Top Stephen King Adaptations

With the upcoming premiere of the Stephen King mini-series, Bag of Bones, airing this Sunday on A&E, I began thinking about other King adaptations we have seen over the years. As many know, it is extremely hard to translate a popular book to the screen, and a lot of the time the end result isn’t what fans had hoped for. I decided to create a list of some of the best King book-to-movie adaptations thus far. Hopefully, Bag of Bones will be another  success to be added to the list.

The Shining:

 What’s not to love about the 1980 Stanley Kubrick classic? The film, which is one of my favorite movies of all time, follows a small family as they move into a haunted hotel for the winter. Jack Torrance (the AMAZING Jack Nicholson) is a recovering alcoholic who just wants to do what’s best for his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). He accepts a job as caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado, where he is expected to watch over the establishment during the off-season. Pretty simple, right? Not exactly. The Overlook Hotel just so happens to be haunted by the ghosts of the guests who died there in the past, including Grady, the caretaker who murdered his wife and daughters with an axe. Slowly but surely, Jack loses his mind while his six year-old son can really see what goes on behind the closed doors of the hotel. The film is a classic for its acting, it’s storytelling, and the overall creepiness. In my opinion, it completely surpasses King’s 1977 novel. Redrum!


The 1977 Brian De Palma classic is based on King’s very first novel, published in 1974. The film introduced the world to Sissy Spacek who brought the title character to life. Carrie White is a mentally and physically abused young girl who is completely sheltered by her super religious and psychotic mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie). Carrie is an outcast who is constantly teased and ridiculed by her classmates; most notably when she unknowingly gets her period in the shower for the first time. Plug it up! But, Carrie has a little secret that totally comes in handy when she wants to take revenge–she’s got the power of telekinesis. There’s a classic scene involving pig’s blood and the crowning for prom queen that will go down in history as the worst prom ever. Lesson learned: the quiet ones are always the ones you have to watch out for (wink, wink).

Pet Sematary:

 Imagine if you could bring a loved one back simply by burying them in a pet cemetery. Well, in this 1989 movie adaptation of the ’81 King classic, you can do just that. Only, there’s one small catch–whoever comes back, comes back evil and without a soul (oh, is that all?). The story follows a happy family, The Creeds, who have just moved into a new home, which happens to be tragically located on the side of a highway. When Louis (Dale Midkiff) and wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) lose their young son Gage (cutiepie, Miko Hughes) to an accident, Louis buries him in the famous reviving graveyard. However, when Gage returns, he’s like the spawn of Satan. The little guy starts killing people left and right and there’s a scene involving him slicing someone’s Achilles tendon that makes me physically SQUIRM every single time. The movie makes you question what you would do if you could bring back someone you love. I’d find another way to do it, that’s for sure.


 Don’t tell me that you don’t think about this movie whenever you see a St. Bernard walking down the street. This movie is so terrifying because the scenario could actually happen any day of the week. In the story, we meet a young mother, Donna (Dee Wallace), who, along with her young son, find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cujo, a once friendly dog, gets infected with rabies from a bat and then stumbles upon the mother-son duo who came to visit friends that reside in his home. Things quickly go awry; Cujo becomes extremely violent and attacks the pair who attempt to escape in their car. However, their car breaks down and they find themselves stuck with a vicious killer waiting for them on the outside. To make matters worse, it’s summer time, and Donna’s young son is epileptic. The amount of dog slobber alone is enough to completely terrify me.

The Dead Zone:

 This 1983 David Cronenberg classic has one thing that should sell anyone: Christopher Walken as its protagonist. The story follows Johnny Smith (Walken), an everyday man who has a horrible accident that leaves him in a coma for 5 years. When Johnny awakens, he realizes that his life has completely changed around him; his girlfriend is married and has a son, and oh yeah, he has psychic abilities. Johnny realizes that if he touches a person, he can see into their future. When he meets up and coming senator, Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) he gets a glimpse at what the world would be like when Stillson becomes President. Uh, it’s pretty bad…because Stillson is effin’ craaazy. It’s up to Johnny to stop the senator before he destroys the world. There’s a terrifying scene involving a raincoat-wearing psycho who decides the best way to kill himself is to hurl himself onto a pair of scissors. Really?! That was the best you could think of?! The movie really makes you wonder: If you knew something bad was going to happen, would you do something to stop it?

This list was really, really hard for me to compile since there are a lot of classic King movie adaptations. I actually didn’t realize how many good adaptations there were until I decided to make this list. Films like Misery, The Running Man, Christine and Children of the Corn are all some of my favorites, however, my list of five were the ones that I completely LOVE. Which King movies made your list?