A look back at some of the most memorable scenes from the author's cinematic adaptations
by Garrett Schaffel, AARP, August 9, 2017|Comments: 0
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Through the Years
Stephen King is one of the most ubiquitous names in cinema, and for good reason. The prolific author of more than 200 short stories and more than 50 novels always has a new tale to adapt for a movie or TV show — sometimes multiple ones at the same time. This summer is no different, with two new movies (The Dark Tower, which came out Aug. 4, and a remake of It, scheduled for Sept. 8) and a TV show (Mr. Mercedes, AT&T Audience Network, released Aug. 9) to go along with a new book (Sleeping Beauties, cowritten with son Owen, out Sept. 26). To celebrate King's latest media moment, we're looking back at some showstopping scenes from films adapted from his work. Beware of spoilers — and potential nightmares — ahead.
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'It' (1990) — Georgie's Abduction
If the remake of It is to succeed, it'll have to match the horror from this moment in the 1990 original. First released as a two-part TV special and later re-edited as a movie, It shocked viewers into a lifelong case of coulrophobia, thanks in part to a downright chilling performance from the otherwise cheery Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown. His initial scene at the underground curbside sewer opening, where he lured innocent Georgie (Tony Dakota) after snatching his newspaper boat, is one of the creepiest in all of King's adaptations.
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'Stand by Me' (1986) — Pie-Eating Contest
Not every King story is a fright fest, but that doesn't mean his more wholesome works don't pack a punch. One such instance takes place in Stand By Me, director Rob Reiner's adaptation of King's coming-of-age novella, in the scene where future writer Gordie (Wil Wheaton) tells the ridiculous story of Davie "Lard Ass" Hogan and his exacting of revenge on his bullies at a community pie-eating contest. It's one of the grossest moments of any King movie, but that's what makes it so iconic. Just don't plan on eating pie shortly after watching.
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'Misery' (1990) — The Maiming
Reiner couldn't stay away from King's horror material, taking up the reins on the terrifying Misery in 1990. Kathy Bates received thunderous acclaim and an Oscar for her performance as the unhinged superfan Annie Wilkes, who holds author Paul Sheldon (a terrific James Caan) hostage after rescuing him from a car accident. But when Sheldon comes oh so close to escaping, Annie breaks out the sledgehammer — and an icy stare — in one of the best horror moments in all of cinema.
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'The Mist' (2007) — Tentacle Attack
After directing The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, Darabont, like Reiner, also decided to turn toward a horror story for his next King adaptation. He chose The Mist, a claustrophobic tale of townsfolk trapped in a grocery store because of a mysterious mist that surrounds them. The creatures lurking in the mist are a mystery at the beginning of the film, but they make quite the introduction later on when they launch their tentacles into the store's loading dock and snatch Norm the stock boy (Chris Owen), as protagonist David (Thomas Jane) looks on helplessly.
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'Carrie' (1976) — Prom Night
Carrie was King's first published novel and also his first project to be transported to the screen. Without its success, we may not have gotten to enjoy the author's 100-plus other adaptations. It was a hit, in large part due to the mesmerizing performance by Sissy Spacek in the title role. When Carrie was drenched in pig's blood after being named prom queen, her look of despair and subsequent unleashing of destruction became Spacek's career-defining moment.
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'The Shining' (1980) — 'Here's Johnny'
Perhaps no sequence in a King adaptation is as famous, celebrated and spoofed as the one in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece The Shining — when Jack Torrance (an absolutely terrifying Jack Nicholson) finally loses his grip on sanity. The scene where Nicholson wields an ax and howls Ed McMahon's famous Tonight Show catchphrase — which notoriously took three days to shoot and involved replacing nearly 60 doors — is a legendary movie moment.