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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > October 2017 > Schlocky horror show

Schlocky horror show

Stephen King’s films are hugely successful—but he’d rather you stick to the books, says Tim Martin
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES, ALASTAIR MUIR/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK, ROH / BILL COOPER 2013

In 1986 Stephen King, whose novels had already been adapted for the screen by directors such as Brian De Palma, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, John Carpenter and Rob Reiner, decided to make a film of his own. To signal the advent of Maximum Overdrive, a ludicrously camp horror film in which a passing comet sends the world’s machines on a human-killing spree (crushing people with steamrollers, zapping them with arcade cabinets, hacking at them with electric carving knives), the producers cooked up a trailer in which King himself, bearded and intense, stepped forward from a dark backdrop to look the audience in the eye. “A lot of people have directed Stephen King novels and stories,” he declared, “and I finally decided, if you want something done right, you ought to do it yourself.”

By the time of Maximum Overdrive‘s release, however, the King of Horror had changed his story slightly. Appearing on a Canadian chat show to promote the film, he offered a disconcertingly frank take on the film business. “I’m not rehearsing my Academy Award speech,” he said amiably, with a forthrightness only partly attributable to the booze and coke habit that had him in its claws for most of the 1980s. “I don’t even think I want to make another movie. It’s a primitive way to create. I mean, it’s interesting for that reason, because you have to overcome so many odds.” As the interviewer blinked in confusion, King narrowed his eyes. “You know what I’d really like to have?” he said. “A pair of lizardskin boots.”

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In Prospect’s October issue: Andrew Adonis, Steve Richards, Gaby Hinsliff, Rachel Sylvester and Jennifer Williams look at the idea that leadership is the only thing that matters when it comes to elections. Adonis leads the cover package arguing exactly that point and outlining his ratings of the leaders who have competed every election in the UK and the United States since 1944—Richards offers a rebuttal. Hinsliff, Sylvester and Williams profile three potential leaders in waiting—Amber Rudd, Jo Swinson and Angela Rayner. Elsewhere in the issue we map out the potential road the UK might travel down to stay in the European Union and explore the relationship between UN Secretary General António Guterres and Donald Trump as the two prepare to meet at the UN. Also in this issue: Philip Collins on the similarities between Britain’s Brexiteers and the Gaullists of yesteryear, John Bercow explains how parliament could function better and our “View from” comes from Nairobi, where the recent election result has been annulled.
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