Top 5 Most Frightening Scenes In Stephen King Books

 

Be ye warned, Constant Reader: here there be spoilers.

5. The Dark Tower VII: “The Thing Under the Castle”

This is the most recent entry on this list; the only one from the 21st century, but it works because it so strongly harkens back to classic King style: that combination of simple, elemental storytelling with detailed, psychological exposition.

Roland and Susanna are, as the chapter title implies, fleeing some unknown thing in the winding, dark passages under a ruined, ancient castle. At first, there’s just a slight noise in the distance, but then, over the course of several pages, the noises get clearer and closer, and that primitive instinct we all have warns of an approaching predator.

The pace increases to one of sheer panic as they first jog, then run, then sprint with terror-fueled energy away from the mysterious thing. Susanna, whose wheelchair has been lost, rides on Roland’s back and can see behind them into the darkness at what’s coming. As it finally comes within biting distance…

darktower

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More Stephen King-Inspired Media About Teens

A few days ago, I noted that the plot for the movie Chronicle is very similar to the plot for Carrie.  That reminded me of another similarity.

I read The Hunger Games a couple of years ago and really liked it.  But the basic template was not new.

A tyrannical government in a future dystopia recruits teenagers to compete in a brutal game of elimination where only one person gets to survive.  This was also the plot of Stephen King’s 1979 novel The Long Walk. This was originally published under a pseudonym, and was actually the first novel King ever wrote, drafting it in college, before he started Carrie.  I haven’t read it since high school, but I remember liking it.  Maybe I’ll give it another look some time.

 

Reviews of Movies I Haven’t Seen: Chronicle

Actually, every review I’ve read so far says this movie is pretty good.  Still, the plot sounds even more derivative than usual.  Angry, sullen teen starts developing telekinetic powers, and then uses them to exact revenge on the popular kids who tormented him?  Isn’t this basically the plot of Carrie, Stephen King’s debut novel from nearly 40 years ago?

In other news, I just realized that Carrie is now nearly 40 years old.  I don’t know that kids still read that one anymore.  Come to think of it, I seem to recall recently making a reference in class to a someone’s prom being ruined by having a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on them, and nobody got it.

This might be a bit of a stretch but, as I understand it, the main conceit of Chronicle is that the gifted kid uses his powers to float a camera around after him to record his awesomeness.  Carrie had a similar gimmick, much of its story being told through news clippings and excerpts from tell-all confessionals written by survivors.

Repost: Stephen King Was Wrong About Nuclear Power

The alarming disaster in Japan and the possible tragedy of one of their nuclear power plants is certainly scary.  However, it’s also gotten me thinking of this post from a year and a half ago, where I analyzed some anti-nuclear predictions from the 80’s and found them wanting.  As real as the danger is in Japan, it might be good to review how safe nuclear power is overall, to temper our worries with some hope. 

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When I was a kid, I read a lot of Stephen King.  One of my favorite sections of his novels was the ten page scene in The Tommyknockers where the dashing, rebellious writer confronts an obnoxious old energy executive with the shocking “truth” about the dangers of nuclear power.  I remember reading that for the first time and just tearing through it, amazed at the strength of the facts on the side of King’s hippie hero.  Surely, I thought, it must be clear to anyone with a brain that nuclear power is bad. 

Of course, I was a kid.  I was easily impressed by messages where emotional young rebels strike out at conservative caricatures.  Actually, that’s why I don’t read much King anymore: I got tired of the constant bashing of conservatives.  Seriously, where would King stories be without insane religious fundamentalists to be the bad guys in almost every book

Anyway, for some reason I thought of that scene recently, and I wondered how it held up with twenty years of hindsight (The Tommyknockers was published in 1987).  I looked it up (I have the original mass market paperback edition, which I think still has the same page numbering as the current editions), and was surprised by how vapid the argument was that I was so impressed by as a teen.  Here are the major points King makes in his screed:

  1. “When you examine the cancer-death stats for the areas surrounding every nuclear power facility in the country, you find anomalies, deaths that are way out of line with the norm.”  (page 101, repeated on 104)
  2. The explosion of the Russian facility at Kyshtym is used as a scare tactic, suggesting that similar things or worse would happen here.  (page 102)
  3. Waves of future cancer rates at Chernobyl are predicted.  (103)
  4. A 1964 AEC report is quoted predicting scary scenarios for US plant meltdowns.  (103)
  5. “At Chernobyl they killed the kids….Most may still be alive, but they are dying right now while we stand here with our drinks in our hands.  Some can’t even read yet.  Most will never kiss a girl in passion.”  (104)
  6. Continue reading

Stephen King Was Wrong About Nuclear Power

When I was a kid, I read a lot of Stephen King.  One of my favorite sections of his novels was the ten page scene in The Tommyknockers where the dashing, rebellious writer confronts an obnoxious old energy executive with the shocking “truth” about the dangers of nuclear power.  I remember reading that for the first time and just tearing through it, amazed at the strength of the facts on the side of King’s hippie hero.  Surely, I thought, it must be clear to anyone with a brain that nuclear power is bad. 

Of course, I was a kid.  I was easily impressed by messages where emotional young rebels strike out at conservative caricatures.  Actually, that’s why I don’t read much King anymore: I got tired of the constant bashing of conservatives.  Seriously, where would King stories be without insane religious fundamentalists to be the bad guys in almost every book

Anyway, for some reason I thought of that scene recently, and I wondered how it held up with twenty years of hindsight (The Tommyknockers was published in 1987).  I looked it up (I have the original mass market paperback edition, which I think still has the same page numbering as the current editions), and was surprised by how vapid the argument was that I was so impressed by as a teen.  Here are the major points King makes in his screed:

  1. “When you examine the cancer-death stats for the areas surrounding every nuclear power facility in the country, you find anomalies, deaths that are way out of line with the norm.”  (page 101, repeated on 104)
  2. Continue reading