5 Made-for-TV Stephen King Films that Deserve a Theatrical Reboot
We’re all pretty spent on remakes. It’s not that remakes are always dreadful films or that they never succeed in surpassing their source picture; it’s that Hollywood has a tired tendency to approach classic pictures. We love those originals because they work for us, in most instances, still to this day.
If Hollywood were to begin placing focus on some of the mid-tier or underwhelming films of the past to try to improve upon them, we might be more on board. Rebooting a film that never managed to show up on the radar to begin with presents a possible win for all, but it’s also a little risky, as it doesn’t have the built-in fan base you can bank on to show up on opening day.
Despite these facts, there are a few industry talents that possess such massive and loyal fanbases that followers are shoo-ins to show up for any project with their name attached. Stephen King is one of those talents, and he’s had so many of his stories transferred to the small screen that we’ve got no challenge in crafting a list of the ones that really do deserve a big budget, theatrical remake.
Sometimes They Come Back
One of King’s greatest short stories was transformed into an inspired television piece back in 1991. The film was Sometimes They Come Back, and it impressed given the budgetary limitations and the censorship confines that accompany network television. But, for as good as that little pic-with-heart was, this story could be an absolutely epic hard-R big screen movie. There are plenty of opportunities to present graphic gore (there’s a scene in Tom McLoughlin’s adaptation that already bordered on brutal by television standards) and the kind of villains you expect to be tirelessly savage and offensive. The original pic’s cast was great, and it hits most beats perfectly, but there’s no doubt in this mind that the movie couldn’t be heavily improved upon.
A hybrid of science fiction and horror, The Langoliers is one of the ugliest transfers of a King story that we’ve ever seen. The story itself offers big promise, but the original mini-series had very little going for it. Outside of a few solid performances, everything about this one is sub-par. The pacing of the movie is depressing and inspires more boredom than entertainment, the visual effects are bad on an unbelievable level, and the dialogue is absolutely cringe-inducing. When almost nothing works for a killer concept, something needs to be fixed. Why not start over and give this tale the chance to pick up the following it deserves?
Storm of the Century
Storm of the Century is actually one of the more enjoyable direct-to-television Stephen King pieces. It drags in a few spots and could easily be trimmed down a few hairs, but there are a lot of impressive performances, a brilliant story itself, and one of the more memorable villains to snake its way out of King’s imagination. This could be an awesome, atmospheric movie that probably wouldn’t garner anything more damaging than a PG-13 rating. We don’t get enough killer PG-13 movies as it is. A good number of us would be more than eager to welcome another stellar PG-13 genre piece.
I’ll be the first to admit that Desperation is somewhat far-out, but King’s always been a strong enough writer to make outlandish concepts work – at least in print. Desperation is solid in print, but it’s admittedly forgettable when onscreen. That’s too bad, as Ron Perlman was a strong casting decision who did a fine job of portraying Collie Entragian, and there’s more than a single impressive supporting performer extending Perlman good energy to work from. But the pacing of the movie is a bit tough to deal with, and the story itself feels far more muddled than it did in the novel. Desperation deserves another chance to impress, this time with a few more bucks to work with and a re-worked script.
Bag of Bones
I’ll never stop loving Mick Garris. He’s made some very entertaining films in his day (Riding the Bullet, Critters 2, Psycho IV: The Beginning, and Sleepwalkers rank among my personal favorites), but he’s also been rather hit-or-miss with King adaptations; Garris impressed with the aforementioned Sleepwalkers, The Stand (although it hasn’t aged well), and the small-screen spin on The Shining, but Quicksilver Highway feels a bit mediocre, and Garris crashed and burned with Desperation and Bag of Bones. King transfers have been a mixed bag for Garris, no doubt. Maybe some fresh blood behind the camera and a tightened up screenplay could provide the foundation needed to build Bag of Bones into a strong feature-length picture.