Monday, October 5, 2015

Stephen King's Night Shift

Hello, fright fans. It is October and that means Halloween! If you're like me, October is a month spent searching for the best works of fear. Be it movies, art, or stories, I love embracing the dark side of Halloween. An excellent source is, of course, Stephen King.

Stephen King is a well known name who has written many works of horror and suspense. His major novels are appreciated even by those who aren't fans of horror. Who hasn't heard of The Shining, or Carrie, or It? They are well worn tomes of American literature, and hold a special place in the American zeitgeist. Lesser known, though just as terrific, are King's collections of short stories.

Night Shift is a collection of short stories by King, written in the late 1970s. In this collection are some classic tales that many readers will recognize even if they have never read them before. For example, you probably were aware that the film Children of the Corn was based on a story by King, but did you know that it wasn't based off a full length novel? It is one of the collected works found in Night Shift. While my college Film Adaptation course instructor pounded into my brain that movies and the books on which they're based are two different art forms and should never be compared, I'm going to break that rule by telling you that the King's stories are almost always better than the films made from them, with the exception, possibly, of Misery and The Shining.

Even more interesting is that a shortened version of King's classic novel, Salem's Lot, first found light in the dark pages of Night Shift. If you've read Salem's Lot, you need to read the short story "Jerusalem's Lot".

There are a couple of other short stories in Night Shift that also eventually made their way to theaters, for better or for worse. The short story Lawnmower Man was made into a film by the same name and the story "Trucks" was made into the movie Maximum Overdrive.

Not all of the stories in Night Shift are home runs, but most of the stories are worth the time spent reading them, and some of them are classics. I especially love the story Graveyard Shift. It's an atmospheric masterwork by King and will have you keeping your feet off the ground no matter where you are while reading it.

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