Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The 10 Greatest Stephen King Movie Adaptations

stand-by-me.jpg
misery-.jpg
dolores-claiborne.jpg
shawshank-redemption.jpg
salems-lot.jpg

Ever since Carrie became a surprise hit in 1976, Hollywood has had a bit of a major crush on the works of Stephen King, with admittedly mixed results.

But we're here to celebrate the good stuff. Here are the 10 greatest King adaptations ever to grace the silver screen.

We imagine you'll have your opinion so please let us know in the comments.

(Images: All Star)

10. Salem's Lot (1979)

Okay so some of the make-up might look a tad dated now, understandably, but there's still something rather nightmarish about Kurt Barlow. Not the name though. Pre-Twilightisation of vampires, this stands up as a film which brings depth and terror to the since bastardised subgenre. Although the two-part TV movie was turned into a film as well, King prefers the original cut.

____________________________________________________________

9. Dolores Claiborne (1995)

In her second Stephen King role, Kathy Bates gave another stunning performance as a woman driven to the edge. But while in Misery she was pushed by her own mania, this time it came from someone else, her abusive husband. There's less horror than in Misery but it's another psychologically fascinating drama, which also boasts great turns from Jennifer Jason Leigh, as her daughter, and David Strathairn, as her alcoholic husband.

____________________________________________________________

8. Pet Sematary (1989)

While we await the proposed remake, it's worth remembering just how great the original was. Although some critics didn't love it upon release, it's been embraced by audiences ever since. The plot about a couple who resurrect their dead son with horrifying results has since been the inspiration for numerous other films, such as Wake Wood and, ermmm, The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

____________________________________________________________

7. The Green Mile (1999)

After striking gold with The Shawshank Redemption, director Frank Darabont took another prison-set tale from King and turned it into another Oscar-nominated triumph. While Tom Hanks gave one of his finest performances (King originally envisioned him in the role), the real star was the late Michael Clarke Duncan who was a revelation as the gentle giant with incredible powers.

____________________________________________________________

6. The Mist (2007)

There'd been a severe lack of decent King adaptations in the early oos but then in the same year along came 1408 and this fantastic shocker. Taking a classic King story (townsfolk trapped in a supermarket while battling a mysterious mist) and making it all horribly believable, director Frank Darabont (also behind The Green Mile and Shawshank) also came up with a new devastating ending which King supported.

____________________________________________________________

5. Stand By Me (1986)

Another one of King's breaks from the horror genre, this acclaimed adaptation of his novella The Body, was a rousing success. For any 80s kid, it still stands as one of the defining films of the era and explores childhood friendship with more success than pretty much any other movie ever. And yes, like you, we now have the Ben E. King song stuck in our head for the rest of the week.

____________________________________________________________

4. Misery (1990)

Managing to master a darkly comic tone amidst all of the insanity, Rob Reiner's nail-biting adaptation of Misery was an instant classic. Kathy Bates deservedly won an Oscar for her terrifying portrayal of an unhinged nurse with a dangerous obsession and delivered one of the most shocking scenes ever witnessed with the infamous "hobbling". Warren Beatty turned down the role of Paul Sheldon as he thought that very scene turned the character into a "loser".

____________________________________________________________

3. Carrie (1976)

Ignoring the sequel, the TV movie and the recent remake, Brian De Palma's original take on King's first published novel was, and still is, a revelatory thriller. Adding an unusual amount of depth and pathos to a traditionally shallow genre, De Palma added his signature flourishes to King's electrifying story and also scored a doozy with his cast. Both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie nailed their performances and scored Oscar nominations in the process.

____________________________________________________________

2. The Shining (1980)

Although it famously deviates quite dramatically from the source, there's no doubt that what truly makes Stanley Kubrick's film so iconic, is the original novel it was based on. The chilling story of a destructive hotel and the havoc it brings upon a family has been endlessly parodied and referenced yet the film still stands the test of time, frequently cited as one of the scariest horrors ever made. While King voiced his distaste of Kubrick's adaptation at the time, he's since been quoted as finding it "dreadfully unsettling". We agree. And then some.

____________________________________________________________

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Arguably the only film on the list that is virtually impossible to dislike, this is a perfect example of how to adapt and expand upon a short story. Based on the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, this powerful prison-set drama took a mere 106 pages and turned it into a 142 minute epic. It was nominated for seven Oscars and despite an underwhelming show at the box office, it became a huge hit on the small screen. It also helped to relaunch Morgan Freeman's career at the age of 57.

Related

stephen-king.jpg

4 Stephen King movies to get excited about in 2014

king.jpg

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Stephen King

stephen-king-sons-of-anarchy.jpg

6 of Stephen King's best on-screen cameos

kinghero2.jpg

30 Pieces Of Wisdom From Stephen King

stone-hero.jpg

It's Mr Stone...

it storm.jpg

Stephen King's greatest villains

Comments

More

Is Love Actually actually shit or brilliant?

Two writers argue their case for the divisive 2003 rom-com

16 Feb 2017

The totally excellent 19 facts you never knew about Wayne’s World

No way? Way.

by Keyan Milanian
16 Feb 2017

Details of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser trailer 'leaked'

If it's true, Star Wars fans are in for a treat

14 Feb 2017

The best dressed men from the 2017 EE BAFTAs

As sartorially sharp as Stephen Fry's wit

13 Feb 2017

Ken Loach delivered a rousing anti Tory speech at the BAFTAs

The veteran filmmaker criticised the “callous brutality” of Theresa May's government

by Joe Ellison
13 Feb 2017

The 7 best titles new to UK Netflix this week

Get these on your tellybox

10 Feb 2017

Watch John Wick's dog take its revenge in this hilarious viral parody

How the tables have turned

10 Feb 2017

Michael Keaton opens his heart: "Relationships are complicated"

ShortList talks love with the mercurial actor

by Ralph Jones
09 Feb 2017

People are freaking out about how scary this film trailer is

Watch it with the lights on

by Gary Ogden
09 Feb 2017

10 Characters You Always See In Prison Movies

by Joe Ellison
08 Feb 2017