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The 10 Worst And 10 Best Stephen King Movies


Stephen King’s books have been adapted to
film or television over 100 times, making him the all-time “King” of adaptations from
a living author’s work. But while some adaptations of his works rank
among the most beloved films of all time, others are hardly worth remembering at all. To help you parse out the good from the bad,
here’s a list of the 10 worst and 10 best Stephen King adaptations so far, not in any
particular order, but starting with the ones that probably don’t deserve your time. Cell Nine years after appearing together in 1408
— which we’ll be talking about much later — John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson reunited
for Cell. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a reunion really
worth having. The plot centers on Clay Riddell, a man who’s
determined to reunite with his son after a malevolent electronic signal turns cell phone
users into mindless killers. Along the way, he teams up with train driver
Tom McCourt in order to better their chances of survival. While the novel was generally well-received
for it’s technophobic take on the zombie trope, the movie suffered a far less positive fate. It stunk. Graveyard Shift 1990’s Graveyard Shift still stands as one
of the worst King adaptations. In a Maine textile mill where a drifter has
taken a job, several overnight employees have died, and the egomaniacal foreman sends the
drifter — and others — down into the basement to investigate. King’s short story didn’t translate well to
the screen. The saving grace of the film is a crazy exterminator
played by Brad… “This place is infested.” “That might be the understatement of the year.” …but even that’s not enough to save this
movie. Thinner Despite having excellent source material,
Tom Holland’s 1990 adaptation of Thinner just couldn’t pull it off. When an obese and morally bankrupt lawyer
Billy Halleck accidentally runs over and kills a gypsy woman, he uses his court connections
to get off the hook. The woman’s elderly father takes revenge by
placing a curse upon Halleck, one which soon has him uncontrollably losing weight to the
point of emaciation. The premise is definitely scary, but the effect
falls flat on the big screen — especially when we’re confronted with the actor in a
terribly fake latex fat suit that only gets slightly less hilarious as he sheds the pounds. Maximum Overdrive Stephen King himself stepped behind the lens
for the 1986 adaptation of his own Maximum Overdrive. “It was my first picture as a director, and
you know something? I sort of enjoyed it!” Others, however, did not. The movie puts Earth in the tail of a comet,
after which once-inert machines suddenly come to life and go on a murderous rampage against
humans. “Look out!” [Screaming] At a truck stop, a bland protagonist played
by Emilio Estevez and an odd assortment of other unremarkable characters settle in to
wait out the living trucks that have them pinned down inside. While Maximum Overdrive does have a killer
soundtrack from AC/DC and a few neat shots peppered throughout, the movie is still a
maximum dud. Needful Things Although the novel Needful Things is a favorite
among King fans, the 1993 film adaptation of the story might leave audiences ready to
sell their own souls to the Devil just to get it over with. Set in Castle Rock, Maine, Needful Things
follows a character named Leland Gaunt opening an antiques store called — you guessed it
— Needful Things. Many of the town’s residents soon find their
hearts’ desires fulfilled by the store’s items — some of which have a distinctly supernatural
bent. But Gaunt’s prices are nearly too good to
be true. Rather than heaps of cash, Gaunt just wants
the townspeople to play pranks on eachother … but those small misdeeds end up igniting
some intense rivalries, and things turn violent very quickly. “We’re having fun now.” If that sounds like an intriguing story, that’s
because it is. King’s written version of Needful Things is
certainly worthy of your time. But the movie’s failure to translate the character
development of the many players involved renders this movie a total wash. At least we got a pretty great Rick and Morty
episode out of it: “A typewriter that generates best-selling
murder mysteries, and then makes the murders happen in real life? Woooooo!” “Be quiet.” The Mangler Tobe Hooper’s 1994 adaptation of King’s short
story The Mangler somehow spawned two sequels, but the original was not actually very good. The movie stars Freddie Kreuger actor Robert
Englund as sinister laundry-service owner whose machine has been possessed by a demon
that’s been activated by the presence of blood…and over-the-counter antacids. Yes, really. The original short story was pretty threadbare
to begin with, but the movie completely ignored the opportunity to make a campy pic that pokes
fun at itself. Instead, we’re left with a ridiculous and
gory flick that goes on way too long and takes itself much too seriously. Riding the Bullet When King published his 2000 novella Riding
the Bullet, it was generally well-received by critics and made history as the first mass-distributed
e-book. The story follows Alan Parker, a neurotic
and depressed college student whose obsession with worst-case scenarios nearly drives him
to suicide. After receiving news that his mother has had
a stroke, Parker decides to hitchhike so he can reach her before she passes. But instead of culminating in an exciting
thrill ride, the movie renders the journey completely boring. Add this to your skip list. Dreamcatcher Even Stephen King didn’t completely love his
2001 novel Dreamcatcher, but the resulting movie was even worse. The film follows four lifelong friends — who
have psychic powers, of course — on a winter hunting trip to upstate Maine. They soon find themselves caught between invading
aliens and the U.S. military forces trying to contain them. Thomas Jane, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant,
and Jason Lee do fine work as the friends, but Morgan Freeman falls flat as an overzealous
commander with ridiculously distracting eyebrows. What results is an overly long, free-associating
mess of a movie that could have been much better if it’d just stuck to one tone. The Lawnmower Man If you’re a fan of this short story from King’s
1978 collection Night Shift, don’t be fooled by Brett Leonard’s 1992 film The Lawnmower
Man — it’s an adaptation in name only. Other than the title and a single scene, the
movie bears little resemblance to the source material. Instead of a nutty little tale about a lawn
mowing service gone horribly wrong, the film steals from the short story Flowers for Algernon
and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein for its mish-mashed plot. The movie centers on a doctor who chooses
a mentally impaired greenskeeper to be the subject of his experiments in intelligence-boosting
via virtual reality and a drug cocktail. Follow King’s lead on this one, and give the
lousy story of The Lawnmower Man a hard pass. The Night Flier The Night Flier stays fairly true to King’s
original short story, but that doesn’t mean that this 1997 adaptation is actually a good
movie. Miguel Ferrer plays tabloid reporter Richard
Dees, who attempts to hunt down a serial killer who uses a small aircraft to travel from town
to town — leaving a grisly trail of victims in his wake. Dees soon finds that this is no ordinary criminal,
and must also deal with a competing reporter who’s trying her hardest to steal his scoop. While the short story’s version of Dees was
an unlikeable cynic who finds his worldview shaken, the movie’s script and Ferrer’s flat
performance makes Dees a complete jerk with no redeeming qualities. If you decide to watch The Night Flier, you’ll
probably find yourself rooting for the bad guys to win before it’s all said and done. Now that we’ve gotten through the shlock,
here are the best Stephen King adaptations so far. Carrie For over 40 years, Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation
of Carrie has remained a classic. Released just two years after the book’s publication,
Carrie was the first adaptation of a Stephen King work, and it’s still arguably the best. Featuring Sissy Spacek in the title role,
this supernatural tale sets the hook of suspense and reels in the viewer without remorse. Spacek is at turns ethereal and terrifying
as Carrie, and Piper Laurie delivers a commanding performance as her oppressive mother Margaret. Even though it’s a little dated today, the
original vision of Carrie still holds up as a must-watch Stephen King movie. Stand By Me Unlike many King adaptations, Stand By Me
is more coming-of-age drama than horror. Based on King’s semi-autobiographical short
story The Body, it follows four adolescent boys in a small Oregon town who embark on
a journey to find the corpse of a missing boy. Thanks to the off-screen friendship forged
by actors Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, and Corey Feldman, the authenticity
of the characters’ connection was incredibly real. Stand By Me remains a classic today, and even
those who don’t like horror films can enjoy this Stephen King story. The Dead Zone David Cronenberg’s 1983 adaptation of Stephen
King’s The Dead Zone remains a more accessible movie than King’s more horrific works. The story focuses on Johnny Smith, a man who
wakes up from a coma to discover he has unexplained psychic powers, and finds himself on a collision
course with destiny during a pivotal election. It’s a masterpiece of thrilling and suspenseful
storytelling that strings viewers along before the final climactic scene. The Shawshank Redemption Although it registered very little impact
in theaters upon its release, director Frank Darabont’s 1994 prison drama The Shawshank
Redemption has gone on to become one of the best-loved films of the last 30 years. The movie tells the story of two prisoners
serving life sentences at the Shawshank State Penitentiary, who become dear friends despite
their difficult circumstances. Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in
the lead roles, The Shawshank Redemption is a gritty tale with a lot of heart and plot
points that transcend the generations. The Shining “All work and no play” might make Jack a dull
boy, but The Shining most certainly isn’t dull. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of The Shining
still stands as one of the most beloved King adaptations, even if the author didn’t care
for it himself. The movie follows writer Jack Torrance, his
wife Wendy, and their young son Danny as they travel to Colorado to become the winter caretakers
of the opulent — and haunted — Overlook Hotel. Danny’s psychic abilities allow him to see
the terrifying past of the Overlook, and his troubled father’s inner demons are exploited
by the spirits still haunting the hotel. The tale deviates significantly from the source
material, in both characterization and storyline. Nevertheless, The Shining continues to be
a favorite among horror lovers. Misery A psychological thriller directed by Rob Reiner
about fan obsession gone horribly wrong, 1990’s Misery was a critical and commercial success
that launched Kathy Bates’ career — and for good reason. The plot follows romance author Paul Sheldon
as he wakes up from a car accident to find himself in the care of a superfan named Annie
Wilkes. “You and I were meant to be together forever.” When Wilkes learns that Sheldon has killed
off her favorite character in his latest novel, things start to get grim, and there are some
scenes of torment that won’t soon be forgotten or forgiven by fans of this film. The Green Mile Director Frank Darabont returned to the King
library for another prison drama with 1999’s The Green Mile, starring Tom Hanks and Michael
Clarke Duncan. This flashback film is told from the perspective
of Paul Edgecomb, who recounts supernatural events he experienced as a corrections officer
after a very special prisoner arrived on death row at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary. It’s a soulful and thoughtful movie which
will leave most viewers profoundly affected after the credits roll. Dolores Claiborne Kathy Bates returned to the world of Stephen
King when she appeared in the 1995 psychological thriller Dolores Claiborne, based on the novel
of the same name and directed by Taylor Hackford. The film follows the tale of a domestic servant
who’s accused of murdering her elderly employer. It’s a harrowing and suspenseful tale that
will keep audiences guessing until the end. 1408 In the 2007 psychological horror film 1408,
John Cusack does what he does best: he plays a cynic with love problems. Starring as Mike Enslin, a skeptical author
who decides to check into a notoriously haunted hotel room in order to investigate it, he’s
joined by Samuel L. Jackson as hotel manager Gerald Olin. What follows is a tense and terrifying descent
into Enslin’s psyche. Although it’s definitely not on the level
of The Shining, 1408 is still a satisfying and scary haunted hotel effort that manages
to generate genuine thrills without relying on bucketfuls of gore. It The feature film debut of It smashed all sorts
of records on its opening weekend and for good reason: it’s a very decent adaptation
of one of King’s most prized books. The 1990 TV mini-series successfully translated
the scares of the novel as well, but its budgeted special effects and bloated acting moments
have kept that version from aging well in the years since. The new version of It, however, is much sharper
and more intense, and also presents the heart and wit of the novel’s characters. Scary clowns might be a cultural phenomenon
that makes Pennywise a timely terror, but count on this one to be more than just a flash-in-the-pan
favorite. “You’ll float too. You’ll float too. You’ll float too, you’ll float too, you’ll
float too!” Thanks for watching! Click the Looper icon to subscribe to our
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