Who Did It Best? These 10 Filmmakers All Directed Multiple Stephen King Movies

On September 6th, 2019, IT: Chapter Two will arrive in US theaters and Andy Muschietti will join an extremely small and elite group; when The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep hits US theaters on January 24th, 2020, Mike Flanagan will also qualify for entry. They’ll become the newest filmmakers who can boast having directed more than one film adaptation of a Stephen King novel.

While King holds the record as the author with the most cinematic adaptations of his literary works (over 100 and counting) few filmmakers have taken more than a single stab at adapting the Master of Horror. This poses a question: Are directors who have helmed more than one King adaptation better at tapping into the inherent horror of the author’s work? And, if so, which filmmaker has proven him or herself the best at translating King’s stories from the page to the screen?

While it’s ultimately a matter of personal opinion, these prolific Stephen King moviemakers deserve some recognition for their efforts. Read on for a list of which directors can claim to have taken on King adaptations on multiple occasions. Then ask yourself: Who did it the best!


Craig R. Baxley

Though he can boost having directed over 30 films, Craig R. Baxley is actually best known these days as a stunt coordinator having worked on hundreds of movies and TV shows. As for his Stephen King adaptations, they’re all made-for-TV affairs, the first being the Storm of the Century miniseries that aired in 1999; that was followed by another mini-series, Rose Red in 2002. His final King-adaptation to date is the prequel to Rose Red, the made-for-TV movie The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, which aired in 2003.


Mary Lambert

I may be splitting hairs with Mary Lambert’s inclusion; while her first adaptation, 1989’s Pet Sematary, remains one of the most terrify King-inspired films ever produced, her follow up, Pet Sematary II (released in 1992) is an expansion of existing mythologies in name only. As opposed to Doctor Sleep which is an official sequel to The Shining, Pet Sematary II involves characters and situation King had no part in constructing. Still, Lambert and Craig R. Baxley (above) are the only ones to have directed a King-adaptation and its direct sequel or prequel. These days, Lambert is working on a restoration of 1989’s Pet Sematary with Paramount.


Lewis Teague

Lewis Teague directed a couple of early Stephen King adaptations in rapid succession: First, he helmed Cujo in 1983 and, two years later, he released Cat’s Eye in 1985. Though he also directed the urban legend-themed Alligator in 1980 (not a Stephen King story), these are pretty much the only horror films Teague have ever been involved in. I guess he was the go-to guy for horror movies featuring animals!


Tom Holland

You win some and you lose some. While Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child’s Play) produced a cult classic with the harrowing body-horror Thinner (released in 1996) he also helmed the much-maligned miniseries The Langoliers a year earlier. While The Langoliers is, in many ways, a product of its era (suffering immensely from a shoe-string budget and extremely dated special effects), even a talented ensemble cast couldn’t give this airplane-horror any significant lift.


Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot was such a successful miniseries in 1979, it was recut for a theatrical release overseas. Though often forgotten, Salem’s Lot includes some powerful scares that still carry significant weight today (specifically, the vampire child floating outside his brother’s window and the awakening of the undead Mr. Barlow). As well-known as Salem’s Lot is, The Mangler, released in 1995, isn’t. The story of a possessed laundry folding machines (no, seriously) isn’t even bolstered by the appearance of two bona fide horror icons: Robert Englund (who plays Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and Ted Levine who played Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs). Even hardcore Stephen King fans (like myself) have never bothered giving The Mangler the time of day.


J.J. Abrams

While Bad Robot Studios founder J.J. Abrams hasn’t directed any Stephen King adaptations per se, he’s served as executive producer on two Hulu series based on the works of Stephen King. The first was 11.22.63 which aired in 2016; it’s the story of a high school history teacher who goes back in time in an attempt to thwart the assassination of JFK. The second Abrams-produced series is this years’ Castle Rock, which he developed with King himself. Though not based on a specific novel or short story, it pulls from the mythos of Castle Rock, a fictional town in Maine where many of King’s stories take place. Parts of the series took place at Shawshank Penitentiary and we’re even introduced the niece of Jack Torrance.


George A. Romero

Creepshow (released in 1982) remains one of the best horror anthologies ever produced, and much of the film’s success comes from George A. Romero’s impeccable direction. The fact that “The Godfather of the Modern Zombie” collaborated with Stephen King at all is a thing of beauty and Creepshow shines with the duo’s combined creative energies. Romero’s second film adaptation was 1993’s psychological slasher The Dark Half. While few horror films produced in the 1990s have aged well, The Dark Half has nonetheless amassed an enviable cult following in the decades since its release.


Rob Reiner 

Rob Reiner is a cinematic treasure who launched his career with hysterical comedies like This Is Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally. But the mainstream director wasn’t squeamish or reticent in his harrowing adaptations of Stand by Me and Misery. The first was shocking for it’s penetrating portrayal of the horrors of youth while Misery was an exercise in relentless suspense with explicit body horror elements. None of us will ever forget the infamous “hobbling” scene, a moment that that helped Kathy Bates nab her Best Actress Oscar in 1991.


Frank Darabont

Before he became an early writer and showrunner on The Walking Dead, Frank Darabont was (and perhaps remains) the King of Stephen King adaptations. Between 1994 and 2007, Darabont directed three of the most emotionally devastating movies—ever. First came The Shawshank Redemption in 1994 (a film that found fans in connoisseurs of just about every genre) followed by the socially-conscious The Green Mile in 1999. 2007’s The Mist is regarded as one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever produced and one of the best horror movies of the 21st Century; the gut-wrenching climax is infamous.


Mick Garris

While we’ve got to tip our hats to Mick Garris for directing a whopping seven Stephen King adaptations, far more than anyone else on this list, none of them are amazing. But Garris helmed 1997’s The Shining miniseries, one that King himself hailed for being much truer to the source material than Stanley Kubrick’s iteration from 1980. Other King properties in Garris’ filmography include Sleepwalkers, Riding the Bullet, The Quicksilver Highway, and Desperation in addition to the miniseries The Stand and Bag of Bones.

So, which of these 10 directors did Stephen King best? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

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TADFF Review: ‘Overlord’ is a WWII Action-Horror with a Brass-Knuckle Punch

Overlord

As Overlord opens, we are shoved into a plane stuffed with anxious paratroopers, waiting to be dropped outside enemy lines the night before D-Day. The men have a crucial mission to destroy a German radio tower in an old church (the success of the seaborne invasion depends on it), and tensions are high as they […]

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[Editorial] With ‘Overlord’ Headed to Theaters, We Revisit the Mystery Box Horrors of J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams loves horror. Everything he makes involves horror in some way. Whether it’s a big, lumbering monster spewing back-bursting parasites into the subways of New York or a strange island filled with things that don’t belong, horror is everywhere in Abrams’ filmography. Overlord, Abrams’ latest effort as producer, is no different. It follows a group of American soldiers who are trapped behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day and forced to fend off mutant creatures that are the results of sinister Nazi experiments. Much like in all of Abrams’ work, the horror of Overlord exists within the unknown. There’s a great moment in the trailer where the camera slowly pushes in on a wall with a series of holes cut out of its surface as strange and horrific noises grow louder and louder. It’s a cool note to end the trailer on but it also speaks to Abrams’ approach to storytelling.

Yes, I’m talking about the mystery box.

Mystery is the engine at the heart of all great horror movies and there are few filmmakers working today who are as fascinated by mystery than J. J. Abrams. From scoring the 1982 film Nightbeast to naming a Star Wars villain Captain Phasma in honor of his love for Phantasm, the influence of horror can be seen across all his work. Abrams’ entire brand of storytelling is cut from the same cloth as some of the best horror movies. His movies aren’t interested in answers; they know that the mystery inherent to questions is the real source of horror. Abrams isn’t interested in what’s inside the box, he understands that not knowing is far more horrifying.

There’s no better example of Abrams “mystery box” storytelling than Lost. It’s a TV show whose questions outnumber the answers and whose fans remain split in half on the quality of its overall six-season run. Think what you want about the show that came after, the pilot of Lost (the only two hours Abrams was involved in directly) is a perfect, self-contained horror movie. For vast chunks of the pilot’s runtime, we are introduced to new characters and shown examples of the island’s mysterious and sinister nature, but there are two particular moments in the episode that emphasize the power of horror.

Early on, the survivors had been attempting to regroup on the beach when something in the woods somewhat damaged their calm. From their vantage point over the rolling hills and jungle of the island, they could see something barreling towards them, leveling huge swaths of the forest in its wake. It’s a terrifying scene where Abrams builds the tension outwards from the characters who argue about where to make camp towards the woods themselves where something wholly different lives. Like the dock attack scene from Jaws, we see the effects of the monster without actually seeing the monster itself, heightening the suspense. While this scene is terrifying in its own right, the sequence that it sets up later in the pilot is a different beast entirely.

The scene in question shows the monster hunting the survivors as they try and recover the pilot from within the cockpit of the downed plane. Once again Abrams is showing the influence of Spielberg on his filmmaking as he creates suspense through a series of escalating reveals. First, we hear the monster roar, then we see its shadows before building to the climactic moment where the unseen beast rips the pilot out of the plane into the jungle. The scene works in a similar way to the T-Rex paddock attack in Jurassic Park, building the suspense slowly by revealing small parts of the creature, leaving its true appearance shrouded in mystery. It’s a testament to Abrams’ approach to the monster that when its true form was revealed, it lost all sense of horror (although that could also be because it looked a bit rubbish).

In Cloverfield, Abrams took the techniques and ideas he’d explored in Lost and combined them with the trappings of Godzilla to create something completely different entirely. Instead of focusing on the monster and those trying to defeat it like they usually do in monster movies, Abrams saw potential horror in keeping the creature hidden and instead focused on the POV of those trying the survive in its wake. Although not directed or written by Abrams, Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane both have all the trappings of a J. J. Abrams film. Abrams’ central idea for Cloverfield was to take the typical scenes of destruction seen in the Godzilla movies and shift the perspective, placing the viewer into the aftermath; knowing that real horror lies in the chaos created by the attacks. Abrams and Director Matt Reeves sacrificed action in favor of building the suspense, knowing that witnessing the Statue of Liberty’s head being thrown into the street from the perspective of a person on the ground would be scarier than watching the creature rip it off in a wide shot.

And then there’s the subway scene. Like the cockpit sequence from Lost, this scene escalates the horror with a slow series of reveals. The scene begins with strange sounds echoing through the tunnels. Then they see the rats running from something in the darkness. It’s another perfect sequence of horror revealing their situation piece by piece to create suspense until the final night vision payoff.

In the 2001 movie Joy Ride, which Abrams co-wrote, the antagonist is an unseen trucker who lurks in the background much like the monsters of Abrams’ later films. The trucker is an unseen presence whose effects are experienced by the characters, making him an ever-present threat to the protagonists while also keeping his true form hidden from view. Abrams looked to Spielberg’s Duel when writing Joy Ride, attempting to create a villain (voiced by Silence of the Lambs’ Ted Levine) that is less of a physical entity and more of an omnipotent presence within the film.

Everything that J. J. Abrams makes is infused with horror and suspense in some way because his approach to filmmaking has been shaped by the genre. The way Abrams makes movies lends itself perfectly to the horror genre as he withholds information, opting to drip feed the audience details about the monsters slowly through a series of escalating reveals that expertly build suspense. From what we’ve seen so far, Overlord looks set to be the latest in a long line of Abrams projects to use this brand of “mystery box” storytelling.

In his Ted talk on mystery, Abrams talked about how he bought a literal mystery box from a magic store and never opened it. The unopened box is filled with, what Abrams describes as, “infinite possibility and potential” and the same can be said for the darkness within which his onscreen monsters live. J. J. Abrams understands that real horror isn’t the answer to what is inside the box, but rather the unsolved mystery of what it might be.

Overlord Review

Exclusive OVERLORD Poster Burns With a Purpose

This Friday sees the release of Paramount’s horror-fueled World War II film Overlord and nobody is ready for what’s to come! A film that I hailed as “The Best Wolfenstein Movie We Could Ask For”, the movie is packed to the brim with violence, gore, creatures, and some incredibly thrilling sequences. And to celebrate the upcoming release, we’ve got an amazing exclusive poster to reveal, which highlights Mathilde Ollivier’s character, Chloe. Refusing to play it safe, Chloe is a villager who is unafraid to stand up to anyone that threatens her family’s safety or security. Joining with the US soldiers, she helps them investigate the local Nazi base, which contains one of the most nefarious and deadly experiments the world has ever seen.

The poster is down below and you can read our review here!

On the eve of D-Day, paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to carry out a crucial mission for the invasion. As they approach their target, they soon begin to realize there’s more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation.

Overlord is directed by Julius Avery from a script written by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith and stars Wyatt Russell, Iain De Caestecker, Pilou Asbæk, and Jovan Adepo. J.J. Abrams and Lindsey Weber produce. The film is in theaters and IMAX on November 9, 2018.

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Michael Kenneth Williams Heads to Jordan Peele’s LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams’ high-profile straight-to-series HBO drama Lovecraft Country has just cast Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire) in a lead role opposite Jonathan Majors. Deadline reports that Williams will play Majors’ father Montrose Freeman.

In addition to Majors and Williams, Lovecraft Country also stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Wunmi Mosaku, Aunjanue Ellis, Jamie Harris, and Elizabeth Debicki.

Are you excited about Lovecraft Country? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

The new series is penned by Misha Green based on the 2016 novel by Matt Ruff. Yann Demange directs the first episode and executive produces, along with Peele, Green,  Abrams, Ben Stephenson, and David Knoller.

Synopsis:

Atticus Freeman (Majors) as he joins up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father. Thus begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback.

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Final OVERLORD Trailer 93% Fresh

This November, J.J. Abrams and director Julius Avery’s Overlord storms into theaters. And today we have the film’s “final” trailer. We’ll see about that… Mostly this new trailer showcases the film’s (current) Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%.

Give the final Overlord trailer a look-see below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Overlord is directed by Julius Avery from a script written by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith and stars Wyatt Russell, Iain De Caestecker, Pilou Asbæk, and Jovan Adepo. J.J. Abrams and Lindsey Weber produce. The film is in theatres and IMAX on November 9, 2018.

Synopsis:

On the eve of D-Day, paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to carry out a crucial mission for the invasion. As they approach their target, they soon begin to realize there’s more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation.

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New OVERLORD Poster Stops the Unstoppable

J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot’s zombie-horror WWII flick Overlord will be Bad Robot’s first R-rated film, and today we have an all-new poster. Check it out to the right!

Related: OVERLORD Review: The Best WOLFENSTEIN Movie We Could Ask For

The film is rated R for “strong bloody violence, disturbing images, language, and brief sexual content.” Are you excited for Overlord? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Overlord is directed by Julius Avery from a script written by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith and stars Wyatt Russell, Iain De Caestecker, Pilou Asbæk, and Jovan Adepo. J.J. Abrams and Lindsey Weber produce. The film is in theatres and IMAX on November 9, 2018.

Synopsis:

On the eve of D-Day, paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to carry out a crucial mission for the invasion. As they approach their target, they soon begin to realize there’s more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation.

The post New OVERLORD Poster Stops the Unstoppable appeared first on Dread Central.