As Halloween Approaches, Stephen King Drops A Recommendation For 'A Real Creepshow'

 Stephen King in Maximum Overdrive.
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It’s time to look up from your copies of Holly, Constant Readers! You may have seen the news from this past weekend with John Carpenter sending best wishes to Bryan Fuller regarding the Hannibal creator’s upcoming remake of Christine, but that’s not the only interesting development that has emerged from the world of Stephen King in the last few days. Not only has the author dropped a new horror movie recommendation for spooky season on social media, but there was also an exciting streaming announcement and there is now an opportunity to witness a unique adaptation of a King classic.

All of that and more is packed into this week’s edition of The King Beat, so let’s dig in – and let's all wish a very happy birthday to the legendary author, who turns 76 today!

Stephen McHattie in Pontypool
Stephen McHattie in Pontypool

Looking For Something To Watch This Spooky Season? Stephen King Recommends Giving Pontypool A Shot

As mid-September turns into late-September, we are getting deep into the heart of spooky season, and if you’re like me, that means that you’ve already been voraciously devouring horror movies for weeks now (personally, my view count is at 30 films since September 1). If that’s the case, however, that also possibly means that you are regularly scratching your head wondering what you should watch next. With so much great stuff available, it’s easy to find oneself a victim of choice overload – but that’s when recommendations become helpful, and Stephen King perked the ears of genre fans everywhere this week with intriguing praise for the 2008 feature Pontypool.

The author was reminded of the title this week on Twitter when he came across a post from writer Daniel Kraus asking about films that only show “a *glimpse* of the larger-scale horror.” In addition to citing Night Of The Living Dead and 10 Cloverfield Lane as examples, Kraus also namedropped Pontypool, which inspired a quote tweet from King:

PONTYPOOL! Now there’s a real creepshow.

Directed by Bruce McDonald, Pontypool is an adaptation of the Tony Burgess novel Pontypool Changes Everything and centers on a small Canadian town where a virus begins to spread through language – the consequences including confusion, madness, rage and death. The indie feature premiered at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival and stars Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, and Georgina Reilly.

If you’re looking to add the film to your watchlist for Halloween 2023, you can stream it instantly with an AMC+ subscription or via Amazon Prime Video via IFC Films Unlimited.

Danny and Wendy in the hedge maze
Danny and Wendy in the hedge maze

Did You Know There’s An Opera Based On The Shining? You Can Catch It In Atlanta, GA This Week

With some exceptions, it’s very easy to watch most Stephen King adaptations. Between streaming services, digital purchases, and physical media releases, it can take only a matter of seconds to go from thinking about a King movie or TV show to actually watching it. This is a blessing of the modern age for fans… but if you’re a Constant Reader who is in search of a rarer experience, you may want to try and get yourself to Georgia in the next week to try and catch a performance of The Shining by The Atlanta Opera.

Yes, you read that correctly: there is an opera based on The Shining. Created by composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell, the stage production first premiered in May 2016 at the Ordway Music Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and, through song, it tells the story of the Torrance family as they settle in at an isolated Rocky Mountain hotel and find themselves besieged by supernatural horrors. It’s an adaptation that is specifically based on Stephen King’s book rather than director Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film adaptation from 1980 – which is apparently something that King personally requested (according to ArtsATL).

If your curiosity is now piqued and you want to watch Jack Torrance sing as he chases his innocent wife and son through the halls of The Overlook Hotel, there are plenty of opportunities. There are a total of nine performances that are scheduled between September 20 and October 1 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, and while a few have sold out, there are still seats available for a number of the shows. You can go to the official website for The Atlanta Opera for dates and tickets.

Sophie Thatcher in The Boogeyman
Sophie Thatcher in The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman Now Has A Streaming Release Date, And It’s Coming Soon

Early in its development and through production, director Rob Savage’s The Boogeyman was planned as a streaming movie… but those plans changed in a big way in the early months of this year. Following some successful test screenings, Stephen King personally questioned why 20th Century Studios wasn’t giving the film the theatrical treatment, and his advocacy ended up having an impact; distribution plans were upended, and following a buzzy, early premiere at CinemaCon 2023, the short story adaptation got a summer release and played on big screens around the country. That decision turned out to be a smart one, as the feature earned $82.3 million worldwide (more than double its Variety-reported $30 million-$35 million budget), but now, months later, the scary flick is finally set to arrive on the platform for which it was technically developed.

The Boogeyman has been available for digital purchase from online retailers since late August, and the movie will be out on Blu-ray on October 10, but now sitting between those two dates is the film’s streaming premiere. Just in time for spooky season, fans with a Hulu subscription will be able to watch the most recent Stephen King adaptation starting on Thursday, October 5.

Based on the short story of the same name, the film stars Sophie Thatcher as Sadie Harper – a teenage girl who, along with her younger sister (Vivien Lyra Blair) and father (Chris Messina), finds herself reeling following the death of her mother in a car accident. It’s a brutal and emotional time for the family, but things are made far worse when it’s discovered that their house is being inhabited by a monster that lives in darkness and is feeding on their fear and pain. The movie is rated PG-13, but as I noted in my spoiler-free review from the theatrical release, it delivers some terrific, clever scares, executes strong themes about grief, and is anchored by great performances.

Between The Boogeyman hitting Hulu on October 5 and the October 6 release date for Lindsey Anderson Beer’s Pet Sematary: Bloodlines on Paramount+, there certainly won’t be a lack of fresh King features to watch next month as Constant Readers count down the days to the spookiest holiday of the year. Admittedly, I remain disappointed that this season isn’t also seeing the debut of Gary Dauberman’s Salem’s Lot, which still doesn’t have a release date since being bumped from Warner Bros.’ theatrical schedule in August 2022… but I suppose we can keep our fingers crossed for Halloween 2024.

Gramma episode of The Twilight Zone
Gramma episode of The Twilight Zone

Recommendation Of The Week: “Gramma”

This weekend will see the debut of one of 2023’s best horror films. Writer/director Brian Duffield’s No One Will Save You is set to premiere exclusively on Hulu, and you’re not going to want to miss it. A special movie with some big surprises, it stars Kaitlyn Dever as Brynn Adams – a young woman alienated from her community due to a tragedy from her childhood who finds herself fighting for her life as her home is attacked by extraterrestrial invaders. It’s an original feature that isn’t based on any pre-existing source material (a.k.a. it’s not a Stephen King adaptation), but I will celebrate its release with a tangentially connected reading recommendation: the short story “Gramma.”

Originally published in a 1984 issue of Weirdbook magazine before being collected in the 1985 omnibus Skeleton Crew, “Gramma” doesn’t feature either aliens or a home invasion, but what it does share in common with No One Will Save You are powerful vibes of isolation and helplessness. Directly inspired by events from King’s childhood, the story centers on an 11-year-old boy named George Brucker, who is left at home without supervision after his single mother gets word that George’s brother is in the hospital with a broken ankle. The only other person in the house is the protagonist’s old, bedridden grandmother – and while she isn’t a concern at first, that very much changes over the course of the night as George begins to learn and understand some horrible truths about Gramma’s past.

“Gramma” has been adapted twice – first as an episode of 1985’s The Twilight Zone and then as a 2014 movie titled Mercy – but neither quite fully captures the terror in Stephen King’s story (which is relatable to anyone who was ever left at home alone when they were a child). Pick up a copy of Skeleton Crew, give it a read, and then do yourself a favor by heading over to Hulu to check out No One Will Save You.

That concludes this week’s The King Beat, but I’ll be back next Thursday here on CinemaBlend with a new edition, and we have plenty more King-related articles and features for you to read in the meantime. You can stay up to date with all of the latest big and small screen developments with our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide; you can learn about the extensive history of King’s books in Hollywood with my Adapting Stephen King column; and you can see how your own list of favorite King films aligns with mine by checking out my ranking of the 20 best King movies of all time.