William Brent Bell Talks His Scrapped FROM A BUICK 8 Stephen King Adaptation

The ORPHAN: FIRST KILL director had a take "quite different" from the book.

By Max Evry · @maxevry · January 11, 2024, 6:00 PM EST

Released in September of 2002, Stephen King's novel From a Buick 8 has driven a long and troubled road to a screen adaptation. The story of a seemingly sentient vintage Buick Roadmaster in rural Pennsylvania that can repair itself and may, in fact, be a gateway to another dimension was a bit of the author taking a mulligan on his 1983 killer car book Christine, with the added weight of it being written after his near-fatal 1999 car accident… and also written sober. In the past two decades, From a Buick 8 has been the scourge of genre filmmakers like George Romero, Tobe Hooper, and Jim Mickle, but in 2018, it got perhaps its most promising commercial proposition with director William Brent Bell of The Boy and Orphan: First Kill fame signed to pen the script and helm the picture for producer Ashok Amritraj.

Since then, producer Thomas Jane appeared on FANGORIA's The Kingcast in 2020 to announce Mickle, although that iteration seems to have stalled as well. While chatting with William Brent Bell for his recent folk horror entry Lord of Misrule, we asked him about what his version of King's killer car tale might have looked like, including a gender swap from the book.

"My take on Buick 8 was quite different than the book," Bell told us. "My take followed a female, someone who grew up there and came back to that town to investigate the death of her father, the character who dies at the beginning of the story. By learning about who her father is, she becomes indoctrinated into the story and then, ultimately, the barn or the shed that has this car in it. So you know, I love that whole world. For me, it felt very much like Amity from Jaws, that kind of town where they're clueless to the horrors that are happening around them. It's a great project, I love it, and Stephen King… there's nobody better. Obviously, it's a dream of mine to work on a project with him, so it was great being able to collaborate with him a bit and have him approve my take. I just hope we can either make it or make something else from his canon. That would be incredible."

While it may be a bummer that Bell's version of From a Buick 8 never burned hot rubber on asphalt, a new version of the project is currently in development with one of horrordom's premiere makers of screen frightmares.

Bell added, "Right now, by the way, James Wan's Atomic Monster, they have the rights, and they're making it as a series. I'm gonna maybe talk to them about the pilot."

There you have it. The company behind M3GAN, the Conjuring Universe, and the forthcoming adaptation of King's Salem's Lot is looking to rev its engine on one of the novelist's few unadapted works. We hope that Bell can be a part of this new iteration, as his gothic sensibilities would marry well with King's universe. It's also handy that it will be a series, allowing the 468 pages of storytelling a little more road to travel.