In 1977, Stephen King, already an established horror writer with works like Carrie and Salem’s Lot, saw the publication of The Shining, a wonderfully chilling tale about the terrors that are visited upon a family in a remote mountainside resort. The book got great reviews, was turned into a movie and mini-series, and cemented King’s reputation as a master of the genre.
A (very long) 36 years later, King has returned to the terrifying world of The Shining in a highly-anticipated sequel, Doctor Sleep. The novel revisits Danny Torrance — the psychically-gifted five-year-old who went up against the ghostly residents of the Overlook Hotel is now a middle-aged orderly in a nursing home. Trouble comes calling in the form of a traveling clan of psychic, vampiric creatures — it’s the sort of scary tale that’ll leave us sleeping with the lights on at night and waxing nostalgic for its predecessor come dawn.
As Jud Crandall advised in Pet Sematary, “Sometimes dead is better,” but sometimes a story’s just too good to leave buried. With that in mind, here are 10 King classics just waiting for a sequel.
10. Salem’s Lot (1975)
King’s second published novel centered around a
vampire infestation in the small town of
Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine. By novel’s end, hero Ben Mears
successfully slays the head vampire, leaving its followers rather
directionless. Although King briefly returned to the forbidden Lot
in a short story titled “One for the Road”, and troubled priest
Father Callahan popped up in The Dark Tower series,
a proper sequel might put the nail in the proverbial coffin.
9. Thinner (1984)
A mysterious gypsy curse leaves three guilty men
with three unstoppable plagues each. One of them,
the obese Billy Halleck, suddenly finds himself dangerously
dropping weight as the hours tick by. Although resolved
in a macabre finale twist (a signature of King’s),
the gypsy clan itself wanders off to other small towns.
Perhaps they have more curses under their sleeves?
8. Needful Things (1991)
Leland Gaunt is the proprietor of the titular antique store,
where townspeople can find anything that suits their desires.
Of course, these purchases come at a horrific price
and result in myriad catastrophes. Before the book’s over,
it’s teased that Gaunt has opened up a new store in Paradise Falls, Iowa.
Given today’s era of online shopping,
could you imagine Gaunt’s stranglehold?
7. On Writing (2000)
Maybe not a sequel, but certainly a followup.
In his 2000 memoir, King shares personal anecdotes,
offers priceless advice, and details his near-death
experience of being hit by a car. A decade and some
change later, it’s one of the strongest resources
a prospective writer can pick up, and while King updated
the suggested reading list in 2010, there’s still much to be learned
from Maine’s finest. For one, how about a section
on his experience in new media?
6. The Dead Zone (1979)
After waking up from a coma following a tragic car accident,
Johnny Smith discovers he has the psychic ability to touch
people and discover things they otherwise wouldn’t know.
This leads to a dramatic turn of events, involving
a serial killer and one deadly, corrupt politician. Although Smith
passes before the book’s end, it’s hinted that his love interest
has also developed a psychic connection, leaving much to speculation.
Really, if the USA Network could stretch this out to a multi-season
series, there’s no reason King couldn’t find
at least one more story to tell.
5. Christine (1980)
King’s straightforward novel of a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury
remains one of his most iconic tales. Despite being battered
to pieces by the novel’s principal hero, Dennis Guilder,
it’s implied through a newspaper article that the indestructible car
has rebuilt itself and continued its reign of terror.
With today’s advanced auto-related gadgets (think: vocalized GPS systems),
King could really have a ball with a 21st century-edition of Christine.
4. Firestarter (1980)
The last time we see Charlie McGee, King’s infamous
telekinetic with the flair for the pyrotechnics, she’s regaling her
fiery story of the secret government agency, The Shop, to Rolling Stone.
Here’s the thing: McGee’s intriguing enough of a character to
warrant her own series, which explains why King’s expressed interest
in turning the story into a comic book. Oh Stephen,
don’t you know we’d prefer another book?
3. Misery (1983)
Fact: Celebrity writer Paul Sheldon killed his deranged
fan/kidnapper Annie Wilkes, only to have escaped with a
bookcase worth of emotional baggage. But, what if he later
became just as criminally obsessed with one of his own fans?
Maybe through social networking online? It could be inspired
by another one of his drug-influenced cases of writer’s block.
Ha, all of a sudden, the tables have turned for Mr. Sheldon.
2. Carrie (1974)
Almost 40 years later, King’s debut novel
of an ugly duckling outcast turned murderous supernatural terror
is so popular that yet another remake is coming to
theaters next month. But if you go back to the story’s final pages,
there’s a lot to draw from for a sequel. Telekinesis has
become a cautionary tale across America
and there’s word of more children possessing its powers.
It’s a scenario King’s left untouched his entire career,
even if others have attempted to expand it to pathetic
results (see: 1999’s filmic disaster, The Rage: Carrie 2).
His wife, Tabitha King saved the original story from
the trash — dare she inspire him to continue its tale?
1. Pet Sematary (1983)
Before it changed the way we bury our pets forever,
King originally considered his manuscript for Pet Sematary
so evil he had hesitations of even releasing it.
He wasn’t wrong. The book is, without a doubt, his ghastliest
read to date, haunting unsuspected readers
with ghosts, Indian burial grounds, reawakened corpses,
and the most tragic death he’s ever put to paper.
There’s no salvation upon finishing it — of the
happy New England family that begins the book,
only the lone daughter Ellie survives. Similar to Doctor Sleep,
it would be wild to catch up with what’s sure to be one
troubled character. Who knows, maybe she’ll want
to confront her demons by returning to the cemetery
that started it all. She might even have family
waiting for her there.