Page to Screen: Never mind The Dark Tower – here comes IT!

Okay, so the new film adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for. Many fans of the books feel the film entirely missed the mark, while newcomers to King’s elaborate mythos wonder what all the fuss was about. As a film sequel seems unlikely and it may be some time until somebody brings this to big budget television where it naturally belongs, we suggest you try out the books. Better yet, listen to the audiobooks, masterfully read by Frank Muller and George Guidall over 145 hours, or as we call it in Seattle, a couple of months’ worth of commuting.

Yet Stephen King adaptations vary widely in quality, and for every forgettable Thinner or Maximum Override, there’s a Carrie or Stand By Me. On September 8, a new screen adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel IT arrives in theaters, and it looks straight up terrifying – check the trailer. The 1990 miniseries already has many admirers, not least of all thanks to Tim Curry’s devious, macabre and often hilarious portrayal of Pennywise, the ultimate evil clown; if you’ve never seen it, you really should. But really, you should read the book, which is easily one of King’s best and most terrifying. If you want to read it before seeing the movie, start soon: the book weighs in at 1,156 pages, or 444,414 words, making it only a tiny bit shorter than his longest novel, The Stand. Nobody has done more justice to the whole scary clown thing than King, although the novel goes well beyond clowns into the heart of what fear is, and where it comes from.

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This new film is over two hours long (compared to The Dark Tower’s relatively scant 90 minutes), and is the first of a duology, so it will eventually have a running time similar to the earlier television version. It has been updated, but as much of the story occurs in flashback this means it largely revolves around a group of terrified children in the 1980s, making it the perfect balm for all of us growing impatient for season two of Stranger Things, due out on October 27.

Oh, and lest we forget, there’s what looks like an excellent new TV adaptation of King’s Mr. Mercedes underway now. Here’s the trailer, and you can get the first two episodes free, here. Binge watchers looking for something fresh should also check out James Franco’s recent miniseries adaptation of King’s excellent time travel novel 11.22.63. With a popular reach and influence in our age equivalent to that of Charles Dickens in his, King has brought more readers to the cinema and tempted more filmgoers to the library than anyone else. What are your favorite Stephen King books and/or movies?

     – Posted by David W.

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