Since the film adaptation of Carrie was released in 1976, Hollywood has steadily squeezed proverbial blood from Stephen King's creative stone. As of this writing, more that 50 live action adaptations have been made of King's work. King adaptations fall into a few different categories. Sometimes a good story spurs a good adaptation (Misery). Other times a good story spurs a lackluster adaptation (Thinner).
There have even been a couple of times when the adaptation is superior to the original text (The Shawshank Redemption). Regardless of quality, much of King's catalog has either been adapted, in the process of being adapted, or have had failed attempts of adaptation. In defense of the author, not all of his work was meant to be shown on screen. Some of King's most effective work takes place in the reader's own mind rather than on the page. The horror we imagine is worse than the horror we see.
King has produced a number of short stories that just work best as short stories. When the taffy is pulled too thin and the story too diluted to fill 90 minutes, even a solid narrative can lose its way. These ten tales are best left to the written page and our imaginations.
10. Mrs. Todd's Shortcut
Included in the short story collection Skeleton Crew, Mrs. Todd's Shortcut is a strange little sci-fi yarn about an aging woman who seems to violate the laws of space and time by finding shortcuts to wherever she goes in her car. Each trip also seems to de-age Mrs. Todd. The story is told from the perspective of Homer, who experienced these trips with Mrs. Todd firsthand.
The plot concerns Mrs. Todd, who is obsessed with finding shortcuts. Homer admires her persistence but begins to have doubts, as there are only so many shortcuts someone can find. Mrs. Todd compares the shortcuts to folding a map, suggesting she has discovered a warped version of reality, like a worm hole.
Homer joins Mrs. Todd on one of her trips and begins to suspect he's in another reality. He sees trees reach for him with humanoid hands and animals that don't belong on planet Earth. Rattled by the experience, Homer says he doesn't want to take anymore shortcuts. Nonetheless, Mrs. Todd is changing and growing younger with each trip she takes, and the appeal of this is too much for Homer to pass up. In the end, Homer gets into Mrs. Todd's car and presumably sets off to whatever strange world Mrs. Todd discovered.
While very effective as a short story, a bloviated feature-length version would likely only dilute the charm of the story in its original format.