All 59 Stephen King Movies Ranked From Worst to Best

36. RIDING THE BULLET

Based on: The novella Riding the Bullet published in 2000 and featured in the collection Everything’s Eventual.

Mick Garris is at it again! This time, the soft-spoken horror filmmaker helms an adaptation of King’s tale of a young man hitchhiking across the country to get back to home to see his mother, who has suffered a stroke. Along the way he’s picked up by ghost, played with over-the-top glee by David Arquette. There’s some nice emotional moments somewhere in this film, but most of it is lost beneath a heavy helping of serious bullshit, like a scene where the grim reaper shows up smoking a joint.

How faithful to the source material is it? There’s a lot of extra material here to turn this into a full movie, none of it very good.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? I wish!

35. CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984)

Based on: The short story “Children of the Corn” published in 1977 and featured in the collection Night Shift.

The film that launched way too many sequels, 1984’s Children of the Corn adaptation isn’t what you’d call “good”, but there is a somewhat eerie atmosphere that makes it oddly watchable. The simple fact is that kids are inherently creepy, even more so when they’re brandishing rusty farm tools.

How faithful to the source material is it? Not very faithful at all.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No.

34. SECRET WINDOW

Based On: The novella Secret Window, Secret Garden published in 1990 featured in the collection Four Past Midnight.

Hat-wearing hack Johnny Depp plays a blocked writer who suddenly finds himself accused of plagiarism by a mysterious weirdo, played by John Turturro in this ho-hum horror flick. There’s a “twist” here that you can see coming a mile away, and the film seems to think a close-up of someone biting into corn on the cob is the pinnacle of horror. Secret Window isn’t very good, but Turturro is clearly having a lot of fun playing the heavy, and that elevates the material a bit.

How faithful to the source material is it? Besides the basic idea, it’s not that true to the source material.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Nope! Where you at, King?

33. FIRESTARTER

Based On: The novel Firestarter published in 1980.

Firestarter has not aged well, and Drew Barrymore’s performance, as a young girl who can make fires with her mind, is downright whiny. But there are some bright spots, particularly George C. Scott, playing an evil government agent wearing an eye patch. At one point, John Carpenter was going to helm this film, but alas, that never came to pass.

How faithful to the source material is it? For the most part, faithful.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Negative.

32. THE DARK TOWER

Based On: The Dark Tower series, published between 1982 and 2012.

You probably forgot The Dark Tower came out only a few weeks ago, and I don’t blame you. This lackluster adaptation of King’s epic fantasy series offers little for fans of the books or fans of good movies in general. To be clear: The Dark Tower is at least watchable, which keeps it from being at the very bottom of the list, and Idris Elba does his best to carry the film. But this is a heartless, joyless film that takes the complex world King created and whittles it down into mush. I wouldn’t hold my breath for any sequels.

How faithful to the source material is it? Not faithful at all, and that’s the problem.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? King did plenty of promotion for the film, yet he doesn’t make an appearance here.

31. CAT’S EYE

Based On: The short stories “Quitters, Inc.” published in 1978 and “The Ledge” published in 1976 featured in the collection Night Shift, as well as an original story for the film from King.

This anthology film taking two King short stories and another story King wrote directly for the script is a lot of fun. All three are connected by a stray cat that wanders through each tale, and also Drew Barrymore, who plays three different parts. As far as horror anthologies go, Cat’s Eye is pretty entertaining.

How faithful to the source material is it? The two segments adapted from short stories are pretty faithful, which is to be expected since King adapted them for the screen himself.  

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No.

30. THINNER

Based On: The novel Thinner published in 1984 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

When King was first getting started as a writer, publishers did not like to publish more than one book per year from the same author. Since King is nothing if not prolific, he got around this by writing books under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman. Most of the Bachman books were psychological thrillers that avoided anything supernatural, with the exception of Thinner. The book was turned into a film in 1996, and it’s kind of fun – the tale of a hefty corrupt lawyer cursed to lose weight until he dies. There’s a lurid trashiness to the film that makes it engrossing.

How faithful to the source material is it? It’s much sillier than the book, but still pretty faithful.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Yes. He plays a nosy pharmacist.

29. THE RUNNING MAN

Based On: The novel The Running Man published in 1982 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

When The Running Man hit theaters in 1987, its concept of a future where America has turned into a hellish game show seemed silly. Yet 2017 proved this to be the most accurate depiction of the future. How unlucky for us! Anyway, this film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger facing off against Richard Dawson, is really dumb, but gosh is it entertaining, featuring neon-lit scenes of pure cheese.

How faithful to the source material is it? Not faithful at all!

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No.

28. CUJO

Based On: The novel Cujo, published in 1981.

Everyone knows Cujo, even if they’ve never seen it. Dee Wallace and son find themselves trapped in a car thanks to a big, scary St. Bernard. There are some tense moments here, and Wallace acts the hell out of the scenes where she’s facing off against the rabid canine. But much of the film is a slog. Not so fun fact: Cujo is a novel King barely remembers writing thanks to his struggles with alcoholism.

How faithful to the source material is it? Aside from the rabid dog premise, the film is very different from the novel, which deals a lot with infidelity.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No one has ever proven it’s not King wearing the dog suit in some of the film’s scenes, so let’s just pretend it was.

27. CARRIE (2013)

Based On: The novel Carrie, published in 1974.

Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 adaptation of King’s novel is mostly forgotten, but it’s worth revisiting because it’s a surprisingly sturdy film. Chloë Grace Moretz is good as the troubled Carrie, but it’s Julianne Moore who steals the show as her crazy mother. Rumors abound that Pierce’s original cut was much better before the studio interfered, but the end result is enjoyable as it is.

How faithful to the source material is it? Very faithful.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Nah.

26. SALEM’S LOT (2004)

Based On: The novel ‘Salem’s Lot, published in 1975.

Most people seem to be indifferent to this 2004 miniseries adaptation of one of King’s best known novels, which is surprising because it is, for the most part, pretty good. While Tobe Hooper’s adaptation is more atmospheric and iconic (more on that later), this is closer to the feel of King’s book while also changing several elements. Give it a shot if you’ve never bothered to see it.

How faithful to the source material is it? Some of it is very faithful, but there’s also a lot of new elements added.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Nope.

25. THE STAND

Based On: The novel The Stand, published in 1978.

Guess who’s back? Back again. Mick Garris is back, tell a friend. Garris helms this 1994 miniseries adaptation of King’s sprawling end-of-the-world novel, featuring a big cast that includes Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Ed Harris, Miguel Ferrer, Rob Lowe, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. King’s novel is epic in scope and no adaptation can ever truly capture it, but Garris does the best he can here. Still, this is very much a TV movie, so don’t expect anything too fancy.

How faithful to the source material is it? King wrote the script, so it’s pretty darn faithful.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Yes! Actually, he has more than a cameo – he plays a character named Teddy Weizak who shows up in multiple scenes.

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