Ghouls on Film: King, Keene announce big movie news this week

Typically, I shy away from writing about movies on this blog. I love movies almost as much as I love books, but I wanted to keep the focus of October Country squarely on the written word. Besides, there are many websites that do movie news far more comprehensively than I could ever manage.

Every now and then, though, there’s a bit of news that ties so closely to my work here that I can’t help myself – I have to talk about it. This week, there was more than a bit – it seemed like each day brought a new announcement that I wanted to write about. So I’ve decided to gather those announcements up and do one post on them all, and hopefully open up a discussion on these that we can all enjoy.

First up is the news that the creative team behind much of the Harry Potter series will be working on a big-screen version of Stephen King’s opus The Stand. This seems like a great fit because David Yates (director) and Steve Kloves (screenwriter) have proved that they can take big, complex source material and streamline it for film without watering it down too much. The Stand got the small-screen treatment years ago with a mini-series that had two strikes against it going in: 1) It was directed by Mick Garris*, a largely unimaginative filmmaker who got all the pieces on the screen, but failed to tap into that book’s deep, dark heart; and 2) it was on network television, which resulted in a watered-down version of the story. With proven filmmakers working on a large (hopefully two or three film) canvas, this may bring us a cinematic version of the book that we’ve all been hoping for.

While we were digesting that piece of information something else came along – Variety’s announcement that Jonathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs) is on board to direct a film version of King’s upcoming novel 11/22/63, a time-travel tale which sees a modern history teacher take a portal back through time with the intent of stopping the JFK assassination. (Here’s a new trailer from Hodder & Stoughton that’s a good tease for the book.)

We’re still a couple of months away from the book’s publication, and we all know that things have a way of changing rapidly in Hollywood, but I hope this one comes to fruition. If so, we could be in for a high-quality run of King movies the likes of which we haven’t seen since the days of Misery, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.

Finally, the always-on-top-of-King-news Bev Vincent pointed out this article about a cool King project coming up in October on cable channel TCM. A documentary in which King discusses the classic horror films that influenced him as a writer? If my DVR saw that far ahead, I’d already have it set. I’m also excited to see in that article the news that TCM will be running classic scary movies throughout the month of October, with a full slate of Universal monsters, Val Lewis thrillers and Hammer horrors to lead us into Halloween. 

King wasn’t the only horror author with movie news to share this week. Brian Keene gave fans a rundown on his website of the various works of his that are in different stages of production. Filming is complete on Ghoul, adapted from his novel of the same name (soon to be re-released by Deadite Press, along with most of the rest of Keene’s back catalog), and it will be debuting on the Chiller channel later this year before moving on to DVD/Blu-ray. The most tantalizing bit of news to me is the idea that Drive-In Films, which is Joe R. Lansdale’s production company, has optioned Castaways, Keene’s insanely violent tribute to author Richard Laymon. That’s going to make one hell of a popcorn flick.

So, lots of good stuff to look forward to. Get ready to get your nose out of those books and hit the theaters…in the meantime, what do you think of these announcements? Do you think Demme is a good fit for a King adaptation? Who do you want to see cast in The Stand? Feel free to discuss below!

*Everybody I talk to says Mick Garris is one of the nicest men working in the movie industry today, so it pains me to be so harsh. But it just so happens that he’s done a lot of work with my favorite author, and NONE OF IT has done the original books justice. His version of The Stand was okay, but it needs to be more than okay. I liked the fact that his version of The Shining stuck closer to the book, but again, it was just rote transcription – no visual flair, no real scares, nothing. Sleepwalkers was abysmal. And now – NOW – he’s making a TV version of Bag of Bones, which just so happens to be one of my favorite King books. It’s got Pierce Brosnan in it, and I’ll watch every second of it, and probably will come on here and rail on and on about how blah it was. You’ve been warned.

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5 thoughts on “Ghouls on Film: King, Keene announce big movie news this week

  1. Pingback: Ghouls on Film: King, Keene announce big movie news this week … | Horror Film / Horror Film News

  2. From what I remember about The Stand miniseries, it was cast really well (except, maybe, for Molly Ringwald as Frannie) and I’m always highly in favor of miniseries because it’s easier to be true to the book. So I’m not sure how I feel about a blockbuster adaptation of The Stand; it’s one of my favorite King novels and I don’t want it to be slaughtered. (For what it’s worth, I love the HP books and hate the movies, so I have very little faith in that director and screenwriter.) There’s just too much in a 1000+ page book to fit into a two-hour movie, and since a lot of what is great about The Stand is that long, drawn out first half when the refugees of a decimated world slowly come together, I’m afraid that the filmmakers will gloss over all that in fifteen minutes and spend the rest of the movie focusing on the “Boulder vs. Vegas” plot.

    • I agree it’s easier to be true to the book in a mini-series, but I think network TV just ties the filmmaker’s hands too tightly. If AMC or HBO were to pick it up, I’d be all for it. But I think a theatrical version has a good chance at making a version of THE STAND that’s both true to the book AND can address the darker, scarier, even gorier parts without compromise.

      I see what you’re saying about cramming the book into a two-hour movie, and if that’s what they do it will be a mistake. I think the idea is to make two or three movies, which would give them space to include all the good stuff.

      • Yes, that (making several movies out of one book/story) has been “the thing” recently, hasn’t it? What with Harry Potter and Twilight and I think something else they’re splitting into a few movies.

        In that case, a big blockbuster adaptation is fine with me for all that dark, scary, gory stuff, but I still don’t know that I’d see it; I’m wayyyyyy too squeamish when it comes to gore in movies. Strangely enough, written depictions rarely bother me, but I can barely even watch a fistfight on TV!

      • I’m glad the studios are no longer trying to shove every book into a two hour film. There’s just too much good stuff that gets lost when trying to shoehorn it all in to a shorter running time. Of course, they can sometimes go the opposite direction and pad out books that would have been fine as one movie, but that’s just the way it goes. If there’s a way to make $$$$, you can bet a Hollywood studio will figure it out.

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