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Stephen King’s World of Horror

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2017-07-20


The author Stephen King has had an amazing career. Over the last 40+ years he’s published more than 50 novels and has just as many films adapted from his works. Which, to me at least, would make King the most influential living writer of our time. And, recently too, a few of King’s work has been turned into TV series with the likes of Mr. Mercedes and The Mist this year and shows like Castle Rock due out in the future.

So, if King’s writing output has remained essentially steady the last few decades — he produces around a book a year, sometimes more — and movies based on his works come out every few years why does 2017 feel different? Why does 2017 feel like it’s the year of Stephen King?
I think it’s because while King’s had a lot of his works turned into movies since the late 1970s, 2017 seems like it’s the first time those movies are top of the line, big-budget films meant for everyday filmgoers rather than those who’d go see a Stephen King horror movie no matter what. It kind’a feels like when comic book movies made the jump from movies only fans of comic books would see to movies anyone would see that appealed to a wide range of people.

Out in theaters this summer is the first film of The Dark Tower saga August 4. This movie that’s based on a series of eight books takes place in a weird realm where old-west style gunslingers do battle with wizards more at home in something like The Lord of the Rings than The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, if this first film is successful The Dark Tower will be to Sony what Harry Potter was to Warner Brothers — a long-running film series that will be the basis for all sorts of ancillary moneymaking things from Halloween costumes to theme park rides.

Then, a little more than a month after the release of The Dark Tower on September 8 comes It that’s the first movie of two based on the 1986 novel of the same name. Already made as a movie-of-the-week back in 1990, this new It is based on the first part of the book where a group of kids, the film takes place in the mid–1980s, must do battle with an evil presence living under their town that kills children. The It sequel due at some point in the future would deal with the kids as adults present day who must go back to their town and finish the job when the killings start again.

If The Dark Tower and It are successful I can only imagine that there’ll be a rush to turn all sorts of King works into movies since he’s got such a back-catalog of classics. And I’d also assume that much like with Marvel and DC other authors in the same vein as King will start getting their works turned into big-budget films as well. But there’s always a chance these two King movies could flop meaning that his movies would one again be relegated to low-budget flicks at best, direct to streaming at worst.

What I find most interesting here is that the The Dark Tower and It movies couldn’t be more different to one and other. One’s a fantasy flick with six-shooters and the other a horror movie with a monster so scary I think there’s an argument to be made that the titular “It” which in its human form looks like a clown scared a generation of kids so badly that they now have a phobia of them. The idea that these two separate works are both being released into theaters around the same time and both movies have a great chance at starting multi-billion dollar film franchises, means that the works of Stephen King might just about to be elevated from simple genera movies that a generation ago were more at home on VHS than movie theaters, to something more. Something more along the lines of serious films — scary clowns and all.

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