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My Top 5 Stephen King Movies



2013 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for Stephen King. His crime fiction / coming-of-age novel, “Joyland”, was released earlier this year to critical acclaim, and his epic “Under The Dome” got a well-received small screen treatment. Even though the mini-series fell into a mid season slump and never fully recovered, it is still possibly one of the better adaptations of his works to come along in many years. This past September also saw the release of his 64th book, “Doctor Sleep”, a follow up to his third novel, “The Shining”. And of course, we also got to see an updated remake of Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of CARRIE (read our 2.5-Sheep review here).

Over the course of his career, King’s works have been made into countless adaptations for both the big and the small screens, and not all of them have been gems (see the aforementioned, CARRIE). Here at Black Sheep Reviews, we are looking at some of our favorite adaptations of his work, and narrowing it down to our Top 5. And in the spirit of the Halloween season, we are strictly looking at his most scary stories, because let’s face it, STAND BY ME would be #1 otherwise.


MISERY – 1990
Directed by Rob Reiner


MISERY, based on King’s 1987 novel of the same name, concerns writer, Paul Sheldon (James Caan), who is caught in a storm during a drive to Los Angeles from Colorado. After his cars spins off the road, he is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who brings him to her home. As fate would have it, she is also a huge fan of Sheldon’s work, and coerces the injured author to allow her to read the manuscript for a work in progress. Outraged that he has killed off her favorite character, she goes into a violent fit, assaulting and injuring Paul even further. What follows is a deadly and sadistic game of cat and mouse by someone who claims to be a super fan of his work, and an author who is fighting for his life. Bound to the bed with broken ankles, Paul has no choice but to follow her demands to write a book that is more to Annie’s approval and to devise a plan of escape from the secluded cabin.

Taking place almost entirely within Annie’s home, MISERY is one of the greater Stephen King adaptations that is supported not only by Rob Reiner’s direction, but the two leading actors who deliver fierce and often terrifying performances. Bates played two more roles in adaptations of King’s work, a small part in THE STAND, and as the title character in the often overlooked DELORES CLAIBORNE. MISERY is cold, chilling and often terrifying.



1408 – 2007
Directed by Mikael Håfström 


1408 follows author and paranormal investigator, Mike Enslin (John Cusack), as he gets a tip about a supposed haunted room in the Dolphin Hotel in NYC. Skeptic about the claims, Enslin checks into the hotel against the warnings of the hotel manager, played by Samuel L. Jackson. What ensues is a series of bizarre events that begins when the bedside clock starts to countdown from 60:00. Past guests appear, a body of a previous victim of room 1408 appears in the air ducts, and when trying to escape out the window, Enslin realizes that the windows to other rooms have disappeared. That is just the beginning of the weird and horrific things that happen while staying in the room, and Enslin must try to find a way out or become another victim.

While I’m not a Cusack fan, the first time I saw this movie I was impressed not only by his performance, but the fact that this is a horror movie that actually provides many frights throughout. King, having written about haunted hotels before, really must be no stranger to spending long stretches of time staying in them, and it makes one wonder if he himself has ever experienced any paranormal goings on in his travels. 1408 is a great movie adapted from the short story of the same name.



SALEM’S LOT – 1979
Directed by Tobe Hooper 


Ben Mears returns to his childhood home of Jerusalem’s Lot to write a book about the creepy house on the top of the hill, the Marsten house, which is a dark shadow that looms over the small town. Discovering that the empty house has already been rented out to another mysterious tenant, Mears decides to investigate both the house and the new inhabitants, as also a way of coming to terms with the trauma he experienced in the house. One evening a large crate is delivered to the house, and soon residents of the town begin to disappear and Ben quickly realizes that this evil house is the home to a vampire and the entire town is at risk of the lures of this evil.

King’s second novel is the first story to get a TV adaptation, and is on countless lists including Empire Magazine’s “Top 10 Scary Movie Scenes” and earned three Primetime Emmy nominations in 1980. It might come from a biased opinion, but the book also happens to be my favorite King book. There is also a second adaptation starring Rob Lowe and Donald Sutherland which is also quite good. But there is something undeniably creepy about Hoopers version. Even though it differs form the original story, and much of the violence is lost to meet TV standards, this is one movie that doesn’t need to rely on the gore. The house itself is a terrifying monster that is full of secrets, standing above the town like a watchful eye. One part Dracula homage and one part allegory of 1970’s small town America, this vampire story is sure to cause goosebumps. Definitely one to watch alone in the dark.



Directed by Donald P. Borchers  

Children of the Corn Genesis(1)

CHILDREN OF THE CORN tells the rather disturbing story of Vicky and Burt, as they drive across America to California to celebrate their second honeymoon. Along the way, they accidentally run over a young boy when he runs out from a cornfield onto the road. Looking for help, the couple drive to the nearby town of Gatlin, where Vicky is violently attacked by a group of children while Burt is in a nearby church, and their car is blown up by the seriously disturbed Malachai.  The couple quickly learn that these children are not only part of an extreme religious group lead by Isaac, but they make ritualistic sacrifices to a being known as He Who Walks Behind The Rows.

I prefer this version over the 1984 original, starring Linda Hamilton, and perhaps the director thought he could do better (he served as producer on the original version). This 2009 remake is far more frightening than the version form the 80’s, and despite being made for TV, it is fairly bloody. King’s vision of a child-led murderous cult and the dangers of religious zealotry is a theme that recurs throughout many of his works, and this is probably the second most frightening example.



THE MIST – 2007
Directed by Frank Darabont


After a severe storm cuts the power and damages their home, illustrator David Drayton (Thomas Jane) takes his son, and their neighbor to the local supermarket to stock up on some supplies. While at the store, a thick mist begins to roll in over the town and a man runs into the store warning the townsfolk that there is something terrible in the mist. After the store stock boy is viciously attacked by a large tentacle-like thing, people in the store begin to panic, trying to escape. But something is out there in the mist, and people begin to take sides, especially when a religious fanatic (Marcia Gay Harden) begins to proclaim that this is the beginning of armageddon.

Once again, King’s exploration of the dangers of extreme religious beliefs comes into play, but it is particularly terrifying in THE MIST. People are pitting against one another, which creates a frightening tension that rivals that which is outside the supermarket doors. Darabont’s adaptation is terrifying from beginning to end with moments that are actually edge-of-your-seat tense. The danger isn’t only beyond the supermarket doors, but within the walls itself as people begin to turn on one another and question their own reality.

King often puts his characters in dire situations where the real horror is how they act with one another, often times resulting in extremes. THE SHINING, CUJO, THE STAND and DREAMCATCHER are all examples where characters are left to their own devices, often cut off from the resources they are so accustomed to. THE MIST has multiple layers of terror, since the monsters are very much real. The ending tends to divide viewers, but this is definitely one that needs to be seen. It is a fantastic horror movie with outstanding performances by the entire cast, many of which went on to star in Darbont’s “The Walking Dead”. The Blu-ray comes with a black and white version of the film, which was Darabont’s intended way for it to be seen, an homage to 1950’s creature features. THE MIST is by far the best adaptation of King’s huge breadth of work, in my humble opinon.

Which one is your favorite?


  1. I’d have to say:
    1. The Shining
    2. Misery
    3. The Mist
    4. 1408
    5. Carrie (original, obviously)

  2. Wowza. You know I’m not a horror fan when I can really say I’ve only seen two of King’s scarier films. And I only really enjoyed one of them. I’ve seen Misery and The Shining. I’ll leave it at that.

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