Today our father who art in horror Stephen King turns 70! And I for one thank Maturin, that great big turtle in the sky, every single day that Stephen was born. Just ask yourself “Where would we be without him?” In fact, what would horror be without him?
Stephen King was born in 1947 in Portland Maine. He sold his first professional short story “The Glass Floor” In 1967 while working in an industrial laundry. In 1971, King started teaching high school English, while at nights he continued to write short stories and work on his novels. In 1974 Doubleday published Carrie. The resulting income allowed him to leave his teaching job to write full-time. Over the next 40 plus years King went on to shape the horror landscape by releasing many genre defining novels including The Shining, Cujo, IT, Salem’s Lot and many more. King has amassed sales of over 350 million books to date, and thankfully isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Stephen King is also responsible for some of the most horrifying and nightmare inducing movies ever made. Many of his novels have been adapted into some truly iconic and recognisable horror movies in modern cinema; The Shining, It, Carrie, Christine, and countless others. To celebrate his birthday, a sacred day on my horror calendar, lets countdown my our 10 Stephen King horror movie adaptations.
- a) Only Horror Movies: – I will only be selecting Stephen’s scary sh*t, so there will be no Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption or Stand By Me. We’re a horror site.
- b) The rankings are mine, and are based on how much I liked the film- Not the scope of the cinematography or the maturity of the score blah blah bah. My list. My criteria.
- c) I have only ranked movies I have seen. For all I know, Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror could be the greatest movie ever based within the King-verse, but I haven’t seen it so it’s not on the list!
And without further ado, The List!
Carrie White is a shy and sheltered girl, who after a particularly cruel prank unleashes her deadly telekinetic powers to get vengeance at her high school prom.
Let’s face it. This film is bleak. Sissy Spacek plays awkward so well that you grimace at her every interaction. Add to this the fact that she has clearly been systematically domineered and abused by her religious mother whom I’m pretty sure is the most evil character since Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. In fact the most uplifting moment in Carrie is when Mrs. White gets graphically and ironically killed; impaled on her own symbolism.
Anyway, Carrie kills everyone and lives happily ever after or something.
For me this film boils down to three scenes ranked by how much they terrified me as an 8-year-old boy.
3. The prom scene = mildly freaking out.
2. The hand out of the grave scene = big jump scare made me close my little eyes.
1. The pig murder scene = didn’t sleep for a week. Every time I closed my eyes i heard that poor piggy crying.
9 – Secret Window (2004)
Uh oh, early controversy! This probably won’t be a popular choice, but I loved this movie, and remember: My criteria.
Secret window is a psychological thriller about an author named Mort. Recently divorced, he moves to his upstate New York cabin to work on his writing. While there he meets John Shooter, who accuses him of plagiarism and proceeds to torment him seeking justice.
Johnny Depp and John Turturro are easily two of my favourite actors named John. I will eat anything these two dish up and probably ask for more. Their chemistry really carries this film and Turturro’s accent is just plain fun. The mystery aspect of this movie however is the weak point and by the time the twist is revealed, you’ve probably already guessed it. But the way it’s handled is so entertaining that I didn’t begrudge it at all.
8 – The Dead Zone (1983)
5 years after a car accident leaves him in a coma, Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) discovers he has the ability to see people’s secrets through any physical contact. With some deeply unsettling visualizations of his premonitions, we follow Johnny as he attempts to navigate his “Dead Zone” and prevent the untimely deaths of those around him.
If you need more incentive? (ahem, CHRISTOPHER WALKEN) it is also directed by David ‘freaking’ Cronenberg! Don’t even bother with the rest of this list, if you haven’t seen The Dead Zone. Cancel your plans for the evening and watch it now.
7 – 1408 (2007)
*This movie has two endings and while both versions are good, I only have eyes for the darker ending.
Mike Enslin (John Cusack), a paranormal debunker decides to stay in the Dolphin Hotel’s infamous room 1408. Not long after checking in Mike learns that the stories surrounding room 1408 may not be as embellished as he first believed.
SPOILER ALERT! this hotel room is really f**king haunted! After he ignores the hotel manager’s (Samuel L Jackson) extremely convincing and rational speech, it doesn’t take Mike very long to realize his monumental error. This movie is tense and unnerving from start to finish.
A nerdy teenager (Arnie) buys a vintage car (Christine) that has supernatural abilities and a sinister, violent nature. As Arnie’s obsession with Christine develops, his friends notice that the car’s not so pleasant nature is starting to influence its owner.
John Carpenter directs a movie about a kick ass red car, that actually seems possessed by a demon, but don’t let this seemingly campy premise put you off. This movie is awesome as Christine is evil. The badass Red Plymouth Fury owns every scene it’s in with its larger than life presence, deep rumbling voice and inherent menace.
5 – Pet Sematary (1989)
Behind a family home, in Maine, there is an old cemetery that holds the secret to life and death. When Tragedy strikes the Creed family, the lure of this power becomes too tempting to ignore.
Pet Sematary (spelt wrong on purpose) is a movie about a family who move into a new house that’s on a surprising busy road. Soon after they lose their small child in a tragic accident. Louis (Dale Mikiff) learns of the old pet cemetery and it’s apparent ability to bring the dead back to life (yay!) but they also seem to come back a little evil (boo!). This movie is full of fantastic nightmare fuel. I still cringe every time I think of sweet little, creepy AF child, slicing open poor old Jud’s Achilles tendon.
The newest film on the list, and it was only through sheer force of will it wasn’t number 1. For those of you who live under a rock, IT is about a group of kids called ‘The Losers Club’ who are taunted by a monster in the form of an extremely disturbing turn-of-the-century era clown.
This movie is so much fun. Sure, its full of terror. Sure, I haven’t slept in a week. But, it captures the innocence and humour of being a kid so perfectly, it almost made me wish I grew up in Derry….except, of course- for the evil clown trying to eat everyone.
3 – The Mist (2007)
You guessed it- This one is about a strange Mist that descends on a small town (probably in, Oh I don’t know- Maine). Along with the unexplained weather pattern come terrible monsters that pick off the town folk one-by-one. No one knows where it came from or how to get rid of it.
We spend the majority of this film in a grocery store, where the monsters outside are not necessarily the biggest threat. A great creature feature, The Mist is fun, action packed and dramatic (especially that ending!). Actually, maybe you should just press stop once they drive into the mist near the end, because the last 5 minutes is so dark, it will definitely break your heart.
2 – Creepshow 2 (1987)
I’m sure this one needs no description, but Creepshow 2 is a horror anthology of tales based on Stephen King stories. The first segment follows a cigar-store Native American statue coming to life to avenge the death of the shop owner and his wife. The Raft features a group of sexy teens travel to a secluded lake to swim and have fun. Problem is there is an evil organism living in the lake that is hungry for some nubile flesh. The final installment follows a woman who hits a hitchhiker with her car and decides to flee the scene, but the victim isn’t inclined to remain dead.
This was my favourite movie growing up! A brilliant collection of twisted, and timeless vignettes. The wrap around animation is a lot of fun too, telling the story of little Billy and his bullies.
There is no other number one.
In The Shining, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. Psychic premonitions plague his son Danny. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere, young Danny’s visions become more intense. Jack discovers the hotel has dark secrets and he begins to unravel, terrorizing his family as he spirals downward into madness.
The pamphlet for the Overlook Hotel should just read: Overlook Hotel, where a bunch of jerk ghosts live. Poor Danny, his “Shining” ability along with a childish love of exploration, open him up to some serious spectral harassment. This movie builds tension to perfection. In fact one of my favourite characters in the film is Dick Halloran. When Dick is on-screen there is usually a slight respite from the heavy tension.
This movie is a classic that every horror fan needs to see at least once.. no, twice.
Misery, Creepshow, Silver Bullet and Cujo
Thanks for making my life more entertaining Stephen! And please, keep the nightmares coming! Let us know in the comments below your top Horror Adaptations from Stephen King!