It’s a Wonderful Life is a timeless Christmas classic that tends to earn solid ratings for NBC every year. Part of this reputation comes from most people loving its warm and happy ending… but horror author Stephen King has a different view of Frank Capra’s film. The Shining author has shared his take on what he sees as a dark ending to the story of Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey.
If you remember the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey sees what his life would be like if he never existed and begs an angel who helped him to give him his life back. This allows him to return to his loving family and the townspeople after realizing it truly is a wonderful… you get the gist. After Stephen King was asked on Twitter if he would ever do a dark take on one of the best Christmas movies, the writer responded,
Well, great. Now, I can’t unsee that final shot! However, The Simpsons beat Stephen King to it in the episode “Natural Born Kissers” where Bart and Lisa dig up an unseen reel of an alternate ending to the Christmas film that involved a killing spree.
The Simpsons and King are certainly not the first to offer dark twists to jolly classics, and in 2022 we’re seeing a number of them. This year gave us the action-comedy Christmas film Violent Night with season’s beatings from a savage Santa after a family is held hostage in their home. There’s also the unauthorized slasher parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! called The Mean One premiering in theaters next week, with Terrifier’s David Howard Thornton playing the title role. Movies like this will make you pray to never end up on the naughty list.
As Stephen King has published dozens of novels and hundreds of short stories, Hollywood knows to turn to this established author for movie adaptation opportunities. This year alone, Hollywood put out two Stephen King adaptations. There was Firestarter starring Zac Efron about a father and his pyrokinetic daughter on the run from the government. Its critical reviews found the horror remake inferior to the 1984 film, as well as bland. There was also the haunting thriller release of Mr. Harrigan’s Phone about a teen who communicates with the ghost of an elderly billionaire through a mobile phone. The critical reception of that Netflix release wasn’t much better. It’s almost like filmmakers are struggling to capture the haunting mind of one of the best horror writers we have today.
As mentioned before, Hollywood still has plenty of Stephen King works to choose from for upcoming years. We have Salem’s Lot to look forward to, which follows a writer as he returns to his hometown, only to see it slowly taken over by vampires. Fans shouldn’t fret the possibility of being given a crummy adaptation, as one of the film’s stars says the adaptation is faithful to the book and didn’t want to do the Bram Stoker Award-winner dirty. With the upcoming horror movie having an official R rating for “bloody violence and language,” I’d like to believe this is a movie that takes risks in its horror elements. There’s also The Boogeyman, which is set to be adapted by Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy. So, let’s cross our fingers that 2023 will be the year for successful Stephen King movies.
In the eyes of Stephen King, It’s a Wonderful Life’s George Bailey just might be a murderous lunatic. Why doesn’t that surprise me? You can currently watch It’s a Wonderful Life via broadcast on NBC, Plex and with your Amazon Prime subscription.