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The Top 10 Movies Based on Stephen King Novels

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Stephen King is one of the most prolific novelists out there. His ability to release high-quality books in and out of the horror genre is truly impressive.

But what might actually be even more impressive is how many of his books and short stories have been adapted to the big screen. We’ve seen quality movies with Stephen King’s name attached stretching as far as back as the 1970s, and we’re still seeing blockbuster hits in 2019.

We’ve gone through the massive library of movies based on the work of Stephen King and narrowed it down to the 10 best. It was no easy task, as there are quite a few movies that deserve mentioning!

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10. Secret Window (2004)

We’re going to start this off with a hot take: Secret Window is an awesome movie. Sure, it has some problems, but both Johnny Depp and John Turturro deliver such incredible performances that all of the flaws are easy to forget. The story of writer’s block and plagiarism comes together in a way that’s most interesting and uncomfortable.

9. The Mist (2007)

Frank Darabont did a fantastic job of bringing the dark and horrifying world of The Mist to the big screen in 2007. This movie makes us wonder: what’s scarier, a mist that is filled with killer monsters, or the people trapped in the mist? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out, but let me tell you that neither of them is any good.

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8. Pet Sematary (2019)

Both the remake of Pet Sematary and the original are worthy of praise, but in the end, I think the new actually manages to edge out the original in terms of overall quality. Obviously, having 2019’s level of special effects certainly helps, but there’s also something about the feel of the newer movie that’s more frightening and offputting than the original. I’ll call the original a strong number 11.

7. The Green Mile (1999)

The Green Mile is one of those movies that’ll tug at your heartstrings and make you feel the feels. Michael Clarke Duncan was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film (and I think he should have won). It’s far from a perfect film, but Duncan and Tom Hank’s performances alone makes it worthy of its place in the top 10.

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6. Misery (1990)

This book/movie is all about a fan who kidnaps her favorite writer and subjects him to, well, misery. Kathy Bates actually took home an Oscar for her performance as the deranged fan, and it was most certainly well-deserved. If you’re reading this and thinking about kidnapping me and subjecting me to the same tortures as Rob Reiner and Stephen King imagine in this film, please don’t.

5. The Dead Zone (1983)

Somehow, I’d never seen The Dead Zone until I started researching for this article. Boy, was I missing out! Christopher Walken absolutely kills it in this film. The tried and true story of someone waking up from a coma takes some interesting twists and turns thanks to David Cronenberg’s vision. While not as scary as some of Stephen King’s other movies, it still has enough horror in it to keep fans of the genre happy while also appealing to an entirely different demographic.

4. The Shining (1980)

I spent so much time moving The Shining around on this list. It actually found its way in the number one slot for a bit, but ultimately, this feels like the right place for it for me, personally. It’s a tremendous film filled with suspense, terror, fantastic acting, beautiful cinematography, and one of horror’s most memorable scenes. But I just don’t love it as much as everyone else in the world seems to.

3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption isn’t your typical Stephen King fare, but that doesn’t make it any less of a quality film. In fact, you could argue that it’s one of the greatest dramas released in the 90s, a decade filled with fantastic dramas. The story is riveting and each performer delivers some career-highlighting performances.

2. IT: Chapter One (2017)

When it was first announced that our old friend Pennywise the Dancing Clown was coming to the big screen in 2017, it may have been the most excited I’ve ever been for a movie. Somehow, it managed to live up to all my expectations, and even exceed them in places (IT: Chapter Two, not so much). The film offers a masterclass in making viewers uncomfortable, and Bill Skarsgård’s portrayal of Pennywise is absolutely mind-blowing.

1. Carrie (1976)

I love Carrie. It’s the very first movie based on a Stephen King novel, and it’s still the best. Even the remakes of it are perfectly acceptable, but nothing tops the original. The storytelling is masterful, the acting is on point, and the way the film builds to the ultimate climax is absolutely perfect. Not only is Carrie at the top of the Stephen King movie list, but it would be near the top of my favorite horror movies of all-time list.

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