Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Stephen King is one of the great storytellers of our age, hell of any age if it comes to that. It is therefore a strange thing that movie and TV adaptations of his books more often than not fall well short of, well, not sucking.
This book is a comprehensive look at all things screen when it comes to taking the printed words and, more often than not, ignoring the hell out of them. Every production you can think of (and a whole bunch you couldn't and will wish you hadn't found out about) can be found inside the covers here.
First of all, let's deal with the title. STEPHEN KING FILMS FAQ suggests a certain format, but it's not like that at all. There are no list of questions being answered, frequently asked or otherwise. And then there is the matter of the subtitle 'All that's left to know about the king of horror on film'. Well, that forgets about the whole chunks devoted to videotape productions and I'm curious to know what it means by 'all that's left to know'. All that's left to know after what?
Let's deal with the good stuff first. Scott Van Doviak knows his Stephen King adaptations. What it may lack in surgical detail it makes up for in the sheer breadth of its scope. Whilst books could be written (and have been) about the troubled making of Kubrick's THE SHINING, it gets a single chapter before we head on to the next one. There is so much ground to cover that we don't get to dig too deeply at any point.
Von Doviak's tone is light and pleasant and the book itself is a very easy read, almost a page turner. It's very easy to settle down to a quick sample and find that three or four chapters have gone past. The layout is clear, going through celluloid examples chronologically before then moving onto the televisual delights on offer. It starts to run out of steam toward the end, however, but that's because we're on to the odds and sods such as THE SIMPSONS pastiches and films inspired by Stephen King.
Curiously, Von Doviak doesn't really seem to like many of the films and shows on offer. He certainly spends more time waxing rhapsodic about what's wrong with each of them than what's great. Then again, we all do that.
Despite the fact that it's 'all that's left to know', I doubt that there is that much in there that the King devotee didn't already know. The more obscure outings might be useful for the King completist, however. For the person just getting into the visualisation of Stephen King's books, however, there is a wealth of stuff to choose from. Is THE STAND miniseries as good as the book? How did THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION move from a short story to a long masterpiece? Is the Stephen King scripted THE SHINING better than the Kubrick version?
It's all here.
As someone who's liked and hated his fair share of King's books and films, but is far from being an expert, I found this an enjoyable, easy read, though I was possibly not all that more well-informed at the end of it.