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Book-To-Movie: Stephen King’s 'The Raft'

A zombie with extra long claws rises from a body of water.
Credit: Pixabay.com

It's the third Saturday of the month and so that means it's time for another Book-To-Movie! In a Book-To-Movie we review a book and its movie adaptation.

One of the reasons I as a horror fan don’t read a lot of Stephen King’s work is because most of it consists of novels that go more than 400 pages. I have a short attention span when it comes to reading, ironically since I consider myself an avid reader, and so I normally won’t read a work that is much more than the equivalent to a 350-page mass market paperback.


The other reason why I don’t read a lot of King’s work is that, as literary scholars will tell you, a lot of his writing is poor. However, he does have some good writing in his works, especially his earlier stuff, including his short horror tales. So if I read anything by Stephen King it’s usually his short stories or novellas. One of his collections I’ve read is Skeleton Crew which includes some of his good, or at least better, fiction such as his novella The Mist and his short story “The Jaunt”. But some short horror stories in this book are not as well written, even if they are fun reads. One of these is "The Raft". It's a fun read, like its short film version in 1985's Creepshow 2, sequel to 1982's Creepshow, is a fun watch. Even though the short story of "The Raft" is typical of King's lower quality writing, it is more terrifying than the short film adaptation.

Synopsis

The story to "The Raft" is basically the one to the 1958 movie, The Blob, only it’s set on a lake. Four college students trespass onto the lake after it's been closed for the season. They swim out to a raft floating in the middle of it and get stranded there when a circular mass of flesh-devouring slime that looks like an oil slick circles them like a shark. Again, the monster is basically the Blob, only instead of trapping its victims in a building it traps them on a raft.

The Short Story

The secluded setting in the short story, published in 1982, is conveyed really good. We're told through the dialogue that the characters are miles from any other human beings, that no one else knows where they’re at and so there is apparently no way of being rescued. The suspense is also done really good. The problem I had with the story is that not only is it a plot taken from an earlier movie, but the characters' humourous reactions to terrifying situations are overdone to the point where it takes away the believability of the story, a flaw that I found really annoying. However, the ending was interpretive which was one of the few literary qualities it had.

The Short Film

The film adaptation in Creepshow 2 was not much better than the short story. In fact, I thought the latter was just a bit better. It wasn't the best out of the three films in the movie, though it wasn’t bad. The characters in the movie adaptation are basically the same ones as in the short story, but, fortunately, without the uncalled-for humour. However, the dialogue is a little too word-for-word from the prose version and so is not as cinematically interpreted; if viewers read the story before watching the movie, they may be a little disappointed. Like their prose counterparts, the characters’ fates are justified in the film, particularly for driving under the influence and trespassing. Other actions that justify their bad ends: the two males either threaten to beat or attempt to rape their girlfriends. In the book, one of them actually beats his.

The monster in the film is not as terrifying as the one in the short story. Unlike in the short story, it doesn't hypnotise its victims with a swirling, multicoloured light to devour them. The suspense, the terror and the secluded setting are all conveyed well but not as good as in the short story.


"The Raft" is a fun read like its short film adaptation is a fun watch. However, it is not as good or even as fun of a read as many of Stephen King’s other short horror tales like the short movie isn’t as fun of a watch as the others in Creepshow 2. However, I thought that because of details in the short story that were not in the movie, probably due to budgetary reasons or limitations of 1980s special effects, the former was a bit better and so more terrifying and believable. Still, I recommend watching both Creepshow movies, especially if you plan on watching the new TV series when it comes out on Shudder this September

Have you read any of Stephen King's short horror tales or novellas? Have you seen the Creepshow movies and/or will be watching the TV series when it releases? Feel free to leave your answers or other comments in the box below!

Until next time . . .

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