Pop Culture’s Best Homages to Stephen King
Today is the birthday of one of the greatest horror fiction writers of all time. The master of the macabre, Stephen King, burst onto the scene with his 1974 novel Carrie. Since then, King has become one of the most recognized authors in the world. His novels have completely changed a genre and his work has saturated the pop culture zeitgeist. Over the decades, many of King’s works have been spoofed or referenced in a plethora of movies, television shows, songs, and a variety of other media. In celebration of King’s birth, here is a look at some of the best homages to his body of work.
In the Friends episode “The One Where Joey Dates Rachel,” longtime friends Joey Tribbiani and Rachel Green find themselves alone in their apartment watching the 1983 film adaptation of King’s novel Cujo. Unbeknownst to Rachel, Joey has been struggling with his feelings for her. Frightened by the movie, Rachel jumps into Joey’s arms. Her actions solidify his feelings for her and begin a hilarious plotline.
Kathy Bates won an Academy Award for her portrayal of crazed fan Annie Wilkes in the film adaptation of Misery. She later spoofed the role in the fourth season of the television comedy 3rd Rock from the Sun. In the episode “Alien Hunter,” Bates plays the insane Charlotte Everly. Charlotte becomes obsessed with lead character, Dick Solomon and his family, eventually she holds Dick hostage in an homage to the hostage scene in Misery.
It is possibly the book that gave an entire generation coulrophobia, it is lauded as one of King’s masterpieces. After all, how many books have had a band name itself after the lead villain? Hailing from Hermosa Beach, California, the punk band Pennywise was not about to let people forget, “we all float down here.”
A post-apocalyptic epic, The Stand follows a group of survivors after a hybrid disease kills the majority of humanity. The remaining people fall into two waring factions which battle for dominance. This novel obviously left an indelible mark on the minds of the members of Anthrax, as they wrote “Among the Living,” a song which details the tale contained within the pages of King’s tome.
One of the infamous Bachman Books, King wrote Thinner under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. The novel follows a man who is losing weight uncontrollably due to a gypsy curse. Though not one of his most well-known books, the writers of the TV show Supernatural must have thought it was a great read. In the season nine episode “The Purge”, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester are seeking to figure out why a group of people are losing mass amounts of weight. In a fit of confusion, Dean asks his brother, “I mean, what do we got ourselves? A "Thinner" sitch here?”
The ALS ice bucket challenge was a cultural phenomenon. Celebrities were participating in droves to raise awareness for the disease. So when Dave Grohl was challenged, he took it to an amazing extreme. Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters decided to challenge Stephen King, and what better way than to recreate the prom scene from Carrie. After all, a bucket of ice water and a bucket of pig’s blood are almost the same thing, right?
Every year for Halloween, The Simpsons would spoof famous horror stories in what they called The Treehouse of Horror. In the fifth Treehouse of Horror, King’s seminal work, The Shining, was up for parody. When Homer takes on caretaking duties at a creepy hotel, the family is put in horrible danger. The only one who can save them is Bart who has telepathic abilities known as the Shinning. The extra “n” prevents Fox from getting sued.