Having written countless literary classics of horror, including the likes of The Shining, Carrie, It, Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot and The Mist, Stephen King is a sagacious voice of the genre. Having helped to shape the modern horror landscape as we know it today, Stephen King’s opinion is often listened to as a leading one in the field, often voicing his views on the genre’s very best efforts.
In the many adaptations of his works, including Carrie from director Brian De Palma and It starring Bill Skarsgård as the titular beast, Pennywise the clown, it is rare that Stephen King dislikes one of his adaptations. Rarer still is it for King to vocally comment on his disapproval as he did with Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his 1977 novel, The Shining.
As Stephen King told Deadline, “I think The Shining is a beautiful film and it looks terrific and as I’ve said before, it’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it. In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favourable and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much”.
Stephen King prefers to stray further afield than his own works when it comes to his favourite films, charting his list of modern favourites in a list composed by Open Culture. With an eclectic taste in horror, King’s list included the likes of Dawn of the Dead by Zach Snyder, The Strangers directed by Bryan Bertino and The Witch by Robert Eggers. Perhaps Stephen King’s most surprising choice, however, was the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left adapted from Wes Craven’s notorious classic.
Speaking about the film in his book Danse Macabre, King heaped the film with considerable praise, stating that The Last House on the Left is “the best horror movie of the new century”. Continuing, the world-renowned author writes: “The Dennis Iliadis version is to the original what a mature artist’s painting is to the drawing of a child who shows some gleams of talent. The 2009 Last House is the most brutal and uncompromising film to play American movie theatres since Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer”.
A somewhat blasphemous act in the horror community, quite why Stephen King prefers the remake of the film over Wes Craven’s original isn’t entirely understood. Raw in its unrelenting depiction of reality, The Last House on the Left is loosely based on Ingmar Bergman’s classic 1960 film The Virgin Spring, following two teenage girls heading to a rock concert when they are captured by a brutal gang of psychopaths. Bound, gagged and taken to a nearby forest, the girls are forced into doing humiliating sexual acts on each other in some genuinely disturbing scenes of mental and physical torture.
Take a look at the trailer for the remake of the film that Stephen King calls “the best horror movie of the new century” below.