Stephen King On Screen (2022)

In a world where Gatekeepers seem to be regularly trying to fence Horror off as if it is an elitist club, it is great to see something so unashamedly celebrating one of the genre’s greats, and anything that encourages more people to love horror is worth celebrating

Stephen King On Screen (2022)

Directed by Daphné Baiwir

1976, Brian de Palma directs Carrie, the first novel by Stephen King. Since, more than 50 directors adapted the master of horror’s books, in more than 80 films and series, making him now, the most adapted author still alive in the world. (IMDB)

Review by Mark Walker

1976, Brian de Palma directs Carrie, the first novel by Stephen King. Since, more than 50 directors adapted the master of horror’s books, in more than 80 films and series, making him now, the most adapted author still alive in the world. (IMDB)

I, like so many other people who enjoy horror, was dragged into the genre after an introduction to Stephen King. His works were, and continue to be, the gateway for many a new Constant Reader as they embark on a lifetime love of Horror. Even though much of his work might not even be considered horror by many (although most have elements of horror) King’s style of writing and the atmosphere and characters he creates are magnetic and hard to pull away from once you start.

For me it was Carrie and Christine where I started back around the age of 10 or 11 when I could borrow books from the library or buy my own from WHSmiths and not have to worry my mum by asking her to buy horror books for me. (She had been concerned a couple of years earlier when I had bought a Pan Book of horror stories from the school book club.)

I think Christine and Carrie were also the first two Stephen Kings films I saw, likely late-night showings, recorded on an old VCR.

What I can’t now remember is whether I saw the films first or read the books; it’s a good 40 years ago! But I suspect many Constant Readers had a similar introduction to King and he is almost as ubiquitous with the films adapted from his works as the novels themselves. You can’t think about King’s novels without thinking about the large number of movies that are also out there; a list that is constantly being added to.

Stephen King On Screen (2022)

Baiwir’s documentary takes a fond look down memory lane to explore the impact of King on the world of movies, talking to those people involved in their production from Carrie to Cujo and from The Shining to The Shawshank Redemption. We get contributions from Frank Darabont, Mike Flanagan, Mick Garris, Tom Holland, Tom McLoughlin and Taylor Hackford to name just a handful of the dozens of contributors all discussion their experiences of working on those many films.

And therein lies KoS’s main weakness – there is just too much to cover in 105 minutes (IMDB seems to say 75 minutes, but my screener was 105) when examining a writer as prolific as King.

Bookended by a couple of fun scenes with Baiwir visiting a curious shop straight out of Needful Things, the documentary gets stuck into the movies with minimal history about the man himself. While those bookends will leave your head reeling with the number of easter eggs that can be spotted, the rest of the documentary is less comprehensive and may leave many fans wanting more.

This isn’t because the film isn’t interesting. If you like clip shows and talking heads, then you will enjoy sitting back and having that trip down memory lane. If you want a more in depth look at King, the movies he has inspired and their impact on modern culture, then this film only scratches the surface. There is nothing here that even a casual, not-quite-Constant Reader, doesn’t already know. Although, having said that, there was one fun fact that I didn’t remember if I knew before, so that was nice… or a timely reminder of my advancing years!

There is a large focus on Darabont and Flanagan here. Not necessarily to the detriment of the other directors and crew, but this does show that you could fill 2 hours alone with a retrospective just from Darabont. I know we can’t expect that detail in a film under 2 hours, it’s just a shame as the subject is just so interesting.

This also highlights the alarming lack of Stephen King adaptations led by women, curiously at odds with his ability to write female characters. 

Despite being a light introduction to Stephen King, On Screen is an enjoyable trot down memory lane for us older Constant Readers, reminding us why we love King’s books and movies. It’s a memoir of the familiar that welcomes you in just like King’s books. But it also serves as a great introduction to his world and will hopefully tempt a few more readers over to the dark side and create new Constant Readers.

In a world where Gatekeepers seem to be regularly trying to fence Horror off as if it is an elitist club, it is great to see something so unashamedly celebrating one of the genre’s greats, and anything that encourages more people to love horror is worth celebrating

Signature Entertainment presents Stephen King on Screen on Digital Platforms 26th June & Blu-ray 18th September,

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Author

  • Jim Mcleod

    Jim "The Don" Mcleod has been reading horror for over 35 years, and reviewing horror for over 16 years. When he is not spending his time promoting the horror genre, he is either annoying his family or mucking about with his two dogs Casper and Molly.

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