Have you guys heard of Stephen King? He's the one who wrote that book about the evil car that shits out a monster bat.
Just joshin'. Of course you know who Stephen King is. The man isn't just the most prolific and well-known author of all time, but so many adaptations have been made of his work that by now he warrants having his own streaming service. Like the books themselves, some of these adaptations are brilliant and some are lousy. The three titles below represent every stop on the quality spectrum, with one of them netting an Academy Award and the other netting something like 37 sequels, all equally terrible. Though studios continue pumping out movies and television series based on his works on a yearly basis, it makes sense that the most infamous adaptations are based on his most infamous stories, like the ones below, all of which were written more than thirty years ago.
Misery is probably in the top five of all-time best Stephen King flicks. Directed by Rob Reiner, who found similar acclaim with his adaptation of King’s “The Body” as Stand By Me, it’s an absolute classic and an astounding example of what the genre can do with an original concept and horror centered around adults. King’s novel, written from the point of view of an author known very much for one style of writing and the fears of how his fan base will react should he ever venture into new territory, was obviously a personal work, but Reiner took great care of that concept and transplanted it into an adaptation that honors that fear while guiding it into a remarkable finish with little hints of gallows humor.
Kathy Bates won the Oscar for her portrayal of the deranged Annie Wilkes, and rightfully so, because she’s astounding to watch. Every line of hers is quotable, and impeccably and specifically delivered; her ability to propel from sweet and aloof to manically unhinged is an absolute marvel. James Caan, too, excels with the material, managing to overcome being confined to a bed for 90% of his performance, and even after having seen Misery a dozen times, his final fight scene with the murderous Annie Wilkes is still nerve racking.
The special effects by KNB, though seldom used, stand the test of time, and between the staging of the gags and Reiner's direction, there's no way you don't feel the phantom pain of seeing Paul Sheldon's ankle take that cracking shot with Annie's sledgehammer. It's probably one of the least intricate special effect in all of horror cinema but it's up there as the most effective.
Bates would go on to star in another King adaptation, Dolores Claiborne—one every bit as good as Misery (and my all-time favorite King-penned movie) but not nearly as celebrated—and while her take on another murderous madam was just as powerful, it was still no Annie Wilkes.