Well… That’s Brave. The Doctor Sleep Trailer Is Here,

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Warner Bros. have just dropped the trailer for Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining and, well, it’s quite something…

You can’t fault the studio’s bravery here, choosing to lean so much into Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 film by reusing footage and recreating sets. If nothing else it’s a bold statement of intent.

King’s sequel novel has proven to be highly divisive, eliciting equal amounts of love and scorn (nothing unusual there, of course, when tampering with a property so firmly lodged in the public psyche), but director Mike Flanagan has some serious scare chops as the writer/director of Netflix’s big hit series, The Haunting of Hill House (as well as the adaptation of King’s “unfilmable,” Gerald’s Game.

That’s certainly an intriguing trailer, and for those of you unfamiliar with the book, here the official synopsis for the movie:

Struggling with alcoholism, Danny Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. He soon finds a new purpose when he forms a psychic connection with a girl who shares his shining ability.

Doctor Sleep will open on November 8th when we’ll all get the opportunity to love it or hate it. Which side do you think you’ll come down on?

Pennywise Is Back – Here’s Your Super Creepy Trailer for It: Chapter Two

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First of all, let’s get your goosebumps raised with this…

Well, if that doesn’t get you excited for Andy Muschietti’s It: Chapter Two then it’s possible you’re as dead as the old lady in that super-creepy sequence at the beginning of the trailer.

It: Chapter One took pretty much everyone by surprise when it became a box-office smash in 2017, and now the same director is back with a fabulous cast of all-grown-up Derry Losers Club kids including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader. Along with the return of Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise the Clown, of course.

It is a particular favourite book of many Stephen King fans (including me) so we can only hope Muschietti does the same good work on this second chapter. The trailer certainly bodes well, as that sequence between grown-up Beverly and the not-what-she-seems Mrs Kersh got my skin all kinds of crawling.

Let’s get ready to float down here again when It: Chapter Two opens on September 6.

Castle Rock – “This Place” Trailer Unnerves…

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The Stephen King screen renaissance seems set to continue (we’ll conveniently ignore The Dark Tower) with a new series, coming from Hulu this summer.

The network has the very welcome team of King and producer J.J. Abrams working on Castle Rock, from Warner Bros. TV and Abrams’ Bad Robot, and here’s the latest trailer to unnerve you…

The official synopsis for the show reads:

“A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: CujoThe Dark HalfIT, and Needful Things, as well as novella “The Body” and numerous short stories such as “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock. Castle Rock is an original suspense/thriller — a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon, while brushing up against some of his most iconic and beloved stories.”

If that sets your pulse racing as much as it does mine then we can all settle down together on the sofa when the show drops on July 25th. I just recently revisited the 1994 TV mini-series of The Stand, and despite having a screenplay from King himself that sorry production left me seriously jonesing for a genuinely great small screen take on the novelist’s work (short take: King & co pretty much ballsed-up one of his greatest works).

Will Castle Rock float with Andy Muschietti’s It, or will it linger with the undead stench of Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower? We’ll know soon enough…

Netflix and King – 1922

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Netflix appear to be getting into the Stephen King business in a big way.

With their film of Gerald’s Game dropping this week and looking as kinky, creepy and gnarly as King’s book, the channel has now released a trailer for 1922, based on a novella taken from his 2010 collection, Full Dark, No Stars.

Starring the always watchable Thomas Jane as a farmer who manipulates his son into murdering his wfe, the Netflix film looks like it will fully embrace the ghastly goings-on as Jane’s wife (played by the equally watchable Molly Parker) comes back to torment him along with a plague of rats.

With the success of IT and these two new productions from Netflix, it’s good to see a rash of King adaptations that might just help us to forget 2017 was the year Sony made a trainwreck from The Dark Tower.

1922 arrives on Netflix on October 20.

We All Float Down Here – IT Trailer Delivers The Scares

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Yes, yes, we all know no one can ever truly replace Tim Curry’s underpants-worrying Pennywise, but damn, folks, this trailer promises mighty creepy things!

Based on one of Stephen King’s best books, this new version of IT is directed by Andy Muschietti and is promised as the first of two films (the second dealing with, well, whichever characters survive their encounter with Pennywise the clown in this installment).

I love Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1990 mini-series fiercely (even despite the deficincies with its ending… yeah, yeah, that spider…) and Tim Curry has given so many people clown-induced nightmares – not to mention provided the scariest internet memes – but I’m totally down with what Warner Bros seem to be serving up here.

IT opens on September 8th in the U.S. and is pretty much guaranteed to make you scared of clowns forever. If, like me, you aren’t already…

Stranger Things – More King Than King

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The Netflix series that flew in pretty much under the radar and is now the water cooler show of the summer feels like one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever – even though the author has nothing to do with Stranger Things.

Of course the eight part series doesn’t just reference King, there are a lot more ingredients mixed into this charming concoction – everything from Alien and Aliens, John Carpenter movies (plus a massively Carpenter-inspired score, by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein), The Gate, The Monster Squad, Blow Out, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scanners, Videodrome and a whole lot more. It’s also a love letter to the 1980s movies of Steven Spielberg, particularly E.T.; The Extra Terrestrial and The Goonies, as well as to the decade itself (during which the show is set).

But most of all, the film calls back to Stephen King books, films and TV series such as Firestarter, The Tommyknockers, Stand By Me and many more. Creators/co-producers and directors Matt and Ross Duffer get to the heart of what makes King’s work so successful, by giving us ordinary, down-to-earth (and decidedly blue collar) characters who we come to care for. It seems like a simple trick, but it’s one that proves elusive to many.

When 12-year-old Will Byers vanishes, his mother, Joyce, becomes frantic and tries to find him, while the local Police Chief, Jim Hopper begins his own investigation. The very next day a mysterious girl with strange abilities appears. These events soon start to involve others in the small town, including a dark government agency with their own agenda involving these two children.

The casting here, by Carmen Cuba, deserves special mention and is superb. The children give really likeable and heartfelt performances, with special mention going to Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and Finn Wolfhard.

Every character gets moments to shine, and even those we’re supposed to dislike get real moments of humanity. The biggest exception to this is chief antagonist Dr. Martin Brenner, played by Matthew Modine (channeling David Cronenberg in Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, perhaps?), who remains cold and unknowable. I’m not certain if this is a deliberate choice of the production but it serves to leave something of a hole at the centre of things.

Of the adults, both Winona Ryder, as Joyce, and David Harbour, as Jim Hopper, give very strong, anchoring performances. Hopper really is the quintessential Stephen King protagonist, the cracked and frayed working man who becomes heroic despite his frailties.

Mixing horror and science fiction with big dollops of humour and heart (the relationships between the four central children are not only relatable but warm and very funny, and there are some real tear-inducing moments between them), Stranger Things, despite a small, niggling feeling of anti-climax, tells a mostly satisfactory, self-contained story – though I’m sure its surprise success will have many viewers calling for more – and there are certainly enough threads left hanging.

While there’s nothing startlingly original here, the way these ingredients are prepared feels both fresh and familiar, and the show is a hoot for those who know and love any of the productions I’ve mentioned (or just the 1980s) but more than stands on its own feet to provide a summer surprise which will keep you glued to your sofa.

King himself took to Twitter to praise the show, saying “Watching STRANGER THINGS is like watching Steve King’s Greatest Hits. I mean that in a good way”, and if it’s good enough for the master of horror, well…