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The Best Stephen King Movies

  • Sep 15, 2009
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Stephen King is a huge force in literature... but also in Hollywood. So what exactly are the best movies based off of his works? Well, let's find out. Of course, you are viewing a list by someone who couldn't care less if the film gets it entirely right. A good adaptation doesn't make a good movie. So let's focus on what movies are good. Pet Sematary is a great adaptation but a laughably bad movie.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Of all of the films based off King's work, this is probably the best one. It adds a little bit more than what you saw in the book. But we're not talking how close it was to the book on this list. I want everyone to understand. We're talking about good films that are based off his work, and Shawshank just happens to be one of the best. King went so far as to say it was the BEST adaptation of his work he'd seen in 1994 in an interview with Larry King.
See the full review, "Fear Can Hold You Prisoner; Hope Can Set You Free".
Stand By Me
While he talks about Shawshank being the best, King is often quick to say that this is by far his favorite adaptation. For those who read the book it stays as close as it can, but it's also one of those movies that is very thematically ambitious... as the original tales itself was. Many times King has gone on to say there will probably never be another story like The Body.
See the full review, "Stand By This One".
The Green Mile
Also by Frank Darabont (director of The Shawshank Redemption), The Green Mile is one of the best King adaptations out there. It's often ripped apart by critics (because for some odd reason any movie like this has to be rocket science... simplicity is not what a critic wants), but that's partially because critics go to Stephen King movies expecting something they're not supposed to get in the first place. While I agree Michael Clarke Duncan wasn't Oscar material, I disagree that the movie is a simple diatribe. Simple? Yes. Diatribe? No. It carries more complex themes than The Shawshank Redemption, even without being a simplar film (My point is, Shawshank really IS a very simple film, but critics love that one). It's a pretty good movie, even if it is a little long.
See the full review, ""Sometimes, Oh God, The Green Mile is So Long..."".
Poster for the movie
Carrie isn't really that close to the book. It gets the main points right, but for the most part it strips away a lot of what made the book pace a little slow at times (the book consisted of a lot of scientific interviews and whatnot that De Palma cuts out). She also kills A LOT more people in the book, but that doesn't stop the movie from being good. King himself often talks about how he loves this movie, and wished he'd thought of the ending.
Okay, so I was disappointed that Annie Wilkes didn't actually chop off his foot, but beyond that this is still one of the rare moments where a Stephen King movie actually turned out to be good. Especially Kathy Bates who gives a brilliant performance as Annie Wilkes.
The Shining
Everyone screams that Kubrick's version is nothing like the book. Even King denounced it... but a good adaptation doesn't always make a good movie. If that were so Pet Sematary would be one of the greatest King adaptations out there... and that movie is a stinker. So while Kubrick's version of The Shining isn't much like the book at all, it's still a fairly good movie. And this list is about good Stephen King movies... not accuracy. The Shining still manages to be a fairly good movie. No, it's nothing like King's book. In fact, it's a wonder if Kubrick and company even read said book. But when a movie that's nothing like the book is better than half the movies that actually ARE based off the books... that says something.
See the full review, ""Heere's Johnny!"".
The Mist
Yeah, that ending is pretty disheartening and depressing, but all of the stuff that leads up to it is pretty good stuff. Frank Darabont has a knack for staying close to the story but also for making sure his actors and actresses do a good job. For the most part The Mist does that. It's one of the lesser liked King adaptations but it's still far better than a handful of them out there.
See the full review, "What Lurks in The Mist".
John Cusack stars in this movie based on King's short story about a room that's bad luck. It's got a hint of fear that isn't always seen in much of what's adapted from King's films. It keeps from being over the top but still has its key moments of suspense.
See the full review, "1408... From A Sample of How to Write to a Full Blown Movie!".
The Dead Zone
This one doesn't get shown a whole lot. It's also one of the least viewed, but it's a very good adaptation of one of King's best novels.

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September 18, 2009
Cool list. I'm one of those who liked the TV remakes of "The Shining" and "Carrie" more, which apparently puts me in the minority, but they're closer to the books and that wins points with me. Have you seen "Dolores Claiborne"? It's depressing and disturbing but good. I also really like "Cujo" despite the silliness and the original "Children of the Corn" is great too. I'd probably be tempted to put "Secret Window" and the first "Pet Semetary" on my list as well.
September 18, 2009
I haven't seen DC yet but I keep hearing about it.  So I just might check it out. 

I'm not big on the TV versions of Carrie or The Shining.  I thought The Shining was okay.  It was closer to the book, but I was really not a big fan of the performances.  I don' tknow what it is about TV movies but there's usually something missing (though Desperation wasn't bad either).  I thought Pet Semetary was laughably bad, but it's one of those movies that I always watch when I see it.  I actually enjoy it most times.  

But in terms of being close to the book, when a King film is it can sometimes be pretty good.  Once I check out Delores Claiborne, though, I might update the list.  It's got Kathy Bates in it, right?  I enjoy her.  That book was also pretty good albeit very different... for King at least.
September 16, 2009
I'm not the biggest King fan in the world wwhen it comes to his weird fiction but I did like THE MIST because it had overtone (or maybe it was underones) of H.P. Lovecraft. I do like his straight stuff a lot more. So STAND BY ME, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, and DOLORES CLAIBORNE rank high.
September 16, 2009
Strangely enough H.P. Lovecraft was one of King's writing inspirations. Hmmm... Delores Claiborne... I actually haven't seen that yet.
September 16, 2009
DC is a good movie with a great cast. Of course you've got Kathy Bates, but even the "minor" characters are well cast. But then I'm very partial to David Strathairn.
September 16, 2009
I love David Strathaim too. I suppose I should have check out the movie sometime.
September 16, 2009
Strathairn has worked a lot with John Sayles one of my favorite directors. I've got a review for one of their realier films MATEWAN. And then of course there was LIMBO,PASSION FISH, CITY OF HOPE, BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, and EIGHT MEN OUT.
September 15, 2009
Good choices. I probably would have picked the same ones. It is funny that virtually all his other flicks were horrible.
About the list creator
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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