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04.11.2017by: Mike Sprague

Five Stephen King Stories That Need to Be Movies

This was one of the toughest top fives I have yet to do here at AITH. There are far more than FIVE Stephen King stories that would make great films. Hell, at Top 10 would have made me lose a bit of sleep. Top five? Oh, boy. While there are stories/novels many people feel should be films - such as THE LONG WALK, DOCTOR SLEEP, and LISEY'S STORY - I'm going to steer clear of those titles just because, do we really need another Top Whatever King stories where we know the top picks? Nah. We can find that elsewhere. I'm also excluding stories already on their way to the screen such as REVIVAL, THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, and THE THINGS THEY LEFT BEHIND. So what the hell ARE you including? The lesser-known King stories that, with the right creative team behind the scenes, could become the next King screen-classic. Now let's get started, shall we?

HONORABLE MENTIONS

These are the stories that didn't quite make the cut but would make a terrific first season if someone were to start a new King anthology TV series. By the way, why the HELL isn't there a Stephen King anthology series on TV? There should be one in active development - if not on TV - at all times; call it STEPHEN KING'S NIGHT SHIFT, collect top up-and-coming names in horror, slap in on Netflix and watch the money/views roll right in. Anyhow, here are my top picks for season one of my imaginary NIGHT SHIFT TV series: THE BOOGEYMAN, ONE FOR THE ROAD, BEACHWORLD (see above), THE LIBRARY POLICEMAN, SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN, and THE GINGERBREAD GIRL. Now let's move on.

5. THE JAUNT

"It's eternity in there..." THE JAUNT was first published in 1981 and later in SKELETON CREW. "Jaunting" refers to the act of teleportation - now commonplace in the 24th century. The story follows a father preparing his children for their first Jaunt to Mars. He tells of the history of Jaunting and the disturbing side-effects. Turns out people can only Jaunt while unconscious and must use anesthesia beforehand. This is because, while the Jaunt is instantaneous for the physical body, to the conscious mind in lasts an eternity. But it's not so much Mark's story that would make the great film. What's fascinating are the side stories Mark tells. Stories of a condemned murderer offered a full pardon to be the first conscious human to Jaunt or a woman shoved into the enteral limbo by her husband. This story leaves the door open for a whole world's worth of possibilities. I say give the film to someone like WESTWORLD's Jonathan Nolan, or FARGO/LEGION's Noah Hawley and let them explore the horrors of Jaunting in all its existential terror. Here's a jumping off point: would you Jaunt consciously if the person you loved above all others was stuck in the eternal limbo, and there was a chance you could bring them out?

4. HOME DELIVERY

Stephen King + Zombies. Boom. Sold. "Home Delivery" follows a young pregnant widow who lives on a small island off the coast of Maine. One day, you guessed it, the dead walk. Civilization collapses. The pregnant girl, along with the other inhabitants of the small island, prepares for their own attack from the island's small cemetery. What makes this the story stick out from all the other zombie movies is it contains the zombie "issue" to an island community. Imagine Amity Island from JAWS, but facing off with zombies instead of sharks. Imagine zombies cannot make it to the island so once the problem is contained, the island is "safe", and boom, there's the major element that sets this zombie story apart; hope. However grim the future may be, there is hope. More importantly maybe is the under riding story here; Maggie is born on the island, and like all the inhabitants before her, she will no doubt be buried here. Like a badge of honor. But the island is her prison. Until the day where she must confront, and battle the island's ancestors in an attempt to make this place a whole new world for her child. Earn the island. For yourself, and future generations. Like the best zombie tales, this story keeps the zombies in the background, preferring to focus on the human element instead.

3. RAINY SEASON

I may be alone on this one. That's fine. But ever since I read this story I couldn't wait for someone with the right skill-set to tackle the project. Stick with me here. Rainy Season follows a young couple who rent a house in a small town. The locals warn them the rainy season is approaching. The young couple, of course, disregards their warnings. That night, the rain starts. But this "rain" made up of grotesque black toads the size of footballs, armed with sharp teeth able to chew through doors, ankles, and calf-meat. Sounds silly, right? It is. But that's the joy in this story. It could be a macabre pitch-black horror-comedy like those cheesy B-movie animal attacks flicks from the 70s. Again, maybe I am the only one who thinks this, but the thought of a handsome couple on their honeymoon, forced to battle an army of evil toads, sounds like something Joe Dante would absolutely kill. Practical FX and puppetry are a must, however. CGI would ruin this potential throwback. It needs to tread that delicate EVIL DEAD 2 balance of horror and comedy. But instead on battling one loose hand run amok, it's an endless stream of fat, black-bile spewing, nasty "hands", all with their own personalities. Kind of like GREMLINS. But with toads.

2. THE REACH

King has said THE REACH is the story he wants to be remembered for. The story follows an old woman who lives on an island and has never been to the mainland. The "reach" is the body of water separating the island from the mainland. Stella is about to turn 95 when the hauntings begin. First, she sees her dead husband, then other dead residents of the island. THE REACH is about a life reaching its end, amid a gloomy, harsh winter. This story is more in line with Frank Darabont's adaptations. More of a drama. That said, this IS a ghost story but the ghosts are not to be feared. However, they are still responsible for some very creepy moments that would keep horror fans on edge. This could be the film to rival THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION as the best adaptation of King's work. Cast the right actress as Stella and we could have a horror film that doesn't deal out death in droves, but instead, focuses on ONE death. And all the mysteries, horror, and hope that may come along with it. Who should direct? Darabont seems the obvious choice so let me float another name: Stephen King. Yes, King said he'll never direct again after MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, but it may be time to try again. Partner him with master cinematographer Roger Deakins, and I think King could surprise us all. Even himself.

1. ON WRITING

Is this a cheat? Nope. ON WRITING is perhaps the Stephen King book every human being should read. And most have, it seems. For good reason too; ON WRITING is a masterpiece. Showcasing King's storytelling abilities better than any of his other works, King even makes the act of teaching into an approachable story, of sorts. But this wouldn't be a movie about King pointing sentences out on a blackboard. No. But it would be the ultimate movie "on writing"; the gift, the curse, the long nights, the horror, and the triumphs. More than anything this film would be about King. We would follow his life. From the days of typing with a child's desk balancing on his knees in the laundry room of a trailer to the days when King is hit by a van and writing pulls him back to life. Truthfully, I was saving Frank Darabont for this entry. No other filmmaker has the reverence for King's work like Darabont. He respects every word. Darabont would craft a new masterpiece here. No question. Who writes the script? Again, let's be bold here and say, King, himself. Normally I'm against a man penning the script to his own life, but any other writer would romanticize the whole ordeal. Only King has the wit and self-deprecating humor to pull this off with honesty. Mix that with his obvious first-hand knowledge of not only his life, but writing itself, and there is no other human better fitted for the job.

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