10. Silver Bullet (1985)
Of all the trashy horror films adapted from King’s work (of which there are many) Silver Bullet has got to be my favorite. Corey Haim, wheel chaired hero; Gary Busey, drunk badass; Everett McGill, creepy fucker; hell, there’s even Lawrence Tierney as an ornery bar owner. And with a bottle rocket in the eye to top it all off, Silver Bullet is one of the best worst King adaptations ever realized.
9. Dolores Claiborne (1995)
Dolores Claiborne is an effective, often terrifying domestic thriller. Occasionally, director Taylor Hackford needlessly over stylizes the material, but when he sits back and lets the actors do their jobs, the film becomes a family tale of utter dread. Once you see this film, you’ll never look at David Strathairn the same.
8. The Green Mile (1999)
As King fans know, when the author steps away from horror, he often delivers work of great sentimental authority. Work that Frank Darabont has dedicated much of his career to bringing to life. One could argue that The Green Mile is a little too sentimental for its own good, but it certainly has its moments of quiet power. Makes me miss Michael Clarke Duncan.
7. The Mist (2007)
I absolutely love The Mist. Upon its release, I thought it was the finest King adaptation in quite some time. Sleek, bloody, and insanely bold. But I kept hearing about this black and white director’s cut. A few years ago, I read an interview with the film’s star, Thomas Jane, and he said the only version should be the B&W version. After watching it, I couldn’t agree more with him. The lush monochrome gives the film a perfectly off-kilter, nostalgic vibe. Seek it out.
6. Apt Pupil (1998)
Bryan Singer’s follow-up to The Usual Suspects is a small film about a curious kid who discovers that his reclusive neighbor is not who he says he is. Apt Pupil is a horrifying tale of obsession and the confusion of adolescent angst. This film still might contain my favorite Ian McKellen performance.
5. Stand by Me (1986)
What’s not to love about Stand by Me? It’s a timeless classic about coming-of-age that I can revisit time and time again. What’s funny about the film is that, when I was younger, its quiet epilogue meant nothing to me. Now, Richard Dreyfuss typing the kicker to his story brings tears to my eyes. I love when age changes a movie for us.
4. Misery (1990)
Kathy Bates winning Best Actress for her startling work as Annie Wilkes is still one of my favorite Oscars ever. Rarely is such mortifying work awarded so appropriately. Oh, and James Caan… damn fine here too.
3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
It’s so funny that a 94-page novella from the early ‘80s is largely responsible for one of the most revered American films of recent memory. That’s the power of The Shawshank Redemption, that ceaselessly rewatchable, impossibly hopeful film that I will always love to look at.
2. Carrie (1976)
It’s inarguable: the first ever Stephen King film adaptation remains one of the best. Brian De Palma’s Carrie is as fine a film about teenage perplexity as I’ve ever seen, as well as a spot-on social examination of fanatical religion in our culture. And it’s also one of the freakiest films ever made. Best not to leave that part out.
1. The Shining (1980)
I am endlessly amused by the fact that King’s least favorite film adaptation of his own work remains the finest film to ever be crafted from one of his stories. Since the release of this Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, King has dedicated a great deal of time to explaining the many reasons why he hates it. Sure, the film differs from the book drastically, and sure, the film may not have been the vision King had imagined, but buddy, let this one go already. Step back and marvel at the profound complexity of one of the best horror films ever made.