TV review: Stephen King Master of Horror, Paramount Network
- Henry Northmore
- 24 September 2018
Interesting but basic documentary on the world's bestselling horror author
Stephen King has been part of pop culture since the 70s. His prolific writing schedule and the number of film adaptations have made him one of the biggest names in publishing. He's written over 60 novels and sold approximately 350 million copies across the world. However King isn't just about quantity, it's the quality that has made him a superstar. He understands true horror needs to have realistic characters who you can root for dropped into a world of terror.
Tastes and popularity often go in waves and right now Stephen King is hotter than he's been in decades. The recent version of It is the highest grossing horror film of all time and a quick check in IMDb shows over 17 feature films and TV series based on King's work currently in various stage stages of production, not including Castle Rock which has had great reviews Stateside but is still awaiting a UK broadcaster. The perfect time for a look at the life and work of the King of horror.
Master of Horror feels like an American documentary rejigged with an added Mariella Frostrop voiceover and a couple of UK film critics dropped in for the British market. There's so much to cover in an hour (including adverts) it's almost impossible to do King's work justice. Focusing on the familiar touchstones of Carrie, Misery, The Shining, It, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. There's also a preview of the new adaptation of Pet Sematary with short interviews with the cast and crew.
It's the biographical elements and images that are the most interesting with contributions from biographer (George Beahm), illustrator (Glenn Chadbourne) and an old college editor (David Bright). The stories of his early life, struggles with drink and drugs, serious traffic accident and inspirations are always fascinating. Although tellingly all the contributions from King himself are culled from archive interviews.
Stephen King fans won't learn anything new but will still find Master of Horror an enjoyable watch, however if you've only just been turned onto his work this is a solid primer even if it does skip some important chapters in his life (there's no mention of The Stand, regularly cited as his greatest novel).
It's also worth noting Paramount are also screening a season of Stephen King films and TV shows to accompany Master of Horror – including The Shining, Big Driver, It (1990), Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and Thinner – throughout the week.
Stephen King Master of Horror, Paramount Network, Oct (date tbc).