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Screening Stephen King: Adaptation and the Horror Genre in Film and Television

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Since the 1970s, the name Stephen King has been synonymous with horror. His vast number of books has spawned a similar number of feature films and TV shows, and together they offer a rich opportunity to consider how one writer's work has been adapted over a long period within a single genre and across a variety of media--and what that can tell us about King, about adaptati Since the 1970s, the name Stephen King has been synonymous with horror. His vast number of books has spawned a similar number of feature films and TV shows, and together they offer a rich opportunity to consider how one writer's work has been adapted over a long period within a single genre and across a variety of media--and what that can tell us about King, about adaptation, and about film and TV horror. Starting from the premise that King has transcended ideas of authorship to become his own literary, cinematic, and televisual brand, Screening Stephen King explores the impact and legacy of over forty years of King film and television adaptations. Simon Brown first examines the reasons for King's literary success and then, starting with Brian De Palma's Carrie, explores how King's themes and style have been adapted for the big and small screens. He looks at mainstream multiplex horror adaptations from Cujo to Cell, low-budget DVD horror films such as The Mangler and Children of the Corn franchises, non-horror films, including Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, and TV works from Salem's Lot to Under the Dome. Through this discussion, Brown identifies what a Stephen King film or series is or has been, how these works have influenced film and TV horror, and what these influences reveal about the shifting preoccupations and industrial contexts of the post-1960s horror genre in film and TV.


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Since the 1970s, the name Stephen King has been synonymous with horror. His vast number of books has spawned a similar number of feature films and TV shows, and together they offer a rich opportunity to consider how one writer's work has been adapted over a long period within a single genre and across a variety of media--and what that can tell us about King, about adaptati Since the 1970s, the name Stephen King has been synonymous with horror. His vast number of books has spawned a similar number of feature films and TV shows, and together they offer a rich opportunity to consider how one writer's work has been adapted over a long period within a single genre and across a variety of media--and what that can tell us about King, about adaptation, and about film and TV horror. Starting from the premise that King has transcended ideas of authorship to become his own literary, cinematic, and televisual brand, Screening Stephen King explores the impact and legacy of over forty years of King film and television adaptations. Simon Brown first examines the reasons for King's literary success and then, starting with Brian De Palma's Carrie, explores how King's themes and style have been adapted for the big and small screens. He looks at mainstream multiplex horror adaptations from Cujo to Cell, low-budget DVD horror films such as The Mangler and Children of the Corn franchises, non-horror films, including Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, and TV works from Salem's Lot to Under the Dome. Through this discussion, Brown identifies what a Stephen King film or series is or has been, how these works have influenced film and TV horror, and what these influences reveal about the shifting preoccupations and industrial contexts of the post-1960s horror genre in film and TV.

34 review for Screening Stephen King: Adaptation and the Horror Genre in Film and Television

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nick Spacek

    Simon Brown’s new book from University of Texas Press, Screening Stephen King: Adaptation and the Horror Genre in Film and Television couldn’t have come out at a worse time. This isn’t to say that it’s not a well-written analysis of the literature and screen adaptations from one of the best-selling authors of all time. That aspect of Screening Stephen King is inherent in Brown’s book, and the author is well-acquainted with every iteration of King’s work, no matter how tangential. No, what makes t Simon Brown’s new book from University of Texas Press, Screening Stephen King: Adaptation and the Horror Genre in Film and Television couldn’t have come out at a worse time. This isn’t to say that it’s not a well-written analysis of the literature and screen adaptations from one of the best-selling authors of all time. That aspect of Screening Stephen King is inherent in Brown’s book, and the author is well-acquainted with every iteration of King’s work, no matter how tangential. No, what makes the book’s timing unfortunate is that it was obviously written and planned just a little too early. Several of the most-successful and well-regarded screen versions of King’s works -- such as IT and the Netflix film of Gerald’s Game -- along with the massive disappointment that was The Dark Tower, were all released last year, but they’re only mentioned in passing at the end of Screening Stephen King. It’s a damned shame, given that Brown frequently looks into how several of King’s books have been adapted multiple times, like The Shining and Carrie, and the analysis between the separate incarnations allows the author to look more deeply at the works and analyze them from multiple angles. Given that The Shining and IT were both adapted for the big and small screens, with the former being first a film and then a mini-series, and the latter being the opposite, it would’ve allowed for an excellent segment wherein the titles were compared and contrasted between their television and cinematic aspects and how faithfully each reproduces the novel upon which they’re based. Also, in that both versions of IT are fairly well-regarded, whereas The Shining mini-series was almost ignored, it lends another aspect to the critique. It’s a shame that such an opportunity was missed, given that Brown really digs into the obscure and varied series which spawned from several of King’s works. The Screening Stephen King chapter entitled “Stephen King as Low-Budget and Straight-to-DVD Horror” is perhaps the book’s most interesting one, given that Brown looks into the Children of the Corn, Mangler, and Sometimes They Come Back franchises more deeply than anyone really would have a reason to otherwise. My sympathies to the author for having to dig through these bargain-basement flicks in search of some small connection to King’s original works. The other quibble I have with Screening Stephen King is that Brown states in his introduction one of his goals in the book is to focus on “the various stylistic tropes that can be traced across King’s body of work.” While Brown recognizes certain aspects -- brand names, use of language, et al -- what seems to be ignored in this book, as well as other critiques of King’s oeuvre, is the preponderance of inner monologue (and, in some cases, inner dialogue) throughout his career. With so much of King’s work tied to the fact that his characters have pieces of plot and richly-written speech taking place in their own heads, it seems that trying to figure out how much of this very notable and particular style of the author gets jettisoned or adapted would be of particular interest to anyone who’s read King’s work over the years. It’s an unfortunately wasted opportunity in an otherwise astute academic analysis. Given that Brown also makes reference to unfilmed adaptations -- such as the unproduced script of Night Shift -- Screening Stephen King has a scope which really does encompass every possible aspect of how King’s works were adapted not only by others, but by the author himself. It really is the most exhaustive analysis of Stephen King on the screen that has ever been written. The lack of the biggest King blockbuster of all time, in IT, is very much missed, but one hopes that this will be rectified in a future edition. I’m certainly looking forward to it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert Rountree

    Subject matter was brilliant , however the audio reading was probably the worst I’ve listened to. Very robotic..... enough at the start to make me think it was computer generated. Buy the book, avoid the audio version.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    An Informative If Verbose Stroll Down Memory Lane If you are (or were) a fan of Stephen King---and who isn't?---you will find something to enjoy in this (audio)book. It is an exhaustive survey of Stephen King's books, novellas and short stories, and the video adaptations of them. The main focus of the book is on summarizing, critiquing, and analyzing Stephen King (SK) film and TV adaptations of his works, but this book does not neglect comparing these with the original, written words. Simon Brown An Informative If Verbose Stroll Down Memory Lane If you are (or were) a fan of Stephen King---and who isn't?---you will find something to enjoy in this (audio)book. It is an exhaustive survey of Stephen King's books, novellas and short stories, and the video adaptations of them. The main focus of the book is on summarizing, critiquing, and analyzing Stephen King (SK) film and TV adaptations of his works, but this book does not neglect comparing these with the original, written words. Simon Brown goes into great detail talking about the inspirations for SK's works, the history, marketing, box office, and critics' reactions of his film adaptations, and the impact (if any) on the overall genres of literary horror and film horror. He also works in many biographical details on SK as he evolved as a writer. When relevant, Mr. Brown will also venture into discussing other groundbreaking horror novels and films. However, if you are looking for a chatty, frothy "Entertainment Weekly"-style review of SK's novels and films, you should look elsewhere. This is an academic treatise on the subject which may repel some in the mainstream film-going and popular fiction-reading audience. My advice is to fast forward past Chapters 1 and 2, where the author's main goal seems to be to establish his academic bona fides to pontificate authoritatively on "Children of the Corn" and "Maximum Overdrive." He succeeds, boringly, with verbosity such as " For the purpose of my argument, I approach the concept of horror not from a philosophical position, but rather in genre terms as a series of cinematic, televisual, and literary conventions that together identify an individual piece of work--be it film, book, or TV show--as belonging to the horror genre as it is defined within its respective medium." "Academic bullshit," as SK might say---and has in a different context. I almost turned off the audiobook after about 45 minutes of this, but I'm glad I didn't. Skip over the first two chapters. Jump to Chapter 3, where we begin the discussion of "Carrie," the movie that put SK on the map. The narration is appropriate for the tone of the book, but I had to listen to it at 1.25x speed for a more natural cadence. I enjoyed this book. It was chock full of information. I especially appreciated the discussion of SK's earlier works when, in my opinion, he wrote his true masterpieces. My interest in his works has waned over time,as if the thicker his books became, the more cumbersome and problematic they became. [Does he even use an editor anymore?] Yet, because he is such an influential force in our cultural landscape, even books of his I haven't read I am still familiar with, and it was interesting to learn about them anyway. This book will make you want to revisit some of your favorite Stephen King books and movies. *I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an unbiased review.*

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bikram

    I had requested and received audiobook version of this book for free from the narrator, in exchange for an unbiased review. This is the first book of this kind that I've listened to. I have read numerous Stephen King books but have never read any book about the man himself. This was my very first non-fiction book written about a living person's work. I loved the detailed analysis that Simon Brown provided of King's work. Some of these made me rethink my own understanding of the books I had read. I had requested and received audiobook version of this book for free from the narrator, in exchange for an unbiased review. This is the first book of this kind that I've listened to. I have read numerous Stephen King books but have never read any book about the man himself. This was my very first non-fiction book written about a living person's work. I loved the detailed analysis that Simon Brown provided of King's work. Some of these made me rethink my own understanding of the books I had read. This book also introduced me to stuff that happens behind the scene during story adaptions for tv or movie. That's one interesting topic that I hadn't thought about before, but now that I have read this, I know I'll be thinking about it whenever any popular book gets adapted. All that said, this book is a little... dry? It more or less reads like an academic book. I guess that's to be expected, given the subject matter. Not saying that I got bored while listening to it. I just wish it had a little more "punch.", if that makes sense. Peter Lerman's narration was perfect match for the content. He did a good job of delivering the content in a well toned voice. It was like listening to a well made documentary. And I mean that in a good way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kingsley

    In Screening Stephen King author Simon Brown looks at the history of adaptions of Stephen King's work - to the big screen and the small screen. Starting with early works - the adaptions that were still coming out before King was well known, he examines how the phenomenon that is Stephen king affects adaptions of his work and how they are presented to the public. One of the major themes of the book is looking at Kings as a writer vs King as a brand - while King writes a variety of books, not just In Screening Stephen King author Simon Brown looks at the history of adaptions of Stephen King's work - to the big screen and the small screen. Starting with early works - the adaptions that were still coming out before King was well known, he examines how the phenomenon that is Stephen king affects adaptions of his work and how they are presented to the public. One of the major themes of the book is looking at Kings as a writer vs King as a brand - while King writes a variety of books, not just horror, he is most well known as a horror author that the 'King' brand is used for adaptions that are horror based. Horror movies emphasise King in their marketing, while 'serious' and non-horror adaptions shy way from King. Stories like Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption avoided the King brand as much as possible, to avoid the correlation with horror stories, as they are not horror. He looks at how much is branded King also depends on how previously King branded things have sold - if 'King' is in vogue, then the branding of something as Stephen King (not matter how unrelated - such as The Lawnmower Man) is applied. When 'King' is not doing well the branding was avoided. The book does a great in depth look at King, the adaptions and their impact on movies and each other. There are some spoilers to his works. I am a part time reader of king, not one of King's a constant readers, so there was much in this book the 'spoiled' some of the books or adaptions I have not yet got to. That didn't concern me, but it may concern others interested in this book. So fair warning. Narration by Peter Lerman is good. I had previously listened to another book he narrated and it was very stilted. This still has a small amount of that, but no where near the same amount. That makes me believe the fault was with the writing style of the other book, not Lerman. Generally here he is well paced, flows well and easy to listen to. I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jude Wright

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shbooks Heslop

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  9. 4 out of 5

    Loris Smyth

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ilja Rautsi

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  12. 5 out of 5

    Drew

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tobias Rasmussen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Maddrey

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eric Chvatal

  17. 4 out of 5

    deadman36g

  18. 4 out of 5

    Florence McCambridge

  19. 5 out of 5

    Blake

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wes Brown

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Sipila

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mari Anne mcmaken

  23. 4 out of 5

    Coryn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Uriel Perez

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ana Luisa

  26. 5 out of 5

    Evan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marisa Thoman

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey Gabriel

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris Zeid

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Syme

  31. 4 out of 5

    Mairéad

  32. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  33. 4 out of 5

    TheCrankyVulcan

  34. 5 out of 5

    Kris Stam

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