Sam Raimi is recognized as one of the all-time great filmmakers in the horror genre… but that in mind, his relationship with the works of Stephen King is surprising. He’s never personally made any King adaptations as a director, but he has had acting roles in two of them – namely the miniseries that were made in the 1990s based on The Stand and The Shining. It’s an odd and unexpected history, but it’s worth noting that he has not given up hope on someday bringing one of the author’s books or stories to the big screen.
Being a huge Stephen King fan and not having the opportunity every day to sit down with Sam Raimi, I felt compelled to ask the filmmaker about his history with King this past weekend during the Los Angeles press day for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Following my questions about Doctor Strange continuing to wear the Eye of Agamotto and the relationship between the Darkhold and the Necronomicon from Evil Dead, I changed subjects and inquired about King’s books and if he would be up for the task of making an adaptation.
Sam Raimi seemed excited by the suggestion, and noted that while he has wanted to make Stephen King adaptations in the past, the regular problem he’s encountered is that other filmmakers have beaten him to the punch:
The Rob Reiner adaptation that Sam Raimi is referring to surely Misery and not Stand By Me – and thinking about that possibility makes one’s brain start to spin. Reiner’s Misery is unequivocally one of the best Stephen King movies, and I’d go as far as to call it one of the greatest thrillers of all time, but the idea of that story in Raimi’s hands (just a couple years removed from the making of Evil Dead II) is motivation to find a way to travel across the multiverse and into a parallel reality where that film was made.
Most Stephen King and Sam Raimi fans will likely agree that we probably don’t need more cinematic treatments for Carrie and The Shining, as both have already inspired sequels and remakes, but his interest in Night Shift – King’s 1978 collection of short stories – is intriguing. Many of those horror tales have been adapted, including “Graveyard Shift,” “The Mangler,” and “Children of the Corn,” but a significant percentage of them still haven’t inspired live-action interpretations… yet.
For now, Sam Raimi’s Stephen King connection is limited to the aforementioned miniseries versions of The Stand and The Shining – both of which were written by King and directed by Mick Garris. In the former, he plays an agent of the villainous Randall Flagg (Jamey Sheridan) who meets a grisly end after disobeying the orders of his evil leader:
In The Shining, conversely, he is on the side of good playing Gas Station Howie – a man who lends his Snowcat to Dick Hallorann (Melvin Van Peebles) as the Overlook Hotel chef races through a blizzard to try and save Danny and Wendy Torrance (Courtland Mead, Rebecca De Mornay):
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is the first feature film that Sam Raimi has directed in nearly a decade (his last one being 2013’s Oz The Great And Powerful), but fans everywhere can hope not only that he will make many more movies in the years to come, but also that at least one of them will be based on a novel by Stephen King.
The new Marvel Studios blockbuster, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, and Rachel McAdams, arrives in theaters this Friday, May 6, and you can learn about all of the Marvel and Stephen King projects that are on the way via our Upcoming Marvel Movies and Upcoming Stephen King Movies And TV guides.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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