All 48 Stephen King Film Adaptations Ranked

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Stephen King is the most prolific horror author to date. As such, his work has been adapted countless times in every entertainment genre. However, not all of these adaptations are created equal. While some Stephen King films are cause for celebration, others should have been thrown straight into the trash.

Because of the sheer volume of his adaptations, we will only focus on the works of Stephen King that have been turned into films. Prepare yourselves. This list includes some of the worst movies ever created.  

1. IT (2017)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

There will never be a creature more frightening than Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Although debates continue over whether Skarsgård or Curry portrays the maniacal clown better, there is no debate that IT is the most beloved King adaptation.

2. Carrie (1976)

Photo Credit: MGM.

The film that started it all, Carrie, is the first film adaptation and remains one of the best. This coming-of-age story isn’t King’s scariest, but few of his characters are as relatable as Carrie White.

3. Stand By Me (1986)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

There are a handful of films that define 80s culture. Stephen King’s Stand By Me is the best coming-of-age story of the decade and is still celebrated for its original storyline and beloved characters.

4. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This film proves that Stephen King is not a one-trick pony. King didn’t initially have faith in the film, believing it was too dialogue-heavy. The Shawshank Redemption is now considered one of the best films ever made.

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5. Misery (1990)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Kathy Bates received an Oscar for her delightful performance of Annie Wilkes in Misery. The film highlights the dangers of fame and obsession.

6. The Dead Zone (1983)

Photo Credit: Dino De Laurentiis Company.

This film combines the creative prowess of Stephen King and David Cronenberg. What else could a horror fan need in a movie?

7. Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

There are no supernatural elements in Dolores Claiborne. Instead, Kathy Bates provides audiences with a vision of pain and torment that can only be based on reality.  

8. The Shining (1980)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

As much as Stephen King may dislike the film, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of The Shining is one of the best horror films ever made. The film’s slow pacing and amazing star prowess create a dreadful experience that has haunted viewers for generations.

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9. 1408 (2007)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Stephen King has proven time and time again that he can make anything terrifying. 1408 is his attempt to make a mundane hotel room the source of our nightmares. The film is not only horrifying but also paints a bleak portrait of the nature of grief and forgiveness.

10. Cujo (1983)

Photo Credit: Lionsgate.

Although they changed the ending, Cujo stays relatively faithful to its source material. King flexes his muscles in the story by presenting a horrifying tale with no supernatural elements. Instead, the horror in Cujo is real and could happen to any one of us.

11. Pet Sematary (1989)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

One of King’s most heartbreaking tales, Pet Sematary, highlights the powerful effect of grief. The story is so bleak that King’s wife told him not to publish it after reading the first draft of the tragic novel.

12. The Mist (2007)

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.

This Lovecraftian film splits its time between horrors beyond our comprehension and the dangers of religious zealotry. While the effects are starting to show their age, The Mist is still one of King’s best, if also the bleakest, adaptations.

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13. Christine (1983)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Although Christine has become somewhat of a meme, the film still highlights King’s creativity and love for cars. The film is more campy than frightening, but it still creates a fun experience for newcomers to the genre.

14. Children of the Corn (1984)

Photo Credit: Hal Roach Studios.

Although the film’s effects look atrocious by modern standards, Children of the Corn is just as unsettling today as it was in 1984.

15. Cat’s Eye (1985)

Photo Credit: Dino De Laurentiis Company.

One of the best anthologies of King’s work, Cat’s Eye, features an unforgettable role by James Woods as a smoker who will do anything to overcome his addiction.

16. The Running Man (1987)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

Although this film shares a few similarities to the King book from which it was adapted, it still has Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his 80s insanity. For that reason alone, The Running Man is still considered by many to be one of the best King adaptations around.

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17. Creepshow (1982)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

George Romero and King joined forces to create this campy horror anthology. Paying homage to the classic horror comics, Creepshow is a delightful film still referenced in horror films today.

18. IT: Chapter Two (2019)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

While IT: Chapter Two didn’t perform as well as its predecessor, it still features impressive performances and special effects. However, not even Skarsgård could save the film from its ridiculous ending.

19. The Boogeyman (2023)

Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios.

The newest addition to this list, The Boogeyman is a solid introduction to the horror genre. The film doesn’t break new ground, but it doesn’t have any glaring flaws.

20. The Green Mile (1999)

PHoto Credit: Warner Bros.

This film suffers from its bloated runtime. Although The Green Mile is a fantastic story, its over three-hour runtime makes it difficult to stay fully immersed in the film.

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21. The Dark Half (1993)

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures.

One of King’s wackier premises, The Dark Half is about a writer’s pen name that comes to life. Unfortunately, The Dark Half feels like an idea for a story instead of a fully-fledged plot.

22. Pet Sematary (2019)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

While the original film was a masterclass in emotional devastation, this remake failed to impress its core audience. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes, dead is better.”

23. Apt Pupil (1998)

Photo Credit: Phoenix Pictures.

If you have ever wanted to see Ian McKellen portray a Nazi, Apt Pupil is the film for you. While not all of the elements work, it is still a solid film that deserves your attention.

24. Doctor Sleep (2019)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

King created Doctor Sleep to combat the story elements that Kubrick placed in his The Shining adaptation. While the film is fairly decent, it doesn’t pick a clear direction in tone, leading to confusion with some viewers.

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25. Carrie (2013)

Photo Credit: MGM.

While Carrie should have been a fantastic remake, it ends up feeling like a film that doesn’t know what direction it wants to head in.

26. Hearts in Atlantis (2001)

Photo Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment.

This confusing film features a beautiful performance by Anthony Hopkins. While not King’s strongest adaptation, it can still be an enjoyable watch for those who want something different.

27. Secret Window (2004)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

This is an odd one. In Secret Window, King does his best to impersonate Alfred Hitchcock. While the film is average, it does star Johnny Depp before he went completely off the rails.

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28. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (2022)

Photo Credit: Blumhouse Productions.

While it has an interesting premise, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone never really delivers on the action.  The film feels like a half-baked idea that was rushed through production too quickly.

29. Silver Bullet (1985)

Photo Credit: Dino De Laurentiis Company.

If Silver Bullet has a solid plot, it is hidden underneath the terrible special effects that make the film nearly unwatchable.

30. Firestarter (1984)

Photo Credit: MGM.

This film is so bad that even King states it is one of the worst adaptations of his work. That is a seething insult, considering The Lawnmower Man’s failure.

31. Creepshow 2 (1987)

Photo Credit: New World Pictures.

While not as good as the original, Creepshow 2 is still a decent anthology. However, Romero’s lack of direction can be felt throughout the film.

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32. The Night Flier (1997)

Photo Credit: New Amsterdam Entertainment.

This film suffers from a low budget. While The Night Flier is a solid vampire flick, it doesn’t have the visual pizazz that audiences expect from a King adaptation.

33. A Good Marriage (2014)

Photo Credit: Reno Productions.

King based A Good Marriage on Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer. Unfortunately, the film feels stilted and dry, leaving many King fans bored and uninterested.

34. Needful Things (1993)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

This film should have been much better than it was. Needful Things features the devil selling cursed wares in a small town. While that is an amazing tagline, the movie is languid and boring.

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35. Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

While King directed Maximum Overdrive, he admits it’s one of the worst films ever made. His lack of experience and drug addiction led to King’s disjointed film, which failed to impress audiences.

36. The Mangler (1995)

Photo Credit: Distant Horizon.

Ok, this film is awful. However, sometimes bad films can create an extremely entertaining evening. The Mangler has the most ridiculous plot of any King adaptation and wears it like a badge of honor.

37. Graveyard Shift (1990)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

While Graveyard Shift suffers from a low budget and bad special effects, it is a hilarious B-movie perfect for a Friday night.

38. Riding the Bullet (2004)

Photo Credit: Motion Picture Corporation of America.

While Riding the Bullet was intended to be a profoundly emotional film, it never quite nails the landing. The botched attempt comes off as more pretentious than inspiring.

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39. Sleepwalkers (1992)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

For a film about vampire werecats, Sleepwalkers feels very uninspired. Even if you somehow remove the incest, the film feels like a fever dream that should never have made it past the storyboard.  

40. Cell (2016)

Photo Credit: The Genre Co.

While the horrors of technology are always an interesting subject, Cell fails to scare up more than a yawn from its audience.

41. Dolan’s Cadillac (2009)

Photo Credit: Minds Eye Entertainment.

For a film no one has ever heard of, Dolan’s Cadillac boasts some incredible star power. Unfortunately, even the acting prowess of Christian Slater couldn’t save this terrible film.

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42. The Dark Tower (2017)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

Audiences expected The Dark Tower to be the most outstanding work yet. Unfortunately, they received an uninspired and dull film.

43. Dreamcatcher (2003)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Poor Dreamcatcher. What could have been an amazing film went off the rails and couldn’t pick a direction. As such, the film is a complete disappointment from beginning to end.

44. The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

This film is so bad that Stephen King sued the studio to have his name removed from the film.

45. Thinner (1996)

Photo Credit: Spelling Films.

Even if you could remove all of the film’s offensive elements, it would still not be worth watching.

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46. No Smoking (2007)

Photo Credit: Big Screen Entertainment.

This film is an adaptation of a segment of Cat’s Eye. Although it doesn’t credit King, the film is clearly inspired by Cat’s Eye and King’s story Quitters Inc. The Hindi film provides an excellent example of how King’s work is interpreted through other cultures.

47. Firestarter (2022)

Photo Credit: Blumhouse Productions.

The original Firestarter bombed pretty hard. Unfortunately, this reboot manages to be even worse than the original film in every way possible.

48. Children of the Corn (2020)

Photo Credit: ANVL Entertainment.

In a long list of reboots that nobody asked for, the Children of the Corn remake feels more like a cash grab than an honest film attempt. 

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Photo Credit: Pandora Cinema.

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

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