A Few Words On Stephen King Films

I’m not here to talk about those well-known gems we’ve all seen and loved for the last few decades, I’m talking about the ones that went so far under the radar (and for good reason) that no one seems to recall them ever happening in the first place. I’m not just talking about the billion “Children Of The Corn” sequels, or the mess that is “The Mangler,” I’m talking about the stuff that no one seems to recall ever happening in the first place.

We can start with “Carrie.” Everyone remembers the original film from 1976 with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, but how many of you remember the awful sequel released in 1999? Our main character just happens to share a father with Carrie White, and has the same ability to burn shit down.  “The Rage-Carrie 2” has since been destroyed by film critics, even with the somewhat cool return to the burned-out school from the first film, and Amy Irving reprising her role as Sue Snell. Even worse was the 2002 television remake that was meant to act as a backdoor pilot for a Carrie television series!! Well, if you’ve seen it (and I’m sorry if you have) is there anyone who wanted to see more? The ending was obviously completely different, in which Carrie White lives to fight another day…the series would have followed her trials in helping others with strange abilities. Luckily, this never materialized. Finally in 2013, we got the final piece of this puzzle, with a re-imagined film starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore…and even though it’s pretty close to the source material and has a decent cast, this one still pales in comparison to the original.

“Salem’s Lot” was originally release as a television mini-series in 1979, and although parts looks a bit dated today, and some of the acting is questionable, it still carries enough scares and creepy moments to be one of King’s better TV adaptations. The problem arises in the awful and nearly unknown sequel released in 1987, “A Return To Salem’s Lot.” In this gem, we return to the town from the first film…and that’s about it. The story crossover is laughable…just because vampires still exist in town, does not make this worth checking out. No one cared then, and no one cares now. This brings us to the final television adaptation in 2004, another 2 part miniseries, this time featuring Rob Lowe, James Cromwell, and Donald Sutherland. The story remained mostly the same, but the timeline was modern, bringing the tale to a new audience. I’m not in love with it, I don’t hate it, it’s just there. I’m only mentioning it here because I feel that most people who’ve seen the original didn’t even know this one existed.

How can we forget “Firestarter” from 1984, starring a young and cute-as-hell Drew Barrymore? The special effects look pretty rotten by today’s standards, and even the original can’t be saved from being a bit dull at times. However, in comparison, the first film is a gem compared to the rotten 2002 sequel miniseries, “Rekindled.” Forget that the acting is pretty piss-poor to begin with, even with screen legends Dennis Hopper and Malcolm McDowell along for the ride, but it’s hard to overlook that they changed most of the story from the first film entirely. How is John Rainbird alive? How? This update / remake / hot mess was a Sci-Fi Channel original, and fails on every level.

For fear of making this post a novel-length work, here are just a few other atrocities you may have missed over the years:

Pet Sematary Two – starring Ed Furlong and Clancy Brown, 1992. Pretty much a sequel in name only.

Let us not forget that “Sometimes They Come Back” was followed by two pointless sequels creatively titled Sometimes They Come Back Again and Sometimes They Come Back For More in 1996 and 1998.

Okay, enough. Obviously everyone wants a piece of the action and a chance to update or re-imagine a Stephen King story, but there have been so many fails over the years, it’s hard to know what to look forward to anymore. The next year or two seems to be filled with new adaptations, both on the big screen and on television, including a re-made Ita television version of The Mist, a TV tie-in series for the film The Dark Tower, the first adaptation of Gerald’s Game, and a television version of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. Seems there’s no end in sight for Stephen King films…but how many of them will become forgotten? Time will tell.

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