Adapting Rose Madder? Bring These 5 Stephen King Books to the Screen Instead!

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Untapped stories ready for adaptation

Two Stephen King novels made progress this week in their journey to the screen.

“Under the Dome” landed a screenwriter and “Rose Madder” is in development. Come December, Bag of Bones arrives on television in a two-part mini-series. And let’s not forget the roller coaster ride that is the on again/off again adaptation of “The Dark Tower” series.

It’s hard to believe there’s anything left in King’s oeuvre to adapt, especially with Hollywood rabidly knocking on his door before his novels are even published. Jonathan Demme optioned “11/22/63” months ago…and it’s hitting stores today (but this has always been the case with King’s works, even at the beginning of his career).

There are some novels that remain untapped, however, deserving of a screen interpretation – probably more so than “Rose Madder.” (To be honest, it was hard to find anything that was left!) The following five titles are culled from King’s collection of novels, not short stories. They have not been adapted in any form (yet) and could have plenty of promise on the screen.

(This list is a sequel to Remaking Carrie? Redo These 5 Stephen King Films Instead!)

• The Talisman (Published: 1984)

A young boy named Jack Sawyer, in an effort to save his dying mother, travels between our world and a parallel Earth, known as “The Territories,” to find the eponymous crystal.

This is the obvious, “no shit Sherlock” choice. The “I can’t believe it hasn’t been made yet” selection. But it’s not like Hollywood hasn’t tried.

A book could be written about this title’s history in development hell. Steven Spielberg flirted with the story. So did Michael Jackson. Around 2006, a TNT series based “The Talisman” came really close to happening, alas, the network backed out. Since then, Del Rey published a comic book adaptation, further realizing how incredible a potential film could look.

The story feels like a carrot dangling at the end of a stick for any studio looking for a franchise in the wake of Harry Potter‘s cinematic end. “The Talisman” doesn’t necessarily need to be a television series. It could be a two or three-part film. Throw some money at it. Create a world we’ve never seen and characters we want to meet (Wolf!).

“The Talisman” really is a no-brainer.

• The Eyes of the Dragon (Published: 1987)

A fantasy tale that focuses on two brothers: Peter, who is framed and imprisoned for the murder of his father, a King, and Thomas, a 12-year-old who is far too young to inherit the throne. Orchestrating things behind the scenes is a magician named Flagg (a recurring character in King’s novels) who is obviously out to take advantage of the new boy king’s command.

Here’s an adaptation I could see heading to the small screen. You know, capture that Game of Thrones crowd, except this time a potential network can aim for a younger audience. When I first read the book, which was around 12-years-old, I recall being completely engaged.

There was some interest in developing Eyes many, many years ago; there was even rumors of an animated film which obviously didn’t happen.

• The Regulators (Published: 1996)

Okay, so yes, this was released under King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman, but let that slide here.

A companion novel to “Desperation” – featuring similar characters but in an alternate reality – “Regulators” turns small town suburbia into a surreal, violent, Western-inspired hellhole. Tak, a sinister “being” featured in “Desperation” is omnipresent here, working through an autistic boy to turn the child’s imagination into deadly flesh and blood creations.

Visually-speaking, “Regulators” might not work, namely because of the MotoKops 2200, characters from a sci-fi cartoon who are brought to life and do some major damage. But perhaps a writer or director adapting the novel can take some creative liberty to easy the cheesiness of the story’s main threat.

• From a Buick 8 (Published: 2002)

The son of a fallen police officer – killed by a drunk driver – is told the story of a creepy, self-healing Buick Roadmaster that is locked away in a shed beside a Pennsylvania police department. Turns out, said Buick spews nasty lil’ creatures and is a gateway of some sort.

Another novel locked in development hell. Tobe Hooper was once attached to direct a film adaptation written by Johnathon Schaech and Richard Chizmar.

I was apprehensive about putting this one on the list because I didn’t care for the book at all. King flubbed the ending (again), the narrative meanders along to stretch the page count and I didn’t like the main character, Ned. But there’s something here to work with. Maybe dispense with the flashbacks and focus solely on Ned’s father, Curtis, and his experience with the Buick or carefully construct parallel stories between Curtis and Ned so there’s actually a sense of mystery and danger – neither of which I thought the novel had.

• Cell (Published: 2006)

A cell phone signal severely screws up the world, turning most people into homicidal maniacs who later run in packs and develop psychic abilities. A man named Clay, unaffected by the mysterious cell phone “pulse,” heads out on foot to reunite with his son in Maine. Along the way he meets fellow survivors, fends off flocks of “phoners” and goes head-to-head with the big bad: A dude in Harvard hoodie known as the Raggedy Man.

Another novel with series potential. The story is embedded with episode cliffhangers and it has the sprawling, epic feel (although the novel is only 350 pages) that feasibly could be crammed into a film, but might breathe a lot better in a mini-series. “Cell” offers a lot of wackiness, but hell, I enjoyed the read.

The Weinstein brothers picked up the rights to the novel shortly after it was published. Eli Roth was going to direct, but the momentum on an adaptation has long gone cold.

Okay, so this is the part where you weigh in. Do you think the above novels should be adapted? If not, why not? And what untapped King novel would you like to see done? Use our comment board below to sound off!

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor