It’s probably a blessing that Stephen King is an extremely dynamic writer, spewing forth amazing books on a regular basis. After all, frequent doses of psychological paradoxes, childhood trauma turned adulthood insanity, bloody gore, and evil entities that munch on human souls for breakfast are all we need, isn’t it?
On the birthday of this extraordinarily talented author with an esoteric sense of storytelling unmatched by any other, here’s a list comprising some of his most famous books that were turned into equally popular movies.
Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and former teacher who’s been terminated from the position for his severe alcoholism, moves into the isolated hotel Overlook as a winter caretaker for a second chance at life; accompanied by his wife and his clairvoyant son whose psychic premonition is later determined as the Shining. As Danny starts getting visions of the hotel’s terrible past, he slowly begins to understand that the hotel itself works as a psychic lens, manipulating reality for its own purpose.
Now, we all know of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the book into a film of the same name in 1980, but Stephen King himself disliked it to an extent. This drove him to make a miniseries about the book that was aired in 1997 which is worth watching if you’re a die hard King fan.
Doctor Sleep is a direct sequel to The Shining, published in 2013. It explores the adulthood of the still traumatised Danny Torrance who, after decades of drifting with alcoholism just like his father, finally settles down and takes a job of comforting dying patients with his remaining psychic abilities, for which he becomes known as Doctor Sleep. However, when he comes across Abra, a child with an extrasensory gift of the Shining and a telepathic bond with Danny, they must fight off the band of quasi immortals who live off the steam of children with the Shining.
In 2019, this novel was adapted into a film by Mike Flanagan, and gained instant popularity. Laced all over with King’s signature narratives and arcane imaginary elements, The Shining duology truly is a paragon.
The Shawshank Redemption:
Any list about the most iconic movies of all time is incomplete without The Shawshank Redemption (every single social media page about balletic cinema quotes is filled to the brim with its shots and references, duh) However, few of us know that this movie was originally adapted from a Stephen King novella, namely Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.
Narrated by Red, a prisoner at Shawshank Prison who deals and delivers contrabands, the story begins when Andy Dufresne, a polite banker convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover, enters the prison. When one day, he stumbles upon possible evidence of his innocence, might he be able to free himself after all? A simple, profound message of eternal hope, redemption, and friendship is what makes both the novella and its excellent movie adaptation resonate with the readers and the viewers.
IT, a novel considered as a modern masterpiece of the horror genre, constantly shifts between two different timelines and weaves a story of seven kids from the fictional town of Derry, Maine and the adults they become. They are terrorised by an evil entity known as IT who has the ability to shapeshift and bring out one’s deepest psychological fears. IT mostly arrives in the form of Pennywise, a circus clown, and resurfaces every 27 years. As children, they had been haunted by the entity before banishing it away at the cost of deaths and loss; as adults, after 27 years, they return to Derry in order to banish IT for good.
Though the novel is a standalone, there are two adapted movies, both directed by Andy Muschietti; IT(2017), and IT: Chapter Two(2019). The first one deals with the seven protagonists’ childhood, and the latter their adulthood.
King might as well be the only person who can turn a story initially about potential steamy romance into a horrifying account of a woman handcuffed to a bed for days in an isolated cabin with her dead husband in front of her; coalescing with resurfaced memories of a traumatic spell of childhood, and mysterious visits from a stranger.
Do I even need to elaborate more? Just go read the book already. Oh, and while you’re at it, do watch the film adaptation of the same name by Mike Flanagan, which is available on Netflix. It does proper justice to the book which, in turn, doesn’t disappoint anyone with even the slightest hint of boredom, even though it’s a story told by a woman stranded on a stupid bed for days. It’s rather thrilling.
If you’re a newbie in the Stephen King Universe, you might as well start your journey with the aforementioned books, as all of them are stupefying, be it the plot or the characters. Don’t forget the Golden Rule, though! Watch the movies only after you’re done devouring the books.
PS: Talented as they all are, I’m kind of tired of seeing the IT kids everywhere on Netflix.
The writer is a part of the TDA Editorial Team.