I have been thinking for a while on what should I write for my first post. Being the HUGE fan of Stephen King that I am, (you could tell by the name of the site; in case you don’t know, Everything’s Eventual is the name of a short story by Stephen King), it just hit me that I should post something related to Stephen King. Having so many successful novels, novellas and short stories being adapted into movies and miniseries, I decided I would write my personal thoughts on the best adaptations based on SK’s work.

In case some of you are wondering, the way I’m rating these movies/miniseries is based on qualitative criteria rather than quantitative. Some might be following the book to the letter; some took the liberty to change a few things here and there. At the end it comes to how much the adaptation into the screen was successful in my opinion. I will try and make it short and sweet for most of the list. I hope you enjoy reading it and if you have any personal thoughts on the subject then please feel free to share them…

Here we go…

20     The Running Man (1987)

Based on s science fiction novel under the same name, the story revolves around a game show in the future where contestants try to run away from hired killers. Although there is a major difference between the novel and the film in the fact that in the novel runners are allowed to go anywhere in the world whereas in the movie the game show had a huge arena for the runners and killers, the movie a lot of fun to watch, especially if you’re an 80’s sci-fi fan.

19     Salem’s Lot (1979)

The 2nd novel to be published by the young Stephen King at the time, made into a TV-movie 5 years after it was published in 1975. I like this version more than the recent one (2004). This vampire story has some of the classic SK horror elements that were transformed, to-some-extent, successfully into the screen version. My only problem with this movie was the way they presented the vampire character similar to “Nosferato the Vampyre” rather than an intelligent Dracula-like villain similar to the book.

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18     The Langoliers (1995)

A novella that was published in “Four Past Midnight”, a collection of four novellas by SK, made in to a low budget TV-movie. The story of a group of passengers landing a plane on a mysterious and abandoned airport after they woke up to find out that the rest of the passengers and crew have disappeared while they were in mid-air. Although this mysterious-creepy movie has some cheap special effects, the acting and the general mood that you get from SK’s work was enough to entertain me while watching this two-part TV movie.

17     Carrie (1976)

The 1st novel to be both published and made into a movie by SK, regarded by many as the best horror movie based on a book by SK. One of the high points of this film was the great acting by Sissy Spacek (who played Carrie) and Piper Laurie (who played Margaret) which scored them both Academy Award nominations for best and best supporting actresses.

16     Rose Red (2002)

Not based on book but written directly for the mini-series, but you could still feel the elements of Stephen King in the script. Even though the series didn’t have any original idea (it even copied some things for previous SK novels), it is a fun watch and an enjoyable mystery-supernatural-horror type of a story.

15     Stand by Me (1986)

Direct by Rob Reiner, the movie was based on a novella under the name “The Body”. This critically acclaimed movie has been nominated for many awards including an Academy Awards nomination for best adapted screenplay. The acting was amazing and the ending captured the mood of the novella to the extreme. My only personal problem with this film is that some of the scenes looked a little bit childish.

14     Secret Window (2004)

Based on the novella “Secret Window, Secret Garden”, this film adaptation differs from the novella in the ending. Regardless of the difference, the film did manage to capture the mood and the feel of the story. Johnny Depp’s performance is what mostly made this adaptation works since it is a character-based story. Add a musical score by Philip Glass and you get this entertaining physiological thriller.

13     The Stand (1994)

A mini-series based on one of King’s very popular novels. A story about a post-apocalyptic world where a man-made plague leaves a few survivors to battle for either good or evil. Again, as many adaptations, there are some differences between the series and the book but the series is very well made and worth watching, especially if you don’t want to read to re-released revised and uncut version of the novel.

12     Dolores Claiborne (1995)

Based on the novel with the same name, this (in my opinion) is one of the most underrated film adaptations of King’s work. Contrary to what most people think, SK writes many psychological thrillers and not just horror fictions. The film follows the book almost exactly. Directed by Taylor Hackford and stars Kathy Bates, this film is as god as the novel, which rarely happens.

11     The Dead Zone (1983)

Christopher Walken stars in the film that was based on the novel under the same name. A story about man that wakes up after a coma to find out that he has psychic powers. Minor changes to the novel didn’t change the fact that the film captured the gloomy tone of the novel.

10     Kingdom Hospital (2004)

Neither based on a novel nor written directly by Stephen King, this mini-series was based on the very successful Danish series “The Kingdom” by Lars Von Trier. Not comparing it to the original, this series has a lot of great scene and haunting moments the will keep you hooked even if you’re not a big fan of SK’s writing style. His screen writing is slightly different than his books, but his classic elements keep showing up in the series.

9       Pet Sematary (1989)

One of Stephen King’s most popular and successful novels, the film adaptation worked well in my opinion, especially since no changes were made to the story. As difficult as it is to capture the creepiness in SK’s horror novels, the film managed to do so most of the time. Some reviews didn’t praise the film as much as it deserves, compared to the novel, but in my opinion the adaptation worked fine.

8       Riding the Bullet (2004)

“Riding the Bullet” was the first novella to be published by Stephen King on the internet. Over 400,000 copies were downloaded during the first 24 hours of its release. The story of a man picked up by a stranger while hitchhiking his way to the hospital where his mother is dying. This film is a personal favorite of mine and an underrated adaptation if you ask me. Now remember that I’m not rating the movie on its own but I’m rating the adaptation of the novella in general. Even if you didn’t the movie to be that good, you can’t deny how greatly it captured the style of SK.

7       Hearts in Atlantis (2001)

The film is based on a short story under the name “Low Men in Yellow Coats” that was published in Stephen King’s collection of short stories “Hearts in Atlantis”. The story of how a widowed mother and her son’s life change after a mysterious man, hunted by men in yellow coats, shows up in their life. One of my favorite performances by Anthony Hopkins who I feel has captured the essence of the main character. If you are into mystery-drama-thrillers, then you shouldn’t miss this great film.

6       IT (1990)

Based on a novel under the same name, “IT” is the story of seven children who have been terrorized by a demonic life-form that takes the shape of a clown and they vow to destroy him by any means necessary. Whether you like this great novel turned into a mini-series or not, you will have a strong opinion on it at the end. A very creepy story with lots of classic SK themes such as fear, childhood trauma, memories…etc

5       The Mist (2007)

Directed by Frank Darabont (who in mind is the best Director of Stephen King’s novels), this film is based on a novella under the same name. This horror-scifi-thriller revolves around a group of people stuck in a small town supermarket trying to survive after a storm of deadly creatures hits the town. Regardless of the HUGE difference in the twist at the end of the story, this film in my opinion is one of the best film adaptations I’ve seen. The film captures the general somber mood of the novella which shows you how people change in the time of a crisis and how can human emotions blind people’s logic and judgment. A good novella that turned into a great film.

4       Misery (1990)

Based on the psychological drama “Misery”, this is the story of a famous writer that got rescued from a car accident by an “Obsessed” fan. Directed by Rob Reiner (directed Stand by Me) and stars Kathy Bates in the greatest role of her life which won her both a Golden Globe and an Academy award for best actress. This critically acclaimed film is one of the best movies that were based on SK’s novels. It’s so good, it’s almost better than the novel.

3       The Green Mile (1999)

Directed by Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption) with Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan playing the main characters, this 3hrs+ film is one of my personal favorites. The film is based on a serial novel consisting of 6 volumes. While difficult to summarize the story in a few lines, the backdrop surrounds the lives of the guards in a death row prison including and black man with faith healing powers who was accused of killing two young girls and waiting for execution. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards and is considered to be one of the best movies based on SK’s novels.

2       The Shining (1980) and (1997)

King’s third published novel and one of his biggest bestsellers. The novel was made into a movie and a miniseries. Originally I wanted to separate both on the list, but since this is the only case where I have two different adaptations on the list I decided to put them both together.

Starting with this famous and highly appreciated movie, directed by Stanley Kubrick and brilliantly performed by Jack Nicholson is on my list of top horror films. It is interesting to know that this film was nominated for two Razzie awards including one for Kubrick as a worst director and one for Shelley Duvall as a worst actress. Another important point is the response of Stephen King towards the film. SK said that although the movie was great with its memorable imagery, he considers it as the worst adaptation of his work which leads us to the miniseries.

SK wrote the teleplay for the miniseries in addition to being very involved in the making of it. SK wanted to have an adaptation of the story that would make him satisfied. Generally, comparing the movie with the miniseries, I think the movie is much better regardless of the adaptation. But if we want to rate both in reference to the novel, I think the miniseries is much better in that regard, especially with SK writing the teleplay.

1       The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Based on the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” and directed by Frank Darabont (The Mist and The Green Mile), this is the most successful adaptation from Stephen King’s work. Described by critics as King’s masterpiece, the story had more success with the public with its film version. Great acting by Tim Robbing and Morgan Freeman, Darabont clearly shows that no one can adapt SK’s work into the screen like him. With 7 Oscar nominations and being ranked as #1 on IMDB, this great film is the best film/miniseries to be taken from SK’s novels/novellas. Not only on the top of this list, but my favorite movie of all time…

  • http://twitter.com/fez_j Faizan Jilani

    Sweet first post! Shawshank is also my favorite movie of all time!

    • Anonymous

      Yep, that’s why I had to write something with Shawshank… 😀

  • @Abdul_Aziz

    I was looking for such post long time ago, having to know all about King’s work and novels and all. I still did not read so many and that came in just the right time. Will save the list to read later and get to know more about the subject. Congrats for the new blog and keep them coming.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, good to see some old faces visiting the website in its start… :)

  • http://twitter.com/thecrazyjogger Muneeb Saeed

    Sweet. One of my fav directors and this list has some of my fav movies!
    Def gave me stuff to watch for the week!
    Brilliant first post!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Muneeb, Glad to see you here. Let me know when you see any of them…

  • Ratterriers

    how about some info on the min series taken on the sci fi chanel.

    • Anonymous

      You mean the Steven Spielberg “taken”…!? That wasn’t written by Stephen King… :)

  • Shirah9wish

    I was wondering if anybody could tell me how many of his books were made into movies and mini series total?

  • Anonymous

    It’s difficult to count them since there are many. This link would help you, although pay attention that some of these he has written directly for TV (no book)…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_based_on_Stephen_King_works