2019 was a surprisingly very good (and busy!) year for pop culture and film. Everything was so breakneck and speedily delivered that it was impossible to keep up. I wish I could have watched all the films I had planned for this list, That said, I did manage to see so much that I had a tough time compiling a definitive top ten. 2019 had so many surprises for movie fans of all kinds and these are ten films from 2019 that made the cut of the top ten for me.
I admittedly have a long relationship with “Silver Bullet” as it’s a bonafide childhood favorite horror movie that I’ve seen at least a thousand times. Years later, it’s managed to hold up very well, and that’s thanks to the fact that it embodies what often can break or make a Stephen King tale. There’s a strong sense of folklore and urban legend mythology behind the tale of “Silver Bullet” and King manages to combine so much from a murder mystery, a whodunit, a family movie, and a creepy werewolf picture in to a horror gem that earns its place in the pantheon of great King adaptations.
At this point I’m just glad that the new “It” adaptation didn’t get split in to a trilogy. “It Chapter One” was great just as it was, I thought “Chapter Two” needed to be the book end. Thankfully it truly is the finale I was hoping for as a poignant, complex, and heartbreaking film about the horrors of the past, and trying to prevent the nightmares of our childhood from deciding who we are and can become as adults. Once “The Losers Club” is forced back in to Derry Maine, they have no choice but to confront their own personal monsters before fighting the physical manifestation of their demons known as Pennywise.
We’re at the middle of an all out Stephen King renaissance where, once again, he is a hot item in Hollywood. Many of his short stories and novels are being adapted in to big, acclaimed projects, and we’re even getting second stabs at “The Stand” and a third stab at “Salem’s Lot.” With “Doctor Sleep” on the way, and Hollywood opening the scope of King’s writing for films or television, there is an inevitable remake of “The Shining” coming. But until then, fans of Kubrick’s loose cinematic adaptation can now invest in the 4K edition of the horror masterpiece.
Stephen King is an author that never goes away even when he’s experienced something of a renaissance in pop culture. King’s “It” remains one of his most iconic and easily digestible novels, but peculiarly a book that needs drastic alterations to make it more palatable for film. Andy Muschietti had a bonafide challenge on his hands to deliver a two part film that confronted the terror of loss of innocence, and confronting the demons of the past. It all invariably comes dropping down on the Losers Club with the help of the mercilessly vile Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate the first adaptation of “Pet Sematary” from 1989 as well as its sequel. I think the first version is silly, exploitative, and looks more like a cheap TV movie than anything. It also sets up so many plot elements and a mythology that it never clarifies or resolves. While the new version of Stephen King’s novel “Pet Sematary” also never quite answers all of the nagging questions, it at least adds a brand new logic to it, giving many of the characters motivations for their irrationality. There’s also an explanation as to the allure of the pet sematary and why it’s stayed up for generations.
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.