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Book Review

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Stephen King at the Movies (Hardback)


Author: Ian Nathan
Publisher: Palazzo
224 pages
RRP: £25.00, US $34.94
ISBN: 978 1 78675 081 5
Publication Date: 05 September 2019

Palazzo Editions Ltd, London, publishes Stephen King At The Movies, by Ian Nathan. This is a large format hardback book incorporating 224 good quality glossy pages of mostly colour photos and interesting information on every film and miniseries adaptation of King (and early pseudonym Richard Bachman) that made it to screen. Stephen King, of course, is the international best-selling author of countless horror and thriller novels – including Carrie, The Shining, Pet Sematary and It. Ian Nathan is the writer of non-fiction books such as Alien Vault, Terminator Vault, and Tim Burton. He is the former editor of Empire film magazine, and contributes to top-tier newspapers The Times, Independent, and Mail on Sunday.

Although separated into the five chapters: Auteurs and Mind Games, Monsters and Children, Angels and Devils, Dreams and Nightmares, and Number One Fans – this book essentially runs through the film adaptations chronologically beginning with Carrie (1976) and ending with Doctor Sleep (2020), the sequel to The Shining. Between two and eight pages are dedicated to each film, dependant on the number of photo representations and the success/popularity. It is laid out in a pleasant, easy reading format which invites front to back reading or the occasional dipping in perusal. It’s a good reference; not an intensive study, but certainly containing back stories or inside information King film fans may not have come across before.

I am not a follower of Stephen King on the printed page. I don’t like his writing style, and his books are heavy in needless descriptive passages and exposition. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate some of his ideas. More than a handful have been reimagined for the big screen in a very impressive and enduring manner. But there are many more turkeys than peacocks (for example, Maximum Overdrive, Dreamcatcher, Rose Red, Cat’s Eyes)). This is where the casual or inquisitive film lover comes in; he or she can get the lowdown on what is hot and what is not. If you’re a horror fan such as myself, you may want to track down some of these outings based on the recommendations (the author’s top 84 King films are listed at the back of the book). It’s all objective, after all, as I dislike intensely the movie version of The Shining, but love the miniseries. I also have a fondness for some which are not generally highly rated, such as 1408, Salem’s Lot (1979), Christine, and The Dead Zone. The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, The Green Mile, Stand By Me, and the original Carrie cannot be denied as minor classics.

There is much to appreciate here. For me, it is the brief but revelatory text, but for others it could just be a happy reminder of what is missing from their collection and what is to come (there is a little section called Forthcoming King which informs us of what is in the pipeline). If you’re a newcomer to the Stephen Kingdom you might also notice recurring themes: a writer as the central protagonist (Misery, The Shining, The Dark Half, Secret Window, Bag of Bones), Child Monsters (Carrie, Firestarter, Children of the Corn, Pet Sematary), Mystical or maniacal machines (Christine, From a Buick 8, Maximum Overdrive, Trucks).


Ty Power

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