Welcome back for another round with the King of the ring: Mr. Stephen Scares-a-lot. Sure, we’ve hit a few speed bumps on our little road trip down horror highway, but it’s not the destination that counts… it’s the journey. And yes, I know The Golden Years didn’t make an appearance last time, but seriously go watch paint dry or grass grow – it’s more compelling.
This time around we take a pit stop in a little ol’ town where Brittany Spears and Hillary Duff are at the top of their game. Where wearing dresses over boot cut jeans is fashionable, and every tanktop has rhinestones. Oh 2000s, why’d you have to go and make King so complicaaaaated?! Excuse me while I go reminisce with my gal, Avril. Oh my god, guys – it’s the Naughties!
Hearts in Atlantis – 2001
Based on the short story “Low Men in Yellow Coats,” this is the tale of a kindly elderly gentleman who touches the lives of some young kids in a small neighbourhood. Oh, and he has special powers.
Fun fact: This movie features a young Anton Yelchin. Stephen King’s most commonly assumed writer rival has been Dean Koontz. Anton Yelchin would go on to play Odd Thomas in the film Odd Thomas, an adaptation of the first book in a series by Dean Koontz.
Verdict: Thumbs up! – A touching, more grounded story like The Green Mile. This is one of the best King movies.
Children of the Corn: Revelation – 2001
This is the SEVENTH film in the Maize Murder series – I mean, Children of the Corn series. This time it’s about a woman who moves into an apartment complex that’s plagued with creepy children. What?! And Michael Ironside shows up too, because he has great taste in roles.
Verdict: Bad – Who even gives a shit?
Rose Red – 2002
A 3 part tele-series about a spooky ol’ mansion that has a real penchant for doing bad things. Like killing people. Naturally, a plucky psychologist leads a team of investigators into the house to science the shit out of this mystery.
Verdict: Shrug – There’s enough of a decent haunted house movie bleeding through the cheese here to make this watchable.
The Mangler 2 – 2002
Last time it was inside a laundry press. This time, the demonic entity has entered a private school computer network. Oh no it’s a ghoooooossstt. And a viiiiirruuuuus. It’s a ghoooossstttt viiiiirruuuussss.
Verdict: Bad – What the hell is this? Lance Henriksen, what are you doing in this movie, man?!
Firestarter 2: Rekindled – 2002
A two-part TV miniseries… can’t get enough of those. In this sequel to the 80s Barrymore flick, we’re going forward in time to when Charlie McGee is all grown up and is STILL pursued by old enemies.
Verdict: Bad – Malcolm McDowell and Dennis Hopper are both in this movie, but that doesn’t save it from being really, really freaking tacky.
The Dead Zone – 2002
It’s the longest running TV series adapted from King’s work. The Dead Zone ran for six seasons between 2002-07. This is basically the same story as the 80s film with Christopher Walken, just embellished into a television show.
Verdict: Thumbs Up-Shrug – Far from The Sopranos or even Firefly, but The Dead Zone is also far better than most of the toxic waste pile that’s on this list.
Carrie – 2002
Carrie gets rebooted in a made-for-TV movie which decided that subtlety and good acting had no place on the small screen. Roll camera, cue low budget special effects!
Verdict: Bad – This TV movie looks like a student film that was colour graded by the people who made The Saddle Club. No disrespect to The Saddle Club. Saddle Club’s the bomb.
Dreamcatcher – 2003
A group of friends in a snowed-in cabin find a wandering stranger with a stomach ache. They take him home, where he proceeds to shit alien snake monsters. There’s some larger story about an alien invasion in here as well.
Verdict: Shrug – I know I’m biased here because I’ve always defended this movie, but arse-weasels aside, this is a totally watchable film.
The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer – 2003
A made-for-TV prequel to a TV miniseries that no one remembers?! Oh boy, if that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. This prequel to Rose Red tells the backstory of the Mansion’s owners; the Rimbauers, and the construction of the killer mansion itself.
Verdict: Bad – This is a truly needless prequel to a story most people have forgotten entirely about. If they ever heard of it in the first place.
Kingdom Hospital – 2004
A thirteen-part TV series that revolves around one particularly creepy hospital. Ghosts roam the halls, strange beasts wander with them, and doctors obnoxiously hit on each other… for some reason.
Verdict: Shrug – As corny as it is, this could be much worse and would probably rate better without King’s name on it.
Secret Window – 2004
Jack Sparrow is slumming it as a writer, when suddenly the butler from Mr. Deeds decides to harass him over copyright laws and a stolen story idea.
Verdict: Bad – I know, I know. A lot of people say this isn’t that bad. If “isn’t that bad” means “boring as all hell and badly acted,” then yes, this “isn’t that bad.”
Salem’s Lot – 2004
Rob Lowe stars in this two-part TV miniseries about the same damn shit the 1970s one was about. Guy moves back to small hometown, and there’s vampires. Hi-jinks ensue. Fun Fact: this was actually shot on location in Victoria, right here in the land down under.
Verdict: Shrug – Almost better than the original, but falls short thanks to cheese and campy acting.
Riding the Bullet – 2004
This is the story of a guy going to visit his mother in hospital. Hitchhiking his way there, though, he encounters kooky and slightly…wait, no, definitely-dead… people. But you know what they say: a haunted past can’t keep a good man down.
Verdict: Bad – This got a limited release that nobody saw or even remembered. Gee, I wonder why.
The Mangler Reborn – 2005
This time the Mangler series tries a soft reboot; following the story of a repair guy who becomes a slasher villain in order to appease the Mangler’s appetite for blood.
And yes, this really is the best video I could find for this stupid movie.
Verdict: Bad – This movie is un-freaking-believably bad. The lights aren’t on, nobody’s home, I think this is a crack house.
Desperation – 2006
Another TV movie. Desperation tells the tale of some unfortunate souls who get rounded up by one particularly large and aggressive sheriff, who seems to have a real interest in summoning ancient malevolent forces.
Verdict: Shrug– Look, it’s got a TV budget. But Ron Perlman is in it, and it’s generally entertaining for the most part.
Nightmares and Dreamscapes – 2006
This eight-part TV series tells eight different stories; William Hurt is a hitman, Tom Berenger buys a creepy-ass painting, a convict goes on a treasure hunt, a couple meet dead rock ‘n’ roll stars, Willaim H. Macy writes himself a new reality, a man has an out-of-body experience, a guy tries to save the world from violence, and another couple find a portal to another dimension.
Verdict: Shrug – Nightmares and Dreamscapes is a neat little throwback to anthology shows of yesteryear like The Twilight Zone. Plus it has some solid star power.
Creepshow III – 2007
The third instalment in the Creepshow series. This time around we get more short stories without that neat little horror comic linking device. Or any interesting acting. Or really any sign of intelligent life at all. Just watch the clip below.
Verdict: Bad – The first two Creepshows aren’t good, but they’re a damn sight better than whatever the hell this half-arsed mess is.
1408 – 2007
1408 is the story of a sceptical writer who’s stayed in a bunch of haunted locations for work, and this hotel room is just his latest entry. But is this a haunting? As Sam Jackson says: “It’s an evil. Fucking. Room.”
Verdict: Thumbs WAY up! – 1408 is one of the best Stephen King films out there. Solid acting, well-crafted suspense, and best of all: good storytelling. Holy shit. I almost forgot that existed.
The Mist – 2007
Bizarrely well remembered for such an inconsequential and very short story. The Mist stars Thomas Jane as a father trapped at the grocery store with his son. Oh, the horror!
Oh yeah, and some creepy mist is outside filled with monsters that eat people and whatever.
Verdict: Thumbs up! – Perfect? No. But Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption) does a pretty good job pulling a decent horror movie out of the originally uninteresting short story.
No Smoking – 2007
I could have sworn I’d seen this before, but with James Woods. Wait, I have seen this before in Cat’s Eye. Oh well. Needless to say, the story of a chain-smoking dick caught in a dark, surrealist quitting program made its way to Bollywood.
Verdict: Thumbs Up! – Not even kidding. This is actually pretty decent. Leave it to India to make something decent out of Stephen King.
Dolan’s Cadillac – 2009
This is a revenge story set between Christian Slater and that creepy kid from American Beauty. Uh, I mean, between a human trafficking gangster and some vengeful young dude.
Verdict: Shrug – Damn it, I love Chrissy Slate-Slate. Dolan’s Cadillac isn’t the best, but it’s a refreshing crime story with King’s name on it.
Children of the Corn – 2009
A reboot of my absolute faaaavourite Stephen King series. It’s about a couple who try to escape a town full of cultist children and yaaaaaaay. You can tell it’s my favourite, right?
Verdict: Shrug – This is actually the best Children of the Corn movie out there. Though that’s not saying much.
And there you go; another day, another decade in the screen history of Stephen King. Before you ask: no, I’m not regretting my choice to go down this rabbit hole. It’s not damaging to my mental health. I don’t care what you or any of my doctors say.
Check back in for our next and final instalment of the Month of King (kinda month-and-a-half), as we make for the home stretch of the 2010s. What’s the term for that? The tennies? The teens? I don’t know. Maybe we should ask that giant space turtle who vomited up the known universe. If you don’t know what that means, then you’re not a true King fan (oooh, shots fired).
Need more King in your life? Check out the rest of the Month of King (80s and 90s). For more recent King, why not check out The Dark Tower review? Or how about some creepy clowns? We have the IT (2017) review as well!
Yup, I am literally made of 65% Stephen King reviews by this point.
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