanied by an all too convincing performance by Nicholson as a man going insane. Unlike most films by Stanley Kubrick, which saw a slow gradual release building on word-of-mouth, 'The Shining' was released in a manner more like a mass-market film, opening at first in just two cities in America, and then a month later seeing a nationwide release after extensively advertising the movie on television.
'The Daily Beast', ranked it as one of the best horror films ever made. 

The Dead Zone (1983)
'The Dead Zone' is a 1983 horror-thriller directed by David Cronenberg, the film stars Christopher Walken, as Johnny Smith a schoolteacher, who awakens from a coma to find he has psychic powers. He awakes under the care of neurologist Dr. Sam Weizak (Herbert Lom) and counts himself fortunate when he notes no casts, bandages or visible signs of injuries on his body. However things turn sour when he is told that five years have passed while he was in a coma. Johnny's transition back to life is made rougher, when he discovers that he has the ability to learn a person's secrets(past, present, future) through making physical contact with that person.
Later, Johnny discovers through a handshake that US Senatorial Candidate, Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) will later become President of the United States, and through the handshake sees Stillson ordering a nuclear strike against Russia, thus presumably bringing on a nuclear holocaust. A very satisfying movie by Cronenberg, who keeps alot of the novels darker aspects, without making it an over the top violent horror. Anchored by his assured direction is a wonderfully sensitive turn by Walken who dominates every frame of the movie.

Misery 1990
This film received a great deal of critical acclaim for Kathy Bates performance as the psychopathic Annie Wilkes. Bates won both the Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe. Its such a strong performance that a lot of the other actors didn't get the recognition they deserved. From the wonderfully cynical performance by James Cann as famed novelist Paul Sheldon, to the subtle turn by future Oscar winner Richard Farnsworth as the local Sheriff.
After finishing the manuscript of his latest novel, Sheldon departs from Silver Creek, Colorado to New York, but he is caught in a blizzard and his car goes off the road. He is rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes  and brought to her remote home. Both of his legs are broken, and he has a dislocated shoulder, leaving him bedridden and largely unable to move. Annie claims she is his number one fan, and goes on and on about how she cherishes Paul and his novels. To her delight, he lets her read his new novel, but she later admits that she disagrees with its use of profanity. While she is feeding him, she loses her temper and spills soup onto him, but regains control and apologizes calmly. Annie then buys a copy of Paul's latest book, 'Misery's Child', which Paul intends to be the final Misery novel. After finishing 'Misery's Child' and learning that he has "killed off" Misery in this story, Annie flies into a rage, almost smashing a small table on Paul's head. The next morning, Annie makes Paul burn his latest manuscript, insisting he write a new Misery novel instead entitled Misery's Return in which he brings the character back to life. The second of Rob Reiner's King adaptations, this is a wonderfully cast, darkly sadistic gem.

2.Different Seasons
'Different Seasons' (1982) is a collection of four novellas by King that have a more serious tone than his earlier horror tales. These stories have become famous for resulting in three very successful King movies. With 'The Breathing Method' the only story left to be adapted.

Stand By Me 1986
'Stand by Me' is a classic coming of age adventure from director Rob Reiner. Based on the novella 'The Body', the title is taken from a Ben E. King song which plays during the closing credits. The movie has amassed a huge fan base over the years, with all who see it, falling under its nostalgic spell.
Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss as Gordie LaChance, the movie is told as a memoir, with Gordie reminiscing about his youth in the fictional town of Castle Rock Oregon. Over Labor Day weekend in September 1959 young Gordie (Wil Wheaton) is a quiet, bookish boy with a penchant for telling stories and writing. He is rejected by his parents, following the death of his football-star older brother Denny (John Cusack) in a jeep accident will serving in the army.
Gordie makes friends with three delinquent boys:- Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) who is from a family of criminals and alcoholics and is the victim of constant abuse, Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) who is eccentric and physically scarred after his mentally unstable father held his ear to a stove, and Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell) an overweight and timid kid who is constantly picked on. Gordie, Chris and Teddy learn from Vern that the dead body of a boy has been found, apparently killed after being struck by a train. Vern overhears his older brother (Casey Siemaszko) talking about finding the body and the younger boys decide to embark upon a journey to see if they can find the body first and become town hero's. An insightful journey about youth and friendship, this is an instant classic that deserves to be seen.

The Shawshank Redemption
Adapted from the novella 'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption'. The film portrays the hardship of Andy Dufresne, a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of being innocent. During this time he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis "Red" Redding, and finds himself caught up in a money laundering scam by the nefarious warden.
Despite a lukewarm box office reception that was barely enough to cover its budget, the film has since enjoyed a remarkable life on  VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, even being included in the American Film Institute's 100 Years…100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition.
Darabont secured the film adaptation rights from author Stephen King after impressing the author with his short film adaptation of 'The Woman in the Room' in 1983. Although the two had become friends and maintained a pen-pal relationship, Darabont did not work with him until four years later in 1987, when he optioned to adapt 'Shawshank'. This is one of the more famous Dollar Deals made by King with aspiring filmmakers. Darabont later directed 'The Green Mile' (1999), which was based on another work about a prison by Stephen King, and then followed that up with an adaptation of King's novella 'The Mist'.
Rob Reiner, who had previously adapted another King novella, 'The Body', offered $2.5 million in an attempt to write and direct 'Shawshank'. He planned to cast Tom Cruise in the part of Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont seriously considered and liked Reiner's vision, but he ultimately decided it was his "chance to do something really great" by directing the film himself. Creating one of the most beloved movies of the last two decades, regularly topping reader polls of the best movies ever made.

Apt Pupil 1998
'Apt Pupil' is a 1998 American psychological thriller film based on the novella of the same name. The film was directed by Bryan Singer and stars Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro. In the 1980s in southern California, high school student Todd Bowden (Renfro) discovers fugitive Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander (McKellen) living in his neighborhood under the pseudonym Arthur Denker. Bowden, obsessed with Nazism and acts of the Holocaust, persuades Dussander to share his stories, and their relationship stirs malice in each of them.
Producer Richard Kobritz sought to adapt the novella into a film during the 1980s, but two actors he invited to play Dussander died. When filming began in 1987, a loss of financing led to production being shut down. Forty minutes of usable footage existed, but production was never revived. In 1995, when rights to the novella returned to King, Bryan Singer petitioned the author for an opportunity to film the novella. With King's support, Singer filmed 'Apt Pupil' with McKellen and Renfro in Altadena, California, in 1997. The director shortened the novella's storyline, reduced its violence, and changed the ending. Singer called 'Apt Pupil' "a study in cruelty" with Nazism only serving as a vehicle for the capacity of evil.
During the $14 million production, a lawsuit was filed by several extras who alleged that they were told to strip naked during a shower scene, but the lawsuit was determined to be meritless. The film was released in the United States and Canada in October 1998 to mixed reviews and made under $9 million. The main actors won several minor awards for their performances.

When 'Apt Pupil' was published as part of his collection 'Different Seasons' in 1982, producer Richard Kobritz optioned feature film rights to the novella. Kobritz met with actor James Mason to play the novella's war criminal Kurt Dussander, but Mason died in July 1984 before production as a result of a heart attack. The producer also approached Richard Burton for the role, but Burton also died. By 1987, Nicol Williamson was cast as Dussander, and 17-year-old Rick Schroder was cast as Todd Bowden. In that year, Alan Bridges began direction of the film with a script co-written by Ken Wheat and his brother Jim Wheat. Ten weeks into filming, production suffered from a lack of funds from its production company Granat Releasing, and the film had to be placed on hold. Kubritz sought to revive production, but when the opportunity came a year later, Schroder had aged too considerably for the film to work forcing them to abandon the production.