STEPHEN King seems to have taken over book shelves and is fast taking over the video rental ones with his scare fare. The latest has Timothy Hutton and Amy Madigan starring in George Romero's version of The Dark Half (1993, ERA, 120 minutes).

Romero is best known and loved for his classic Night of the Living Dead, and The Dark Half proves he has not lost his touch.

Hutton plays a respected author who is the target of a sleazeball blackmailer who has discovered his dark secret: that he has become rich and famous by writing gory, violent novels under another name. Hutton goes public, and symbolically ''buries'' his alter-ego, but it turns out to be one of the worst mistakes of his life.

Friends, relatives, and assorted business associates start dying brutal, painful deaths and witnesses point the finger at Hutton.

The story is familiar King fare, but Romero manages to create an atmosphere of fear and tension.

Conversely, nothing can save The Trial (1993, Fox, 1 14 minutes), not even a cast which includes Oscar-winner Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Based on Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial has Kyle MacLachlan as the hapless Josef K., who wakes to find a policeman in his sitting room, eating his breakfast. Josef is arrested, but no one will tell him what crime he is being charged with.

MacLachlan blunders from one confusing, bureaucratic nightmare to another; all made even more bizarre by the fact that people spontaneously (and publicly) start having sex, for no apparent reason. It would be hilarious if weren't so boring.

Compared with The Trial, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1993, IVL, 95 minutes) is a work of genius - fast-paced, action-packed and featuring large amounts of blood.

This is a yawn-a-minute movie where profanities take the place of intelligent dialogue, violence replaces plot development, and when Tarantino runs out of inspiration, he simply throws in more nastiness.