Today we celebrate Stephen King’s 70th birthday! It has been 43 years since his first novel, Carrie, was published in 1974 and he is still making readers and movie goers alike terrified to this day. It seems King only gains more and more popularity as years roll on. Whether it’s a new novel or a novel to movie adaptation King’s name is always on the lips of horror fans, and this year is no exception! With the remake of IT, Netflix’s release of Gerald’s Game on September 29th, and the first installment of The Dark Tower series which hit theaters earlier this summer, this has certainly been the year of Stephen King!
It nearly came to a bout of fisticuffs when the writers here at iHorror realized it was the Godfather of Horror’s birthday, and who would be the lucky one to cover the event? However, I can happily report without spilling a single blood drop we peacefully decided to all share why we love King by detailing a piece that has shaped not only our love of the genre, but also horror culture as we know it today.
Enjoy our selections from the iHorror family!
iHorror writer Justin Eckert tells us like why he loves Stephen King’s novel The Shining.
While this may come as no big surprise, Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, and not just for his work in the horror genre. King has been the mastermind behind several of my favorite books including The Shining. Everything from the description of the Overlook Hotel, to the slow transformation of Jack into a monster, are so efficient in creating a mental image that will leave long lasting scars on the reader.
While Danny and Wendy are both equally important characters, King’s writing had truly resonated with me while Jack took center stage. As a recovering alcoholic Jack tries desperately to prove his love and dedication to both his wife and young son. Unfortunately his weaknesses are exploited by the evil that calls the Overlook their home.
Even after four decades since the book’s release The Shining can still scare new readers thanks to its use of an oppressive atmosphere, memorable characters and shocking moments, and finally an antagonist who you can’t help but to pity by the time you turn the final pages of the novel. The Shining is a story of love, insanity, and in its final moments, redemption.
iHorror writer James Jay Edwards tells us why he loves the film adaptation Cujo based off of Stephen King’s book of the same title.
There are two mains reasons why I love Cujo. First, it has the most sympathetic antagonist of any horror movie I have ever seen. I’m a big dog lover (and I mean BIG dogs – I have a 90 pound boxer), and although the book develops the character of the pre-rabies Cujo much better, the movie still does a great job at turning the big fluffy cuddler into a foaming, snarling monster.
The second reason is the performance of everyone’s favorite horror mom Dee Wallace. The fierce protective spirit that Wallace embodies when her son’s life is at stake makes her the perfect foil to the mad dog. It’s the unstoppable force of a huge rabid Saint Bernard against the immovable object of a mother’s love for her child, and that triggers the kind of emotional response that a lot of movies these days don’t get from me. And I love it.
iHorror writer D.D. Crowley tells us why she loves the movie Creepyshow.
As I admitted in my most recent ‘Late to the Party’, I am not the most schooled in the ways of King, but there was one movie that I have loved since I was a child. When I was about 6-years-old I saw the movie Creepshow.
I loved how it looked like a comic book, and it terrified me! There were so many cameos which added an element of fun to the horror. Also, the fact that it was an anthology made it impossible to get bored as you watched the events unfold on the screen. It kept my attention as a child, and it still gives me the creeps (see what I did there) as an adult.
The style was unlike anything King had ever done before or since, and it was a co-op with George A. Romero, and as a Romero fan (R.I.P.) I was hooked. My favorite story during the anthology was the one that King himself starred in. A lone yokel hears a meteor fall from the sky one night. He goes and touches it for some damn reason, and all of a sudden grass starts growing anywhere he touched the meteor, then anything he touched afterward. His acting was great and the story was silly. I loved it! The cockroach installment on the other hand is my worst nightmare, and I still can’t watch it without turning away.
iHorror writer Piper Minear tells us why she loves the novel Pet Sematary.
The beauty behind many of the Stephen King books I have read is that the most horrifying aspects aren’t necessarily the monsters under your bed or hiding in your closet, but the flesh and blood human characters that are put in extraordinary situations with the supernatural or paranormal.
In Pet Sematary Louis Creed is given a very real world problem when his daughter’s beloved cat Church dies while she is away, but instead of letting her deal with the natural process of grief we, something we all must learn to accept, he chooses to spare her of that pain. Unlike the rest of us, he actually has a tool at his disposal to bring her cat back and prevent her from experiencing those feelings. By burying Church in the sour ground of the Native American burial site he can bring the beloved pet back. However, in time he realizes the cat doesn’t come back right.
He then tries again with his son to spare his family from the pain of losing their toddler who died in a horrible accident. Yet once again his son, Gage, is not the same little boy he was in life. Something is wrong, something inside his brain has changed, and all he wants is to kill. By now creed is dissolving into his own insanity and desperation and when his wife is killed at the hands of her son that Creed brought back from the dead he once again takes her to the cursed ground to bring her back.
The reason this movie resonates so deeply with me is because initially Creed makes the most selfish of decisions for the best of intentions, but as they say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and hell is exactly where Creed is headed as the book progresses. However, he is much to deluded in his own intentions and selfish goals to realize that sometimes dead is better.
iHorror writer Shaun Horton tells us why he loves the Stephen King novel Salem’s Lot.
Vampires have existed in fiction for well over a hundred years now, stretching back to John Palidori’s The Vampyre, published in 1819. In all that time, they’ve morphed into tragic heroes, romantic lovers, and even managed to…sparkle?
No. Real vampires are supposed to be scary. They stalk you in the dead of night, their bite draining you of blood and transforming you into one of them, doomed to wander in search of people to feed on yourself. That means stories like Nosferatu, Dracula, and Stephen King’s masterpiece, Salem’s Lot.
Only King’s second novel, Salem’s Lot, is his take on the story of Dracula and vampires, introducing them to the new world through the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine. The story is focused on Ben Mears, who returns to Jerusalem’s Lot years after leaving as a child to write a book about the abandoned mansion call the Marsten House. Arriving at the same time is an Austrian immigrant by the name of Kurt Barlow. Not long after people start disappearing, then reappearing in the dark depths of the night, thirsting for the blood of their family, friends, and community members. It falls on Ben, Susan Norton, a college grad, Father Callahan, and a young boy by the name of Mark Petrie to discover the source of the evil and battle it.
Salem’s Lot isn’t just my favorite. The year after it was released, in 1976, it was nominated for the World Fantasy Best Novel award. Stephen King even said himself in an interview with Playboy in 1983 that it was his favorite. (In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2014, though, his answer changed to Lisey’s Story.) It also regularly breaches the top five in lists of King’s best works, and has over 80,000 five star reviews on the book review site Goodreads.com.
This is more than just a horror novel about vampires. It’s a time capsule of classic Americana, at least before the vampires overrun the town, and an example of a book which is nearly perfect on all the cylinders of plot, characterization, and description. It’s an example of some of the best that writing can be, and a book that anyone with any interest at all in horror or vampires should read.
If you disagree, I hope little Danny Glick comes tapping on your window in the dark of night. He’ll be able to convince you far better than I.