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A Quick Guide To Stephen King Movie-Watching Selections

Updated on June 9, 2014

Summer is here, and with kids home from school some families may be planning a regular family movie night. If you have teens as I do, horror flicks are a favorite genre of choice. And when choosing a horror flick the name Stephen King often comes to mind. But for those who haven't watched a lot of movies adapted from King's works or any of those he's just put his name to, selecting your movie may prove a little intimidating. Let's face it - there are more Stephen King movies out there than Baskins-Robbins has flavors.

So for those feeling lost in the endeavor, I have created a quick reference guide for making your Stephen King movie selections. Listed here are films filed under basic tenet of quality -the Great, the Good, the So-so and the downright Bad- along with a brief description* of each film. Television mini-series are included, but what you will not find are any King-written regular television series such as Golden Years, any movie that is still in production or any Stephen King flick I haven't yet watched (which, if I'm not mistaken, comes to a total of 1).

*my descriptions are guaranteed to be 100% upfront and honest, though admittedly utterly you might want to read the "official" details printed on film box before rental or purchase.

The Great

1408 (2007)

Mike Enslin, a professional debunker of the paranormal, checks into a fabled haunted room at the Dolphin Hotel. Enslin wastes no time in offending supernatural forces with his arrogance and a real eyesore of a Hawaiian shirt.

Salem’s Lot (1979) television mini-series

A young novelist returns to his hometown to discover the undead are feasting on the living and that when his glasses get knocked off, he bears a frightening resemblance to David Soul.

Stephen King's "It"
Stephen King's "It"

It (1990) television mini-series

A lonely clown is pursued by a group of slingshot-wielding children

Needful Things (1993)

A cultured shop owner faces harassment from town cheapskates that don't want to pay their bills and a jealous sheriff who is trying to move in on his girlfriend.

The Dead Zone (1983)

After waking up from a seven-year long coma, Johnny Smith discovers married women are easy to get in bed if the guy is walking with a cane.

The Green Mile (1999)

Sesame Street's Mr. Noodle's brother, the other Mr. Noodle, befriends a talented mouse before being smoked like a Cajun sausage in the electric chair

The Shining (1980)

During a stay at a luxurious hotel, Danny and his Mom make friends with some colorfully quirky guests while Danny's father writes a motivational book.

Misery (1990)

The mom of Cheers' Cliff Clavin marries a sheriff, whose leathery good looks keep her in a perpetual state of amorous desire.

Stand By Me (1986) adapted from King’s novella, The Body.

Four young friends encounter child abuse, blood-sucking leeches, a corpse, a dog attack, a gang of thug greasers and a water-gulping deer during a horrific camping event

Storm of the Century (1999) television mini-series; original screenplay by Stephen King

As a huge winter storm descends on an island village, hostility and violence erupts when an elderly unmarried gentleman offers to adopt a local child.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman starred in the BEST Stephen King adaptation ever - The Shawshank Redemption.
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman starred in the BEST Stephen King adaptation ever - The Shawshank Redemption.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Two handsome felons bond behind bars and celebrate their long-awaited freedom together on an exotic beach.

The Good

The Mist (2007)

A religious fanatic terrorizes patrons inside a grocery store and annoys the insects outside.

Silver Bullet (1985)

A werewolf is terrorized by Gary Busey's overacting.

The Night Flier (1997)

Tabloid newspaper reporter, John Dees, trades in writing lurid sensationalism to track down a lurid and sensational vampire.

Cat’s Eye (1985)

A stray cat finds a loving home after bringing chaos and death for unwitting citizens.

Graveyard Shift (1990)

A textile mill needs rat traps and the workers need showers.

Stephen King portrayed a farmer that comes under attack by fertile alien life forms in "Creepshow".
Stephen King portrayed a farmer that comes under attack by fertile alien life forms in "Creepshow".

Creepshow (1982)

Five tales of terror, lots of well-known actors, cleavage courtesy of Adrienne Barbeau and Stephen King himself in a starring role! Pretty darned cool!

Thinner (1996)

Heidi's husband blames her for his unwise driving habits..

Children of the Corn (1984)

Two over-the-hill buzzkills try to destroy a socialist utopia.

Sleepwalkers (1992)

A rural town erupts in racial hatred when a mother and son audition for a production of Cats.

Pet Sematary (1989)

Dire consequences ensue after Herman Munster convinces a neighbor to bury his dead child in an old pet cemetery.

Dreamcatcher (2003)

Alvin, Theodore and Simon never see their dad again after he meets a seductive snake with an anal fetish.

Christine (1983)

A studious high school boy is subjected to emotional bullying after buying a solid American-made used car instead of one of the expensive new rice burners all the "cool" kids are driving.


Carrie (1976)

A potentially sexy all-girl shower scene goes terribly awry when tampons are brought into the plot.

The So-so

The Dark Half (1993)

A writer's alter-ego makes his life hell.

Secret Window (2004)

A writer's alter-ego accuses him of plagiarism.

Bag of Bones (2011) television mini-series

A writer is put through hell by a ghost and he plagiarizes himself.

Delores Claiborne (1995)

A reporter's mother is accused of killing the elderly woman that taught her the fine points of murdering men that trust them

Desperation (2006) television mini-series

The arrest of several lawbreaking lowlifes leads to persecution for an ancient spirit.

The Langoliers (1995) television mini-series

A handful of passengers wake up to discover the crew and their fellow passengers have vanished from the plane. Soon enough they begin to suspect they weren't abandoned simply because of their tediously boring personalities.

Pet Sematary II (1992)

A sheriff trying to provide for his family is harassed by a boy that wants his father to become a necrophiliac.

The Running Man (1987)

A reality game show host is targeted by the whiny, drama queen contestants.

Trucks (1997)

When trucks and other vehicles come to life and begin to attack the residents of a small town, the gun-toting dumb southerners are sacrificed in order to save the molotov cocktail-throwing dumb non-southerners.


Cujo (1983)

A whiny child and a sweaty woman with no common sense make a rabid Saint Bernard's last days more miserable than they should have been.

Hearts in Atlantis (2001) *made for television?*

A touching, nostalgic film about an aging man that returns to his home town with the single aim of putting a trusting young boy through a lifetime of psychological counseling.

Firestarter (1984)

A man and his daughter are chased by governmental thugs that hope to exploit their supernatural abilities to bore enemy forces to death.

Rose Red (2002) television miniseries

A group of people with psychic abilities aggravate ghosts

Apt Pupil (1998)

A young boy blackmails his neighbor into teaching him how to score with hairy-legged, Israeli-hating femi-nazi's.

Sometimes They Come Back
Sometimes They Come Back

Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

After moving his family back to his home town, a man is harassed by greaser thugs with bad duck tails and bad make-up.

The Bad

The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Town moron, Jobe, is accidentally turned into a genius thanks to technology. While the screenplay has absolutely nothing to do with the original story, it successfully managed to make King's readers wonder what happened to the goatish naked man with the green teeth? But I suppose green teeth just aren't as compelling story devices as say Pierce Bronson trying to feign a Mid-western American accent while donning one of David Bowie's discarded 1970s glam costumes.

Sometimes They Come Back…Again (1996)

A father must man-up and protect his daughter from greaser thug ghosts while trying to live down his years of playing a wussy hippie dad on Family Ties.

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

A couple remove two children from a dangerous cult in rural Nebraska, just to transplant them to the even more dangerous streets of modern urban Chicago

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

The earlier and bigger budget adaptation of Trucks (see above). In this one, after the earth passes through a comet's tail, machines and vehicles come to life. Teen idol Emilio Estavez faces off a bunch of homicidal semi-trailers with only his wits and a cache of corny dialog.

The Tommyknockers (1993)

When his neighbors begin to show signs of deteriorating personality changes the town's alcoholic poet puts them through a 12-step program that involves blaming their condition on space aliens.

The Stand
The Stand

The Stand (1994) mini-series

After the human race suffers the effects of a deadly virus, a group of religious zealots set out to destroy Las Vegas, and a bitter blind woman pretends to be a prophet in order to banish the two desirable women that stand between her and absolute dominion over her cult followers.

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992)

In this so-called "prequel" to the original Children of the Corn film (see above), a journalist and his son come upon a town where the elderly are killed off in religiously significant ways and the kids responsible give up their heathen beliefs and convert to a single-bloodthirsty-god belief system.

The Shining (1997) television miniseries

Unlike the 1980 Stanley Kubrick adaptation of The Shining (see above), this one got the Stephen King stamp of approval. Simply put, it follows the novel much closer than Kubrick's version. The unfortunate part is that it painfully focuses on those sappy but brief moments from the novel most readers forget in the context of an otherwise mesmerizing novel. So if the thought of repetitious yawning scares the living bejesus out of you, this is definitely a must-see!

The Lawnmower Man II: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)

Lawnmower man, Jobe, is resurrected by a group of scientists in order to wed the world's computer networks into one giant surveillance system so they can dominate the world. Jobe enlists the help of a hacker to disgrace the scientists, then betrays the young man in order to play Barack Obama...I mean, god.

Firestarter 2: Rekindled (2002) a Sci-Fi Channel original

Charlie McGee, having survived government agents that tried to exploit her innate talent for pyrokinensis thwarts pursuit by setting fire to any man that stands in her way. A horny young detective, a horny researcher and a group of horny government officials pursue her anyway.

Sometimes They Come Back… For More (1998)

The sons of Satan show up at a military radio post in Antarctica and subject their human prey to fiendish dialog and leave the audience begging for an appearance by Kurt Russell.

In the words of Popeye the Sailorman, "This is all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!"
In the words of Popeye the Sailorman, "This is all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!"

Children of the Corn (2009) a Syfy Channel adaptation

Spineless Burton Stanton and Vicky, the foul-mouthed love of his life, enjoy verbally assaulting one another like other couples enjoy sex. To get a little peace and quiet the followers of He Who Walks Behind The Rows decide to sacrifice them. But trying to convince their god to actually accept the bickering pair may prove the task of the century.

This Hub ©June 2, 2014 by Beth Perry


Submit a Comment
  • Breanne Ginsburg profile image

    Breanne Ginsburg 

    4 years ago

    Yeah, I thought the miniseries was so good and I loved the character of Stu and loved Rob Lowe in it. It was just really well done overall!

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    4 years ago from Tennesee

    Hi Breanne and thanks for dropping in.

    My husband is a huge fan of "The Stand", so I know you aren't alone :)

  • Breanne Ginsburg profile image

    Breanne Ginsburg 

    4 years ago

    I have to say that I agree with most of the titles you list as "Great". However, there are a few I've never seen or have a desire to see. I have to disagree with you though on the mini series, "The Stand", I thought it was great.

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    Hey Mel! I think "The Mist" was quite well made. But it also depressed me.

    If you take another look you'll see "Hearts in Atlantis" is in my so-so list. While I didn't come away feeling it was a bad movie -it had excellent atmosphere- I came away with the sense the director was trying just a little too hard to impress with a script he didn't seem to care about. But do give it shot; it is entertaining enough!

    Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  • Mel Carriere profile image

    Mel Carriere 

    5 years ago from San Diego California

    I would have put "The Mist" in the great category. Most Stephen King movies have been real clunkers, in my opinion, and The Mist was one of the real interesting ones, with its bizarre bummer of an ending. I'm sorry you put "Hearts in Atlantis" in the bad category. That was among my favorite Stephen King books, and I was looking forward to seeing the movie. Now I'm not so sure. Great hub!

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    Delores, thanks for reading and commenting. I know that of all the King books, The Shining scared me the most!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 

    5 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Great list! The Shawshank Redemption was, I think, the best. Though I loved the book, The Shining, I was disappointed at the movie when it came out. Looks like they haven't adapted a Stephan King book to movie or TV for quite some time.

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    amandajoyshapiro, you could be right there and it is some contractual obligation. Interesting thought that!

    To be honest, I didn't know there was a Riding The Bullet film. I knew I hadn't see the new Carrie though (and not sure if I want to!). But I'll definitely have to look for the Riding The Bullet and see that one. Thanks much for the heads up.

  • amandajoyshapiro profile image


    5 years ago

    It's like, and this is probably true, Stephen King has it in his contract to turn his books into films. For the ones I've seen, I agree with your assessments. Two not on your list are "Riding the Bullet" for TV and the "Carrie"remake. What do you think of those?

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    Oh thank you Will!

  • WillStarr profile image


    5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    What a super Hub, and l love your descriptions!

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    travmaj, yes it is a little mind-blowing when you count 'em up! Thanks for dropping by :)

  • travmaj profile image


    5 years ago from australia

    Wow, what a list, had no idea how many. Have seen a few although this is not my usual genre. Most interesting though

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    Kurt, you're welcome :)

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    5 years ago from Tennesee

    DDE, thanks. Yeah, I'm a big fan of scary films.

  • KurtMorrison profile image

    Kurt Morrison 

    5 years ago from Sault Ste Marie, ON

    I wasn't looking for anything related to this topic but really enjoyed it. Thanks for this compilation!

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Great selection of movies. I have watched a few on the list and a good idea to keep movie night fun or scary.


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