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Screening Stephen KingScreening Stephen King

Adaptation and the Horror Genre in Film and Television

Simon Brown


Book published by University of Texas Press


Since the 1970s, the name Stephen King has been synonymous with horror. His vast number of books has spawned a similar number of feature films and TV shows, and together they offer a rich opportunity to consider how one writer’s work has been adapted over a long period within a single genre and across a variety of media—and what that can tell us about King, about adaptation, and about film and TV horror. Starting from the premise that King has transcended ideas of authorship to become his own literary, cinematic, and televisual brand, Screening Stephen King explores the impact and legacy of over forty years of King film and television adaptations.

Simon Brown first examines the reasons for King’s literary success and then, starting with Brian De Palma’s Carrie, explores how King’s themes and style have been adapted for the big and small screens. He looks at mainstream multiplex horror adaptations from Cujo to Cell, low-budget DVD horror films such as The Mangler and Children of the Corn franchises, non-horror films, including Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, and TV works from Salem’s Lot to Under the Dome. Through this discussion, Brown identifies what a Stephen King film or series is or has been, how these works have influenced film and TV horror, and what these influences reveal about the shifting preoccupations and industrial contexts of the post-1960s horror genre in film and TV.

Simon Brown is an associate professor of film and television at Kingston University. His previous books include Cecil Hepworth and the Rise of the British Film Industry 1899–1911.

REVIEWS:

“This book is not only essential as a study of Stephen King and his works adapted to the big and small screen; it is also an exemplary study of the evolution of the horror genre in its ebb and flow from literary adaptation to gore-laden saturation and beyond since the mid-1970s. Brown has done extraordinary work synthesizing cultural mood, generic tastes and trends, production problems, script rewrites, and, most crucially, the branding of Stephen King himself as profound influences on the studied texts and their critical reception. I can think of no other book on King that takes this unique approach and achieves this synthesis as successfully as this one.”

—Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Manchester Metropolitan University, author of Postmodern Vampires: Film, Fiction, and Popular Culture

“This book’s primary strength is its accessibility to both the scholarly and the general reader. In an original and intuitively satisfying manner, it gathers together the unruly mess of King adaptations into one coherent package and places it within the sociocultural and industrial context of four decades of horror. This reframing of otherwise familiar material makes the work a valuable contribution to the study of King.”

—Philip L. Simpson, Eastern Florida State College, author of Psycho Paths: Tracking the Serial Killer Through Contemporary American Film





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