I must confess that when I first heard that Epix was turning Stephen King’s early short story “Jerusalem’s Lot” into a ten-episode TV series, I wasn’t terribly excited. I don’t subscribe to that service, so I planned to give the show a miss. I thought it would turn out to be like the TV series The Mist, which bears little resemblance to the source material beyond the general concept. I’m here to tell you I was wrong, and this show is worth checking out. There is horror a-plenty here if you have plenty of patience for the show’s somewhat measured pace.
The first time Billy Summers killed a man, he was barely twelve. By the time he’s eighteen, he’s a sniper with the Marines in Iraq, where he notches up another two dozen kills. Instead of re-upping, he tries to find work back in the States. One of his former Marine friends asks him to kill someone. Thus begins Billy’s career as an elite hitman. His only condition is that his victims have to be demonstrably bad men. He’s not a sociopath driven to kill — he’s just good with a gun. He can hit targets from an incredible distance and then vanish like Houdini without being identified or caught. Now, at the ripe old age of 44, he’s looking to retire. One last job and he’s done.Continue Reading
Lisey’s Story, the Apple TV+ adaptation of Stephen King’s 2006 novel of the same name, begins its eight-episode run on Friday, June 4. The miniseries features a stellar cast, including Julianne Moore as Lisey Landon, Clive Owen as her husband Scott and Joan Allen and Jennifer Jason Leigh as her sisters Amanda and Darla. Rounding out the cast are Ron Cephas Jones as Professor Dashmiel and Dane DeHaan as Jim Dooley. All eight episodes were scripted by King and directed by Pablo Larraín, who previously helmed the bio-pic Jackie.
King frequently cites Lisey’s Story as his favorite of his novels. His general policy towards adaptations of his books and stories is that he is either “all in” or “all out.” In the latter case, he has cast and script approval but he generally leaves the directors and other producers alone. However, he was heavily involved with every facet of the Lisey’s Story adaptation. In the video included below he says, “I thought if someone was going to screw it up, I used to tell my wife that no one was going to screw it up more than me.”
In a couple of weeks—on March 2nd, 2021, to be specific—Hard Case Crime will publish their third Stephen King novel, Later. Although King is generally thought of as a horror writer, he has written numerous crime short stories, novellas and novels, giving them a unique twist. In Part 1 of a three-part series, I look at King’s earliest involvement with crime fiction. Next week, I’ll explore his more recent writings in the genre, including his previous two books with Hard Case Crime and the Mercedes series. Then, on publication day, I’ll review Later and look ahead to King’s next crime novel, Billy Summers.Continue Reading
Hard Case Crime (The Colorado Kid, Joyland) will publish Stephen King’s next supernatural crime novel in March 2021. Later will be a paperback original (cover by Paul Mann) and eBook, but there will also be a limited edition hardcover featuring two covers by Gregory Manchess, one for Later itself and one for a fictitious novel within the novel that features prominently in the plot.
In this installment of News from the Dead Zone, I’ll tell you a little more about Later, bring you up to date on recent King appearances, let you know what adaptations you can expect to see soon, which ones are in production, which ones are on the table and which ones have died on the vine. I’ll also give you an early look at Hope and Miracles from Gauntlet Press, which collects the screenplays of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, along with tons of ancillary material. Pull up a chair!
Shortly after King launched his website in 1998, a guest book was added to the site. By 2003, this was converted to a “message board,” an unthreaded list of comments from fans that were occasionally answered by the staff. Continue Reading
What is a novella? In some quarters, it’s defined as a long short story or a short novel. But this is the Stephen King Universe we’re dealing with, where “The Langoliers,” coming it at over 90,000 words—a length many writers would find appropriate for a novel—is considered a novella because it was bundled with three other works of similar length. On the other side, some often consider the four entries in The Bachman Books novellas because they are bundled in similar fashion when, in fact, all four were originally published as standalone novels.
The original King novella collection, Different Seasons, was notable in that three of the four stories had no supernatural elements. The same claim could almost be made about If It Bleeds, although with some caveats. Strange things appear in every story—a dead man avenging the protagonist, a room where people see visions of impending death, a shapeshifting scavenger, and a talking rat that grants wishes—but an argument could be made that in at least two stories, and maybe three, the existence of the supernatural is, itself, speculative. It could also be based on assumptions made by the characters or their delusions. About the fourth story, though, there is no question.
This Sunday, January 12th, HBO premieres the first two episodes of their 10-episode adaptation of The Outsider. Is it good? Absolutely. One of the best. Before I get into that, let me take a little step back.Continue Reading
I know, I’m seriously late in reviewing the latest big screen adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Hopefully better late than never! I finally got a chance to see Mike Flanagan’s tour-de-force film this week and I am so glad I got to see it on the big screen. And I can’t wait to see it again, although that may have to wait, because I don’t think it’s going to be in theaters much longer. Continue Reading
Today is publication day for Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, which I reviewed last week. Book release day is always a big one for fans. However, that’s not the only thing happening today. Season 3 of Mr. Mercedes launches on AT&T Audience Network, and it’s a good one! [Note: Everything I’m going to discuss in this review is covered in the trailer, more or less.]Continue Reading
Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Yes, It Chapter Two is nearly three hours long. Did it feel like it? Not in the least. Because my phone was turned off during the press screening I attended on Tuesday evening, I had no sense of the passage of time, but I never felt the movie dragged. Not for a moment. I saw it on an IMAX screen, the first time I’ve seen anything on a screen that big in many years. It’s hard to say if it’s worth the premium, but the experience felt immersive to me.
The movie is R-rated, with good reason. It’s pretty darned scary, and very, very bad things happen to cute little kids. I admit, without reservation, that I was jolted into yelling out loud on at least a couple of occasions, which hardly ever happens to me. While the movie has more than its fair share of jump scares, it’s also tense, full of dread, and frightening.
It Chapter Two picks up exactly where we left off two years ago, with the young Losers in the aftermath of their battle with Pennywise, promising to come back if the killings in Derry, Maine start again.
When The Institute was announced in January, the book’s description had people wondering if it would have ties to Firestarter or the Dark Tower series. Kidnapping kids with psychic powers sounds like what happened to the Breakers at Algul Siento, and Charlie McGee underwent extensive testing at a compound run by the Shop to determine the range of her pyrokinesis.
In fact, The Institute isn’t connected to those earlier works—or really to anything else in King’s work. The organization that runs the Institute in remote northern Maine (in TR-110, for those keeping track) isn’t the second coming of the Shop. The covert group has been operating for over sixty years. The kidnapped children, ranging from eight to sixteen years of age, aren’t being used to bring down the Beams supporting the Dark Tower. The one story that comes to mind when reading King’s latest is his 1997 novella “Everything’s Eventual,” which ultimately turned out to have Dark Tower implications, although that wasn’t clear at the time.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of everything that’s going on in the Stephen King Universe. There are so many projects underway or about to get underway or that could possibly some day get underway that it boggles the mind. This is a new Golden Age for King, especially when it comes to the various adaptations of his work to screens large and small, silver and otherwise. I’m here to help you keep track! Continue Reading