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Top 10 Stephen King Film Adaptations

We seem to have been pummeled by Stephen King film adaptations since the late the 1970’s, if I’m honest most are terrible. Being an avid fan of Stephen King’s writing, I thought I would share my top 10 film adaptations of his work.

  1. The Green Mile directed by Frank Darabont 1999. What a brilliant film successfully tugs on the heart strings & the stomach. Harrowing does not shy away from the content of the book & is excellently acted and written.
  2. Shawshank Redemption directed by Frank Darabont 1993. Spot on the book probably the most accurate Stephen King adaptation there is. An excellent written narrative coupled with excellent acting & Morgan Freeman’s soothing narration makes this not only a great adaptation but an incredible piece of cinema.
  3. The Dark Half directed by George A. Romero 1993. An incredible film that is not for the faint of heart. Graphically brutal in its unflinching take on the book; this horror crime drama is a must for gorehounds and those that like their supernatural horror gritty with a side helping of classic gangster vibes. Very well acted & written this is highly recommended.
  4. Gerald’s Game directed by Mike Falnagan 2017. Another rather graphic rendition of a not so well know Stephen king book. Again, very unflinching, incredibly well shot, acted, disturbing and tense throughout. At times honestly sent shivers down my spine. Viewer discretion advised.
  5. The Deadzone directed by David Cronenberg 1983. Although slightly dated this adaptation my master of body horror David Cronenberg starring Christopher Walken is a true cinematic gem. Very close to its source material this emotional & at times uncompromisingly unpleasant take on the classic Stephen King novel about psychic abilities must be in the top 5.
  6. Dr, Sleep directed by Mike Flanagan 2019. The sequel to the Shining. I shall not say to much apart from this is fantastic great mix of horror, action & character development. I put off watching this one because the book is so good, but this film rendition is incredible. Highly recommend.
  7. The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick 1980. As a horror film this is a classic. Tense, scary & unrelenting in its atmosphere as an adaptation of the novel however I agree with Stephen King it lacks heart and some of the surreal aspects of the book. Justice for Dick Hallorann.
  8. IT directed by Andy Muschietti 2017/2019. At some points very accurate to the book at others not so accurate. A very enjoyable film & some great humour & very psychedelic scares. Unfortunately lacks the tension & unpleasantness of the book. Enjoyable & fun but those that have read the book will miss some of the gruesome details & weirder plot twists. Where is the Turtle that holds the beams?
  9. Carrie directed by Brian De Palma 1976. A classic but slightly dated by todays standards still stands strong. The acting & tension still makes this film about the horrors of adolescence & bullying pack a powerful punch.
  10. Misery directed by Rob Reiner 1990. I know allot of people like this film and I will not dis-credit them it is exceptionally tense, well-acted & written. Kathy Bates is amazing in her role as Annie. However, the film makers missed a trick and that is the book Paul Sheldon is writing during his ordeal. In the Stephen King book, one of my all time favourites you get to read the book Paul is writing; if this would have been translated to film you would have had an almost steam punk Victorian adventure set in deepest darkest Africa oozing atmosphere sequentially running alongside the harrowing kidnapping of Paul. Another reason this one is surprisingly low in the list is it just isn’t brutal enough. Those that have read the book will know what is missing.

A special mention should be given to the epic TV series, Kingdom Hospital. Here Lars von Trier’ and Stephen King combine their minds to bring you a surreal, supernatural medical drama/horror. Originally penned by Lars Von Trier as a miniseries, Riget Trier worked alongside Stephen King (2004) to bring a even more surreal & high budget version to US audiences. This is classic King in the making especially with the use of tropes frequently used in his and Lar’s work dark subject matter, multiple bodged suicides & wacky characters. To add to the chaos & surreal experience a main character in this series is an inter-dimensional anteater.

Another mention should be given to lesser known film, Cat’s EyeCat’s Eye 1985. This collection of short films contains some excellent adaptations of Stephen King’s short stories including, Quitters Inc & The ledge all linked together by the adventures of a stray cat. Highly recommend equally as fun and silly as it is poignant & tense.

Let me know your favourite Stephen King adaptations in the comments.

Rob Rushton
(Rabid Acid Badger)

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