The great Stephen King, one of horror fiction’s greatest contemporary writers whose work has inspired some of the most memorable Hollywood movies, reveals a collection of his favourite films ahead of the BFI’s Stephen King on Screen season in 2017.
Ahead of Stephen King on Screen, a special season of film and TV at BFI Southbank between September 1 and October 3, the celebrated novelist, whose work has inspired horror film classics such as The Shining and Misery, has picked a handful of films to be screened during the season.
As well as screenings of adaptations of King’s work such as Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, talks and discussions, selected screenings of films including Carrie and The Shining on the huge screen at the BFI IMAX, the season will be complemented by films specially selected by King himself.
These films include The Changeling, a classic ghost story, of which King says: “For supernatural horror, I like Peter Medak’s film The Changeling, starring George C. Scott in perhaps his last great screen role. There are no monsters bursting from chests; just a child’s ball bouncing down a flight of stairs was enough to scare the daylights out of me.” The Changeling appeared in our scariest films top 10 and our feature on the best ghost stories.
The Hitcher also appears in King’s selection of favourites to screen at BFI Southbank. A taut, terrifying and economical suspense thriller, The Hitcher featured in our top 10 list of the best horror film beginnings, the best horror films of the 1980s , and “Road Rage: Top 10 Films Featuring Terror On The Highway”.
King says of the film: “The Hitcher is a terrifying road movie stripped back to basics. What sets this apart, other than some spectacular stunts, is the amazing performance of Rutger Hauer as the mysterious and homicidal John Ryder. “Where did you come from?” asks the terrified kid Ryder is chasing. “Disneyland,” Ryder whispers back.”
Another film chosen by King is Night of the Demon. This 1957 horror film from director Jacques Tourneur is “old school” in King’s words. He says, “I love Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon, a pretty wonderful adaptation of M. R. James’ story, Casting the Runes. Tourneur was a disciple of Val Lewton, which means the horror here is pretty understated, until the very end.”
Another inclusion is Wolf Rilla’s 1960 film Village of the Damned. King says: “On the subject of British horror (wrapped in an sci-fi bow), you can’t do much better than Village of the Damned, directed by Wolf Rilla and – like Night of the Demon – shot in beautiful black and white. It’s an adaptation of The Midwich Cuckoos, by John Wyndham, and George Sanders does a stellar job as the schoolmaster tasked with teaching some very strange pupils.
King rounds out his selection with Joseph Ruben’s The Stepfather. He says, “While we’re talking about terrifying men who come from nowhere, there’s The Stepfather, with Terry O’Quinn as the murderous (but charming) psycho looking for a family to love him. There’s that classic moment when he goes blank and says, “Saaay, who am I this time?” before bludgeoning his wife with a telephone.”
The BFI special season dedicated to Stephen King takes place between September 1 and October 3 at BFI Southbank. For more details click here.