Top 10 Stephen King Movies of All Time

Stephen King is one of the most successful authors of all time. His novels and short stories have inspired dozens of feature films and television series. Two of his most beloved works, IT and THE DARK TOWER, are poised to kick start new franchises this year. With the buzz surrounding the first trailer for IT this past week, we took a look at the film works inspired by King and ranked the ten best feature films (no TV on this list, folks). If you think we missed one or disagree with our ranking, let us know in the talk backs below.


Frank Darabont films represent three of the films on this list but it is THE MIST that deserves the number one spot. A perfect representation of King's sense of horror combined with a master filmmaker's eye for framing and storytelling. Couple a stellar ensemble cast led by Thomas Jane with one of the most gut-wrenching endings in movie history, THE MIST shows what can be accomplished when a Stephen King novel is given the best treatment possible.


Many consider it a travesty that this movie lost the Best Picture to FORREST GUMP (although I think PULP FICTION should have won that year) but THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION did not receive the acclaim it has had over the last 20 years until it hit home video. Since then, this adaptation of King's short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" has become one of the top 10 most loved movies on IMDb and a staple of basic cable movie marathons. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are spectacular in this movie which once again proves that Stephen King may be the master of horror but he is also much more than that.


Rob Reiner's second adaptation of a King novel is less about growing up rather than growing old. Kathy Bates earned an Oscar for her amazing portrayal of #1 fan Annie Wilkes while James Caan was brilliant as the captive author trying to escape. Almost entirely told in a single set, MISERY is full of tension and anxiety and ranks as one of the single best movies of the 1990s.


As a film, THE SHINING is amazing. Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King have had very focal disagreements over the film but that does not diminish how great of a movie it is. While it is not a truly faithful adaptation of King's novel, THE SHINING is a stunning example of what happens when you get one of cinema's greatest filmmakers to direct one of our best contemporary authors.


Based on King's novella "The Body", STAND BY ME is a movie that represents an entire generation. Helmed by Rob Reiner, this is a movie about growing up that proved Stephen King was more than just a writer of horror stories. This film encapsulates the adventure young kids have gone on for generations but mixes it with very real and candid conversations about life and becoming adults. Reiner would go on to adapt another King novel but this one shows he should definitely make another.


The first Stephen King novel published was also the first turned into a film. Despite a lackluster sequel and remake, Brian De Palma's original CARRIE remains a classic. Owing more to Hitchcock than any true horror inspiration, CARRIE is an examination of what it means to be a teenage girl growing up with the threats of abuse, bullying, and psychological trauma. CARRIE remains to this day a great movie and one hell of a scary one at that.


Mary Lambert's film has not been the critical darling of King adaptations but it has developed a cult following since it was released in 1989. This movie may have some pacing issues but there is no arguing that multiple scenes here are iconic in the annals of horror history. From little Gage coming back and wreaking havoc or creepy Zelda in the flashbacks scenes, PET SEMATARY is haunting and absolutely scary.


Stephen King teamed with George Romero (a match made in movie geek heaven) to create an homage to the classic horror titles from EC Comics. Pulpy, goofy and completely over the top, CREEPSHOW showcases short films based on King short stories along with some original material made just for the movie. King's original screenplays have not always fared well but CREEPSHOW shows why he is the master of short fiction as much as the epic novel.


Based on one of King's lesser known stories, Cycle of the Werewolf, SILVER BULLET is a favorite of our own Paul Shirey and for good reason. This is a great werewolf movie with some good effects and performances by Corey Haim and Gary Busey. A relic of the 1980s, this is a movie that is criminally underrated.


Frank Darabont has a history with Stephen King adaptations but none more marquee than THE GREEN MILE. Based on King's serial novel, Darabont's film was expected to be another prison film in the same style as THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. Instead, THE GREEN MILE is a Frank Capra-esque melodrama about a magical inmate who changes the lives of several prison guards, headed by Tom Hanks. There is no doubt that this is a well made film even if it doesn't quite have the spark of other Darabont adaptations. Worth seeing if just for the performances by Michael Clarke Duncan and Sam Rockwell.

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