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March 26, 2004
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Have You Seen This Man? If So, Slap Him and Tell Him to Stop Writing Screenplays!

— Posted by John Campea

king.jpg
Can someone please expain to me how exactly Stephen King keeps landing scriptwriting jobs? I just checked the IMDB and according to them he’s got eighty one writing credits to his name. Eighty one! And of those eighty one I can count maybe a handful that are actually good films, virtually all of which were originally written under different names and adapted by other writers. Everything I’ve ever seen by this man that was written directly for the screen has been just horrible. And yet he keeps getting hired. Hence the five King written projects currently in development. Sure, the guy sells books but he can’t write a good screenplay to save his life – and lest you think I’m being cruel to poor Stevey the same can be said for a lot of other novelists, notably William Gibson whose novels are amazing and screenplays are similarly wretched.

But on to specifics. I’m a big fan of Lars Von Trier. I like all of his stuff, but I have a particularly weak spot for a little mini-series he did in Denmark called the Kingdom. It currently exists in two runs, each run being 4 episodes with the third and closing run likely never to happen thanks to a little over half of his principle cast up and dying on him. True story. Thus, I cringed when I heard that ABC had bought the rights to the show and hired Stephen King to rewrite it for American audiences. I’ve been avoiding it on tv but thanks to the wonders of the internet I’ve just skimmed through the first three episodes and this thing is truly, wretchedly bad. I feel dirty. Yes, it suffers from bad casting and pacing but the root problem goes back to the writing which is so heavy handed and clumsy that it makes Von Trier – Lord of the Melodrama and Whacking of People Over the Head To Make His Point – appear subtle. And yet despite the heavy handedness it takes King THREE HOURS to get to a point in the narrative that Von Trier reaches in the first episode of the original. Good Lord, man! Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!!!

I’m feeling very grateful for my delete key right now.

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  • David Terry

    Just read and article in a British DVD magazine called DVD monthly, which is the best film magazine around, and they have done a whole article on Stephen King films. He is in the Guiness World records for having the greatest number of movie adaptations of any living author and they then go on to say that not many of them are any good. They list the top ten as:
    1) Shawshank Redemption
    2) The Shining
    3) Green Mile
    4) Stand by Me
    5) Misery
    6) The Running Man (writen under Richard Bachman)
    7) Carrie
    8) The Dead Zone
    9) Apt pupil
    10) Dolores Cliaborne

    Think certainly the top seven or all good films, and I havent seen 8, 9 or 10. Other films are Pet Cemetry, Lawnmower man (although he took himself of the credits in disgust because of changes, IT, Cujo, Christine, Children of the Corn. However, dont think he write the screenplay for many if any of them

  • Bubba

    We kill ‘em as fast as we see ‘em …

  • http://ElectroLund.com Rob

    WTF?! Dude, movieblog guy, delete this casino shit. You’ve got squatter adverts trolling your comments. And that sucks hard. Off-the-cuff, that is.

    Fscking nazis.

  • Bubba

    Oh yeah, Stand By Me’s on my list of good ones. Interestingly enough, most of the good ones tend to be stories he wrote under different names … weird … of the actual Stephen King ones I draw a blank after The Shining …

  • punkrock

    dont forget STAND BY ME “the body” another written by steve and adapted by another… good flick though.

  • Bubba

    Oh, OVerdrive’s a guilty pleasure for me, too, but I’d never go so far as to call it a good film. And there are a LOT of Repo Man fans ready to track you down and kill you in your sleep …

  • KungFuGuy

    What?!!? Maximum Overdrive is quite possibly the best Emilio Estevez movie EVER! A true classic if ever there was one. I never went close to a pop dispensing machine for months after that. Didn’t want to get clocked in the mommy/daddy bits.

  • Bubba

    According to the IMDB he’s responsible for the screenplays to Desperation, The Kingdom Hospital, Rose Red, Paranoid, Storm of the Century, the tv version of The Shining, an episode of the new Outer Limits, the tv version of The Stand, an episode of The X Files, Sleepwalkers, Golden Years, Pet Sematary, Creepshow 2, Maximum Overdrive, Silver Bullet, and Cat’s Eye. And how many of these are on the list of good Stephen King flicks? Zero.

  • David Terry

    I think the problem with King, is his books allow him to be so descriptive and tell every part of the story. However, when writing for the screen, alot more of the story needs to be told visually and I dont think King can do that. With him its in the mind. Even the films screenplayed by others for the screen do not seem to transpose to well. I think Misery, Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me are the best films based on his books and im sure he never wrote any of the screen plays. Enfact as he written any of the screen plays based on his books? He is also a big critic of all the films made based on his books. I think Misery is his favourite but he hated the shining and I hear he wasnt keen on Shawshank.

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