The name Stephen King is synonymous with the horror genre. He’s known for cult favorites like The Shining, Misery, Salem’s Lot, and It.
It’s a well-known fact that over 30 of King’s novels were #1 bestsellers. In addition, his work has been adapted into so many movies, and television shows that it’s often hard to choose a handful to watch when you’re in the mood to binge-watch something associated with him.
In the 1980s, King’s name was associated with the horror genre, but his writing and work have evolved into more than just pure horror over time. He has written and been associated with a musical written by John Mellencamp, several dramas and comedies, and even a Bollywood television series.
In this article, we will take you through the five best adaptations of Stephen King’s work.
The Shining (1980)
You must have seen this one coming.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining is one of King’s best-known adaptations. This might be a controversial opinion, but we think that the movie is a thousand times better than the novel. Think about it. It’s a horror movie with dramatic elements, with a cast led by Jack Nicholson. Nicholson plays the pathetic Jack Torrance, a failed writer hoping for his big breakthrough and literary fame – he slowly goes more insane and runs his family into the ground. While this movie is set within the horror genre, it’s also an excellent drama film commenting on family dynamics and the mundaneness of middle-class family life.
The horrific elements only add to the shifting dynamics in the Torrance family, with a son who seems as though he would never live up to his father’s expectations and a wife who only wants her husband to start being a better emotional provider.
The Shining is a classic. There isn’t much more we can say about it.
You might remember Kathy Bates as Molly Brown, a kind and friendly socialite in Titanic, but she rose to prominence in 1990 for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes in King’s Misery. The film is about Annie Wilkes, an obsessive fan who holds Paul Sheldon, a famous romance novelist, hostage in her home. She forces him to discard a current manuscript and write something that suits her tastes better, or else.
The ‘or else’ question lingers throughout the film, punctuated by the tension in Bates’ and James Caan’s brilliant performances.
This film is definitely a must-watch.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Another classic, another cult favorite. This film tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker accused of murdering his wife and her lover. At the film’s beginning, he is serving two life sentences at the Shawshank State Prison. He becomes friends with Morgan Freeman’s character Red or Ellis “Red” Redding. Red is a contraband smuggler.
This film is a classic for many reasons. The brilliant Frank Darabont directed it, and it tells the story of two men who find a reason to keep going despite all odds, and eventually, they find redemption.
We’re recommending this movie because of the message of hope for the future that it portrays. Over the past year, a global health crisis has changed lives everywhere, and we’ve been spending more time indoors. Of course, our homes are not jails, and our family members are not prison guards, but there are times when the situation around us has felt bleak and scary. The message of hope that this film portrays is inspiring, and that’s why we’re recommending it to you.
When we think about the plot of Carrie in 2021, it sounds like a limited Netflix series that would have the whole world hooked. This film is about a telekinetic teenage girl named Carrie, played by the incomparable Sissy Spacek. She lives with her religious fanatic mother, Margaret, and to make matters worse, she’s bullied and ostracized at school by her peers.
The film depicts a series of strange events continuously, from pouring pig’s blood on Carrie at her prom to burning the school gymnasium down to the ground. However, throughout all of the gore and uncomfortable moments, we are left with the image of the anxiety that comes with being a teenager. Carrie’s telekinesis is thrilling to watch, but once you place yourself in the mind of a teenage girl living in an uncomfortable situation, you start to empathize with her and hope for a better life for her.
This movie is another must-watch!
We found this movie hard to watch, not because it’s a part of the horror genre, but simply because it shows viewers the possibility of your biggest fears coming true and haunting you!
It (chapter one) features a group of young children in Derry, Maine who battle with Pennywise, a clown who lives in the sewers and comes up every 27 years to terrorize the people of this small town. King makes a cameo in the film, as a creepy store owner in the middle of town.
It’s tough to compare Bill Skarsgård’s portrayal of Pennywise to Tim Curry’s portrayal of the same character back in the tv miniseries made in 1990. Somehow, Skarsgård manages to take the character and make him more evil and menacing, leaving viewers feeling deeply unsettled long after the film is over.
We loved this movie because of how efficiently the story is told. While the ending of the first chapter leaves viewers wanting more, director Andy Muschietti’s storytelling leaves viewers satisfied as well with how the story closes. This is what we’d consider masterful storytelling. There is a strong ending that could be perceived as open-ended, but it also leaves room for a sequel.
Stephen King is a pop-culture icon whose writing and other creative works have led him to be seen as a household name. While nothing beats reading a novel and seeing the work in its original form, watching the movies brings the characters to life in an authentic way. By watching the actors portray the characters with all of their nuances and subtleties, we’re able to watch art in motion.