Top 10 Stephen King Movie Adaptations

by Craig B.

I was nine years old in the summer of 1980 when my mother took me to see The Shining. I know this might spark some debate about proper parenting techniques, but you really should consider it water under the bridge. I’m still here, I’m reasonably functional, and since Mom had already taken me to see Jaws when I was six, it’s really just a moot point. I’m glad I could address your concerns.

Anyway, The Shining was glorious! I was jealous of Danny. He had an endless supply of chocolate ice cream. He took a tour of a walk-in freezer (something I had to endure a birthday at McDonald’s to get.) He had a carpet that was the perfect highway for Matchbox cars. He had a real live hedge maze. He even had his own indoors Big Wheels racing circuit, complete with a set of creepy twins around turn five.

The Shining was my introduction to Stephen King adaptations, and there have been oodles of them. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count them all. Unfortunately, a great deal of those adaptations have been…how shall I put it…value suspect (I’m looking at you, Maximum Overdrive). Still, there’s more than enough nominees to make a pretty amazing Top 10 list. There’s even leftovers to argue about! If you want to see my entire list, click my link or check it out in our catalog. So, without any further ado, here’s my top three…

#3 Misery

Director Rob Reiner has tried his hand at many genres: comedy (When Harry Met Sally); mockumentary (This Is Spinal Tap); fantasy (The Princess Bride); coming-of-age (Stand by Me); and courtroom drama (A Few Good Men). Despite his rather illustrious credentials, when I first heard he was trying his hand at horror, I didn’t think he could pull it off. How wrong I was. Misery stands the test of time. The two powerhouse performances by James Caan and Kathy Bates are the fuel that makes this exquisitely tuned engine run.

#2 The Shawshank Redemption

I don’t normally fall for flicks with so much saccharine in the recipe, but Shawshank tempers the sweetness with two well-rounded and relatable characters, wrongfully imprisoned milquetoast Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and long timer ‘Red’ Redding (Morgan Freeman). As the story progresses, we learn that Andy isn’t as timid as he seems and ‘Red’ isn’t so hardened after all. There aren’t too many feel-good movies set in a state penitentiary, but if there were, The Shawshank Redemption would stand out as the best.

#1 The Shining

The Shining isn’t just my favorite King adaptation; it’s my favorite horror film. From the opening “winding road” sequence to the movie’s chilling final moments, director Stanley Kubrick maintains a dark, overtly oppressive atmosphere that solidly earmarks the Overlook Hotel as the film’s main character. Kubrick uses three bold techniques to make the aesthetics unique: cinematic symmetry, one-point perspective (where the horizon converges at a single point mid-camera; this is one of Kubrick’s favorite trademarks), and heavy use of a moving low angle steadicam. The result is an ominous visual experience unlike anything seen in cinema up to that point.

I hope you enjoy these titles! As always, I’d love for you to share with us what you’re watching and reading. If you want to rearrange all of my hard work, tell me why! Or better yet, create a list of your own.

Top 10 Stephen King Movie Adaptations

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