Considering Stephen King is one of the most adapted authors all of time it makes sense there are a lot of films bearing his name. Here’s our ranking of every Stephen King adaptation from very worst to very best.
There have been Stephen King movies almost as long as there have been Stephen King books – the adaptation of his first novel, Carrie, released only two years after publication. Since then, there’s been almost four dozen movies of various descriptions. Why King makes for such compelling movies – often but not always horror – is the same quality that’s carved him such a fanbase; these are unsettling, rooted in the everyday and high on tension. Of course, the results of those ingredients can vary a lot.
This ranking gathers Stephen King’s theatrically released movies only, leaving out famous miniseries like 1990’s IT, movie sequels the author had no involvement with like Pet Sematary Two and TV movies like Sometimes They Come Back. This ranking also leaves omits theatrical re-edits of projects like 1979’s Salem’s Lot, since it was originally intended as a miniseries and best viewed in that format. With that established, here is every Stephen King movie, ranked.
Last Updated: April 11, 2019 with the Pet Sematary remake.
#45-#41 Stephen King Movies
45. Maximum Overdrive
Maximum Overdrive is the only movie Stephen King directed himself and despite some fun moments of gonzo gore and black humor, it’s a tedious, badly acted mess.
44. Hearts In Atlantis (2001)
A good Anthony Hopkins performance aside, Hearts In Atlantis is a mawkish and rightfully forgotten adaptation of a King novella.
43. The Mangler (1995)
While The Mangler has some stylish production design and a delightfully hammy turn by Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street), the movie itself can only really appeal to lovers of intentionally bad movies.
42. Dolan’s Cadillac (2010)
Christian Slater stars as the title mobster in Dolan’s Cadillac, a serviceable but fairly unremarkable adaptation on King’s novella where a man takes creative revenge on the gangster who murdered his wife.
41. Secret Window (2003)
A stylish but shallow thriller from director David Koepp, where Johnny Deep plays a writer stalked by a potential killer who accuses him of plagiarism. Secret Window is best remembered for its silly twist ending, which undermines much of what came before it.
#40-#36 Stephen King Movies
40. A Good Marriage (2014)
A Good Marriage is a disappointingly flat thriller about a wife who discovers a disturbing secret about her husband after 25 years of marriage. Good performances by Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia prop it up a little.
39. Apt Pupil (1998)
Apt Pupil features great performances by Ian McKellen and the late Brad Renfro but suffers from utterly unlikeable characters and weak direction.
38. Children Of The Corn (1984)
Children Of The Corn would spawn a long-running, straight to video horror franchise, but outside of the creepiness of the basic concept, the original – and best – entry is still a forgettable horror ride.
37. The Dark Tower (2017)
Fans of Stephen King’s epic fantasy saga The Dark Tower waited over 2 decades for a film version, only to receive a watered down and generic would-be blockbuster. Idris Elba made for a charismatic Roland but Matthew McConaughey was oddly miscast as the Man In Black.
36. Graveyard Shift (1990)
A suitably icky and gross adaptation of King’s short story, where the workers in a textile mill have to deal with a killer rat infestation. Brad Dourif’s Exterminator and some nice practical effects aside, Graveyard Shift is a skippable creature feature.
#35-#31 Stephen King Movies
35. Thinner (1996)
Thinner has a fun horror premise, where an obese lawyer is cursed by a gypsy to rapidly lose weight until he wastes away. Sadly, the movie itself is too mean-spirited to enjoy, aside from the blackly ironic note it ends on.
34. Dreamcatcher (2003)
Dreamcatcher has to be one of the most bizarre attempts at a blockbuster in recent memory, where an all-star cast (Morgan Freeman, Timothy Olyphant etc) come together for a movie that tries to blend Stand By Me and The Big Chill with Aliens. Despite being a bit of a fiasco upon release, Dreamcatcher is never less than entertaining.
33. Silver Bullet (1985)
Silver Bullet suffered through something of a messy production, with the original director quitting halfway and nobody on the production being happy with the terrible werewolf effects. The end product has decent performances, but it’s definitely a mid-level King adaptation.
32. 1408 (2007)
1408 made for a genuinely creepy short story, but the movie version unwisely stretches the plot until it completely snaps. Samuel L. Jackson steals the show as the hotel manager but after the intriguing first act, 1408 loses steam fast.
31. Riding The Bullet (2004)
Riding The Bullet is one of the more obscure adaptations of King’s work, which is really more of a drama with some horror moments mixed in. The movie has heart but an irritating performance by David Arquette and a flat visual style drag it down.
Page 2 of 5: #30-#21 Stephen King Movies
- Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019
- IT Chapter Two (2019) release date: Sep 06, 2019
- Pet Sematary (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019