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September 21, 2011

A Birthday List: The Mike's Top Ten Stephen King Flicks

That dapper fella who made writing (and reading) horror cool for a couple of generations, Stephen King, celebrated his 64th birthday today.  And though the man should be most noted for his writing, it's no secret to any Midnight Warrior that the dude's work or contributions have led to more than a few moving pictures.  And, even though I had a long day, I couldn't let the dude's birthday pass without a little bit of listing.  (And yes, the odds are it's no longer September 21st, his birthday, wherever you are.  But y'know what, it is his birthday IN SPIRIT.  So pipe down.)

So, here's a quickly thrown together - seriously quickly, I'm not even thinking about what I type right now - list of what are probably my ten favorite midnight movies based on the works of the legendary Stephen King.  (No, there's none of those miniserieses on here.  Partially because they're not movies, partially because IT is not as good as you think IT is.)

#10 - Cujo
I'm not totally wild about this one, but Dee Wallace rocks it. Also, I played Cujo in a re-enactment of the book once.

#9 - Maximum Overdrive
I AM too wild about this one, which is clearly a) one of the worst movies ever made and b) one of the greatest movies ever made.  (FUN WITH AC/DC LYRICS AND MATH: If the question is Who Made You? and You = Maximum Overdrive...then Who = Stephen King.  It's science.)

#8 - The Dead Zone
This might be my favorite of the dozen or so King books I've read, and the movie doesn't quite hold up to it.  But it's got great performances by Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen. (Also, I do love the TV show.)

#7 -  The Running Man
I've been meaning to read King's...err...Richard Bachman's *wink* for some time, as I understand it is pretty much nothing like the movie.  But hey...that's Schwarzenegger, man.

#6 - Carrie
It kinda kills me to rank this one - the inaugural King movie, released 35 years ago when the dude was only 29! - this low.  Brian De Palma's direction is as good as ever, Sissy Spacek is golden, and well...I dunno why it's only #6.

#5 - Christine
I'm probably overrating this one because John Carpenter directed it.  But I really do dig it, specifically because Keith Gordon rocks one out of the park as Arnie Cunningham.  Oh, and Leigh Cabot = LOVE.

#4 - Creepshow
I'm still not gonna call it the best anthology ever - Dead of Night still rocks my socks - but the gap seems to close every year. And King's performance as Jordy Verrill rules.

#3 - The Mist
I absolutely fell in love with this book when I was a teen, even had a whole cast planned out for the movie in my mind back then.  Waited 10 years plus for the movie to finally happen, and it totally met my expectations (even though they didn't cast Kurt Russell).

#2 - The Shining
I know that King himself is not a big fan of this one - which strays quite a bit from his novel - but....well, it rocks anyway.  Jack and Kubrick make it one of the most effective horror films ever.

#1 - The Shawshank Redemption
An easy pick, a cliched pick, but also the right pick.  Modern cinema doesn't get much better than this.

Honorable Mention: The Night Flier, Stand By Me, Misery, Apt Pupil, Riding the Bullet, Pet Sematary.


Kev D. said...

Great list, I think Creepshow is number one for me.

It really has aged well, surprisingly...

R.D. Penning said...

As you know by now Mr. The Mike... Stephen King is pretty much the reason I live and breathe ( aside from my kids and wife and blah blah) So I was SUPER nervous going in to this list. I really didn't want this list to ruin our friendship, haha.

First of all, IT is pretty frickin sweet, and became iconic in the scary clown department, but that wasn't the one I would have put on this list. Mostly because the IT movie wasn't even a quarter as awesome as the book. I would have put "The Stand" on this list because 1) it is still to this day voted the #1 best made for TV movie of all time, 2) Rob Lowe and Dobber from Coach!, and 3) Perfect casting made a perfect adaption.

The Mist probably would have been number one for me though. I have never in my life seen a short story/novella turned in to a feature length film so amazingly.

Great list though... you walked a thin line... but we are still friends.

therealphoenixanew said...

Ok, that's it. Reading this list, once I finish my Harry Potter book/movie adaptations, I'm going to do Stephen King ones. It's all your fault!

I agree that while The Shining is very different from the book, it's still a great film and deserves to be very highly ranked on the list. I would rank The Mist that high only if we can all agree to disregard that added in shock ending. They were doing so great up until that point.

I would also include The Green Mile somewhere in there. Great performances and a touching film.

Christine Hadden said...

As for me, I'd yank out Maximum Overdrive and throw it over the hill, and would also remove The Running Man. In their places? Pet Sematary and most certainly Misery, which would probably be my number one. How could you not include Misery, The Mike?? 'He didn't get out of the cockadoodie car!!!'

(In all seriousness, great list :)

Marvin the Macabre said...

Mister Stephen the King, Now you're speaking my language. Here's my top 10 S.K. movies:

Salem's Lot
Silver Bullet
Shawshank Redemption
Running Man
The Mist
Pet Sematary
The Shinging
Stand By Me

I tried to do my top ten novels, but failed. Holy cap, I never realized how much Stephen King I have to catch up on.

The Shining defintiely would have been my number one, followed by The Dark Tower (all of them), then onto The Stand, and It. I remember readin It when I was about 15, and picking a zit on my neck. I got to the part where someone was looking through a scrapbook and the thing started to bleed. I looked down and there was blood oozing out between the pages of my paperback. It was horrible, but I soon realized what happened and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Marvin the Macabre said...

And yes, I totally thought it was calledthe Shinging, which made me say, Holy Cap! Don't hold it against me, I'm drunk, as usual.

R.D. Penning said...

The Mist had a great ending. Written by Frank Darabont with Stephen King's approval. It was the perfect way to end the film wince the story doesn't actually have an ending. Part of the reason The Mist is #1 on my list. The other reason is the ability to watch it in black and white on the DVD! It is awesome!

The Mike said...

Kev - Totally agree on Creepshow, it gets better with age. A few years ago it may have missed this list, now I had to have it Top 5.

Russ - The Stand was something I considered, and if I'd added TV miniserieses that would have been ahead of IT. Dauber gets mega Mike points.

I have to say though, I'm also of the "I want to ignore the ending of The Mist" mindset. Sure, King approved it, but - to paraphrase Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - what does he know? He's just the writer!

Syrin - As I said above, I'm with ya on The Mist's ending. I used to think about it and Shawshank as a kind of "Hope" based duo, since both end with hope speeches, but the ending of the movie took that away. Which makes me sadness. Otherwise, I look forward to your King posts!

Christine - Misery probably should have made the list, now that I think. Once I got past the top 5 or 6 I kinda just went with the "oh, these are movies I've watched a ton" picks, and Misery isn't one I've seen as many times. But it is darn good, so yeah...I was being a dingleberry.

Marvin - Good choices all. I sadly, because I'm lame, haven't read the Dark Tower books. I KNOW. Totally lame. If I was going books, many of which I haven't read in FOREVER, the short list would have Dead Zone, Cujo, and Needful Things. The adaptation of that one still DRIVES ME FREAKIN CRAZY, because that book was pretty much my favorite horror thing ever when I read it.

And hey, I got no problem with Shinging! Reminded me of the Simpsons episode: "It's called...THE SHINNING!" "You mean The Shining?" "Shut up, boy! Do ya wanna get sued!"

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

Duuuuuuude, no Misery? Not cool, bro, that's easily my favorite adaptation. My list would be something like this:

Shawshank (it's not cliched, it's a totally great movie and everybody fucking knows it)
The Green Mile
The Mist
Secret Window (no one ever talks about it but I LOVE this movie)
Stand By Me
The Shining
Pet Sematary

Totally agree with and understand your reasoning behind Maximum Overdrive. It truly is one of the greatest and one of the worst films ever.

If you ever read The Running Man (which is actually pretty good) you will be wondering just where in the hell that movie came from. They are completely different! But there's a worse one out there - ever heard of The Lawnmower Man? Now, that is one short story adaptation that I will never understand. They basically just took the title and that was it. Which is why King sued over it.

And as for IT... IT SUCKS! IT sucks so hard, I don't understand how people can still think it's "scary." I've always hated that garbage, I actually hope they remake it (or IT... you know...).