I love Stephen King. I mean, I really, really, love Stephen King. His stories are so iconic and well written and his characters are so deep; to me, he is the ultimate horror writer. And with so many successful stories under his belt, there has got to be at least one you can appreciate even if you’re not the biggest fan of the guy. His books have made great films, too. Here are the Top 10 Best Stephen King Film Adaptions in order.
10. The Mist (2007)
The Mist, though not universally loved, was a great film filled with a lot of tension in my opinion. It’s a monster movie, but it’s more than that. It aims to show you what people will do to survive in desperate conditions. More of just a monster flick, it’s an investigation into human nature. And that ending, man; ouch. That one hurt.
9. Cujo (1983)
Stephen King has been stated in his wonderfully written and extremely helpful book On Writing that most of his ideas come from the question of “what if?” In this case, what if a mother and son were trapped in a car by a rabid, killer dog? We come to find out that the situation is pretty scary, indeed. And the dog looks absolutely disgusting in this film, too. Apparently it was made up from a sugary egg concoction, which the actor-dogs kept licking off during shooting.
8. Misery (1990)
So far, this is the only King adaptation to win an Academy Award, which is a pretty distinct honor for a horror film. It’s nice to get a little recognition sometimes while most of the world thinks of the genre as silly and sadistic for no discernable reason. Anyway, this truly is a great film, with great performances by James Caan and Kathy Bates. This is James Caan’s second best role, with his first being the dad in Elf. I love that movie. Sue me.
7. Children of the Corn (1984)
A wonderfully corny movie (ha! I’m so clever!) that scared the living hell out of me when I was a child. That first scene where they use a meat slicer to turn an adult’s hand into roast beef? Yeah, no, when I was five that was just not helpful in giving me peaceful dreams. And even as I get older, it still creeps me out. Movies about killer kids make me never want to have children. I’m scared, okay!?
6. It (1990)
Tim Curry absolutely slays the role of Pennywise in this movie, which is also incredibly long. The book is long as well, being over 1,000 pages and one of King’s longest. Many people contribute most of the scares in this movie to come from Pennywise, but I think that is doing It a great injustice. There is a lot more going on than just a scary clown. It’s a clown, yes, and clowns are scary enough, but what about a scary clown that feeds on childhood fears? If you’ve got the time, this is one film that deserves a rewatch.
5. Salem’s Lot (1979)
I love the vampire Barlow in this film. I love him, I love him, I love him. He is one of my absolute favorites. Another really long one, due to it actually being a television mini-series, like It. For both being broadcast on television, however, both movies push the envelope and really bring the scares to the small screen.
4. Pet Sematary (1989)
Who doesn’t love Fred Gwynn? I sure do. And that little adorable kid, who, oh, I don’t know, just gets hit by a damn truck. It’s one of those scenes where you think they wouldn’t possibly go there, but, in fact, they do go there. The character of Zelda in this film is absolutely terrifying as well. Bruce Campbell was the first choice to play the father in the film, but unfortunately, he was not cast in the role.
3. Carrie (1976)
The one that started them all. Carrie is the story of a teenage girl who just can’t get a break. This one is an absolute classic, and if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you doing with your life? This was Stephen King’s first published novel and subsequently his first novel to be adapted for the screen. Things really started rolling for King after this one.
2. Stand By Me (1986)
While Stand By Me is not a horror film, it is still one of my favorite movies. The nostalgia factor in this movie just drips from the screen, making you long for the days of being a kid and having adventures again. The trailer alone pulls at your heartstrings. It was originally published as a novella titled The Body, named for the dead teenager in which the group of boys goes looking for. Kiefer Sutherland is great in this film, as well as River Phoenix, may he rest in peace.
1. The Shining (1980)
Stephen King was not a fan of Kubrick’s masterpiece, but that does not mean the film is not a good one. In fact, this is one of the best horror movies of all time. I can understand why King doesn’t like the movie, but he’s such a good sport when it comes to his movies ing reproduced on the screen that I think we can all give this one a pass. Jack Nicholson is a complete lunatic in this film. He’s a complete lunatic in most films, actually. I;m not really sure if I would ever want to meet him.
There you have it. Ten of the best. There are so many Stephen King adaptations that I know a lot of you are going to feel I’ve short-changed you. So, what would you add? What would you take off? Let me know in the comments! Oh, and also, just because I love this song and this band (Stephen King does too), here are The Ramones performing a song featured in the movie of the same title.