|Number 6 All-Time Favourite Novel|
The Stand was originally published in 1978 and was a change for King as, while it still had a horror motif, it also fit into the SciFi genre. This particular edition was published in 1990 by Doubleday and contained new materiel from King.
The story, for those unfamiliar with the work, is set in a post-apocalyptic United States. A super flu is released in the US by a soldier and his family, who escape from a military base. It spreads quickly across the US and the world, killing 99.4% of the world's population.
The story revolves around various individuals who are immune to the virus and leave their homes to escape the turmoil. There are various groups but they are experiencing the same thing; they dream about a woman Abigail Freemantle, who guides them to a new society in the Western US. At the same time, the story follows a number of 'troubled' individuals who dream of 'The Dark Man', Randall Flagg, who leads them to Las Vegas, a Hell on Earth.
The first group form a community, try to build a new society, but of course, there is conflict with Flagg's people. This is the conflict within the novel and King portrays it so very well. Ultimately there will be a final confrontation, but not wanting to spoil the story, I won't go into anymore details.
Suffice it to say, this is a story I've read many times and each time I've found it fascinating. King develops his characters so very well and the plot grows and evolves in leaps and bounds. I also like his use of intertextuality (how's that for a word, eh?); that being the use of people like Flagg, who also shows up in other King stories.
|The Stand (1994)|
Overall, I thought it was pretty well-done. I think to capture everything that Stephen King was trying to present in his novel, the movie had to be done as a mini-series.
The tension of the novel was there, the character development as well. I think that even if you hadn't read the novel, you would have enjoyed the mini-series.
However, having said that, to really appreciate the scope and breadth of the story, you really need to read the novel. I think you'll find that you won't be able to put it down and you might even read it one or two more times. :0)
Other Stephen King favourites
I will only highlight a few of my favourite King novels. As I mentioned at the beginning, I went through almost all of his books at one time. I did find that his later novels; The Dark Half, Dolores Clairborne, Gerald's Game and Needful Things, to name a few, didn't grab me as much as his earlier writing. While still good stories, they didn't have the same impact.
He helps the police but because he is treated as a freak due to this talent, he isolates himself. It is an excellent story, not typical of the horror stories that made King more well-known. Not to say that it isn't a scary story, but the story deals more with the psychological issues that Johnny must deal with.
The Dead Zone is also an excellent movie by Canadian horror maestro, David Cronenberg, starring Christopher Walken. So many of Stephen King's books have been turned into movies or TV mini-series and they are hit or miss. The Dead Zone was one of the very best interpretations of a Stephen King novel. The mood and tension was excellent and Christopher Walken portrayed Johnny perfectly.
Christine, the horror story about a haunted car. Published in 1983, it deals with nerd, Arnie, who buys a dilapidated 1958 Plymouth Fury. As he works on the car, his confidence grows, but he also becomes more withdrawn. The car seems to change but nobody actually sees Arnie repairing Christine. The car is a jealous creature and people who get in the way of Arnie and Christine suffer mysterious fates.
This was a neat, scary story. There is tension throughout. I also liked how King used rock music as an ongoing theme during the story; at the beginning of each chapter to express the mood of the story. Considering it was about a haunted car, King outdid himself in setting an appropriate mood and giving me the creeps.
There was a movie about this story as well which came out the same year. I enjoyed the movie but I don't think it was one of the best interpretations of a King story. Still worth a watch though.
This is truly a creepy story. The one event builds into others when further tragedies occur in the family. I won't get into them in detail, but there are incidents in the cemetery that give you the chills and follow-on activities that make you shudder.
This is Stephen King at his creepiest and it's a good spine-tingler. However, unfortunately, the movie based on the book, which came out in 1989 was downright awful. Rather than focus on the creepiness, it was just crude and gruesome. I couldn't even watch the whole movie. One of the misses when it comes to a Stephen King movie.
The story takes place over two time periods, when the Loser's are children, describing how they encounter Pennywise. The second time period is when they have grown up and must deal with their nightmares and come together once again to deal with Pennywise.
I enjoyed both the story and also the excellent TV mini-series starring Richard Thomas, John Ritter, Harry Anderson and the excellent Tim Curry as Pennywise. While this may not have had quite the horror of the book, I still found it an enjoyable, interesting televised version of the book.
In 1996, King came out with two novels, one written as Richard Bachman, a name he'd written other stories under when he was just starting out.
Desperation came out in 2006, with a great cast, including Tom Skerrit, Steven Weber and Annabeth Gish. It was quite as eerie as the book.
If you want to read excellent horror novels, you can't go wrong starting with Stephen King. Besides those mentioned above, other excellent stories include Salem's Lot, Cujo, Carrie, The Green Mile and King's many books of short stories. King is able to find a simple idea that makes people nervous and build on that to send chills up your spine. Many great movies have been made based on King novels and short stories. Others that come to mind are The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me and of course, The Green Mile. Basically, with Stephen King you can generally count on an interesting evening's viewing or a week's great reading.