“King on Screen”

This movie was screened at Panic Fest.

Even if you’ve never picked up a Stephen King book, you’ve likely seen a movie that was based on one of his stories. After all, more than 50 directors have adapted the author’s works into more than 80 films and television series since 1978. The comprehensive documentary “King on Screen” celebrates King’s contributions to pop culture entertainment through his novels and short stories, and it’s an encyclopedic look at the legacy that’s still being created now.

Director Daphné Baiwir focuses on the themes in King’s work, including the loss of innocence, fractured families, the battle between good and evil, substance abuse, and the darkness lurking beneath the surface of places (and the people who inhabit them). The film expresses the idea that one of the main reasons King is so popular is that regular folks can identify with his writing. It’s relatable, small town horror that speaks to normal people, and the author never talks down to them. This translates well into cinema, and the documentary goes on to explore some of the more popular movies that were adapted from the author’s books, from “The Shining,” “Carrie,” and “Kujo,” to “Christine,” “The Green Mile,” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Baiwir uses film clips mixed with terrific interviews with people who worked with King, including Frank Darabont, Mick Garris, Mike Flanagan, and Greg Nicotero. It’s so much fun to hear these directors take a walk down memory lane, and it’s something fans will absolutely savor. They offer good analysis and insight too, with thoughtful dialogue about the author and why they were drawn to his stories. The documentary includes several scenes of extremely rare behind-the-scenes videos of King on the set of some of his famous television and film adaptations, but it’s disappointing that we never hear from King himself. The author is featured in the film only in archival footage.

While it obviously helps if you’re familiar with his body of work, “King on Screen” is an enjoyable and informative documentary with plenty for the uninitiated to savor. Even if you consider yourself a Stephen King enthusiast, you will learn something new. This is a must-see for die-hard fans.

By: Louisa Moore

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