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Hail To the King: Getting To Know The Small Screen Stephen King

With The Dark Tower already forgotten from theaters and Pennywise lurking in the shadows and nightmares of a new generation, the next wave Stephen King mania has hit pop culture like a tsunami.

As It opens in theaters yet again, reintroducing coulrophobia to a audiences too young to remember when Tim Curry cornered the market on terrifying kiddie figures, let’s take a little look back at how King has done our best to scare the bejesus out of the families through the small screen.


Salem’s Lot (1979)

The late, great Tobe Hooper brought this two-parter about blood-sucking monsters to the small screen. King’s terrifying tale went through quite a few changes from the original story to make it to the Eye, but it was entertaining for the time.
Where it aired: Miniseries on CBS
Starring: David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin
Any sequels or remakes?: Yep. A few.

In 1987, schlockmeister Larry Cohen continued the story of vampires terrorizing small-town locals in A Return to Salem’s Lot. But unlike its predecessor, this sequel had limited release in theaters before it hit the dollar bins at the local Hollywood Video.

In 2004, TNT took a stab at the vamp tale with director Mikael Salomon. Starring Rob Lowe, Andre Braugher, Donald Sutherland, Samantha Mathis and Rutger Hauer, the remake was a tad closer to the original King story, but with mediocre reviews.


It (1990)

The miniseries that scared and scarred a generation.

Tim Curry’s amazing portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown is the stuff of horror legends. It made an entire era of kids thrown out their Raggedy Andy dolls in fear of being eaten.
Where it aired: Miniseries on ABC
Starring: Tim Curry, people who are not Tim Curry
Any sequels or remakes?: 2017’s It is heading to theaters this weekend. As much as Curry’s turn as the kid-eating clown is iconic, the rest of the miniseries (especially that second part), was in need of an update.


Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

Tim Matheson returns to his hometown after a long absence only to find that the bullies from his childhood have never gone away, never grown up and never give up.

Where it aired: TV movies on CBS
Starring: Tim Matheson, Brooke Adams and Robert Rusler
Any sequels or remakes?: In 1996, there was a straight-to-video release called Sometimes They Come Back…Again starring Michael “America’s Dad” Gross and before-she-won-an-Oscar-and-wants-to-forget-about-this-career-stop Hilary Swank.
Then in 1998, Sometimes They Come Back For More was released and forgotten, but this time dealing with an illegal mining operation in the icy Antarctica (????).


Golden Years (1991)

Written by King with music from David Bowie, the horror master credits Twin Peaks for getting the green light on this seven-part series of a janitor suffering from Benjamin Button syndrome. Also features King baddies The Shop.
Where it aired: Miniseries on CBS
Starring: Keith Szarabajka and Felicity Huffman


The Tommyknockers (1993)

Locals in a small town in Maine find buried relics under the town that give the residents psychic powers, super smarts, murderous rage and the desire to follow an unseen force and do whatever it wishes.
Where it aired: Two-part miniseries on ABC
Starring: Jimmy Smits, Marg Helgenberger and Traci Lords


The Stand (1994)

Mick Garris’ epic event in which King destroys all of civilization and gets to start anew, beginning with a battle of good vs. evil.
The best part? The opening scene: A slow pan of the thousands of corpses of a former military base thanks to a superflu virus with Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” playing in the background.
Where it aired: Miniseries on ABC
Starring: All-star ‘90s and ‘80s bonanza of TV legends including Gary Sinise, Miguel Ferrer, Rob Lowe, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Molly Ringwald, Corin “Parker Lewis” Nemec, Ray Walston, and Matt “Max Headroom” Frewer.


The Langoliers (1995)

Tom Holland directed this King story about a redeye flight goes awry as it lands in a nothing place where nothing works, no one exists and everyone is an enemy.
Where it aired: Miniseries on ABC
Starring: Dean Stockwell, David Morse, Patricia Wettig, Mark Lindsay Chapman, Frankie Faison and Bronson Pinchot


The Shining (1997)

It was no secret that King was unhappy with Kubrick’s version of The Shining, which dealt very little with the serious themes of the novel. This TV miniseries was a chance to make amends on those cinema sins by following the novel to a T.
Where it aired: Miniseries on ABC
Starring: Rebecca De Mornay and Steven Weber


Trucks (1997)

Not as cocaine-fueled, batshit insane as Maximum Overdrive, but not the greatest entry. Instead of being bad, this second attempt at the King short story has the audacity of being boring.
Where it aired: TV movie on basic cable
Starring: Timothy Busfield and Brenda Bakke
Any sequels or remakes?: This is a remake of Maximum Overdrive


Quicksilver Highway (1997)

A small horror anthology that includes the King short “Chattery Teeth” within the story of a hitchhiker who tell disturbing tales to the folks who pick him up.
Where it aired: TV movie on Fox
Starring: Christopher Lloyd, Matt Frewer, Veronica Cartwright and a bunch of Mick Garris’ friends


Storm of the Century (1999)

A small island community is head hostage both by the weather and by a menacing stranger who uses his powers against the locals.
Where it aired: Miniseries on ABC
Starring: Timothy Daly and Colm Feore
Any sequels or remakes: ?


Rose Red (2002)

Entertaining mini about a “woman of science” (Nancy Travis) who takes a group of psychics into a haunted house known as Rose Red to investigate paranormal activities. Like 23 people dying or disappearing over the years.
Surprisingly, not in Maine.
Where it aired: Four-part miniseries on ABC (the true champion of King minis)
Starring: Nancy Travis, Judith Ivey, Emily Deschanel, Melanie Lynskey, Matt Keeslar and Julian Sands
Any sequels or remakes?: In 2003, the prequel The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer aired on ABC, which walked audiences through the construction of the mansion and why it became cursed.


The Dead Zone (2002–2007)

A smart and entertaining remake of the classic Cronenberg pic that reimagines the tale of Johnny Smith, a man whose life is thrown into disarray after waking up from a coma after six years with psychic powers.

Over the course of attempting to reclaim a small part of a normal life, Smith finds himself in a battle of wits against evil politician, Gregory Ammas Stillson, the USA miniseries version of Trump.
Where it aired: TV series on USA
Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole de Boer and Chris Bruno


Carrie (2002)

Bryan Fuller wrote the screenplay to the 2002 update to Stephen King’s classic story of Carrie White, the outsider who get revenge on the mean kids using her telepathic abilities.
Fun fact: This was intended as a pilot to a potential series, but it never got off the ground.
Where it aired: TV movie on NBC
Starring: Angela Bettis, Patricia Clarkson, Emilie de Ravin and David Keith


Kingdom Hospital (2004)

A 13-episode TV event based on Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom was not based on any King work, but adapted by the scribe for the tube. Initially meant to be a mini, this became a single season.

Filled with crazed surgeons, magical patients, blood-shy nurses, ghosts, monsters and mental patients, the series was a night shift from the primetime dramas of the time.
Where it aired: TV series on ABC
Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Bruce Davison, Jack Coleman, Diane Ladd and Ed Begley, Jr.


Desperation (2006)

Mick Garris returns to the Stephen King well for this made-for-TV movie about a man of the law who moonlights as an agent of Satan by arresting and sacrificing folks who travel through the small town of Desperation.
Where it aired: TV movie on USA
Starring: Ron Perlman, Tom Skerritt, Steven Weber and Annabeth Gish


Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (2006)

Single serving of King tales from his various short story collections that include “Battleground,” “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band,” “The Road Virus Heads North,” “Umney’s Last Case,” “The End of the Whole Mess,” “The Fifth Quarter,” and “Crouch End,” just to name a few.”
Where it aired: Miniseries on TNT
Starring: William Hurt, William H. Macy, Jeremy Sisto, Claire Forlani, Tom Berenger, Ron Livingston, the puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, possibly the Solid Gold Dancers, and many, many more.


Children of the Corn (2009)

The Syfy Network’s take on the King short story about rowdy kiddies of Gatlin who murder all the adults to appease He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
Where it aired: TV movie on the Syfy Network
Starring: Daniel Newman, Kandyse McClure and David Anders
Any sequels or remakes?: In 2011, Children of the Corn: Genesis marked the eighth installment in the evil fucks from Gatlin series. Not really a sequel, prequel or continuation to this particular version, but just another chapter in the franchise as a whole.

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