An audience with the King
Hi, I'm Stephen King. You can call me Uncle Stevie if you'd like. Would you like to hear a nice story?
"Carrie," the troubled young girl who helped make author Stephen King an international phenomenon, is back on the big screen Friday in the personage of Chloe Grace Moretz. But what if you're too scared to leave the house this October weekend?
Fear not, for director Brian De Palma's 1976 take on King's debut novel is readily available from your couch. You can see Sissy Spacek battle Piper Laurie with her telekinetic powers instantly on Netflix, or rent it from a variety of VOD services like vudu. An underwhelming Blu-ray release is also available, should you prefer a physical copy.
Nearly impossible to find, however, is the little-seen 2002 version made for NBC. Directed by TV veteran David Carson, NBC's "Carrie" boasts an intriguing cast: Angela Bettis, so great in the cult horror classic "May," plays the title role, and Oscar-nominee Patricia Clarkson gets the role of her fanatical mother. "Pushing Daisies" and "Hannibal" mastermind Bryan Fuller wrote the script.
Unfortunately, this curiosity has all but disappeared; if you want it, you'll have to find a used copy of the DVD on an auction site.
If you need even more telekinetic fun, you can check out the forgotten, apocryphal 1999 sequel, "The Rage: Carrie 2," on vudu and DVD. It stars Emily Bergl as Ca- ... er, wait, it says here she plays a girl named Rachel. Hmm. But at least Amy Irving reprises her role as Sue Snell from the 1976 film, right?!?
Of course, "Carrie" has been a Halloween-time favorite for many years, and a few films based on Stephen King's writings have become true classics — "The Shawshank Redemption" may very well be the most beloved movie of the last two or three decades.
But some have fallen through the cracks, like the 1993 adaptation of my favorite King novel, "Needful Things." The gorgeously photographed film version stars Max Von Sydow ("The Exorcist") as the devilish owner of an antique shop who trades his items not for money, but for a dastardly deed committed against your neighbor. Ed Harris and the dearly departed J.T. Walsh chew the scenery as the town sheriff and a corrupt businessman, and a darkly funny fate awaits one of King's quirkier collection of characters.
Check it out on Amazon Instant Video or DVD, but beware the sloppily edited, disjointed extended version that plays on cable.
And finally, there's 1998's "Apt Pupil." Before he donned Magneto's helmet, Ian McKellen collaborated with "X-Men" director Bryan Singer on this truly disturbing adaptation of a novella from King's "Different Seasons" collection. The late Brad Renfro plays a high schooler obsessed with his history lessons on Nazi Germany who begins to suspect that kindly old man living down the street has a dark secret. (Yep, you guessed it!) McKellen, whose most iconic performance is as the benevolent wizard Gandalf, proves he can do scary in this very odd film.
"Apt Pupil" is available on vudu, Blu-ray and DVD.
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. He believes hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.
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