Stephen King Goes To HOLLYWOOD

This article was originally published 8/6/2012 at Talk Stephen King.

I love books about Stephen King!  Of course, not all books about King are equal.  There are some stinkers in the mix, but most are a joy.  My favorite book about King's movie's is Jones' "Creepshows."

Some of my favorites are old stuff.  Among those, Stephen King goes to HOLLYWOOD is great!  With a copyright date of 1987, it covers King movies from Carrie to Stand by Me.  The book has a lot of photo’s, both color and black and white.  It is written with attention to detail a journalist would be proud of, while maintaining the energy of a fan.

Written by Jeff Conner, this is the kind of book that is just fun to thumb through.  There are articles on each movie (up to 1987), and sprinkled throughout are boxes with little facts and quotes.  For a small book, it’s actually pretty meaty.

Highlights From The Interview

image credit: HERE

Stephen King goes to Hollywood begins with an interview with Stephen King. The focus of their talk is primarily Maximum Overdrive, which King directed.  King, always humble and fun at the same time, begins by discussing his weaknesses as a director.

What’s neat about this is that it is not King reflecting on the film years later – he is discussing it right on the heels of its completion.  In the interview, King is still in love with his movie.  Kinda refreshing!  You can sense his hope and energy and passion for this film, even though he would later be good humored about it’s failings.

Asked what effect he was aiming for in Maximum Overdrive, King says, “I wanted it to move fast.  It’s a wonderful moron picture, in that sense.  It’s a really illiterate picture in a lot of ways.  There isn’t a lot of dialogue in it.  It’s fast.  A lot of things explode.”

When he was asked If he paid attention to character relations in the story, King said,
I’m interested in my people.  One of the few really sensible things that anybody said at the story conference that we had at MGM in L.A. – those people, what an alien mentality! – But somebody did say that if the characters don’t stand out and this is just a movie about machines, it’ll be a bad picture.  Their solution was to suggest that a lot of dialogue and scenes between the major characters be added fr character and texture.  I was always calling them the jumbo “John!  Oh Martha!” scenes, because they’re like soap operas.  We shot ‘em.  We just cut ‘em all out in the editing room, every single one.”
King indicates that he prefer’s Hitchcock, because the characters that are most interesting in his pictures are the ones in the supporting roles.

King also reveals what he thinks is the scariest moment in one of his films. . . he says it is when the hand comes from the grave in Carrie.  Asked if he had any idea it was going to happen, he says yes, but it still scared him.  He says his first screening of Carrie was in Boston, and that the theater was entirely full of black people.  King began to wonder how the audience was going to react to little Carrie withher “menstrual problems”!

And that’s the way it started, and then, little by little, they got on her side, you know, and when she started doing her shtick, I mean, they’re going, “Tear it up!”  “Go for it!” and all this other stuff.  These two guys were talking behind us, and we were listening to them, and at the end they’re putting on their coats and getting ready to leave.  Suddenly this hand comes up, and these two big guys screamed along with everyone else, and one of them goes, “That’s it!  That’s it!  She ain’t never gonna be right!”  And I new it was going to be a hit.


I don’t think I’ve ever noted picture captions. . . but the book is full of not only great pictures, but all out funny captions.

Here’s a few favorites:
  • Picture: Knife wielding Piper Laurie: “Shades of Norman Bates and Lizzie Borden: piper Laurie cuts a fine figure as Carrie’s mommie dearest.”
  • Picture of destruction at the prom: “Curfew time is no problem at the prom as Carrie uses her telekinetic powers to wish everyone a safe drive home.”
  • Picture: Barlow choking Mark, “Free dental floss or the kid gets it!  Reggie Naldr does his Nosferatu imitation as Barlow in Salem’s Lot.”
  • Picture: Cujo licking the bloody window of the car: “Cujo washes Wallace’s windows with his tongue, but she’s not appreciative in the least.”
  • Picture of Nielsen holding a pistol: “The time for marriage counseling has passed as Nielsen plots revenge on his unfaithful wife.”
  • Picture of corpses: “The corpses come home to roost when Dansen and Gaylen Ross return from a quick dip in the ocean.”
  • Picture of Neilsen talking to Ted Danson, who is buried in sand:  “Leslie Nielsen discusses his favorite band, The Talking Heads, with sandman Ted Danson.”
  • Picture of an axe cutting through the door as Wendy screams he brains out:  “Axe and ye shall receive: Wendy should have remembered to put out the ‘No Peddlers’ sign.”
  • Picture of fire raging in a bedroom: “Johnny accurately predicts that he should have worn flame-retardant pajamas to bed.”
  • Picture of teens destroying Christine: “Hell hath no Fury like Christine scorned.  Arnie’s pals will soon receive a nasty lesson in body work.”
  • Picture of corn stalks coming from car: “Not event he auto club can lend a hand when the Children of the Corn stalk their victims cars.”
  • Picture of Charlie setting fire to good: “Young Charlie shows her budget-minded parents how to avoid the expense of a new microwave.”
  • Picture of Drew Barrymore listening to George C. Scott: “Drew Barrymore listens attentively but still has trouble figuring out how Scott ever managed to win an Oscar.”

Boxes Of  Quotes!

The book is filled with little boxes that make it fun to dig through.  Here are some of my favorite box notes:

– Speaking of The Shining with Christopher Evans
“Somebody said, ‘What do you think Kubrick wants from THE SHINING?’  And I said, ‘I think he wants to hurt people.’”
–Speaking of The Shing with Bhob Stewart
“The idea for the hedge maze is Kubrick’sand not mine.  I had considered it, but then I realized it hadbeen done inthe movie THEMAZE (1953, directed in 3D by William Cameron Menzie the same year he did INVADERS FROM MARS] with Richard Carlson, and I rejected the maze idea for that reason.  I have no knowledge as to whether or not Kubrick has ever seen that movie or if it happens to be coincidence.”
 –Speaking of The Shining at Bellerica Library.
“When Stanley Kubrick was gonna do THE SHINING, we were living in a little town in western Maine, and I was up one morning shaving my face and my wife came in.  The phone had rung and she said, ‘It’s for ou.’  And I said, ‘Well, who is it?’ She said, ‘Stanley Kubrick from London.’  I had shaving cream over half my face and I just sort of picked up the phone and said, ‘Stanley, how are you!’  He wanted to talk about ghosts, and wasn’t the horror story or the story of ghosts always fundamentally optimistic because it suggested that we went on afterward?  And I said, ‘Well it is, Stanley, but what if a person died insande and came back?’  There was a long silence.  And I also said, ‘What about hell?  What if there really is hell?’ And Stanley said, ‘I don’t believe in that.’  So I said, ‘Well good, cool, do what you want.’”
– speaking of Stand By Me at Bellerica Library.
“One day at their summer camp, or whatever it was, a story circulated that a dog had been hit by a train and the dead body was on the tracks.  These guys are saying, ‘And you should see it man, it’s all swelled up and its guts are fallingo ut and it’s real dead.  I mean it’s just as dead as you ever dreamed o anyting being dead.’  Andyou could see it yourself, just walk down these tracks and take a look at it, which they did.   George said, ‘Someday I’d like to write a story about that,’ but he never did.  He’s running a restaurant now, a great restaurant.”
 –Speaking of Children of the Corn with Tim Hewitt
“And then, the second, very moral question is: do you have any right, just because you’re a big shot, to steal screen credit from somebody who’s an unknown.  What if it’s a great film?  So, I thought about that one very very hard for about three days, then Id ecided that essentially I couldn’t trust new World Pictures.  I sent a telegram to the screenwriters guild and said that I didn’t want to respond to Clayton’s petition to have sole screen credit on the picture, so he was granted sole screen credit.  I’m delight that he was on both counts.  Number one, the picture was a dog: it was a shuck-and-jive situation.  What they had sent me and represented as the final screenplay had nothing in common at all with what finally mad it to the screen.  It was basically, I think, and effort into accepting a screen credit that didn’t belong to me.”
–Speaking of Creepshow with Edwin Pouncey
“The comic, that was my idea.  They wanted a novelization, they wanted to farm it out, and I told them I’ve never allowed anything to be novelized and I said that if we’re going to do this then let’s do it in the spirit of the movie itself, which is of the EC comics, the horror pups, let’s go ahead and do a comic book. 
So we hired a guy called Berni Wrightson to do the panels and I just did the continuity.  It was kinda fun.”
About The Shining's Alternate Ending, discussed in Stephen king Goes To Hollywood, see my article HERE.

Listed under Coming Attractions:
The Running Man, Creepshow II, Pet Sematary, The Stand, The Talisman, Graveyard Shift, Return to Salem’s Lot, Apt Pupil, The Cat From Hell, IT, The Mist, Sorry, Right number.

You can buy Stephen King Goes To HOLLYWOOD at


  1. I've never even heard of this one!

    Time to update my to-buy list...

  2. One book I suggest is Hollywood's Stephen King by Tony Magistrale. It features an interesting interview with King where he gives his opinions on the adaptations of his work.