SLAP “Stephen” and “King” on any TV show or movie these days and it’s bound to get attention.
That’s especially the case after the two-part film adaptations of “It”, his seminal novel about the creepy clown who lurks in storm drains. Seems that audiences wanted to embrace their coulrophobia – the fear of clowns – because the films were absolute box office record breakers racking up a combined total of well over a billion bucks.
Ever since, production companies have been eager to snap up whatever they can of the author’s prolific oeuvre of stories which, including novellas and shorts, reaches somewhere over the 250 mark.
The latest adaptation causing a fuss is “The Stand”, a series streaming on Amazon Prime Video that’s based on King’s epic, apocalyptic, 800-pager from 1978.
The plot is brimming with characters split into two factions, facing off against one another in a world decimated by an influenza strain. King says he wanted to write a story “in the spirit of ‘Lord of the Rings’, set in contemporary America”.
It’s all a bit complex, but in the case of the book at least, one could say a “good kind of complex”, a kind that gets readers invested rather than confused.
However, the new show, despite its ambitions, seems not to have pulled off this thickly layered plot, making it a more “bad kind of complex”.
An over reliance on flashbacks, forwards, sideways and every other non-linear direction in an attempt to get back story out dramatically bogs it down.
Despite some criticism, firmly keeping eyes on the show is the clever promise of a new ending, written by King himself.
As one of King’s most well-loved stories, opinions are sure to be divided on the author’s new coda here. Regardless, the desire to want to form an opinion on the ending at all will likely keep many viewers watching right up until the end.
IT’S not the first time a King adaptation hasn’t quite hit the mark it promised to. Netflix not so long ago pumped up a new TV show adaptation of “The Mist”, about a boy and his father trapped in a shopping centre when an otherworldly storm terrorises their hometown.
This isn’t to be confused with the 2007 film version that, despite some flaws, makes for a decent watch.
Netflix’s venture was much more recent and despite it having all the money it needed to make it’s production values nice and shiny, “The Mist” (quite like “The Stand”) didn’t pull off the intriguing intricacies that its source material does.
In a bid to snap up any fiction of King’s they can, production companies might be rushing a little too fast to get them out to the public and in doing so are losing the quality storytelling on the way.
If you’re in the mood you can always find King classics scattered across streaming platforms that are genuinely great films.
For instance, ’90s “Misery”, which stars Kathy Bates as the stalky fan of a famed author, is on Stan. It’s particularly renowned for Bates’ performance earning her the Best Actress Oscar, an incredibly rare feat for a horror film.
On Netflix, there’s Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 labyrinthine masterpiece “The Shining”, the film that made “Here’s Johnny!” common pop culture vernacular.
Binge has one of the most iconic coming-of-age films that many don’t realise is also an adaptation of a King story: “Stand by Me”. And, same platform, don’t forget the Tom Hanks tearjerker “The Green Mile”.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find what is perhaps King’s most emotionally sophisticated story adaptation anywhere to stream, a film that’s about as “classic” as you can possibly get: “The Shawshank Redemption”.
With it currently holding the number one spot as highest-rated film of all time on the Internet Movie Database, platforms must be as raving mad as Annie Wilkes if they’re not trying to get it streaming.
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Ian Meikle, editor