We’re back it again. Last time I rambled on through various Stephen King works only to realize that a single post was naive. Here we are with part 2!
We’ve already seen two versions of this – David Soul and Rob Lowe – but given how deeply it ties in to The Dark Tower as well as some other works it’s only right that we return to it.
Best Suited As A: Mini Series
It’s another book that you could cover in a single movie, but again you’d lose much of the richness, texture, and character – it’s not easy to get to know an entire town of people and then wipe them out in the space of a hundred minutes. If we wish to expand upon the character of Father Callahan, and we do, then this needs to go further.
Major Crossovers/Cameos: DT Series. Night Shift.
Following Father Callahan’s rise and fall and years int he wilderness can be divided between a Salem’s Lot series and the later DT movies. I never found those parts overly interesting in the books as they took me out of the action and Roland’s journey, but they make for stronger ties to important characters. It’s not an easy one to work out though – in the books Callahan’s adventures continue long after the events of Salem’s Lot – who would want to watch that when Ben and Mark have already slaughtered the vampires and left? Do you create some sort of after story where Ben and Mark are slaying in another part of the country and stumble upon Callahan? Or, do you take some liberties with the overall story and have the events which occur afterwards in the book actually occur before in the series? Like this: Father Callahan is a recently disgraced priest who lost his faith and path… bla bla… seeking both solitude and a reason to keep going he relocates to the sleep town of Jerusalem’s Lot. After a few slow months/years of integrating into the community, a writer called Ben Mears arrives just as a number of mysterious deaths swoop through the town.
I think that honestly works better than some tacked on coda. You can have Callahan bare his soul to Mears and co and show that he still has some way to go on his journey of redemption, which then leads him to In World and Roland. Then in Wolves Of The Calla you can fill in the blanks without spending too much time on them – we would know already that Callahan has done wrong and has been actively pursuing the good fight. This would doubly make his character in Salem’s Lot more interesting – whether or not his faith holds or not in the face of Barlow and Straker remains to be seen. Or of course, just stick to the books – the book does end with Ben and Mark returning to the town, so I guess at that point they could find Callahan and see what he has been up to but again you would need something more exciting to end the series on – more vampire slaughter perhaps, everyone loves that.
That leaves us with the two wrap around stories from Night Shift – one which takes place around 100 years prior to the events of Salem’s Lot and one which takes place a couple of years afterwards. For the first one you could film it as a short few minutes prologue and then reference its events later in the main series as Ben investigates the history of the town. For the second, it could form part of the final stages – a family travelling through, towards Derry or Castle Rock naturally, being besieged by bloodthirsty creatures only for Ben and Mark to show up and kick ass.
Another opportunity to bring in the non-horror audience, this tale has the hallmarks of being another cult hit like Stand By Me.
Best Suited As A: Movie
It’s another big book and should probably be a mini series of split into two movies, but I don’t see it getting a lot of interest outside the King hardcore, so condense into a single rip-roaring adventure and you’re all set.
Major Crossovers/Cameos: Black House/DT Series
The book has a sequel – Black House – where Jack is now all grown up. No chance of using the same actor though for that role, but there’s still potential for some characters appearing in both… The DT references only come into their own for the sequel in the books, but you can easily throw in some connections in the Talisman movie, foreshadowing and otherwise.
There’s really only one way to follow up a heroic tale of childhood adventure, and that’s with the death of a child and the destruction of a family. King’s most horrific story had a pretty good movie outing already, followed by a less pretty good sequel. If you’ve been reading these posts you’ve probably already shouted, like a loon, ‘we don’t need any more remakes’! No-one can hear you, jackass. But you’re right, we don’t really need any more remakes, especially for things like this and The Shining and many others which were done perfectly well first time around. However, this is all just fantasy so you can decide for yourself which books to adapt and slot together. Can I proceed? Good.
Best Suited As: A Movie
While the origin has its fair share of shlock, as you might imagine, theoretically you could remove much of that and have even greater impact. Don’t bill this as some gore-fest about zombie kids and cats, bill it as a horror film about grief and guilt and loss, and show the true human outcomes which such events and torments inspire.
Major Crossovers/Cameos: Misc.
There aren’t too many overt crossovers here, aside from being set near Derry. It should be simple to add in some lines about missing kids in the big city, but it being much safer out in the stick, hardy har. Alternatively, set it near Castle Rock and tie things in, or keep it further separate and tie it to the places and events of The Talisman or The Shining or The Tommyknockers or whatever. One other crossover which only comes later is with Insomnia – one of the bald doctors who works for The Crimson King is said to keep Gage’s shoe. Probably better to reference that once we get to Insomnia.
The Waste Lands
As you will know, I already said we should release Wizard And Glass first. In that series we learned all about Roland’s past and much more about his world and mission. We can reference that here through some quick snippets cut from the Wizard And Glass series, and an impassioned yet stoic speech from Roland. But the majority of The Waste Lands movie should involve bringing Jake over from his New York and restoring his and Roland’s sanity, Susannah and The Speaking Demon, finding Oy, passing through River Crossing, on to Lud, and finally to Blaine (the pain). The frantic riddle contest seems like a thrilling enough way to end things.
Best Suited As: A Movie
There’s plenty to pack in here, but it can be fairly action packed with the Lud and Shardik set pieces prime for big screen thrills.
Major Crossovers/Cameos: DT series.
No need for a lot of crossover here – potentially the New York scenes could contain something – when Jake buys Charlie The Choo Choo from Calvin Tower’s shop there could be a store on the opposite side of the street called Needful Things which makes him uneasy. Too on the nose?
The Drew Barrymore Firestarter isn’t great – it’s just Carrie with a younger girl and less interesting all around. That’s a shame though because at its core we have a decent story about exploitation and shady government types, and parenthood. It’s also a good time to introduce ‘The Shop’, a group underused in King’s works but who apparently have their fingers in a lot of pies.
Best Suited As: A Movie
There’s no reason why this couldn’t be a successful enough standalone movie – it doesn’t need a huge budget and you could always make the star a teen to give it that sort of audience/direction. A short, sharp tale of rebellion and evil dealings and the power of one girl could be just what the doctor ordered.
Major Crossovers: Tommyknockers. The Mist. The Stand. Potential Dark Tower.
As suggested in Stranger Things – messing with portals to other places rarely leads to pleasant results. It’s one of the aforementioned pies that ‘The Shop’ has been fingering. They are really only mentioned in passing in other stories, but why not make them an altogether more widespread and villainous corporation? Why not make them a wing of the Sombra Corporation? In the movie we could get a quick Passover of the experiments they have planned, conducted, and are planning – from work with deadly viruses, to attempting to make contact with alien civilizations, to their work with opening doors to other worlds than these. Their headquarters should be glossy and 21st Century bland, but offer the odd unsettling Crimson sigul or well placed 19. And should it be suggested that Charlie is a breaker, or the shining, or is somehow tied to Jake Chambers, Jack Sawyer, or Danny Torrence? Maybe we should see files or a quick flash on a screen of some of these kids as proof The Shop is looking for them? Maybe it should end with Charlie actively looking for them? There’s potential for tie in here more than what is actually there in the novel, and I think that should be exploited.
The Dark Half
A bit of a meta novel which received and okay treatment thanks to George Romero. A complex one to make successfully, why not treat it as straight as possible as a noir detective novel with supernatural elements. You have sympathetic characters, familiar faces from Castle Rock, and a terrific bad guy who just wants to live – it could be a slasher movie with that thing most slasher movies lack – an interesting, fully realized villain.
Best Suited As: A Movie
Most people will have forgotten the original by this point, and why not even many hardened fans would ask for a new version, if you make it good they will come. Who wouldn’t want to see a young family being terrorized by a cunning supernatural monster who is seemingly framing them for his unspeakable crimes?
Major Crossovers/Tie Ins: The Dead Zone. Cujo. Needful Things.
No major crossovers with The Dark Tower here, but plenty with the Castle Rock world as we catch up with Alan Pangborn and a few of the other cops and citizens of that part of the world. Depending how far you wish to take the Castle Rock side of things, there can be a lot of set up here for Needful Things – why not see Pangborn’s family as they currently are, making the events of that other work all the more potent.
It’s that rarity – a Stephen King book about aliens. I mean, it’s Salem’s Lot all over again with a small town being taken over by an evil exterior force, but you can make it about obsession, about bad men in suits, about anything you want really.
Best Suited As: A Movie
You could have another mini-series sure, but I don’t think there is enough here that we won’t have seen already, not without adding in a lot of unnecessary soap opera elements. Instead, make it an action packed siege/paranoia movie and give The Shop more overt involvement – agency staff arriving in the town and apparently ‘allowing’ things to take a certain course naturally. If they can make fifteen of those Furious movies about stealing cars, they can make a decent 100 minute movie out of this.
Major Crossovers/Tie Ins: The Mist. Firestarter. Potential Dark Tower. From A Buick 8.
Now that we established The Shop as having some dodgy dealings with super-powered kids, we can explicitly show how interested they are in ships from other worlds. We could even hint that it is in fact, their own ship, designed from parts scavenged and discovered by folks who have been travelling to other worlds than these. Another nifty one could be referring Low Men somehow, or at least their modes of transport – cars mentioned in a variety of King books and shorts which somehow have the power to suck you away completely. Lets say they harnessed such a power and created an aircraft – an aircraft which could appear and disappear at any point in space and time, and which could transport any manner of weapon or disease. If they didn’t create it, it’s something they would be very interested in getting for themselves. We wouldn’t need a whole From A Buick 8 movie then, and it would set up the outlandish cars for when we get to Hearts In Atlantis.
Lets head back to Castle Rock again. There’s a new shop in town, perhaps one which recently moved from New York, and one which claims to have exactly what you need. Whatever could anyone need in Small Town America? You’d be surprised.
Best Suited As: A Movie
Another case of the original movie being a mild diversion rather than something truly good, this has potential to work as a minor hit. It’s not going to break box office records, but it doesn’t need a huge budget either. Remember, many of these movies could work just as well as Netflix original type things rather than getting a theatrical release. It’s a big book, but again you can break it down to its most essential parts – grieving cop, mischievous bad guy who manipulates locals, carnage ensues.
Major Crossovers/Tie Ins: The Dead Zone. Cujo. The Dark Half.
Aside from the obvious Castle Rock stuff, which should have sucked the fans in by this point, is there any way we can squeeze The Dark Tower in? Should Gaunt have some connection to Sombra? Could it be made to look as if Gaunt is actually Flagg? We could have him played by a different actor, but in a short scene he could show his true face. That’s probably unnecessary and overkill, and moving too far away from the stories. Gaunt is a Flagg type character though – we know he moves from town to town doing te same thing over and over again – maybe it could end on him moving to a town yet to be featured in our movies? I’m sure more enterprising folks than me can come up with something.
I think that’s more than enough for now. If your eyes and brains can withstand further pain, follow my blog and I’ll eventually get round to a Part Three and as always, leave your comments below!