What Stephen King adaptation did Sam Raimi turn down?

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for STARZ)
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for STARZ) /

A Sam Raimi and Stephen King collaboration would have been a dream come true for horror fans. In 1986, this almost happened…

Sam Raimi is the creator of one of the greatest genre franchises of all time. The Evil Dead trilogy consistently ranks high on the list of beloved horror films for both fans and movie critics.

The passion for these “splatstick” productions is so intense that whenever Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi appear at conventions, tickets are immediately sold out. Case in point, Campbell is touring the country right now, taking the Evil Dead movies to drive-ins and various venues for ardent followers to enjoy during the pandemic.

With COVID-19 precautions in place, admirers are turning out to see the actor and interact with him even from a distance. That is proof positive that Sam Raimi’s work has had a significant impact on audiences.

In 1986, producer extraordinaire, Dino De Laurentiis was looking for his next project after completing Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive. He loved the author’s novel, Thinner and was hoping that he could persuade Raimi to take the helm.

Thinner is a cautionary tale of excess and karma. Successful attorney Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke) has everything going for him. A nice house, a beautiful wife and a thriving career. However, what he doesn’t have is a healthy lifestyle. Halleck is overweight.

After a night spent celebrating a win in court, he accidentally runs over a gypsy woman while his wife is performing a sex act on him. He goes on trial for his crime but is acquitted. As a result, the father of the victim places a curse on him by simply uttering the word, “thinner.”

Thus, his nightmare begins. Will he make amends before he starves to death?

According to IMDb and The Hollywood Reporter, De Laurentiis was envisioning that Scott Spiegel would pen the script and that Rob Tapert would be on board as a producer. Sam turned it down because he was hard at work on Evil Dead II and the rest is history.

Oddly enough, years later in 2009, Sam Raimi would go on to direct Drag Me to Hell which had a similar plot. Still, we can’t help but wonder what Thinner would have been like if he would have been behind the camera.

Tom Holland did a wonderful job in bringing the King story to life. While Robert John Burke is an incredible character actor, we can’t help but wonder how Bruce Campbell would have played Billy Halleck, had Sam Raimi taken the job.

It would have been interesting to see Campbell tackle that role. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards.

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You can stream Thinner on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, VUDU and iTunes.

Have you seen Thinner? Let us know in the comments.