Read the Movie: Stephen King

There are few authors as prolific as Stephen King. Having published 54 novels, over 200 short stories and a handful of non-fiction (we particularly recommend On Writing to every serious reader or aspiring author), his literary output is almost evenly matched by the number of feature films and TV mini-series based on his works.

In case you haven’t yet sampled his oeuvre, we’ve curated a brief list of the most unmissable movie adaptations, plus a few great King novels that should’ve stayed on the shelves. As his newest book, The Outsider, just hit shelves this May, let’s hope that even more successful adaptations of his work are on the way. And be sure to catch the film version of the King story “1922” on Netflix, or pick up the book it’s featured in, Full Dark, No Stars, at Half Price Books stores and HPB.com!

 

SUPERIOR STEPHEN KING CINEMA


Carrie

Carrie made Stephen King’s name as a writer, but the (original) film is more than equal to the novel. In the deft hands of director Brian De Palma, the 1976 movie captured the visceral horror of being an outcast teenage girl so adeptly, all the telekinetic stuff feels almost like a creepy afterthought. Complete with a classically lousy mother/daughter relationship and a jump scare ending for the ages, Carrie holds up as a classic over 40 years later. Just avoid the 1999 sequel or 2013 remake.

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Stephen King’s Advice for Writers

Part autobiography, part advice, Stephen King‘s On Writing: A Memior of the Craft is a superb book for readers and aspiring writers alike. There are numerous insights to take away – advice for other writers, as well as looking under the hood of King’s formulas and tricks for writing a successful first draft and editing yourself in the all-important second draft. 

If you’re a writer, or want to be, I recommend you read this book. You’ll likely feel encouraged by relating to and learning from another author’s process. If you’re passionate about writing, or want to get published, by all means — keep writing!

Here’s a great excerpt from On Writing:

“Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.”

In honor of Stephen King‘s birthday today, check out some of his bestselling fiction work.

Cheers for writers and editors everywhere! – Meredith

Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.

Top Five Horror Movies

Happy Halloween everyone! Of course, when I promised my list of the scariest movies of all time, I didn’t know it would be so difficult. This is by far the hardest movie list I have ever made. In the horror genre, there is a lot of complete garbage out there– even so, when I started scribbling down the ones I like, my list was at 25 in a hurry. Now to see if I can pick a top 5.

The Exorcist (1973): To me this is the grandaddy of them all. This film scares me as much (or more) today than it did when I first saw it many years ago. You don’t see many scary movies that attract the Oscar voters, but this one did– it was nominated for 10 Academy awards and took home two, including Best Adapted Screenplay. This is a truly haunting movie about a possessed girl and her mother’s fight to save her daughter. Brilliantly directed and acted with superb performances from Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, and Max von Sydow, be sure to leave your lights on after watching this one.

Halloween (1978): Hats off to director John Carpenter, who took a budget of next to nothing and managed to scare the pants off movie fans! To me this horror film is as much of a classic as Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) and in my eyes, maybe even more so. This film started all of the slasher films, but at least Halloween did it with class. Other than a bit of blood in the opening scene, there is no more to be found. Of course one of the most famous facts about Halloween was that it was Jamie Lee Curtis’ first feature film.  After you watch the film, some of the most memorable images in horror history will be engrained with you forever, from the pale white mask coming out of the shadows to a figure standing at the foot of the bed wearing a sheet….and glasses! Doesn’t sound scary at all….but it works!

The Ring (2002): Ok, there are some more modern films that are done very well. The Ring is one of those. Based on the Japanese film Ringu (1998), this remake is a great story. Unlike so many modern horror movies, this film doesn’t base its story around teenage girls who end up running from hatchet-wielding inbreds in the backwoods. This is such an intriguing story, I won’t spoil a second of it for you by revealing much– just take my word, this movie offers its share of scary movie moments.

Salem’s Lot (1979): Ok, what is the movie guy doing picking a TV miniseries as a scary film? Well, it wouldn’t be a Halloween list without involving the great Stephen King, who wrote Salem’s Lot. Watching as a kid, this one kept me up a few nights, between the image of Geoffrey Lewis sitting in the rocking chair and revealing his yellow glowing eyes as he opens them, and of course Mr. Barlow, the monster himself. This is a good old fashioned evil vampire movie, not the local, good looking high school hunks who fall in love and then fight with the local werewolf clan. These vampires will terrify you with their crooked teeth and pale blue faces. If you haven’t seen this one in a while, give your DVD another spin.

The Descent (2005): After preaching about good horror films not being bloody, this one almost makes me change my mind. This movie is about a small group of friends that go cave exploring, and things go terribly wrong. With no way back to the surface, they try to find a way out by going deeper in the cave, where they encounter a stranger form of humanoid predator. This film is very claustrophobic and will do for cave exploring what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean.

What a tough list to narrow down! What movies scared you as a kid and what scares you now? Some of the others I should just mention are Nosferatu (1922 and 1979), Alien, Psycho, The Shining and even the Swedish vampire movie, Let The Right One In. These are my favorites, so what are yours? And remember, no talking or texting during the feature presentation.
— Jim