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Get by with a little help from your friends: Stephen King stories to get you ready for ‘IT: Chapter Two’

Amid all the horror and insidious behavior, King’s stories find a way to convey community spirit and show strong friendships.

Amid all the horror and insidious behavior, Stephen King’s stories find a way to convey community spirit and show strong friendships. In all the fantastical dealings, characters like the Loser’s Club from IT always seem to find each other. The Loser’s Club is composed of seven children with different interests and backgrounds. They are united by the town of Derry and because they are all hunted by Pennywise the Clown. While Bill Denbrough might already be best friends with Eddie Kaspbrak, it was the existence of Pennywise that brought the other kids together. The kids know they are meant to be friends and that they are meant to put a stop to the evil that has been haunting Derry since its founding.  Here are some other King stories to read or watch where friendship proves to be critical to survival. 

Stand By Me (1987)

Directed by Rob Reiner, this Stephen King story is adapted from the novella The Body, published in 1982. Stand By Me follows four boys from Castle Rock who embark on a journey to find the body of missing dead kid. Stand By Me sets itself apart as it is not a traditional horror movie per se, but the kids, played by River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Jerry O’Connell, and Corey Feldman, encounter real life horrors of bullying and parental neglect. The kids also come face to face with their own personal issues, but lean on each other for support. 

Salem’s Lot (1979)

Based on the 1975, the novel was adapted into a two-part television miniseries and remains terrifying to this day. The image of a child vampire scratching at a window will haunt you for years. Salem’s Lot focuses on a novelist Ben Mears who returns to Jerusalem’s Lot to write a story about a creepy house he has been obsessed with for years. A fast friendship is formed between Ben and Matt ,a high school English teacher, Jimmy, a doctor, and a priest Father Callahan. They take a chance on each other and come to the conclusion that there are vampires taking over Salem’s Lot. Mark Petrie, a young boy obsessed with magic and horror, joins their group as they all play their part in trying to save Salem’s Lot. 

Pet Sematary (1989/2017)

When reading the 1983 novel, the impression is given that the protagonist Louis Creed is kind of an uptight jerk. At least that’s what I got out of it. He is quickly softened by meeting Jud Crandall, a kindly neighbor who instantly becomes a father figure to Louis. Louis goes outside of his comfort zone for Jud and his wife. He feels an immediate kinship to them and thinks of them as family so much that Louis’s family also grows close to them. Louis is there for Jud when his wife passes. And Jud is there for Louis and his wife Rachel as they struggle through their grief. Despite the dark turn, the story takes, Jud remains a true friend to Louis until the end. 

The Dead Zone (1983/2002)

This 1979 novel has a film adaptation from 1983 starring Christopher Walken and Tom Skerritt and a USA television series from 2002 starring Anthony Michael Hall. The Dead Zone centers on Johnny Smith, a teacher who suffered an almost fatal car accident that left him in a coma for over four years. He wakes up to find he has psychic powers. While his new powers bring him unwanted fame, he also gains trust by using his powers for good, helping to ease the fears of those around him. Through it all, his father remains a loyal supporter and keeps him from shutting down completely. In the television series, he has a group of friends and doctors that keep him going. 

Doctor Sleep (2019)

You can’t watch this adaptation until November, but you can certainly read the book. In this story of rehabilitation, self loathing, and acceptance, Dan Torrence learns to make friends and trust people. This is all about blind faith as a strangers vouch for Dan and he makes friends for the first time since Dick Hallorann. Dan also uses his shining to discern which friends can be trusted with knowledge of his power and his new friends trust him back. Supernatural powers and human compassion  join forces to defeat evil in this King novel.

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