11/5/08

Ten reasons to love Stephen King in spite of Maximum Overdrive

In 1971, King was getting $60 bucks a week working at an industrial laundry and $6400 a year as an English teacher. All that changed when Tabitha pulled a few of his discarded pages from a trash can and told her husband that this might actually be something good. Following Tabitha's good advice, King continued with this novel eventually titled Carrie. After the book deal came a Brian DePalma film adaptation in 1976 and the rest is history.

Which brings me to the L.A.M.BLOG_A_THON at the Large Association of Movie Blogs which has asked folks to come up with who they're thankful for in the movie industry. Point of fact- Stephen King is an icon and movies based on his works like The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption are some of the greatest films in cinema history.

Unfortunately, King's films are slammed as often (if not more) than they're praised. Films like Maximum Overdrive and Graveyard Shift haven't exactly boosted his cinema cred. But, even Spielberg made Hook and Francis Ford Coppola directed the singularly horrible .Jack....yet we are able forgive them and look past their periodic failures.

What other writer can you think of that can even compare to King when you consider his writing is behind these films: The Shining, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption, Salem's Lot, The Dead Zone, Stand by Me, Storm of the Century, Creepshow, Pet Sematary, The Green Mile, Apt Pupil, and Carrie.

I think you get the point - Stephen King is great. Now, let's move in into more typical retrospace territory with a Stephen King top ten list in no particular order. Here is my top ten reasons to love Stephen King in spite of Maximum Overdrive.

1. "Candida" is his 15th favorite song
Stephen King listed his top twenty songs for Entertainment Weekly here. King earns retrospace props for having the balls to list the fantastic "Candida" by Tony Orlando and Dawn at #15. That's my boy! (What did he put at #1 you ask? Answer:"Tube Snake Boogie" by ZZ Top - go figure)

2. This cool photo
This picture was snapped by a UMO student for the college newspaper The Maine Campus.

3. This quote: "If I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud."

4. King has admitted to being coked and drunk out of his mind during the production of Maximum Overdrive, so he cannot be held fully liable.

5. King wrote an episode of The X-Files called "Bunghoney" (sadly, it was changed to "Chinga").

6. King bought the minivan that hit and crippled him for $1,500 in order to destroy it with a sledgehammer.

7. King said this about legalizing it: "I think that marijuana should not only be legal, I think it should be a cottage industry. It would be wonderful for the state of Maine. There's some pretty good homegrown dope. I'm sure it would be even better if you could grow it with fertilizers and have greenhouses."

8. He has repeatedly said his favorite horror movie is Tourist Trap starring Chuck Conners and Tanya Roberts. Hell, yes.

9. Moth
Below is the cover for Moth, an off-campus publication issued while King was still a student at the University of Maine. It includes three poems by "Steve" King called "The Dark Man", "Donovan's Brain" and "Silence." The cover art, "Man Dropping a Bird" by Diane McPherson is striking.

10. The Clown in the Sewer
Is there a more disturbing and frightening image that you can possibly conceive of? If I saw a clown head in a storm drain, I think I'd go into full cardiac arrest and scream like Howard Dean coming in third in Iowa. Call me overly coulrophobic (look it up), but I know I'm not alone in this fear.

Yeah, I could've listed his many literary achievements, but I would have gotten bored and quit. I will say that Danse Macabre is the finest non fiction work on the horror genre that has ever been written. Anyway, it's estimated that King makes about $40 million per year on book sales alone. Maybe, if Mr. King reads this favorable post he sends a little token of his appreciation my way?.... I thought I'd try.

6 comments:

  1. I was big into those early King books. Good stepping stone away from the Hardy Boys. I liked that he mentioned the Ramones and hand jobs in his books. It was like 'wow. I hope my folks don't read this' So cool! He was hit by that minivan not far from where I am. We hear of sightings now and then. I also remember a short story about finding short cuts in Maine. Living here, you could understand that one. It's a passion! Nice post! Thanks!

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  2. I haven't read much of his latter stuff, except Cell. I'm a huge fan of his stuff back from the 70's and 80's. I read every book he put out back then. He was always my favorite writer when I was in high school. I wouldn't mind reading more of his newer stuff. I love a lot of the movies based on his work. Some have been great, some good, and some bad. Great post you did. I love "Candida" myself.

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  3. r.alan- Thanks for the comment. Stephen King has called himself the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries. I think that is a bit unfair. Sure, he's no Hawthorne, but his books still show strokes of genius here and there. I think critics are reticent to heap much praise on anything in the horror genre.

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  4. keith- I must admit that I haven't read anything past Needful Things - and that was a long,long time ago. However, I can say that I've read basically everything he wrote prior to it. My favorites are Pet Sematary and It.

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  5. What a cool list. I totally agree on your assessment of Danse Macabre. I read it as a young teenager and it introduced me not only to the real history of horror, but also to non-horror but still awesome stuff like punk rock, Harlan Ellison, J.G. Ballard, Flannery O'Connor, etc. I'm still making my way slooowly thru' the awesome book/movie lists he included. Wish he'd do an update!

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  6. I read " Christine " because a good friend of mine recommended it to me . It was good , and I enjoyed the book . Also , I have read the Stephen King novel " The Colorado Kid " that came out several years ago by Hard Case Crime books !! I finished it in a day !! Hard Case Crime also put out another King novel ( " Joyland !! ") that I purchased , and have not yet read . Those two books are all that I have thus far read of King's works .

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