All 59 Stephen King Movies Ranked From Worst to Best

24. NEEDFUL THINGS

Based On: The novel Needful Things, published in 1991.

What a fun, nasty movie this is. A demonic shop keeper (Max von Sydow, absolutely delightful here) comes to the town of Castle Rock and promptly turns everyone against each other. Time has forgotten this King adaptation, and edited TNT reruns probably didn’t help. But it’s a total hoot, and has some great performances from actors such as Ed Harris, Amanda Plummer and the late, great J. T. Walsh.

How faithful to the source material is it? It sticks close to the novel.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No, although he really should be in here somewhere.

23. SILVER BULLET

Based On: The novella Cycle of the Werewolf, published in 1983.

Oh, hell yeah. Now we’re talking. Gary Busey vs. a werewolf! This glorious ’80s horror flick has great werewolf effects and Busey hamming it up big time playing the embodiment of everyone’s favorite drunken black sheep uncle. The tone of Silver Bullet is very tongue-in-cheek, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Heck, it actually makes it better than it should be.

How faithful to the source material is it? King’s story spans an entire year, whereas the film only covers a few months. It’s still somewhat faithful to the novella, though.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No.

22. THE NIGHT FLIER

Based On: The short story “The Night Flier” published in 1988 and featured in the collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

The late Miguel Ferrer turns in a great, bitter performance playing an angry tabloid journalist on the trail of a real-life vampire in this lurid, highly entertaining King adaptation. Without Ferrer, The Night Flier wouldn’t be much to look at, but the actor turns in such a great performance that the film becomes something special.

How faithful to the source material is it? The bare bones of the story are there, although the film teams the main character up with a sidekick who doesn’t appear in the story.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Negative.

21. HEARTS IN ATLANTIS

Based On: The novella Low Men in Yellow Coats featured in the collection Hearts in Atlantis published in 1999.

Scott Hicks directs this rather touching adaptation of one a King novella, featuring the late Anton Yelchin as a young boy who befriends a mysterious man, played by Anthony Hopkins, who possess supernatural powers. This is a tender, quiet film that didn’t make much of a splash, with Hopkins, who has often had a tendency to go over-the-top in his later career, giving a charming, subdued performance.

How faithful to the source material is it? The film completely cuts out all the references to The Dark Tower mythology that are all over the short story. That’s fine.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No.

20. 11.22.63

Based On: The novel 11/22/63, published in 2011.

One of King’s better later novels received a mostly successful Hulu miniseries adaptation in 2016. Following an English teacher (James Franco) who travels back in time to stop the assassination of JFK, 11.22.63 is engrossing and features an almost Lynchian approach to how it handles violence, blending the brutal with the surreal. James Franco is all wrong for the lead role, but the adaptation as a whole is rewarding.

How faithful to the source material is it? The series condenses a lot of King’s sprawling novel, mostly for the better.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Nope.

19. 1408

Based On: The short story “1408″ published in 1999 and featured in the collection Everything’s Eventual.

Mikael Håfström directs this surprisingly good King adaptation, featuring John Cusack as a jaded writer/paranormal investigator who finds himself in a genuinely haunted hotel room. King’s short story is concise and brief (he originally wrote it as an exercising in editing for his On Writing memoir), and the film eventually runs out of steam trying to flesh out the source material. Still, 1408 is fun, and Cusack, who tends to be on autopilot in most performances these days, turns in a committed performance.

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

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? He does not.

18. CREEPSHOW 2

Based On: Several King short stories and a script treatment he wrote for this film itself.

Though not quite as good as the original Creepshow, this sequel still packs in plenty of fun scares, particularly the segment The Raft, which turns particularly nasty and unpleasant as it unfolds. There’s also a Creepshow 3, which has nothing to do with King and should be avoided at all costs!

How faithful to the source material is it? The segments from King’s stories, like “The Raft,” are fairly faithful.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Yes, he plays a truck driver.

17. IT (1990 miniseries)

Based On: The novel It, published in 1986.

The placement of It on this list may seem low for some, but let me explain: this miniseries adaptation has not aged very well, and at times it borders on ludicrous. What makes the miniseries memorable, however, is the now-iconic performance from Tim Curry as the evil clown Pennywise. Curry is so convincing, and so creepy, that you almost forget how muddled the rest of the adaptation is. Almost.

How faithful to the source material is it? Faithful, although it does condense much of what made King’s novel so special.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No, which seems weird. He could’ve easily played one of the townspeople.

16. SALEM’S LOT (1979 miniseries)

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

Tobe Hooper’s spooky, atmospheric adaptation of King’s novel has scenes that have entered the lexicon of horror, including the moment when vampire boy Ralphie Glick hovers outside a bedroom window, waiting to be let in. The adaptation does drag a little, but the good far outweighs the bad.

How faithful to the source material is it? The adaptation rearranges some of the book’s timeline, and it turns the head vampire Barlow from a sophisticated Dracula-type into a snarling, non-speaking ghoul that resembles Nosferatu. That’s not a bad thing.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? Nope.

15. APT PUPIL

Based On: The novella Apt Pupil, published in 1982 in the collection Different Seasons.

King’s work often deals with supernatural evil, but he explored evil of the man made variety with his novella Apt Pupil. Bryan Singer brought the story to life with this 1998 chiller that features Brad Renfro as a teen who discovers a Nazi war criminal (played to perfection by Ian McKellen) living in his neighborhood. Rather than turn the Nazi in, the boy blackmails him into recounting his atrocities. The film doesn’t go nearly as deep as the story, yet still manages to convey a remarkable sense of menace.

How faithful to the source material is it? The set-up is the same, but King’s story goes much further and to much darker places.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? He does not.

14. THE DARK HALF

Based On: The novel The Dark Half, published in 1989.

A novelist’s pseudonym comes to life in this creepy King adaptation helmed by George Romero. This is one of Romero’s best non-zombie films, filled with flashes of brutal violence and an intriguing premise. The Dark Half also features Michael Rooker in a rare nice guy role! The ending sequence, in which thousands upon thousands of sparrows reduce a man to a skeleton, is a show-stopper.

How faithful to the source material is it? The Dark Half adheres close to King’s novel.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No.

13. THE GREEN MILE

Based On: The serial novel The Green Mile, published in 1996.

Frank Darabont turns King’s serial novel into a Capra-esque drama about death row guards who come to believe one of the convicts in their charge is both innocent and capable of magical abilities. The film’s lengthy 189 minute running time might turn some off, but this is an overall powerful journey.

How faithful to the source material is it? Very.

Does Stephen King Have a cameo? No.

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