Author Stephen King has sold an estimated 350 million copies of his more than 50 bestsellers during his prolific career, and the master of horror and suspense has just released his latest novel, "11/22/63," a gripping take on the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy with a twist that is signature King.
Stephen King takes on the assassination of JFK
Stephen King’s work has become a fixture in the pop culture landscape, not only in print but also in movies and television. Here are some of his classic works.
Published in 1978, it tells the story of a group of survivors of a man-made chemical weapon called “superflu’’ who come face-to-face with pure evil in an epic struggle. It also became a television miniseries in 1994 that won two Primetime Emmys.
Published in 1977, this bestseller is best remembered for the movie version starring Jack Nicholson as an alcoholic writer who descends into madness at a remote hotel in Colorado while living with his wife and clairvoyant son. King moved his family from Maine to Boulder, Colo., to write the book after having previously set works like “Carrie’’ and “Salem’s Lot’’ in small towns in Maine.
This was King’s first published novel, released in 1974, and also is memorable for the movie based on the book. It tells the tale of a shy high school girl living in a repressive household who is bullied and teased and eventually uses her telekinetic powers to get revenge on her tormenters at her high school prom. The 1976 movie starred Sissy Spacek as Carrie, and she received an Academy Award nomination for her performance.
‘The Dark Tower’ series
This ongoing series of books involved King branching out into more than just the horror genre, as the story of gunslinger Roland Deschain and his quest to find the fabled Dark Tower also incorporates themes from westerns and fantasy genres. A film is reportedly on the way, and there will also be a show on HBO.
Released in 1986, this horror tome tells the story of seven children frightened by a dark life force that appears in the form of “Pennywise the Dancing Clown.’’ It also became a two-part television movie that aired in 1990.
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Numerous King works have been turned into television shows and movies, but this group of novels that weren’t necessarily in the pure horror genre became some of the most successful and memorable films in the last 30 years.
“Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption’’ - Many might forget that the sublime, Oscar-winning movie “The Shawshank Redemption” was actually based on a novella by King titled “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.’’ By now, everyone knows the story of the escape from the notorious Shawshank Prison by the wrongly incarcerated Andy Dufresne and his eventual reunion with good friend, Ellis Boyd “Red’’ Redding, who were portrayed by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, respectively. The movie was nominated for seven Oscars, but did not win any because of the phenomenon of “Forrest Gump.’’
“The Green Mile’’ – A serial novel released in 1996, this also was made into an Oscar-nominated film. The book tells the story of a death row supervisor and a massive inmate who possesses strange healing powers. Michael Clarke Duncan portrayed inmate John Coffey in the movie, while Tom Hands played the death row supervisor. The movie was nominated for four Oscars.
“The Body’’ – While the name of this novella might not jump out to some readers, it was the basis for the acclaimed movie “Stand by Me’’ that was released in 1986. Released as part of the short story collection “Different Seasons’’ in 1982, “The Body’’ is set in 1960 and tells the story of four young friends and the bond they form during a journey to find a dead body before a tense encounter with some local hoods. The movie version featured stars like Kiefer Sutherland, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman.
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“Misery’’ – This 1987 novel also gained acclaim on the screen thanks to the performance of Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes, the psychotic fan obsessed with author Paul Sheldon, whom she rescues from a car wreck. The suspense thriller didn’t have the usual gore of a King novel, but anyone who remembers Bates crippling Sheldon by sledgehammering his foot knows it’s not for the faint of heart.
More in books
Some of Kings scarier horror works from early in his career because memorably schlocky ‘80s movies that live on to this day. Here are some below:
“The Running Man’’ – Published under the pseudonym Richard Bachmann in 1982, this story is set in 2025 and tells the story of Ben Richards, a man being hunted for sport on a game show that features killers who are hired to murder the contestants. It was made into a film of the same name in 1987 that featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as Richards and Richard Dawson as the game show host. The outfits are cringeworthy and the one-liners from Schwarzenegger come regularly.
“Cycle of the Werewolf’’ – This novella is about a paraplegic boy in a wheelchair whose family and town are terrorized by a werewolf. It was made into the film “Silver Bullet’’ starring Corey Haim as the young boy and featured some primitive special effects.
“Christine’’ – This 1983 novel about a vintage car that has supernaturally evil powers was made into a movie of the same name that starred Keith Gordon, who is probably best remembered as Rodney Dangerfield’s son in the 1986 hit comedy “Back to School.’’
“Firestarter” – This 1980 best-seller about a girl who can make things burst into flames using her mind became a 1984 movie starring a young Drew Barrymore.
“Pet Sematary” – This 1983 novel was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1984 and later became a 1989 movie. It tells the tale of a family that moves near a pet cemetery and then uses its mysterious powers to bring him back to life, except he comes back as a killer.
“Children of the Corn’’ – Part of the 1978 story collection “Night Shift,’’ this is about a young boy who leads a murderous cult in the cornfields of Nebraska. It became a creepy 1984 movie featuring blank-staring children who worship the malevolent force in the cornfield.
“Trucks’’ – While this name probably doesn’t ring a bell, this short story that was also included in “Night Shift’’ became the movie “Maximum Overdrive,’’ which is King not only wrote but also directed in his one and only foray into movie directing. The story revolves around inanimate objects like trucks and lawnmowers and machine guns coming to life and going on a killing spree. Even King panned the movie, which stars Emilio Estevez, but it features some good ‘80s campiness and a hard rock soundtrack by AC/DC.
One book penned by King that had nothing to do with the horror genre but was received to acclaim is “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,’’ which was published in 2000. King reveals the methods behind his craft, using examples from his own life in memoir fashion, to enlighten and inspiring writers young and old. He talks about what led him to become a writer in the first place and what his routines are like for writing.
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