King On ScreenOverview -
If there's one name synonymous with horror, it's Stephen King! Daphne Baiwir’s documentary King On Screen digs deep into the world of Stephen King film and television adaptations interviewing the legion of filmmakers to tackle the thematically complex novels. The doc may sometimes feel a little unstructured, but hearing from some of the best visual storytellers in the business is a real thrill. Coupled with excellent bonus features, your King collection isn’t complete without it. Highly Recommended
The Shining, Carrie, It, Misery, Stand by Me; More than 60 of Stephen King’s novels have been adapted into films. King On Screen pulls back the curtain and offers an intimate sit down with the filmmakers who brought King’s stories to life.
directed by: Daphné Baiwir
starring: Frank Darabont, Mike Flanagan, James Caan, Greg Nicotero, Mick Garris, Tom Holland, Mark L. Lester, Vincenzo Natali
2022 / 105 min / 2.35:1 / English Stereo
- Region Free Blu-ray
- Making of First Trailer
- First Trailer
- 77m version of the film
- Deleted shot from the Intro
- Photo Gallery BTS
- Long Commentary of the Intro
- Making of Shooting Maine Intro
- Cutting Room Floor
- English SDH subtitles
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
If you grew up in the 1980s, there wasn't another name more associated with the word “scary” than Stephen King. I was born in ‘82, and by the time I was four, I knew the name wondering what book it was my Dad was reading or what movie it was my older sister was watching that I wasn’t allowed to see. Before we had internet streaming corrupting the youth, kids like me had to hope that one of these scary movies would either pop up on cable, be edited for broadcast shows like WXON Detroit TV 20’s Thriller Double Feature or if you had a really cool uncle that didn’t give a shit about what you rented at the video store. Seeing a Stephen King movie was a right of passage. And the cool thing is now that I’m into my 40s, King’s hold on the world of horror cinema is just as strong as ever, if not stronger!
But to have a great Stephen King movie, you need a great director behind the camera to bring the colorful characters, interesting themes, and the terror to life. But how did they do it? King books can be tomes, sometimes several hundred or even over a thousand pages long. Thanks to filmmaker Daphne Baiwir we have one-of-a-kind access to some of the filmmakers that delivered the best, middling, and maybe even a couple of the worst adaptations of King’s work. We see the likes of Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), Taylor Hackford (Dolores Claiborne), Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, Gerald’s Game), Tom Holland (Thinner, The Langoliers), Mick Garis (The Shining, Bag of Bones, Desperation, Riding the Bullet, The Stand, Sleepwalkers), Lewis Teague (Cujo, Cat’s Eye), Craig R. Baxley (Rose Red, Storm of the Century), Fraser C. Heston (Needful Things), Mark L. Lester (Firestarter), Tom McLoughlin (Sometimes They Come Back), Josh Boone (The Stand), Scott Hicks (Hearts in Atlantis) among many other directors and writers.
Each of these personalities has some unique takeaway from King’s work, or why a certain novel spoke to them in such a way they had to make a film out of it. They talk about the challenges of condensing some of King’s novels to a filmable form. They discuss often having to change the ending of King's work. In the case of Mike Flanagan also having to straddle the line of staying true to the source for Doctor Sleep but also live up to the audience’s expectations of Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining - a movie King notoriously hated. It’s an often fascinating series of conversations from some of the very best in the business to have tackled one of King’s expansive novels.
If I have a complaint about Daphne Baiwir’s documentary, it can feel a bit unfocused. Various topics about King’s work and the complications of adapting his films are thoroughly discussed, but there isn’t a careful throughline to carry one topic to the next. We’re not looking at the films in any particular order, topics just get discussed and the hows or whys the conversation drifted in that particular direction are a little clunky. Also, some personalities maybe get a little too much screen time. Granted personalities Frank Darabont and Mick Garis have put in their lion’s share of King content, but they get such long stretches that it almost feels like the doc suddenly becomes more about them instead of the club of filmmakers as a whole. Overall those are pretty mild gripes and easily forgivable considering the breadth of the documentary and how many films and TV adaptations get attention.
If you’re a Stephen King fan, more specifically a Stephen King movie fan, you're sure to get a kick out of King on Screen. The film opens and closes with director Daphne Baiwir entering King’s literary world with numerous novel easter eggs peppered throughout as various actors, writers, and directors make some fun cameo appearances. These bookends may seem silly or frivolous, but they set the stage for what’s to come and get you in the mood for examining some good movies. As a fan of King’s novels and films, it was cool to hear from so much talent in one place. You’re not going to find another film that picks the brains of so many amazing directors and writers focused on one specific novelist like that. As a movie collector - it also reminded me there are a few gaps in my King Collection I need to plug!
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Thanks to Darkstar Pictures and OCN Distribution, King on Screen comes home to haunt your Blu-ray collection. Pressed on a Region Free BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in a standard clear case. The disc loads to an animated main menu with standard navigation options. If you order direct from Vinegar Syndrome you score a damned slick Slipcover (while supplies last).
Shot digitally, King on Screen looks fantastic with a clean clear 1080p image. The bookends are appropriately creepy and engaging but what’s nice is the various interviews aren’t simple, easy recorded Zoom meetings as has become more common thanks to COVID. These are all in-person sit-down chats giving it a bigger more earnest feel and visual value. What’s also very impressive about this documentary is the numerous clips and snippets of various films that were used. Now depending on the scene in question from whichever film, the image can fluctuate a tad but otherwise, it’s uniformly excellent. It’s just nice to see the scene a particular filmmaker is talking about without it just being them, a silly reenactment, or a classic zoom-in or zoom-out Ken Burns-style still photo montage.
Given that this film is 95% interviews with various filmmakers, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 track sits very comfortably with the content. Ambients and music cues help fill the space so it’s not just dead air behind whichever filmmaker is speaking, but there’s no real call for a big expansive surround soundscape to play in. The various film clips either don’t offer sound or are so brief that the stereo track handles the necessities nicely. Uncomplicated, it’s not an aggressive mix, but it isn’t a lax one either letting the interviewees take point without any auditory issue or competition from other elements.
What’s really nice for this disc is we get a ton of great bonus features. Most interesting of the group is probably going to be the 77-minute version of the documentary. The bookends play a little differently, offer some different appearances from certain King stars or filmmakers, and some of the conversations drift differently from one segment to the next. Overall I like the final version much better as it gives more room to breathe and meditate on the topics. Next are a bunch of extended and cut interview segments with the various filmmakers. Each get another minute or two, not enough to be upset about why the content was cut, but enough to make going through these pieces worth the time. All around a ton of great extra content to dig into.
- 77 Minute Cut (HD 1:16:41)
- Making Of - Shooting Maine (Short) (HD 00:48)
- Making Of - Shooting Maine (Full) (HD 6:01)
- Making Of - First Trailer (HD 1:43)
- Cutting Room - Extended Interviews
- Craig Baxley (HD 1:01)
- Dan Attias (HD 2:08)
- David Carson (HD 2:34)
- Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (HD 1:17)
- Frank Darabont (HD 3:48)
- Fraser C. Heston (HD 1:36)
- Fritz Kiersch (HD 2:55)
- Greg Nicotero (HD 3:31)
- Jeff Beesley (HD 3:07)
- John Harrison (HD 4:16)
- Josh Boone (HD 1:09)
- Lewis Teague (HD 4:34)
- Mick Garris (HD 2:08)
- Mikael Salomon (HD 1:38)
- Mike Flanagan (HD 2:01)
- Scott Hicks (HD 2:28)
- Taylor Hackford (HD 3:35)
- Tod Williams (HD 2:13)
- Tom Holland (HD 2:47)
- Tom McLoughlin (HD 5:34)
- Vincenzo Natali (HD 3:52)
- Zak Hilditch (HD 1:57)
- The First Trailer (HD 3:32)
- Deleted Shot from Intro (HD 00:43)
- Long Commentary of Intro (HD 23:29) with Sebastien Kruz
- Intro Commentary (HD 11:43 French with English Subs) with Daphne Baiwir and Sebastien Kruz
- Photo Gallery
- Official Trailer (HD 1:48)
- Also From Dark Star
King on Screen is a genuine treat for Stephen King movie fans. With so many books, short stories, films, and television series, the man has left an indelible mark on popular culture. Every few years we go through a bit of a King renaissance where every studio needs to have a King project in the works, and we just so happen to be living through the latest round. This terrific documentary is a fun, exciting, and informative dig into the minds of the filmmakers responsible for bringing King’s creations to our cinema and TV screens. A great doc arrives on Blu-ray with an overall excellent A/V presentation on top of hours of extra features you’ll want to dig into immediately after the credits roll. If you’re a King fan, your collection isn’t complete without it. Highly Recommended
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