Have you been following the news out of the world of Stephen King this week? If so, you’re hopefully already catching up on Fargo Season 5 based on the author’s recommendation, and you may have caught his fun story about a lunch he once had with fellow legend Bruce Springsteen that involved an amazing interaction with a fan. But those aren’t the only King-related developments that have happened in the last seven days, and I’m here to catch you up with the latest edition of The King Beat.
For this week’s column, I have for you a cool news story about developments at the Stanley Hotel (birthplace of The Shining), an anniversary reflection on the 2002 miniseries Rose Red, and a warning that one of the best Stephen King movies of all time is less than a month away from leaving Netflix. Let’s dig in!
The Stanley In Estes Park, CO Is A Legendary Spot For Fans Of The Shining, And It’s About To Get Even Cooler
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is a special place. About sixty-five miles outside the heart of Denver, it sits high in the Rocky Mountains, and the thin air is both refreshing and exhausting. It’s a beautiful and sprawling estate with an incredible white Georgian Colonial Revival building with a scarlet roof as the centerpiece, and it’s been the subject of many ghost stories. And, of course, it’s the hotel that famously inspired Stephen King to write The Shining.
Needless to say, it’s a legendary spot for Constant Readers to visit… but it’s seemingly about to get even better. If Shining fans were to go on a trip to The Stanley today, they would find a number of exciting treats awaiting them – including the notorious Room 217 and the mini-model of the main building that was used in the 1997 miniseries adaptation – but more is coming. According to The Denver Post, a deal was made this week that will see Jason Blum and his company Blumhouse turn the hotel into an even more exciting destination for horror fans.
The developing project was announced by Governor Jared Polis’ office in coordination with the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media, and it will see Blumhouse become the curator of the 10,000-foot space that is the on-grounds Stanley Film Center. Per the source, the owner of The Stanley has been pursuing a partner to develop an exciting space for genre fans, and John Cullen, president of Grand Heritage Hotel Group says in a statement, “there’s no one better than Blumhouse.”
Targeted to open in 2026, the Blumhouse Space is described as “a mini-Academy Museum dedicated to horror” by Colorado film commissioner Donald Zuckerman, and it seems the plan initially will see the exhibit focus on titles in the studio’s catalogue – which includes titles like Get Out, The Purge, David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy, The Black Phone, and Happy Death Day. Because of Blumhouse’s existing partnership with Comcast, there is also a suggestion that classic horror from Universal Pictures could also be in play.
It should be noted at this point that both Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and its sequel, Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, were produced by Warner Bros., so it’s unclear how connected the Blumhouse Space will be to the greater legacy of The Stanley. That being said, it’s noteworthy that Blumhouse has produced a few Stephen King adaptations in the past (including Mercy, based on the short story “Gramma”; the remake of Firestarter; and Netflix’s Mr. Harrigan’s Phone), and it has a few upcoming King projects in the works (including a remake of Christine and a TV series based on the 2021 novel Later).
What is being built here could end up being very cool, and it’s something to keep an eye on as it comes together in the next couple of years.
As Rose Red Celebrates Its 22nd Anniversary, Let’s Take A Look Back At The Now-Streaming Miniseries
In all the time that I’ve been writing about Stephen King for CinemaBlend, I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a particularly bright spotlight on Rose Red. I wrote about King’s cameo as a pizza delivery man for my feature cataloguing all of Stephen King’s film and television appearances, and its existence on DVD is acknowledged in my guide to building the Ultimate Stephen King collection, but I’ve never put together an article specifically critiquing or analyzing it.
This week, with the TV miniseries celebrating its 22nd anniversary, I’ve decided to put that particular streak to an end and write about its merits and issues – letting you ultimately decide if you want to give it a watch while it is available to stream with a Hulu subscription.
Premiering on January 27, 2002 and airing in three parts on three consecutive nights on ABC, Rose Red was initially conceived by Stephen King as a kind of riff on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, and it centers on a psychology professor (played by Nancy Travis) who brings together a group of psychically inclined individuals in the hopes of proving the existence of paranormal phenomena. She brings the collection of oddballs to the notoriously haunted titular estate in order to try and gather hard scientific evidence, but her hubris while trying to advance her career results in her seriously underestimating the danger in which she puts herself and her research team.
Rose Red marked a reunion between Stephen King and director Craig R. Baxley, who is responsible for some of King’s best/most underrated TV works in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s – namely the original miniseries Storm Of The Century and the canceled-too-soon show Kingdom Hospital. Because of my affection for those other works, I try to love or at least appreciate the 2002 King/Baxley collaboration… but the cold truth is that Rose Red is overlong and mostly underwhelming.
The biggest problem is that so much of it registers as derivative. The fact that it is its own take on The Haunting Of Hill House with original characters and an original setting doesn’t prevent the plot from feeling overly familiar, and the pacing is akin to molasses (by the time you finish the first 90 minute episode, the characters still haven’t stepped foot in Rose Red). Also not helping anything is how it feels like King is cribbing from himself in some parts – like an early Carrie-esque scene with a young psychic girl causing rocks to rain down on her house when she is upset.
On the positive side, Craig R. Baxley and production designer Craig Stearns clearly had a lot of fun in the design of the eponymous building, as the constantly morphing mansion has some amazing rooms, including a library with a mirrored floor and a study that is built to appear upside down. It’s also neat to see a large number of talented actors getting a bit of experience with Stephen King material, as Nancy Travis is joined in the ensemble by Melanie Lynskey, Matt Ross, Judith Ivey, Emily Deschanel, Julian Sands, Kevin Tighe, and Jimmi Simpson.
If you haven’t seen it before, Rose Red is worth watching for any Stephen King fan who is also a completionist, but more than two decades after its release, it’s not a title to be ranked among King’s best TV projects.
You’re Running Out Of Time To Catch Stand By Me On Netflix
Contrasting Rose Red, I admittedly write about Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me a lot as part of The King Beat. In just the past few months, I’ve highlighted Kiefer Sutherland talk about the origin of the title, Stephen King give credit for the film’s existence to Norman Lear, and Mike Flanagan listed it among movies with the all-time best closing lines. The truth is, there’s never a bad time to think about the beloved coming-of-age classic… and if you’re looking for an excuse to watch it, I have one for you this week, as the title now has less than a month left as part of the Netflix streaming catalogue.
As January 2024 has transformed into February 2024, Stand By Me’s time on Netflix has added a countdown. If one goes to the film’s page on the streaming service, one will note that there is now a note that sits right above the plot description: “Last day to watch on Netflix: February 29.” So, if you want to revisit the movie (or check it out for the first time) before it’s gone, your time is limited.
Stand By Me, of course, is based on Stephen King’s novella “The Body,” which is included in the 1982 collection Different Seasons. Set in the late 1950s, the movie follows four young best pals – Gordon “Gordie” Lachance (Wil Wheaton), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman), and Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell) – as they go on an unforgettable adventure together to see the dead body of local kid who was killed after being hit by a passing train. As they travel together, their lives are risked and the bonds of their friendship are tested, and it becomes a journey that none of them would ever forget.
As noted earlier, Stand By Me is unquestionably one of the greatest Stephen King movies and it doesn’t get old no matter how many times you watch it. If you want to test this theory for yourself, it’s a good way to make use of your Netflix subscription in the coming month.
Recommendation Of The Week: “The Fifth Quarter”
Reflecting on Stephen King’s outpouring of love for Fargo Season 5 (which really is exceptional television), I got to thinking about King short stories that match with the tone and perspectives that fit alongside what’s featured in Noah Hawley’s Coen brothers-inspired anthology series. The title I found myself landing on for my Recommendation Of The Week is “The Fifth Quarter” – which was first published all the way back in 1972 in an episode of Cavalier magazine but was eventually collected in the 1993 omnibus Nightmares & Dreamscapes.
The Richard Bachman-esque story follows an ex-con protagonist who is on a mission to both avenge his murdered former cellmate and acquire a cache of cash that was stolen during a bank heist and buried in a secret location. The map to the spot was cut into four places, and the main character’s friend was killed for his quarter. After six months of hunting, the unnamed narrator tracks down the person responsible and goes about collecting all of the map pieces for himself, no matter what it takes. It’s a narrative that would easily plug into a season of Fargo.
That does it for this week’s edition of The King Beat, but I will have a new one for you next Thursday here on CinemaBlend. While you wait, check out my previous King-related column, Adapting Stephen King, which dives into the full history of Stephen King film and television.