Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The 10 Greatest Stephen King Movie Adaptations


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.



4 Stephen King movies to get excited about in 2014


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


6 of Stephen King's best on-screen cameos


30 Pieces Of Wisdom From Stephen King


It's Mr Stone...

it storm.jpg

Stephen King's greatest villains



Exclusive: Sam Neill confirms he's in Thor 3

23 Sep 2016

Chris Pratt is a big deal - and we couldn't be happier for him

Chris Pratt talks to Jimi Famurewa about stripping off, the pay gap and why he’s happy to be a piece of meat

22 Sep 2016

See the hilarious War On Everyone for FREE

ShortList Film Club gives you the chance to catch it first and for free

21 Sep 2016

Morgan Spurlock's 'Rats' documentary is the biggest horror of 2016

If you weren't already terrified of rats then you will be after this by Paddy Maddison

19 Sep 2016

Why does Bill Murray have no friends?

Is there are more sinister side to why Billy 'No Mates' Murray needs to be worshipped? by Tristan Cross

15 Sep 2016

Six reasons new thriller The Clan is unmissable

by Joe Ellison

15 Sep 2016

Daniel Radcliffe has issues in exclusive clip for new Neo-Nazi drama

He's come a long way since Harry Potter by Paddy Maddison

13 Sep 2016

Stylised Sci-Fi posters bring new life to your favourite films

Your favourite Sci-Fi films reimagined by Paddy Maddison

13 Sep 2016

Mad Max without special effects is still incredible

Those of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now. by Paddy Maddison

13 Sep 2016

Does this confirm Wolverine dies in the next film?

Boyd Holbrook hints it might be the end of Logan's run

13 Sep 2016