The aptly named King of horror Stephen King has been writing his unique brand of horror since his 1974 debut "Carrie". In a little over 40 years, he has sold over 350 million copies of his books including 56 novels, nearly 200 short stories, and 5 non-fiction books. Known for repeating various tropes within his works such as children protagonists, the setting of Maine (in which King grew up and resides, for most of the year), and the use of Authors as narrators for his stories, King has also used elements of his own life in his works such as Jack Torrences Alcoholism (The Shining) and Peter Rickman's road accident (Kingdom Hospital). Often appearing in a cameo role in adaptations of his works, King has also used a variety of themes from popular culture and fiction, such as Coulrophobia (fear of clowns - IT), mind over matter abilities (Carrie, Firestarter, The Shining), and aliens (Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher), to name but a few.
Having enjoyed many periods of popularity in his long career, it seems as though it is a good time to be a King fan as audiences are enjoying something of a Stephen King revival at the moment, with a few new adaptations available over the coming months...
Currently in production in Devens, Massachusetts, Castle Rock will be a 10 episode serial that will air on the VOD service Hulu. Produced by J J Abrams the show will feature the fictional town of the same name and feature some characters portrayed by actors known for the roles in other adaptations of King's works including Sissy Spacek (Carrie) and Bill Skarsgard (IT). The show's premise is reported to explore the interconnected nature of King's works as was first revealed in The Dark Tower series.
Set to premiere August 8th on the Audience network, Mr. Mercedes is an upcoming detective drama serial based on Kings 2014 novel of the same name. The 10 episode show will star Brendan Gleeson as retired Detective Bill Hodges who receives a letter from someone calling themselves "Mr. Mercedes" after a recently reported accident in which a group of people are killed and more injured by a wayward Mercedes car. Hodgson, instead of informing his former colleagues investigates the alleged killer, who is revealed to be the emotionally disturbed psychopath Brady Hartsfield, portrayed by Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful). Before the unfortunate accident that cost his life, Star Trek and Odd Thomas star Anton Yelchin was to set to star as antagonist Brady.
Available on Spike TV the TV serial adaptation of King's 1980 novella The Mist may not feature any of the characters from the source material but so far seems to feature similar locations, themes, narrative beats and the same overarching premise in which a strange mist envelops the small American town of Bridgton, Maine within which exist a myriad of otherworldly creatures that prey upon anyone that enters the mist. Interestingly the TV adaptation has given the mist a new, supernatural characteristic of "knowing" those that venture within it and being able to manifest entities from the thoughts and fears of its victims. Rather than following the books central characters of David and Stephanie Drayton, and their son Billy the TV adaptation follows the characters of Kevin (Morgan Spector) and Eve Copeland (Alyssa Sutherland), and their daughter Alex.
As with the novella and the 2007 movie adaptation, the TV show infers that the mist may be sourced from a nearby US Army base following the events of something called "Project Arrowhead", which King fans believe was an experiment that created a trans-dimensional opening to one of the many parallel Earth's depicted in The Dark Tower series. Totalling 10 episodes The Mist first aired June 22nd on Spike TV and has maintained a steady viewership of over 400,000 viewers.
The Dark Tower
The forthcoming The Dark Tower movie adaptation of the epic book series (1998-2012) has been marketed as a sequel/continuation to the events depicted in the source material, yet some audiences have commented on the casting of British actor Idris Elba as the stories protagonist Roland AKA The Gunslinger, who in the books is Caucasian and reportedly racist. Critics, however, have praised Elba's casting in the role, which is reportedly inspired by Clint Eastwood's portrayal of "The Man with No Name" from Sergio Leone's series of westerns.
King's epic The Dark Tower series spans 9 novels and various comic books, which reveal that all of King's fictional works are part of a larger, shared universe, with the "Dark Tower" acting as the anchor between multiple versions of Earth. The vampires from Salem's Lot, the race from which Pennywise (IT) belongs to, and the Shine ability from the Shining are all referenced during the series, with the series antagonist Walter AKA The Man in Black (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey in the movie) being revealed to be Randall Flagg, the villain that first appeared in the 1978 novel The Stand. Whether or not the movie adaptation, which hits theaters this coming Friday will make reference to the series' shared universe remains to be seen, but should the movie be successful a TV serial is planned to enter production soon with an expected 2018 release which could explore the series' link to other works by King.
Following the much beloved 1990 TV mini-serial which featured legendary British actor, Tim Curry as the antagonist Pennywise the Clown, the forthcoming big screen adaptation will star Bill Skarsgard as the monstrous clown; Bill is the brother of Alexander (Legend of Tarzan) and the son of Stellan (Thor, Thor: The Dark World). Based on King's bestselling 1986 novel of the same name this new adaptation, directed by Andres Muuschietti (Mama) will follow the younger iteration of the main characters known as The Losers Club depicted in the first part of the novel.
Set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, IT tells of a creature that came to Earth sealed within an asteroid millions of years ago. When humans settled on the site of the asteroids landing, naming it Derry, the creature would, for 2 years, incite chaos and feed on the children of the town, manifesting itself as Pennywise the Clown, though it could also appear as a manifestation of its victim's fears. Once sated the creature would then hibernate for 27 years before again resurfacing. IT is also known by the name Bob Gray, likely in reference to the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy. The movie adaptation of IT, AKA IT: Part 1 - The Losers Club will be unleashed in theaters September 8th, with a sequel concluding the story in development pending the success of the movie.
In addition to the above, widely known adaptations of King's works there are a few slightly lesser known adaptations that will soon be released. A sequel to 2011's Children of the Corn: Genesis (based on King's 1977 short story), subtitled Runaway is expected to be released later this year, as is an adaptation of King's 2010 novella 1922. Netflix is also producing an original adaptation of King's 1992 novel Gerald's Game.