Thursday, October 22, 2015

The King and I

by Melissa Uhrin
Novels: 54. Made for TV movies and mini-series: 21. Theatrically Released Movies: 36. And with most of his works now available on Audiobook, I basically have a format for most any mood in which I can get my Stephen King fix on.

When I was a kid, I remember picking up a book, starting to read it, getting scared, putting it under my pillow to hide it, and then I would find myself drawn to it during the night when I couldn’t sleep to read a bit more, become scared again, and the cycle would repeat.. (I was a weird,weird child, I know). What had me so enthralled? My first taste of horror that I could control with the turn of a page: Pet Sematary. I would be so engrossed in the story that whenever I wasn’t reading I would be imagining things happening without me. I haven’t re-read the book in a few years, but I enjoyed my viewing of it during our Junesploitation’s Animalsploitation Day this year. (Even Zelda was a delight!) I have always found that while the movie shows you the terrors that lie written on the pages, the book describes every thought, feeling, shadow and nightmare and your imagination is what brings them to life. Let’s just say the Zelda of my imagination makes the Zelda in the movie look like a happy Muppet. This is why I love having so many formats to experience every possible angle of a great story!
Over the years, I have hopped from books to made-for-television movies, to feature films, and back to books, which has now morphed into Audiobooks as well. For five and a half years I worked as a mechanical insulator (the definition of which is overlong, boring and can easily be found via a Google search), and I found that I could quite easily work through a ten hour day with the aid of an audiobook. (In other words, it is a thirty, forty or fifty HOUR long movie for my earholes! Hooray!) My first taste of an audiobook was Stephen King’s 11/22/63, which has become hands down my favourite of his novels, and my most re-listened to audiobook (nine times or fifty times, I have completely lost count). I am on pins and needles waiting for the TV mini-series that’s currently in production (starring James Franco, and I am so hoping this is one of his “on” performances). The novel strays from King’s typical straight horror genre, and follows instead the tale of a man finding a worm-hole through time which he uses to go back to the late 1950s and stays until ‘63 to try and stop the John F Kennedy assassination. (Immediately I was hooked!) Always the master story-teller, he had me craving an opportunity to go back in time myself, just to be able to live (or even visit) a time that I am too young to be nostalgic about.

Along the way, we meet up with some familiar characters in Derry, Maine, which then led me straight to purchasing and listening to IT on audiobook. Talk about over 40 hours of awesomeness. This again led me to watch the movie, which never ceases to make me fall in love with Tim Curry and stupid clowns all over again. And the re-make of the movie is back in the works of being re-made? It has changed so many damn times over the past few years I have lost track of where we sit now. I don’t know quite how any Pennywise could compare to Curry’s, but we shall see. Or not. With this being one of my all-time favourite performances of Tim Curry’s (tied with his performance as Dr. Poole in Oscar), I don’t want to see another Pennywise. He’s already the perfect monster from our dreams.
After my double re-visit of IT, I felt drawn to another made-for-tv movie of King’s that I hadn’t seen since it was first released in 1994, The Stand. I couldn’t remember ever having read the book, and with not having the time to sit down and devote to it, I bought the audiobook and settled in for a 50 hour listen whilst crawling around on mechanical room floors insulating the crap out of things that most people will never even know exist. This is my second most listened-to King book, and is a very close contender for my favorite (11/22/63 wins out because JFK), and I am currently in the middle of another visit in a world where Captain Tripps has decimated the population and the inevitable battle between good and evil is just picking up. I don’t know about you, but when I read (or listen) to a novel that has a film that I have seen, my mind creates a much different character than the ones I know visually from the film. The Frannie Goldsmith of my imagination differs much from the Molly Ringwald of the movie; however, I find Stu Redman, (Gary Sinise) to be pretty spot on.

As we seem to be caught in a world where every good (and bad) book needs a movie sibling or NEEDS to be re-made (ugh) I must make mention that one of my favourite stories, Insomnia, would be damn near impossible to bring to life on film (not to be confused with 2002’s Christopher Nolan movie of the same name.) As most of the story is more of an internal narration of an insomniac and his voyage to a parallel dimension that holds the innermost wonders of the “strings” holding us between life and death, I feel our imaginations (definitely mine in any case) are able to create vivid images that would be almost impossible to capture on film in a manner that would do justice to the story. So keep it on the pages and leave our imaginations to the visuals.
With so many Stephen King novels and their accompanying movies, I find that when I finish a book (whether hardcopy or audiobook), I am so caught up in that world that I need more, so in goes the DVD or click goes the Netflix and I settle in for a few hours of someone else’s visual twist on the story...which then leads me back to wanting to read the story and again I find that I am caught up in a vicious cycle and have a bitch of a time jumping free. Luckily for me, King has interwoven many of his characters throughout his works, so when I do make the successful leap from one favourite story to the next, Derry welcomes me with open arms, sharp teeth and the countless horrors held on the next page or frame.


  1. A little while ago I listened to the audiobook of the Stand narrated by Grover Gardner. I became really comforted by Grover Gardner's voice and was bummed when the book was done.

  2. I have never ever listened to an audiobook and it seems like it would be a different kinda experience - like, who reads It? And do they do different voices and stuff?

    Good call on 11/22/63 and I had no idea there was a movie forthcoming so that's great news.

    I just watched Christine for the first time in a looong time last night and it really holds up well (and the blu-ray looks great) - it's both very King-y and very Carpenter-y - would highly recommend giving it a spin if it's been awhile.

  3. Huge props for mentioning Curry as Dr Pool in Oscar. Underrated performance and movie.

    1. "Heeere's money...and here mooooore money..."

  4. I really enjoyed your article! I've listen to both "The Stand" and "It" on audiobook and really liked the experience. I've seen the TV mini series more times than I'd like to admit but was happy to hear the original text and found it the superior experience (however, as you mentioned, at 40 to 50hrs it's an undertaking). I have a guilty confession, my favorite King experiences (despite so many superior movies/books/what have you) is "Storm of the Century" and "Rose Red". I guess the only thing to say is "Give me what I want and I'll go away". I know, I know.

  5. I've been rereading The Dark Half, which I hope to finish by the time The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is published on November 3. I haven't read Dark Half since high school. What struck me this time around, having perused the work of King's acknowledged inspirations, is that Dark Half is sort of like something John D. MacDonald might have written if he had a hankering for horror. Like a supernatural Cape Fear.