It’s hard to conceive as Halloween creeps up on us that a generation of scary movie watchers hasn’t read Stephen King’s books or seen some of his earlier movies. We are here to correct that travesty. Here is a small sampling of King’s works that will have you adequately terrified in time for Halloween…
Released in 2004, this is actually one of King’s newer movies, based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden. In this mind-bending creepfest, Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is pitted against his alter ego. As you’d expect, Depp is fantastic in portraying with precise skill a man who is suffering a breakdown after discovering his wife is having an affair. Secret Window has all the necessary components of a scary movie, but in a The Sixth Sense kind of way, it keeps you speculating about what exactly is real and what is a figment of the character’s imagination.
Even if you’ve never seen The Shining, you’re likely familiar with a few of its famous lines, delivered by the perfectly psycho Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson). Say it with us, folks: “Wendy… I’m home!” But that’s just where the fun starts. Inspired by the now-famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, the fictional Overlook Hotel is the quintessential spine-tingling setting for this psychological thriller to take place. Spooky maze? Check. Long, creepy hallways where dead children play? Check. Tubs where zombie-looking naked old ladies bathe? Check. No real way to communicate with the outside world because of the hotel’s remote location and inaccessibility in the winter time? Check. An old bar where parties from the 40s take place every night (presumably in Jack’s head)? Double check. If you’ve not seen this movie, you owe it to yourself to do so. Just be prepared to never look at a hotel hallway the same way again…
It’s October, there’s a chill in the air, and you want to settle in for a cozy afternoon with a scary movie, but you’re kind of a chicken. If this describes you, fetch up this title. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance as Annie Wilkes, an obsessed fan who “nurses” her favorite writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) back to health after a car wreck. Through Annie’s unique brand of nursing, we’re forced to slip into Paul Sheldon’s character and wonder what it would be like to be immobile and at the mercy of a complete nutjob. Watch this flick and you’ll see why Bates’ Oscar is so richly deserved.
This is a King classic for reasons that aren’t directly tied to the scariness of the plot. A word of caution about this movie — don’t watch it if you’re depressed. The dreary Maine setting is enough to cast a dark cloud over your mood, but the two leading characters in this film — played by Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh — aren’t exactly the happy, friendly people next door. This is a favorite, in large part due to the morbidly funny quotes in it, like a sarcastic Bates saying, “Bet the last time you were sorry was when you needed to use the pay toilet and the string on your pet dime broke,” and “Next time one of us is going to the bone yard,” or “I did not murder that b**** anymore than I’m wearing a diamond tiara.” We guarantee after you watch this, you’ll develop a soft spot for Bates’ rough-around-the-edges character.
We have got to throw this in, not because it’s one of King’s best, but because it’s a classic that’s being re-released in March. The book version of this story was one of those books you read two or three times while you waited for Stephen King to crank out another book. That said, about the scariest thing in this movie is the opening locker room scene, and the, um, unruly body hair. Yikes! And for all the men out there, in case this feeds into any of your fantasies about what women do in a locker room, guess again. I assure you we do not prance around naked and snapping each other on the butts with towels. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Carrie was released in 1976, which has its own entertainment value, and should provide a basis of comparison when the new version comes out next spring.
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