Best Stephen King Film Adapted


The movie that started it all in 1976, this movie is based on King’s first published novel, the first of many, many novels many Excerpts from his novels for television or film. Directed by Brian De Palma (and featuring young John Travolta as a bad guy), this movie is about shy, downtrodden teen Carrie, her supernatural powers and a memorable prom night that made Sissy Spacek a star. – Kai Kipling

death zone

Made by David Cronenberg broodAnd the Scanners And the Videodrome Leading up to the execution of King’s 1983 adaptation, combining Cronenberg’s visceral style with King’s layout is a marriage made in heaven. But death zone Less frightening than a thought-provoking sci-fi movie with a political edge. After waking up from a coma, our hero Christopher Walken discovers that he can see the future after touching someone else’s body. When he shakes hands with an evil candidate plotting for the US Senate, he is given a vision of a nuclear apocalypse, and a race to avoid that fate. — Cooper Levi Baker

Dolores Claiborne

after championship misery (See below), Kathy Bates landed the title role in the 1995 film King’s story about a hard-working woman who is abused by her husband and is determined to keep her young daughter from the same fate. She’s totally compelling, and so is Jennifer Jason Lee as the mature, detached version of the daughter. And let’s not forget Jodi Parfitt as Dolores’ employer, who utters the timeless phrase, “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold on to.” – Kai Kipling

green mile

The second King’s Prison movie after The Shawshank Redemption (See below), this 1999 movie stars Tom Hanks as a prison guard and the late Michael Clarke Duncan as a gentle giant accused of a heinous crime and sentenced to walking a long distance from the green floor to the electric chair. Duncan’s character has the ability to heal (plus he’s innocent), which makes Hanks’ character regret his task of overseeing his execution. Tall but compelling, this one also boasts a gritty performance of Sam Rockwell as a truly repulsive psychic. – Kai Kipling

He. She

A killer clown in a sewer manhole – an image that will burn in my mind for the rest of my life. King’s 1986 novel has been adapted twice (once as a TV mini-series and once as a two-part movie), and while neither of them live up to the haunting majesty of writers, I’ll vouch for them. The 1990 film adaptation put Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown, who periodically goes on a string of child murders in a small Maine town, while the more recent film version ramps up blood and blood exponentially. — Cooper Levi Baker


King doesn’t always like edits if it’s his work, but he is said to enjoy the work, which is based on his account of a successful writer who ends up trapped in his home as “No. 1 fan,” psychopath Annie Wilkes, after having an accident during a snowstorm. Of course, it turns out she’s a fan from hell, willing to do anything to get him to write the story she Wants. Kathy Bates won an Academy Award in 1991 for her role as Annie, but James Kahn also gave a memorable performance as a writer. – Kai Kipling

Animal Cemetery

King’s 1983 novel has been adapted several times, but I’ve only seen the 1989 original, a wonderfully frightening thriller and disturbing climax that sticks with you. Bonus points for the Ramones song that shares a title with the movie, written by Dee bassist Dee Ramone after King gave him a copy of the book. — Cooper Levi Baker

running man

This falls into the “not really good, but fun” category, and has little to do with its source – a gritty King thriller published under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as an ex-cop convicted of a massacre he didn’t commit. He is given a chance for indulgence when he agrees to take part in a reality TV show where people are being chased and killed. I’m inclined to prove that this is a 1987 look at the world of reality TV, but come on…it features a killer hockey player named Professor Sobero who hits explosive pucks at the show’s contestants. What more do you need to know? — Cooper Levi Baker

The Shawshank Redemption

Another King movie that was put in prison in the 90s based on his short novel Rita Hayworth and Shawshank salvation It stars Tim Robbins as a banker sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. It wasn’t a box office hit at the time of its release, but it’s strong (it’s probably on TV now). Perhaps this is due in part to the sentiment her poster espouses: “Fear can make you a prisoner. Hope can set you free.” – Kai Kipling

the shining

Stanley Kubrick 1980 film adapted from the shining King didn’t like it, and you can understand that if you’ve read the original book, with its very different representation of the main character Jack Torrance. But, faithful or not, Kubrick’s haunting visuals – rivers of blood flowing from an elevator, creepy twin ghosts, etc. – are so memorable that they are even recreated for the 2019 movie. Dr. Sleep, based on King’s sequel to his original story. I can watch this over and over again. – Kai Kipling

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