31 Horror Movies in 31 Days …. Ish

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Maximum overdrive

So much for getting this all wrapped up last October! Excuses are lame, so I’m not going to make them. Instead, how about I finish what I started by giving you the scoop on the rest of the Stephen King adaptations I’ve seen.

{side note: even though I LOVE The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Stand by Me, and Dolores Claiborne, I don’t really consider them horror so I didn’t include them in this list}

I really wanted to like this one, because John Cusack! And Samuel L. Jackson! And a creepy haunted hotel! But unnnnnnnggggggh….I hated it. The special F/X were pretty boss, but the plot is a mess, the acting is just plain NOT good, and the chosen ending (out of several alternatives) was pretty fucking awful. I know there are a ton of people who love it, though…maybe they appreciate it as over-the-top entertainment? So while I’d say SKIP IT, I don’t know, you guys. You might like it.

Apt Pupil
It’s been awhile since I watched this one, but I remember being really impressed with how the story was translated on screen. Ian Mckellan is postivitely terrifying as Kurt Dussander, and Brad Renfro (poor Brad Renfro!) is equally so as his student? Admirer? Hater? Who knows. This is one of the stories that I was really into when I was a kid, so a lot of the nostalgia I have about Different Seasons is probably leaking over to my love of this adaptation.

Cat’s Eye
Totally. Awesome. There is no other word for this 1985 horror anthology. “Quitters, Inc.”, “The Ledge”, and “General” are all amazing—even if they are crazily dated. James Woods kills it as a smoker terrorized by the company he hires to help him quit, the gambling/ledge story is ridiculously entertaining, and the cat that manages to save little Drew Barrymore from an evil tiny troll is hilarious! So much fun.

Another early-80s adaptation that’s pretty good. I remember being disappointed with this one initially, but as time passed I found I appreciate it more. All kinds of metaphors about the woes of being a teenager are packed into this one, and even though all the actors playing the high-schoolers are clearly many years graduated (especially the bullies), it’s a good ride {HAAAA}. My personal favorite: the hamburger scene. Oh, Christine! You’re so jealous.

My love for Creepshow is deep and abiding, and helped fuel my love for Tales from the Crypt many years later. George A. Romero-directed, Tom Savini-F/X’d, and a cast of fantastic actors (okay, maybe not Stephen King in The Lonesome Death of Jordy Vernill) make this an annual re-watch favorite. All the stories are great, but “The Crate” with Adrienne Barbeau as Wilma is THE BEST, and I will never be able to burn the image of millions of cockroaches suffocating Upson Pratt out of my brain. NEVER. Eeeeeessssh.

Creepshow 2
Directed by Romeo cinematographer Michael Gornick, again with Savini special F/X-the second installment in the Creepshow anthology series is not as good as the first, but still pretty decent. The best story out of the four is “The Raft,” which has some amazing gore—and is also a large part of the reason why I refuse to swim in lakes. Fun fact: every single time I watch Cabin Fever, I think of The Raft.

I used to HATE this film based solely on the fact that the end of the movie is different than the end of the novel, but I rewatched it last year and it’s actually really f’ing suspenseful. The drama that unfolds prior to the dog actually terrorizing Donna (Dee Wallace forever!) and her young son, Tad is pretty soap opera-y, but the main action is worth the wait. Mind, changed!

The Dark Half
I am irrationally fond of this film, and I think that again, it’s due to my nostalgic love of the book. I don’t know why I love the idea of a writer’s main character coming to life and acting out all kinds of murderous scenarios that he wrote, himself, but I just do. The cheese in this one is SO ridiculous—but I love it still. Timothy Hutton circa 1993 is pretty rad, you guys.

No. Just no. Don’t do it.

The Lawnmower Man
There was a time when I would have recommended The Lawnmower Man to you, but that time has long passed. There is no scenario in which I would recommend you watch this film, ever. (even if you wanted to see what shitty virtual reality rendering looked like)

The Mangler
The Mangler! Oh, The Mangler. Look, this film is simply terrible. It’s about a laundry-folding machine possessed by a demon that actually WALKS out of the laundry to kill people. No, seriously. It does. BUT: It has Robert Englund in it, and Ted Levine. Levine is famous for playing serial killer Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs, and for some reason every line of dialog he spits out in this film is barely intelligible; it sounds like he’s chewing his own face off. I find it infinitely amusing.

Maximum Overdrive
I have one thing to say to you about this amazing movie: death by Pepsi can. And if that isn’t enough to sway you, AC/DC did ALL of the music for it. Now, go forth and watch! (and drink a lot while you do) You’re welcome.

Holycrap. This is one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever filmed, EVER. Kathy Bates deserves the shit out of that Oscar AND that Golden Globe for her portrayal of the obsessive Annie Wilkes, and James Caan was just as amazing opposite her as poor Paul Sheldon, the writer trapped in her cabin while recovering from an “ooky” car wreck, forced to resurrect his killed-off romance novel character, Misery Chastain. I still grimace during that hobbling scene. It’s… bone-crunchingly good.

The Mist
This one tends to get lost in the shuffle, labeled as a cheesy adaptation of a cheesy 1980 King novella. Although the premise—and the monsters—in The Mist start out as kind of less-than, the human element is dark and terrifying, the cast is perfect, and the end. Well, I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s pretty brilliant.

Secret Window
Total snoozer. Johnny Depp’s face is God, but that’s about it.

Silver Bullet
YESSSSS. I recently re-watched this one as well, and tiny Cory Haim and Everett “Big Ed” McGill were AWESOME. Honestly, the werewolf looks like a muppet, and the narration is godawful, but there is something joyful about it.

The Stand
Mick Garris took on the most ambitious Stephen King adaptation ever with The Stand; a miniseries which I loved whole-heartedly in 1994, but every time I’ve tried to watch it since then, all I can think is “too long; can’t finish.” The cast has a ton of my favorite people, but something about this epic battle of good and evil gets lost in translation (and a really bad mullet).

Storm of the Century
This is the King film I feel like I have to defend the most, and I think it’s because people don’t believe a Stephen King miniseries can be good (please to be reading what I just said about The Stand). But this is, actually, pretty good. Unlike other miniseries, SotC was not based on an existing novel; instead, King wrote it as a screenplay intended to be filmed. The story and the cast is strong—and Colm Feore totally kills it as the bad guy.

The Tommyknockers
Another mini-series adaptation gone wrong. Traci Lords & her alien-laser lipstick can fuck right off, and the decision to change the ending in order to “save” everyone is the WORST.DECISION.EVER.

This is a more straight-up, faithful adaptation to King’s story than Maximum Overdrive, but it’s sooooooooo boring. So so so so so boring. Just. Not good. I’d recommended MO over this, any day.

Other King adaptations I’ve definitely seen before, but remember too little about to write anything meaningful:

The Dead Zone
Graveyard Shift
The Night Flier
The Running Man (I’m not really sure this counts as horror either…maybe?)

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