Top 10 Stephen King Film Adaptations Part 1
I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing an all encompassing Stephen King post for some time. Why not now since the day of his birth is upon us. In a moment I will jump right into a countdown
Published on September 21, 2009 | Filed under editorial

I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing an all encompassing Stephen King post for some time. Why not now since the day of his birth is upon us. In a moment I will jump right into a countdown list and impart my thoughts, emotions and ramblings there. Just a quick preface/disclaimer. Stephen King’s writings and the films based on them have shaped and permeated my life. Many of my most vivid childhood memories are somehow linked to his works (thanks Mom). It is for those reasons that this list and my words are totally biased.

10. Maximum Overdrive
I am aware this choice for number 10 may ruffle some feathers, but I love it. Maximum Overdrive is unabashedly 80s and gives off a slight John Carpenter vibe. Sure it’s cheesy and many view it as King’s directorial fail. But it’s fun!

9. Pet Sematary
I could do a top 10 list just for this film. The emotion captured in Pet Sematary is heartbreaking. If the movie had only been about the tragic and violent loss of a child I would have been sold. Introduce the ultra creepy, supernatural element and it’s true love.

8. Silver Bullet
Here are 3 of my own personal truths regarding Silver Bullet. 1) It was the first werewolf movie I ever saw and therefore set the framework for my werewolf belief system. 2) I saw it when I was way too young. 3) I was immediately in love with and horrified by Reverend Lowe aka the werewolf. Gary Busey? Corey Haim in a wheelchair? John Locke, I mean Terry O’Quinn?! Illegal fireworks?! It’s a sin I don’t own this film. Quick aside, I haven’t seen this film in years and I am aware there are themes of faith, family and a boys trek into manhood that I am missing. The fireworks just really made an impression on me.

7. Carrie
I hate applying labels to things (not in the literal sense). If you think a certain way about something I’m not going to come running out of the bushes, push you down, and tell you you’re wrong. I have deep seated feelings about Carrie and I want to call it a feminist horror film. Bold words and a strong assertion, but that is my personal label. I am deeply moved every time I view this film. Sissy Spacek’s performance is jaw droppingly good. The film is effective for me because I almost immediately align myself with the Carrie character. That’s easy to do partly because what is presented is such an accurate depiction of High School. Also because her mother is a raving loon.

6. The Running Man
I’m not sure my fingertips have the nimbleness and grace it would take to scribe my love for this film. My head spins at the thought of forming cohesive sentences regarding Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto and Buzzsaw and Fireball and Subzero! It’s all too much amazing awesomeness! If you have somehow never seen this movie all I have to say to you is “It’s time to start running!”

There you have the first installment of my Stephen King lovefest. I’ve decided to split them for the sake of easy digestion. Don’t see your favorite yet? Don’t fret, numbers 1 through 5 are still to come.

Christine enjoys obsessing over Paracinema magazine. She also loves well written hour long TV dramas. Her free time is spent with her many boyfriends: Brian De Palma, Edgar Wright & Alfred Hitchcock.

  • Wynner

    MMMMMMmmmm, Sub-Zero? Now, Plain Zero!

  • Stephen Andrew

    you can't really argue with a soda machine attacking a baseball coach. 80's awesomeness to the max.

  • Ashlee

    King specifically points out that Carrie is "an uneasy masculine shrinking from a future of female equality" in his book Danse Macabre. All of his work seems deeply intentional. And what makes that point even greater is the fact that he is a novelist before he's a filmmaker so he spends what, years with his stories and characters before they make print. Awesome!

  • The Man With No Name

    I had no idea about running man… random. But Maximum overdrive is a classic lol.

  • Mike White

    This sparked a lot of comments after I posted the link on my facebook. I think people may be out for blood…

  • christine

    I saw 😉
    Whatever gets conversations going!

  • Matt-suzaka

    These are all awesome movies, with a few of them being classics. Silver Bullet, BTW, holds up quite well, and is a very solid entry into the Werewolf genre, as well as being a favorite of mine. The short book is a great and quick read too!

    I should add that I too am almost shaped to love anything based off King's work…maybe it's my age, or my taste, but I even love his lesser films – like Dreamcatcher and Secret Window for example!

    Great start, can't wait to see the rest of the list!

  • Joe Humphrey

    I'm curious to see the rest of your list!

    re: Maximum Overdrive
    I'm a firm believer that Stephen King and movie sets should never, ever occupy the same space. We've clearly got vastly different standards of quality (hence our differing views on Halloween 3) but I honestly can't imagine anyone watching that kid shoot up the drive through menu and saying "This is for my dad, you loudmouth son of a bitch!" and thinking that they were watching a good movie.

    re: Pet Sematary
    For me, what really made that movie was Fred Gwen as Judd and the way they handled Denise Crosby's flashbacks of her sister Zelda. That shit gave me nightmares for weeks. Also, the guy they got to play Pascow was awesome.

    re: Silver Bullet
    This was a movie I loved as a kid (for many of the same reasons you mentioned) but haven't seen as an adult. It was my first Gary Busy movie. Also, somehow, the guy who played the Reverend/Werewolf became my mental image of every generic Stephen King male figure when I started reading the books. In my head Jack Torrance, Louis Creed, Paul Sheldon, the dad from Firestarter, Roland the last Gunslinger, Randall Flagg and about twenty different Stephen King characters all looked like that guy. It wasn't until I was about thirteen or fourteen that I finally started branching out with my mental casting.

    Re: Carrie
    I don't know about the feminist angle, but I think Carrie is a damned near perfect movie. Easily one of the best King adaptations. While the movie was quite a bit different from the mental movie that played in my head when I read the book (I pictured the girl who wasn't Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures as Carrie when I read it) it was a perfect example of one brilliant artist reinterpreting the work of another brilliant artist. I love that movie very much.

    Re: The Running Man
    Lolwut? Seriously? See my response to Maximum Overdrive.

    I guess I'm biased because the book was so awesome in it's own right, and could have made a really excellent movie. But the movie they made had almost nothing at all to do with the book. To the point that I think it's kind of offensive to have tagged Stephen King's name to it. Not quite as bad as what they did with The Lawnmower Man, but close.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what your top five are. I'm curious to see what you leave out and what you put in there, because I know that there I've got more than five great movies based on Stephen King books/stories in my head that you haven't listed yet, but would be on my top ten list, and there just aren't enough slots left on your list to accommodate them.