Clash Of The Titles is the podcast where two films go head to head in a fight to the death! Every Monday and Thursday, Sky presenter Alex Zane, writer Vicky Crompton and film journalist Chris Tilly thrust a pair of films with something in common into the arena of combat – or, com-chat – with only one emerging as the victor.
And October belongs to the king of horror himself – Stephen King! Every Monday and Thursday, Alex, Vicky and Chris are dissecting classic film adaptations of Stephen King’s bone-chilling novels for a month of King vs. King. Kicking things off with horror darling The Shining vs. Dr Sleep, Alex, Vicky and Chris revisit Kubrick’s masterpiece with plenty of humour and laughter.
What was your introduction to Stephen King’s stories?
Alex: I had a misleadingly soft entry into the work of King – back to back viewings of Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. Having discovered they were based on King’s work I duly purchased his short story compilation Night Shift and got a shock. The first story I read was called ‘The Boogeyman’, a child-killing monster that lives in your closet. I couldn’t sleep for a week. And now I’ve just re-read the Wikipedia plot page (to remind myself if it really was that scary) and am currently having terror flashbacks.
Vicky: A combination of being 10 years old and wanting to leave children’s books behind, and a very cavalier (read: neglectful?) parent-recommendation for anything by Stephen King. Which led me to Needful Things, which I’m not sure I got, but I knew was way more fun than Sweet Valley High.
Chris: My first exposure to Stephen King was through the movie Stand by Me, which came out when I was 8 – making me pretty much the target audience. Loved the film, so I read the short story on which it was based in the Different Season anthology, which is where I found Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption – and then I was hooked.
What’s your favourite adaptation of King’s work?
V: With apologies to Stephen King – it’s [the 1980] The Shining! The Gold Room calls to me and if I go my whole life without having an Old Fashioned in there…well, what a waste. Although, I’ve just re-watched Pet Sematary having forgotten a toddler EATS AN OLD MAN so that might nudge it. Cute!
A: I watched the Tim Curry It TV mini-series way too young and to date, it is the most scared I’ve ever been watching something. His Pennywise is one of the great Stephen King monsters. When he’s peering out of the drain at young Georgie and says that line: “They all float down here.” I get chills. I don’t even think I know what it means – like, do the bodies float? But he’s holding a balloon, and they float, so that’s confusing. Maybe I was scared of being confused!
C: Stand by Me and Shawshank are obvious contenders, but we’re talking about the Master of Horror, so I’ll go scary and pick The Dead Zone. David Cronenberg lends his icy-cold touch to King’s novel, Christopher Walken brings his unique brand of weird to the psychic central character, and the film itself felt all too clairvoyant as the world struggled through the Trump era.
… and least favourite?
C: There are more bad Stephen King adaptations than good, but Hollywood hit rock bottom with 2003’s Dreamcatcher. With William Goldman writing, Lawrence Kasdan directing, and the likes of Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Damian Lewis and Timothy Olyphant starring – it should have been a home run. But the resulting film was pretty much unwatchable, with the villainous ‘shit-weasels’ a low-point not just for King adaptations, but for cinema in general.
A: I have to agree with Chris and go with Dreamcatcher – it had such talent behind it, Lawrence Kasdan and William Goldman… but, I mean… I don’t know that you can be scared of anything called a shit-weasel! The most terrifying thing about that movie is Morgan Freeman’s monstrous eyebrows.
V: Carrie – because it reminds me of periods and being unpopular at school, two things I could really do without.
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