Stephen King hype is climbing to a high in advance of 2017’s It remake. Hollywood has been adapting the best-selling horror author’s works into TV shows and movies for decades with varying levels of success. Although Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the greatest films ever made, King himself thought it made an inhuman, impersonal mockery of his novel. The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me are both fan favorite adaptations of King’s works, and the author himself reportedly enjoys them as well.
The Long Walk
Why King’s The Long Walk wasn’t adapted into a YA thriller film at the peak of The Hunger Games’s popularity will always be a mystery. In his dystopian American, just after an economic collapse, a society struggling with over-population allows young men to marathon walk across the country. The last survivor receives anything he needs from the government, but those who break the rules are shot on sight. The boys can’t stop to sleep or use the bathroom, and they eat only what they carried, or whatever people cheering on the side of the road give them.
The original promo text for the novel reads:
“The game is simple — maintain a steady walking pace of four miles per hour without stopping. Three warnings, and you’re out — permanently.
It’s one of King’s simplest premises — you walk to feed your family, or you die, helping to solve America’s overpopulation surge. In addition to being an interesting political statement, The Long Walk, a novella originally published under the pen name Richard Bachman, is a pretty interesting character study too. King’s young men are complicated, imperfect, and lovable, which makes it all the more frightening when they slowly start withering away. Frank Darabont, director of several King adaptation, including The Mist, has had the rights to The Long Walk for a decade, but things have been quiet for years.
Duma Key is part of King’s post-sobriety body of work, and it was the first horror novel by the author to be set in Florida. After a horrific car accident, a contractor named Edgar moves to Florida to recover from his injuries, including the loss of his arm. When he begins painting therapeutically, he starts having phantom limb sensations and hallucinates that his paintings are telling him dark things about his neighbors.
A visually inventive director would be able to make a colorful kaleidoscopic thriller out of King’s long, experimental Duma Key.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
One of King’s most surprising thrillers follows Trisha, a young girl who gets lost in the woods on a family trip and begins hallucinating from hunger and sleep deprivation. Through Trisha’s eyes, we see actual baseball player Tom Gordon as her savior, and she believes she’s being pursued by a wasp-faced demon called the God of the Lost. We learn in the novel’s final moments that the God is actually just a hungry bear.
A talented young actress could truly sell King’s darkly funny thriller, and marketing it toward a younger audience could kill. It’s one part A Wrinkle in Time, one part Blair Witch Project, and all parts Stephen King creep-show.
Joyland is an atypical story for Stephen King, who leans harder on his love of telling adolescent boys’ coming of age tales than he does on truly terrifying imagery. Still, it could make one hell of a thrilling summer movie, a la something cheesy and scary like Fear. Devin Jones takes a summer job at a North Carolina beach-side amusement park. After a few weeks of loneliness, he begins to suspect there’s something insidious afoot at the carnival.
Tate Taylor (Winter’s Bone) has had the rights to adapt and direct a Joyland movie for years, though it’s currently still in the pre-production scripting process.
A Regulators film would likely be pretty controversial, but in caring hands, the novel could be adapted with class. King’s trippy story about suburbia follows a boy with autism when he’s possessed by a dark entity. His family and neighbors are suddenly plagued by the twisted monsters he imagines, and they struggle to communicate with him across the barriers of both the Autism spectrum, and whatever has a hold on his soul.
Many King fanatics cite The Jaunt as King’s most disturbing shorter-than-a-novel story, and it’s chock full of science fiction terror. The Jaunt, which describes the human discovery of teleportation, finds scares in what happens when a technological processes have unintended side effects.
In King’s fictional future, humans have gained the ability to teleport — or “jaunt” — to other planets. If a person jaunts without being sedated, however, the experience of having their particles rearranged rips their sanity to shreds. Though the physical process happens in an instant, somehow the human mind receives teleportation as an infinite amount of time spent floating in white space, alone with one’s thoughts. After hearing all the side effects possible, King’s protagonist jaunts with his family to Mars only to discover that his son, Ricky, held his breath instead of breathing in the anesthesia. Ricky, who now has white, long hair, screams, “It’s longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!” before clawing out his own eyes.
As of 2015, The Jaunt is being eyed for a movie adaptation, though there has not been an update since.
Stephen King’s It hits theaters September 8, 2017.