There are literally dozens and dozens of movies based on Stephen King short stories, novellas, and novels. Among these many films there are some major league clunkers, but there are also some absolute gems. If you include sequels and TV movies, the list goes well over fifty, and that’s not even including many limited release short films. Out of all those choices, here is my list of the fifteen best movies based on Stephen King works.
15 Pet Sematary
This work was also one of Stephen King’s finest horror novels. There is a haunted pet cemetery, spelled cutely with an ‘S,’ where everything buried comes back from the dead, but comes back twisted and evil. This is a great film where the tragic loss of a child proves too much temptation, and what comes back is terrifying and evil beyond belief. The ending of this film is absolutely fantastic, and one of the best endings of a King movie.
Storm of the century started as a two part mini-series and has since been released to DVD. This is an excellent story, which Stephen King wrote the script to, about a stranger appearing just as the worst winter storm in history hits a small isolated Maine island. This stranger has the power to force others to do as he wants, and he demands a child to raise as his own or else. This is a chilling and incredible story.
This movie with actors John Cusak and Samuel L. Jackson, is based around a Stephen King short story about a haunted hotel room that has an incredibly long and tragic history. This evil room draws so much energy that it is only mildly cleaned once a week, and briefly, and is never rented out. An author who doesn’t believe in the supernatural checks in, only to find himself in an amazing repeating hell that is bent on devouring his very soul, and refuses to let him go.
Children of the Corn was based on a short story by Stephen King (and all six of the terrible sequels were based on movie studios trying to stretch it for a cheap buck). “Outlander! Outlander! We have your woman!” This classic line and scene helps define the movie, where a child prophet has convinced every child to murder all the adults in town, as they worship “He who walks behind the rows.” Talk about the wrong town to break down in! This is a very solid horror flick, with some really genuinely creepy moments.
This three hour and change movie is a two part movie, with Pennywise the Clown perhaps one of the most disturbing horror villains in movie history. I personally point to him (and watching this movie at the age of ten) as explaining my life long fear/hatred of clowns. This movie is often judged as the first half being excellent and the second half mediocre, in part because of a changed ending. In fairness, the book’s ending would be next to impossible to fully convert into a movie format, but all in all, this movie is still a great view, and the first half is excellent. You might want to skip this one if you have a phobia of clowns.
A four part mini-series turned into DVD, “Rose Red” is a little over four hours and is a great modern version of the classic haunted mansion ghost story. A professor who has been fired for her paranormal studies takes a bunch of psychics into a haunted manor, secretly hoping that their powers will “jump start” the manor like a jump to a dead car battery and give her the evidence she needs to make her career… or she could be going insane and hoping for immortality. It’s not completely clear on this point, which makes the movie all the more interesting. This movie has good characters, some really scary scenes, and ties together very well at the end. Even better, it’s usually in the cheap DVD rack, so this movie is definitely a steal at a $10 or less buy.
This is based off a Stephen King novella and stars Johnny Depp and John Turturro. This is one of my personal favorite King movies, and if you’re a writer or a would be writer, this movie will have an added bonus. Johnny Depp’s character, Mort Rainey, is a successful writer struggling with a divorce, when a sociopathic stranger, John Shooter, shows up claiming that Rainey stole his story. Shooter demands credit, and has no issue killing anyone in his way until he gets everything he wants. This story has a fantastic surprise ending, great acting, and a creepiness that is hard to match.
One of the seemingly great secrets about Stephen King is he’s not just a horror author. Some of the best literary fiction of the past 50 years has been penned by King, and the movie “Hearts in Atlantis” is based on one of those novellas, down playing the supernatural and playing up the amazing story line and lives of the characters involved. The book “Hearts” has four novellas, and this film is only based on one of them, but it is a faithful and quality adaptation with great acting, great direction, and a film that individuals who don’t like King will even enjoy. This movie is a modern classic, in the same vein as “Stand by Me.”
Some will argue this movie should be rated higher, and they may have a point, but the fact that there are enough great movies based on Stephen King works that a film this good (rated on the top 250 movies ever on IMDB) could arguably not be in the top five just shows that there are some gems out there. Not only is Tom Hanks great in this film, but this touching movie (a not heavily hidden allegory of the Jesus story) follows the film and is a fantastic watch that generally follows the books very carefully.
While I think the Stanley Kubrik version is a good movie, King didn’t like it on the basis that it didn’t follow his story, so if the author doesn’t like it, it doesn’t make the list. King’s version, appearing first as a mini-series, is an exceptional horror film that really brings the book to life and delivers a terrifying film that is worth the watch every time.
Based on a long short story (or short novella, depending on how you look at it), this story has long been popular with Stephen King fans. This movie was extremely well done, capturing the terror of what happens when an unexplainable mist moves in, bringing a variety of mutated insects, huge tentacles, and all kinds of terrifying beasts into a town. Locked in a super market, not only do they have to worry about the other worldly terrors outside, but by a religious fanatic creating a child sacrifice cult that splits the survivors inside. This film has an ending that you will never forget… perhaps one of the most memorable in all of movie history.
This epic mini-series is based on the epic novel about a post apocalyptic Earth where most the world was killed by a Super Flu. The good flock to Grandma Moses, while the evil flock to Randall Flagg, setting up an ultimate conflict between good and evil even after most of the world’s population is dead. This was one of King’s greatest works, and the movie did a good job staying close to the storyline considering the massive amount of material it had to ingest into the plot.
This film is also on IMDB’s list of the top 250 movies of all time, and is a fantastic coming of age story about a group of four strange mismatched friends from junior high who try to track down a missing boy, presumed dead, by following some train tracks. Meanwhile they learn about each other and themselves, and end up all changing forever because of that several day journey. This is a very touching film with some sadness, and shows that Stephen King is not “just a horror writer.” This movie is based on the King novella “The Body.”
This was one of the best horror novels written by Stephen King, and the best movie based on a horror work. Annie Wilkes, the number one fan, is the worst nightmare of every celebrity, or every individual who has ever been stalked. An author gets in an accident, but is “rescued” by an obsessive fan, who ends up killing anyone who snoops around and creates the word “hobbling.” Anyone who saw the movie just winced at the mention of that word. Kathy Bates is exceptional as Annie Wilkes, and one of the most convincing movie psychopaths of all time.
This movie is one of only three from the IMDB website that has a rating of over 9.0 (out of 10), and is rated as the second best movie of all time on that website, and for very good reason. This amazing movie is based on the equally amazing novella about a banker who is wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and is sent to a sadistic prison where the guards and warden are both corrupt. The acting is incredible, the storyline is amazing, and everything about this movie works. Not only is this the best movie ever adapted from a Stephen King work, but many cinema fans agree that it was one of the better movies ever made.
The Oscars are weird. It’s one of the only places I know that people celebrate a film about poor Indian children by handing out $15,000 gift bags. This is somewhat of a tradition on this website, and I did pretty well last year in my predictions.
This year was different because I actually saw a majority of the films up for awards where as in other years, I would normally pick whomever had the prettiest hair. If a category isn’t listed, it’s because no one cares about it. So allow me to unleash some of the winners all over your face, along with a few categories that should be implemented.
BEST TEAR JERKER I firmly believe this should be an award. If it were, Marley & Me would win in a Titanic-esque landslide. Where most films sometimes try to tug on your heartstrings to make you identify with a character, this movie tugged on them for the full 120 minutes just for the sake of tugging. Miscarriages? Dead pets? Owen Wilson landing a hot wife? By the end of the movie, I was just interested in watching the filmmakers one-up themselves with more horrible incidents. But, boy, did I have some loose heartstrings.
WORST/MOST RIDICULOUS FIGHT SCENE Anyone who has seen Pride and Glory will surely remember the climax when Edward Norton goes to the Irish bar to arrest his step-brother, Colin Farrell. As the audience is expecting some typical corrupt cop genre shoot out, the two put their badges on the bar, select an Irish jig from the jukebox and start fist fighting.
BIGGEST BOX OFFICE SMASH EVEN THOUGH NO ONE YOU KNEW SAW IT Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
WORST FILM TO SEE WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND IN A PACKED THEATER FULL OF GIRLS He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s a strange feeling to know you’re hated by everyone in your general vicinity.
WORST FILM That Keanu Reeves one with aliens and Will Smith’s son.
Now, on to the real ones.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE Mickey Rourke should and probably will win this, but will they give it to Sean Penn out of Prop. 8 guilt? Probably not, but hey. Mickey has the better story and his dog (the one he thanked at the Golden Globes) just died, so he can probably start clearing room on his mantle. (Wow, I can’t believe I just wrote that either.)
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE Changeling, like any other Clint Eastwood movie, made me want to hang myself. So… Kate Winslet?
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Philip Seymou Er, the Joker. I think just about everyone has considered Heath a lock ever since he checked out early last year. Twenty dollars says that his celebratory montage will primarily include his scene from 10 Things I Hate About You where he sings to Julia Stiles on the bleachers.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE That lady from Benjamin Button will win. Some of you may say, “But what about Marisa Tomei where she plays a trampy stripper?!” to which I remind you that the Academy still does not recognize a category for being yourself, no matter how naked you may be.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE Clearly, the movie that brainwashes children to recycle and buy MacBooks will win easily.
DOCUMENTARY Man On Wire, or as I like to call it: A Movie With Subtitles About A Guy Who Clearly Survives His Own Daring Stunt As Shown By His Immediate Presence On Screen will win. Has there ever been a more pointless category than Best Documentary? The winner is always a lock months before the awards are given out. Oh, man and don’t get me started on Sound Editing!
MUSIC (SONG) Springsteen will win this for his contribution to The Wrestler— OH WAIT, he wasn’t nominated. Makes sense. Slumdog Millionaire got 2 songs nominated, one of which contains poetic lyrics such as “One day I want to be a star / so I get to hang in a bar” and “sweat shops have made me shifty / Like a ninja with speed, I’m nifty.” But the Academy decided that his Golden Globe win wasn’t enough to garner an Oscar nomination. That makes sense. M.I.A. had a baby and pouty Peter Gabriel is refusing to perform his song from WALL-E. Why? Because the man who wrote a song for an animated children’s movie won’t compromise his art by trimming his live performance. Uh oh, no one is performing! That’s okay, I’m sure Bruce wouldn’t mind playi— OH WAIT. That’s right. Nevermind. Yeah, you can’t ask him to play since you pretty much told him and his sultry soul patch to go fuck themselves.
(This is the second straight year that this section of the award show has caused me an irrational amount of anger.)
VISUAL EFFECTS Benjamin Button made Brad Pitt look like a really muscular elderly man, which in my opinion, is worth a lot. But then Iron Man made Robert Downey, Jr. look intimidating which also deserves a gold star. It’s sort of a toss up, but I’d go with Benjamin Button since they will get hosed on all of the major awards.
BEST PICTURE Just like in the ceremony, I waited until the very end to give you what you actually tuned in for. In a perfect world, The Wrestler would win. But this is not a perfect world (and that one wasn’t nominated) so it will be Slumdog Millionaire. How sure am I? Well, let’s just say I already have a cool $15 riding on it in Vegas. So, pretty sure.