It's widely known among fans that Stephen King used to write regularly under the pen name Richard Bachman. But did you know that he also directed the popular Netflix show Stranger Things using the pseudonym 'Duffer Brothers'?
While we have zero evidence to back up this clearly false claim, it's hard to deny that the writing duo owe more than just a passing debt of gratitude to the King of Horror, whose iconic legacy is referenced frequently throughout Stranger Things. Surely, you've already noticed that the show bears more than just a slight resemblance to classic King stories such as It and The Body (Stand By Me), right?
Talk has inevitably turned to a potential second season of the hit show, but while we wait for that, it would make perfect sense for the Duffer Brothers to tackle an actual Stephen King project in the interim, making up for that time they were passed over to direct the It remake.
The prolific author has seen literally dozens of his books leap from the page to the big screen, but some have proved harder to tackle than most. Whether it's because of expansive arcs that seem too long for cinema or whether some of the scenarios are just too bizarre for mainstream audiences, many of his works have ended up in development hell. Nevertheless, there's still plenty of incredible material out there begging to be adapted theatrically, and we can't think of anyone better than the Duffer Brothers to take on the challenge.
However, we also want to see Stranger Things return as soon as possible for Season Two, so we'll just pitch the Duffer Brothers five unfilmable Stephen King books to get them started. Everyone loves a challenge, right?
1. The Regulators
Plot: An autistic child is possessed by an otherworldly entity that enables him to shape reality to his whim, forcing the residents of his town to rise up and defend themselves against the dangerous creatures that spring forth from his imagination.
Why is it unfilmable?: Surreal doesn't even begin to cover it. The strange hybrid of Wild West and Sci-fi tropes that influence the boy, who transforms his home town into a nightmarish hell that would be difficult to adapt faithfully on the big screen.
Why the Duffer Brothers should direct: The unpredictable imagination of children is explored prominently throughout Stranger Things, where the gang interpret their friend's disappearance through familiar terms that they can understand, such as Dungeons and Dragons and their favorite sci-fi movies.
Given a larger budget, we think the Duffer Brothers could also depict the town of Wentworth just as effectively as they did the alternate dimension in Stranger Things that came to be known as the Upside Down.
2. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Plot: What starts out as a lost girl in the woods story becomes an existential nightmare, as the frightened nine year old begins to hallucinate. She imagines that an evil wasp-faced entity called the God of the Lost is hunting her down, and she's running out of time.
Why is it unfilmable?: The majority of The Girl Who Loves Tom Gordon revolves around one isolated character, which is a notoriously difficult plot device to adapt successfully at the best of times. If you combine that with the age of the main protagonist and the bizarre nature of the threat chasing her, then you've got a tricky proposition that even horror legend George A. Romero eventually gave up on.
Why the Duffer Brothers should direct: The key to nailing an adaptation of The Girl Who Loves Tom Gordon is getting into the mindset of the central character, and making the audience root for her survival. The Duffer Brothers excelled at portraying younger yet still believable characters in Stranger Things. Plus, the ambiguous nature of the evil in this story is reminiscent of the central threat that Eleven and her friends faced in the hit show.
3. Doctor Sleep
Plot: Remember the kid called Danny from The Shining? Well, he's all grown up now and working in a retirement home, helping senior citizens pass on in peace using his unique abilities. However, when Danny discovers another girl like him who is suddenly terrorised by supernatural creatures, he gives up his peaceful life to do the right thing and venture once more into danger.
Why is it unfilmable?: Although King himself has vocally derided Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, horror fans still regard this cinematic interpretation as a classic of the genre. Doctor Sleep may be an authentic continuation of the story written by King himself, but that won't stop fans from trolling everyone involved in a potential adaptation if the film doesn't meet a ridiculously high standard.
Why the Duffer Brothers should direct: A Doctor Sleep adaptation sure is a tricky proposition, even though the source material is one of the best stories that King has written in years. The Duffer Brothers have already proven that they can take on girls with psychic powers in the now-iconic character of Eleven. If anyone can make this story believable on the big screen, here's Joh— the Duffer Brothers.
For more links between Stranger Things and Stephen King, check out these articles:
- 'Stranger Things' Is The 'Stand By Me' Remake You Didn't Know You Needed
- The Duffer Brothers Couldn't Adapt Stephen King’s ‘It’ So They Remade The Film As 'Stranger Things' Instead
- The True Story Behind 'Stranger Things' — 3 Secret Projects The Government Didn't Want You To Know About
4. The Long Walk
Plot: Like a bizarre mix of Crank and Hunger Games that was written long before either were conceived, The Long Walk hangs on a simple, but gripping premise. One hundred boys are forced into an event where they must continue walking faster than 4mph without rest. If they slow down past that point more than three times, they're shot. The worst part? There can only be one winner.
Why is it unfilmable?: The central concept of The Long Walk is undoubtedly fascinating, but the reason that most filmmakers have veered away from adapting this particular King story is that it would be difficult to draw out into a full-length feature without adding filler or losing focus.
Why the Duffer Brothers should direct: The dynamics between the children in the story are absolutely key to a successful adaptation of this underrated short story by King. Quite honestly, it's hard to remember a show or movie in recent memory that captured the complexity of adolescence better than Stranger Things, making the Duffer Brothers perfect for the job.
5. The Talisman
Plot: On a journey to save his mother from cancer, twelve year old Jack Sawyer travels through fantasy lands that exist parallel to our own in a bid to find a crystal called the Talisman. However, dark forces want the magical item too and they'll stop at nothing to get their hands on it.
Why is it unfilmable?: Large fantasy epics based on popular books have the potential to perform extremely well at the box office, but the problem is that the horror elements here are explored through a child's perspective, which could cause problems with mainstream audiences. Sure, Pan's Labyrinth was successful, but Hollywood may be far less eager to tackle a project like this.
Why the Duffer Brothers should direct: One of the reasons that Stranger Things has such widespread appeal is that the horror in the show is tense enough to unnerve adults, but isn't too scary for younger audiences either, treading a fine line between the two. The Duffer Brothers are more than capable of replicating the tone of their hit show on a larger scale and they're no strangers to shooting child actors on a mission either.
If you still doubt whether the Duffer Brothers can successfully adapt one of these unfilmable Stephen King novels, bear in mind that they successfully made an entire generation fall in love with a minor character like Barb, whose death you can painfully relive in the video below.