10 Best Film Adaptations Of Stephen King’s Novels, According To IMDb
With film and television adaptations of novels such as “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” from the 2020 collection If it bleeds and “Mile 81” from the 2015 collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams expected to arrive in the near future, there’s a lot of Stephen King to look forward to.
Novels exist in a gray area: longer and meatier than short stories, but not as extensive as novels. Nonetheless, they’re still ripe for a film adaptation, whether it’s an incredibly weird story like In the tall grass or one that tugs at your heartstrings like Support me.
10/10 In the Tall Grass (2019) – 5.4
One of the best horror movies on Netflix is also one of the best Stephen King short story adaptations, based on the short story of the same name by King and his son, Joe Hill. Two siblings, Cal and Becky, are on their way to San Diego when they hear a child calling for help from a field of tall grass. When they enter after him, they find themselves faced with horrible distortions of time and space.
Screenwriter Vincenzo Natali made several changes to the source material, like making the kid, Tobin, helpful and friendly instead of mean, and adding Becky’s boyfriend, Travis, into the mix. While some argue that it takes away from the Becky and Cal storyline, others approve of it for how it bolsters the overall story.
9/10 Dolan’s Cadillac (2009) – 5.6
This little-known film is based on the short story of the same name, first released in installments in 1985 and later included in the 1993 collection Nightmares and dreamscapes. Elizabeth Robinson witnesses a murder committed by crime boss Jimmy Dolan. He murders her with a car bomb before she can testify, leaving her widower Tom desperate and bent on revenge.
The story is not only a decent crime thriller, but its climax is a modern retelling of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous stories, The Barrel of Amontillado. The film fleshes out the characters, such as naming Tom and his wife, and faithfully adapts the plot of a gentle man driven to not just match but surpass Dolan’s cruelty in his revenge on the man.
8/10 The Langoliers (1995) – 6.1
Adapted into a TV mini-series, The Langoliers tells the story of a group of passengers aboard a red-eye flight in which the majority of those on the plane suddenly disappear. Even when they manage to land the plane, they find that they haven’t reached the ground, but are stuck in a time rift. If they cannot escape, they will be devoured along with the rest of the past.
While the CGI Langoliers are laughable at best, fans of the film enjoy it for the suspense it manages to create before they appear. Some who appreciate it more ironically point to the hammy performances, especially Bronson Pinchot as maniac Craig Toomy, as a reason to give it a watch.
7/10 1922 (2017) – 6.2
Based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King Full black, no stars, a collection of short stories around revenge, 1922 tells the sordid story of conniving farmer Wilfred James. Deeply rooted in his family land, Wilfred refuses to consider his wife Arlette’s insistence that they move to Omaha. To prevent the sale of the land, he convinces their son to help him assassinate Arlette.
The revenge of the story, however, is not that of Wilfred and his son: it is that of Arlette. After covering up the murder, Wilfred’s life goes horribly downhill in what the news leaves ambiguous, but the film confirms it to be supernatural punishment, bringing its more gruesome aspects to the forefront for viewers.
6/10 Silver Bullet (1985) – 6.3
Based on the new Autonomous werewolf cycle, silver bullet is the story of the town of Tarker’s Mill, Maine, which is attacked by a werewolf believed to be a serial killer. Only two children, wheelchair-bound Marty and his straight-haired sister Jane, realize the truth of what is happening.
The film is a cult classic for several reasons. The siblings’ often strained relationship is mended by supporting each other as they try to stay one step ahead of the werewolf, and Gary Busey’s performance as their drunken Uncle Red is entertaining. On a darker note, the film’s take on lycanthropy and the werewolf’s struggle to justify the murders he commits is both chilling and compelling.
5/10 Fit Pupil (1998) – 6.7
Based on the novel “Apt Pupil: Summer of Corruption” from one of Stephen King’s best collections, different seasons, Able student centers on high school student Todd Bowden, who discovers that his elderly neighbor is a Nazi war criminal who escaped justice and has been in hiding for decades.
While the film is criticized for its exploitation and failure to treat its subject matter with appropriate gravity, its highlight is the chilling performances of Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro in the lead roles. Both turn a somewhat contrived plot into a truly disturbing story of radicalization and cruelty.
4/10 Hearts in Atlantis (2001) – 6.9
Although not as well known as many other King adaptations, those who have seen Hearts in Atlantis rated it quite well. It is based on the new “Low Men in Yellow Coats” from the collection Hearts in Atlantis, whose stories all revolve around the disillusionment of younger generations with the failure of the baby boomer generation to deliver on their promises.
Movie headlines Thesilenceofthelambs star Sir Anthony Hopkins as psychic elder Ted Brautigan, who befriends young Bobby Garfield. While the film expands on the events of the short story and takes some liberties with its ending, it is generally viewed favorably, with its acting and settings considered its selling points.
3/10 The Mist (2007) – 7.1
In the 1980 short story of the same name, a mysterious mist shrouds the town of Bridgton, Maine. David Drayton and his young son are among those trapped in a supermarket by the monsters that come with the mist. They must fight for survival not just with themselves, but with their own terrified neighbors who quickly form a mob and are willing to sacrifice anyone to stop the disaster.
Frank Darabont, who is no stranger to adapting Stephen King’s most obscure stories and turning them into megahits, co-produced, directed and wrote the screenplay. Its biggest impact on the story was changing the ending, transforming it from chilling ambiguity into one of horror’s most heartbreaking moments.
2/10 Support Me (1986) – 8.1
Based on the novel “The Body” by different seasons, support me is a standout example of one of King’s specialties: portraying both the trauma and great love of childhood, and the friendships found there and lost in adulthood. In one of the best coming-of-age movies of the 80s, four boys venture into the woods to find a corpse.
Although it’s a straightforward plot, especially by King’s standards, the richness of the characters more than makes up for it. The incredible performances of child actors River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton bring even more depth and emotion to Chris and Gordie than the novella. support me is Stephen King’s personal favorite of all the film adaptations of his own work.
1/10 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – 9.3
One of the top 30 movies of all time is also the undisputed king of Stephen King short story adaptations, shooting ahead of the rest with a near-perfect rating. Andy Dufresne is falsely accused of the murder of his wife and locked up for life in Shawshank prison. His bond with other inmates such as Ellis “Red” Redding both improves their lives while incarcerated, but gives even the most cynical among them hope for the future.
Based on “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” from different seasons, which is told entirely from Red’s point of view, The Shawshank Redemption puts more emphasis on Andy as the protagonist. However, Morgan Freeman as Red still tells his story, and the friendship between Andy and Red over their twenty years in Shawshank is one of the most moving ever filmed.
NEXT: 15 Essential Stephen King Stories Better Than The Movies