Stephen King is a pop culture entity that is guaranteed to stay in the public consciousness for a very long time. Every few years he fades in to the background for a while, and then re-emerges to take pop culture by storm. The last few years have been yet another Stephen King renaissance with the new popularity of classic novels, the smashing popularity of “It” and the re-release of a lot of his famous and infamous cinematic entries. Everything from “Christine” to “Maximum Overdrive” has been given a physical release, and it’s a lot of to see how much King has carved his way in to pop culture, with various hits and stumbles. “Sleepwalkers” is a stumble.
“Creepshow” isn’t just a horror movie, but it’s also the gold standard for what most anthology horror movies strive to be. While there have been anthology horror films before it, “Creepshow” popularized the genre for a new decade and helped redefine the idea of the sub-genre. Not just that, but “Creepshow” is also a rebuttal to the golden age of horror comic from EC. Once upon a time the comics label that produced violent horror based comics were shut down due to their controversial nature. “Creepshow” is a movie that combines immense talents from folks like George Romero, Stephen King, and Tom Savini to provide something of a rebellious middle finger and show a new audience that these tales were as fun as they were violent.
“Cell” was troubled from the moment it was optioned in to a movie. Rather than become a success tale like “It,” it instead was left to tread water as a limited release that was quietly tucked away on the VOD market, and is now a two dollar purchase on streaming services. It’s not surprising since “Cell” is a film that could have used a much better script, a lot more development, and about twenty more minutes in its run time. In its state it feels utterly incomplete, half baked and rushed, along with pairing two stars that, at their best, are magnificent and at their worst, make a good living phoning in (shut up) performances. Tod Williams had the chance to jump on the ball and really provide us with a frantic and scary commentary about our over reliance on technology, and he fails.
It’s surprising for such an iconic author that Stephen King’s tales are so tough to bring to the big screen. I don’t know why “Children of the Corn” has managed to become something of a semi-classic since 1984 because the only scary thing about it is how boring it is. “Children of the Corn” has been a baffling horror presence since 1984, garnering a whole series of movies, including a remake, and sequels to the remake. There’s even been a new film in 2018.
Once upon a time a very popular Stephen King novel was made in to a hit movie and it became influential among many horror buffs. That’s about the extent of drama or intriguing Hollywood back story you’ll get with “Unearthed & Untold.” I’m sure it would make for a wonderful extra in its initial release, but I don’t know per se if it granted its own special release on Blu-Ray. The oddly celebrated horror drama is a movie that wasn’t much of an underdog like “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and didn’t garner weird supernatural coincidences like the set of “Poltergeist.” It was just a movie that was made thanks to a book that scared its own author to the core…
Chalk it up to rock bottom expectations, but “It” blew me away when it arrived in theaters mainly because it exceeded my expectations and proved to be a stellar film all around. Andres Muschetti already killed it with his adaptation of his short “Mama,” but he brings his same sensibility in another coming of age tale where pure evil meets innocence. “It” is a masterstroke of a reboot, a movie that pays tribute to the original novel and re-invents every aspect from the ground up for a new audience without dumbing down the material.
2017 was a great year for movies, especially if you were a horror buff. While the media downplayed it immensely, horror movies kicked major ass in theaters and streaming services, and a few of the highest grossing an most acclaimed films were horror, including a new adaptation of a Stephen King novel, which broke all records. While America wondered if there would be nuclear war tomorrow, Hollywood kept us entertained and laughing, with great superhero cinema, and of course some cathartic genre films of the horror, fantasy, and science fiction variety.
Without further ado: my top 10 of 2017.
It’s been a banner year for Stephen King fans everywhere, and Shout Factory sweetens the pot by giving Rob Reiner’s horror masterpiece “Misery” a collector’s edition. Based on the classic Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner who is no stranger to adapting King’s work, brings to screen a work of terror, dark comedy, and a demented commentary about the fans behind our work that also control our work. It’s a very volatile and sharp edged polemic about fandom when you get right down to it, and it’s never been more relevant than in the day and age where fandoms from all corners of the world have the loudest voices and sometimes can break the very thing they love.