Stephen King is a master storyteller and a prolific writer; this combination has made him one of the top selling authors of all time. Stephen King’s skill has also afforded him a plethora of film adaptations; what follows is a ranked list of the best Stephen King novel (or novella) to theatrical adaptations:
10) Dolores Claiborne (1995) is the story of an abused woman who gets revenge on her sadistic husband. The film version stays close to Stephen King’s novel, and the story is helped along by Kathy Bates’ understated precision and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s edgy tension.
09) Pet Sematary (1989) is a graveyard where the dead are buried in order to become reanimated. The cemetery is meant for pets, but when a bereaved father buries his dead toddler; all Hell breaks loose – literally. Pet Sematary is a hit because it delivers unforgettably scary moments.
08) Cujo (1983) is the story of a helpless woman and child trapped in a car by a rabid dog. Dee Wallace gives a believable performance as a mother desperately trying to protect her young son. The near unbearable tension is what makes Cujo an excellent film.
07) Stand By Me (1986) is a coming of age film that deviates from the usual Stephen King horror fare. The film stars River Phoneix, and its success is due mainly the powerful sentimental vein which runs the course of the movie.
06) Children of the Corn (1984) is the tale of a small town hijacked by adolescents influenced by a malevolent entity that lives in the corn fields. The film version is a winner because it captures the eerie feel of the Stephen King novel.
05) Green Mile (1999) tells the tale of John Coffy, a gentle giant cursed with consuming the emotional pain from everyone he meets. Wrongly accused, Coffy goes to prison where he changes the lives of all he encounters, for good and bad. The success of this film is due to the excellent performances from both Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan.
04) Carrie (1974) was the first of Stephen King’s books to be adapted to film. The movie stars Sissy Spacek as the scorned protagonist with telepathic powers, but the highlight of the film is the powerhouse performance delivered by Piper Laurie as Carrie’s abusive mother.
03) The Shining (1980) stars Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall as the unfortunate individuals who end up at the mercy of Ghosts in a hotel…in the middle of a blinding snowstorm…in the middle of nowhere. The performances from Nicholson and Duvall are legendary, and such is the reason for the success of the film. This film is probably considered by many to be Stephen King’s greatest film adaptation.
02) Misery (1990) is the story of a mentally unbalanced woman obsessed with the author of her favorite books. Due to a twist of fate, the fan and the author are “marooned” together for a lengthy period. James Caan is the author, and Kathy Bates delivers an impressive performance as the deranged fan.
01) The Shawshank Redemption (1994) stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in one of the most engrossing movies in all of film history. The story highlights the strength of the human will, and the novella exemplifies Stephen King’s masterful storytelling skill. This film captures King’s story to absolute perfection.