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Terry L Vinson

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· Gauntlet

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· Bugstompers of The 21st Century

· SPECTRAL REWIND: The Class of ’81

· Creeping Dread

· Yellow Fever

Short Stories
· Duped Net: The Big Brawl

· Southern Extinction

· Bitter Ingredients, Bitter Pizza

· Jingle BONES

· WHAT Goes There?

· Reign of Goblins

· Passing the Torch

· Duped Net: The Interrogation

· The Shredder

· Duped-Net: Undercover Blues

· Why I Write - An Author's Confession

· For What It's Worth: The 25 Best Horror Films of All Time

· For What It's Worth: The ten-best Sci-Fi television programs of all time

· For What it's Worth: The Top Ten Western Flicks of All-Time

· Exorcising Ghosts of the Green and Gold Variety

· For What It's Worth: The Ten Best Sci-Fi Films of All Time

· For What it's Worth: The Ten Best Horror/Suspense Novels of All Time

· For What It's Worth: The Ten Best 'Undead' Films of all time

· A Crimson (Tide) WAVE

· ROLL TIDE!: A legacy…

· The Light of Gensan

· Ode to The Hunger (Rant of the Living Dead)

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· The Gift of Reading (pick a genre, any genre)

· Presenting...a trio of nail-biting thrillers to choose from!

· Terry Vinson's Sci-Fi/Thriller 'GAUNTLET' now on sale!

· Terry Lloyd Vinson's 'IN SHEEP CLOTHING' now available!

· Introducing Terry Lloyd Vinson's 'THE PURGATORY INN'

· Wings E-Press to publish thriller 'THE PURGATORY INN'

· Cover art for 'In Sheep's Clothing' revealed!

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Books by Terry L Vinson
One man’s opinion: Reviews of the films made from King’s writings…

Personal note from the author: As with most suspense/horror writers, I owe a large chunk of my original inspiration to put pen to paper (or better yet fingers to keyboard) to the modern master. Though I do fancy his earlier works, most notably the era of the ‘80’s that spawned ‘Christine’, ‘The Dead Zone’, ‘Cujo’, ‘The Stand’, and the short story collections ‘Night Shift’ and ‘Skeleton Crew’, I still consider Stephen King the one true Zen master of the supernatural thriller. That said, there have only been a scant handful of Hollywood adaptations that have escaped my intrusive glare over the years. Below are my opinions on said projects.

 Carrie (1976) – The prototype of all King-based films to come. Supplemented by a great cast (particularly Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie), Director Brian DePalma (Scarface, Sisters) does the novel primo justice. The final ten minutes are worth the price of admission alone, and it still holds up today amongst the countless ‘teen angst revenge’ horror flicks that followed in its wake. Rating – A

The Shining (1980) – Stanley Kubrick’s bone-chilling, if not somewhat flawed masterpiece; a lingering snapshot of a man’s gradual descent into madness. Nobody, but nobody can play the dementia card with more zestful glee than Sir Jack. Rating – B+

Creepshow (1982)- A team-up forged in horror hall-of-fame infamy; George ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Romero directs five separate vignettes taken from King shorts. Always considered ‘The Crate’ my personal favorite (‘Just call me Billie…everybody does!”). Fantastic genre cast (Hal Holbrook, Leslie Nielson, Adrienne Barbeau, E.G. Marshall, Fritz Weaver, and with King himself featured in the ‘Lonesome Death of Jody Verrill’ segment). Rating – B+

Christine (1983)-Helmed by horror-maven John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing), King’s tragic tale of a teenage boy’s love for his car, this particular model having rolled off an assembly line located somewhere in the vicinity of Hell’s deepest, darkest pit, boast solid thrills and decent-enough production values all around, though for some reason I always considered it a mild disappointment for all the talent involved. Rating – B-

The Dead Zone (1983) – Christopher Walken steals the show as a telepathically-cursed everyman in David Cronenberg’s most commercial film to date (his ‘Fly’ remake notwithstanding). Personally, I considered this King’s most thought-provoking novel, and this gripping cinematic feast did little to alter my perspective. Rating – A

Cujo (1983) – Despite its outwardly simplistic plot, that being the oft-used ‘when good pets go horribly awry’ scenario, it mostly works. Dee Wallace Stone shines in pretty-much a one-woman show, while the rabies-challenged canine in question delivers as menacing a performance as any human baddie in recent memory. Rating - B

Firestarter (1984) – One of the few (lone?) King works that the film actually improves on. Solid performances abound; from David Keith’s tormented father to George C. Scott’s one-eyed maniac, while the weakest link is that of little Drew Barrymore, whose incessant pouting and brooding grows increasingly annoying; essentially your typical spoiled-brat slash human flamethrower with pigtails. On the plus side, Martin Sheen (last seen as a similar baddie in The Dead Zone) exudes a reptilian sliminess as a crooked bureaucrat. Rating – C+

Cat’s Eye (1985) – Lewis Teague directs four more King shorts, the most entertaining of which stars James Wood as a man desperate to curb his cigarette smoking ways in ‘Quitters, Inc’. Passable for the most part, though a bit toothless when compared to the similar-in-theme ‘Creepshow’. Rating – C+

Stand By Me (1986) – Based on the short ‘The Body’ from the novel ‘Different Seasons’, I considered this surprise hit a bit of a fraud in terms of the dialogue used by its teenage cast (including then up-and-comers River Phoenix and Kiefer Sutherland). Enjoyable in parts, though a bit sappy and overly sentimental as a whole, it simply hasn’t held up well over time. Rating – C

Maximum Overdrive (1986) – King attempts (for hopefully the last time) his hand at directing a script based on his short ‘Trucks’. Not the least bit scary and at several intervals unintentionally hilarious, perhaps this lame efforts worst sin is the painstaking dullness that sits in from practically the initial reel. Rating – D

The Running Man (1987) – This Arnold Schwarzenegger action pic hardly resembles the King novella of the same title, though its futuristic ‘tournament of death’ plotline is given a definite boost by the presence of Richard ‘Family Fued’ Dawson as a corrupt, conscience-less MC. Rating – B-

Pet Sematary (1989)– Despite a mostly no-name cast (the exception being the iconic presence of Fred Gwynne) and director (Mary Lambert, who also directed the rancid sequel three years later), I still consider this one of the better King adaptations. I dare anyone to watch the final ten minutes and not wince at least once. One of King’s darkest novels, the overt creepiness will settle on you like a second skin. Rating – A-

 Misery (1990)- Rob Reiner was never better behind the camera, nor was James Caan any better standing before it. As the hopelessly psychotic Anne Wilkes, Kathy Bates is absolute perfection. Rating - A

The Dark Half (1991) – George Romero returns to King territory one more time with not quite the same level of success, though Timothy Hutton is fine playing twin roles, especially when he morphs into the evil-is-as-evil does George Stark persona. Rating – B

Needful Things (1993) – Great cast (headed by Max Von Sydow and Ed Harris) and top-notch production values, but a bit overlong and dare I say it…even grows a bit tedious and predictable after a rip-roaring start. Rating – C+

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – An enduring classic, one of the finer prison films of the modern era. If possible, it actually exceeds the novella in terms of dramatic thrust. Simply a magical testament of the human spirit lovingly transferred to film. Rating – A+

Dolores Claiborne (1995) – As in ‘Misery’, Kathy Bates is perfectly cast in Taylor Hackford’s mesmerizing character study of one woman’s undying devotion to her only daughter. Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Christopher Plummer and David Strathairn round out a fine cast. Rating – B+

Thinner (1996) – Infamous as the ‘Bachman’ book that was eventually uncloaked as a King novel, the film version suffers from a glaring lack of cohesion and woeful lack of suspense, despite the novel’s intriguing premise. Even the make-up effects lack the necessary realism to make the premise believable. Rating – C

The Green Mile (1999) – Darabont’s follow-up to the classic ‘Redemption’ doesn’t quite reach the same mile-high pinnacle, though it is undoubtedly one of Tom Hanks’ finer moments. Also boasts fine ensemble performances from David Morse, Michael Jeter, Barry Pepper, and Michael Clarke Duncan. Rating – B+

Dreamcatcher (2003) – It only goes to show that a solid cast and proven director do not always a quality flick make. Then again, I always considered this (along with the dreary, dull-as-a-butter knife ‘Insomnia’) one of King’s weakest recent novels. I would have never thought it possible to make any character portrayed by the great Morgan Freeman so clichéd and one-dimensional. Rating - C

Secret Garden (2004) – Easily my favorite short taken from King’s collection ‘Four Past Midnight’, it’s given an extra surge of adrenalin by the slightly off-kilter lead performance by Johnny Depp, as well as Jon Turturro’s mysterious goggle-eyed lunatic. Its only weakness is perhaps in tipping its hand a bit too quickly. Overall, a solid effort. Rating – B

1408 (2007) – Call it ‘The Shining’-lite, it does contain several edge-of-your-seat moments, and is centered by Jon Cusack’s intense portrayal of a cynical ghost-hunter who gets his comeuppance. Again, its weakness is perhaps its ending, a bit too pat and safe for what had come before it. Rating – B-

The Mist (2008) – Frank Darabont’s suspenseful adaptation gains an extra letter just for the ending…reportedly approved by King himself.  Dark, merciless, unforgivining…in other words…horror filmmaking at its best.

Rating - A 



Update (2013): 

BAG OF BONES (2011) - Have not seen this, though overall reviews rate it as quite average despite a game performance from Pierce Brosnan in the lead.  

Under the Dome (2013) - Three episodes in thus far and its definitely piqued my interest.  Being that (for once) I'm viewing a filmed version of King's work without first reading the source material, I'm hoping for the best.  

‘Quick-hit’ ratings of additional films:

Children of The Corn (1984) – C

Silver Bullet (1986) – C+

Hearts in Atlantis (2001) – C (Note: another effort that veered so far from the source material it was almost unrecognizable)

Ride the Bullet (2005) – C-

The Mangler (1995) – D (Note: in a word: rancid)

 The Night Flier (1997) – B- (Note: A guilty, grisly pleasure)

Graveyard Shift (1990) – C+

TV mini-series: Salem’s Lot (1979) – A (NOTE: The first and still the best; screen legend James Mason is malevolence personified) – A

 IT (1990) – B-

The Tommyknockers (1993) – C+

The Stand (1994) – B+

The Langoliers (1995) – C+

Storm of the Century (1997) – C+

Rose Red (2002) – B-

Desperation (2006) – C-


NOTE: It’s been reported on the noted genre website ‘DREAD CENTRAL’ that Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Walking Dead) will next direct King’s ‘The Long Walk’, a novella taken from The Bachman Books. Talk about stoked! This is one of my favorite all-time King tales, and who better to adapt?








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Reader Reviews for "'The Fright Flicks of Stephen King’: One Fan’s Overview"

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 6/17/2014

enjoyed reading your review, family likes these movies, ...
Reviewed by Robert Montesino 3/27/2008
Hey Terry...absolutely wonderful comprehensive overview of King's work...would love to publish this one in our current issue of SFC. Our review section is currently open and this would fit in quite nicely!
Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 11/27/2007
Stephen King did an exclusive for Tales from the Darkside: The Movie -- titled THE CAT FROM HELL. My favorite King collection is Skeleton Crew because of Surivor Type. (a doctor eats his own parts.) I've seen Christine and read the book -- I read the book first, then I went back and watched the movie.

I am making plans to see The Mist because I borrowed the audiobook from the Glenside public library in 1995. Stephen King is one of the masters of the genre but you have to realize there are two horror films coming out, one from the master and the disciple. Richard Matheson is the master of the genre, Stephen King is his disciple. His short stories you can see more of his Richard Matheson type delivery coming out -- Autopsy Room Four is by far my favorite Stephen King short story because he's showing he's still got it in short fiction.

Stephen King is the root of House of Spiders in the level of classic horror voice with a Gothic horror delivery. I've seen The Stand on film but never had the chance to read the novel version. I am from the generation raised on Stephen King's movies being more on the screen then I started picking up the books. My step-aunt has a huge collection of Stephen King books and they are bigger than my own collection.

I have about 24 books by Stephen King in my collection. I got the book he wrote the Introduction for -- Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. That book was meant for Stephen King to write the introduction for and I could see Stephen King doing an anthology film featuring Matheson's works.

The rest of the books I own and have the most of are by authors I came to know and worked with over the years. You can trace every author's influence in Tabloid Purposes to Stephen King.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 11/26/2007
The only Stephen King movie I've seen was "Carrie"; I don't do horror movies; I'd much rather read horror stories than see the movies. Too scary for me, don't like the blood and guts factor. I get grossed out too easily. But for those who haven't seen the movies, you let us know what you thought, and that's much appreciated, especially if you're a horror buff or fan of Stephen King. I do enjoy a lot of his books; a little horror can't hurt now and then. My favorite Stephen King books are probably "Night Shift", "Carrie", "Cujo", and "It".

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D

Oh, I like "The Stand", too.
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 11/25/2007
I only watched one Stephen King movie, actually, it was a mini-series, "The Stand," my all time favorite book of his. It was compellingly acted, but tornado warnings kept I really didn't get to see all of it. What I did see, however, was very good, I'd rate it a B +. (The tornado sirens, an F. LOL)

Thanks for the movieography (kind of like discography) of one of horror's best known writers.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
Reviewed by pamela goff (Reader) 11/25/2007
i think rose red is the most then storm of the centry

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