‘Gerald’s Game’ Opens Pandora’s Box for Stephen King Adaptations

By  · Published on May 20th, 2014


Few films can boast that they came from WWE Studios, and also boast that they’re not roundly terrible in every way imaginable (although I remain cautiously optimistic about Untitled Flintstones WWE Movie and Jingle All the Way 2). Oculus is one of those films. And a heaping portion of credit for Oculus and its status as WWE Studios’ first film to not deserve a thorough suplexing goes to director Mike Flanagan. But the question remains: what is Flanagan to do now? He’s already legitimized (maybe) the filmmaking branch of a company that promotes the pretend body slamming of underdressed meat slabs. What exciting filmmaking venture will Flanagan take on next?

Flangan’s sticking with the horror genre for round two – Deadline reports he’ll direct an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1992 novel, “Gerald’s Game.” According to their reporting, Flanagan’s already written the script with his writing partner, Jeff Howard. He’ll also be working with King, naturally. Casting is underway and everyone’s prepping for a fall shoot.

There’s a reason it’s taken twenty-two years to adapt “Gerald’s Game.” It doesn’t exact translate well to a movie-watching experience – the novel follows Jessie and her husband Gerald, who sneak away to a secluded cabin in the woods for a quick bit of romance. Gerald suggests that Jessie be handcuffed to the bed. Jessie’s totally down for that, but later has a change of heart and asks Gerald to stop with the marital relations.

Gerald doesn’t feel like stopping. So Jessie knees him in the gonads, but that triggers a Rube Goldberg series of events that ends with Gerald dead on the floor. Her handcuffs are, of course, still on.

So the rest of the novel is Jessie lying in bed, trying to figure a way out of this extremely unfortunate situation. In true Stephen King fashion, she begins to hallucinate and a weirdly mystical character with a long and complicated mythology shows up to say things no one really understands. But she’s still in the bed for basically all of the story, which means a Gerald’s Game film would teeter on the edge of “boring” at all times (even if Locke and Buried exist as exceptions to this rule).

But if the well of Stephen King material has run so dry that “Gerald’s Game” is the only feasible option, a wonderful thing has occurred. It’s officially open season on all the weird, obscure Stephen King material almost certainly wouldn’t work in movie form, because if you can make a horror film about a woman thinking to herself, in bed, for an hour and a half, you can make a film about anything.

Here are some choice candidates from the very bottom of the Stephen King barrel:

“Here There Be Tygers”

“Here There Be Tygers” is one of the first things King ever wrote, way back when he was a high school student fantasizing about ways a blackboard could come alive and disembowel a classroom full of children. It’s the story of young Charles, who’s suffering from an extremely overfull bladder in his third grade class. He finally gets his leave and heads to the little boy’s, but oh shit there’s a tiger in the bathroom run dammit RUN!

What follows is basically The Boy Who Cried Tiger. There is definitely not enough material here to make a movie (it’s only a couple pages long), but if you can make a movie about a woman lying down for an extended period of time, you could make one about a kid who sees a tiger and then runs away.


“Ur” is about a magic Amazon Kindle that allows people to read books from parallel universes.

I could just stop there, and you’d agree: “Yes, that’d be a terrible movie. But let’s keep going anway. “Ur” was written exclusively for the Kindle, making it such a blatant piece of product placement that it circles around and stops being offensive (and besides, even if Amazon hadn’t asked King to write them a Kindle story, he probably would have seen one a week later and thought “Kindle does something scary” all on his own).

This doesn’t need to be a full feature, but it’d be perfect for a long-form Amazon commercial (we’ve got real Super Bowl ad potential here). Only the Kindle has four brand-new releases from the alternate Hemmingway who didn’t die in ‘61! Pick up a Kindle and read today’s newspapers from Earth Six- learn of parallel you’s grisly death by crushing!

They’d sell a billion of these things.

“The Cat From Hell”

A hitman is payed a handsome some to rub out a particular target.

That target: an ordinary house cat.

Except we all know from the title that it’s not so ordinary, and that it’s actually some vague sort of hellspawn that only looks like an innocent furry feline. Also, it eviscerates people in unbelievably outrageous and gruesome ways.

This is a challenge to the filmmakers of the world: you cannot make a cat scary. Hitchcock had The Birds, but birds can swarm en masse (ooooh) and there’s also Cujo, but Cujo was gigantic and thus way more intimidating. An average cat just doesn’t have the same horror movie potential. How would you film the death scenes? Would you use a shoddy CGI cat (not even Let the Right One In could fully pull that off), or would you use a furry puppet and risk recreating the killer rabbit scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

Can’t be done. But I desperately want to see “The Cat From Hell” on film (Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell just can’t cut it), so anyone with a good idea for cat horror, please chime in.

The Stephen King Crazy Idea Pandora’s Box has been ripped open. Now we can do anything we want.