Best and Worst Stephen King Horror Movies
Fans of horror have been hungrily wolfing down Stephen King books for years now. He may not be highly rated by the critics but he knows how to entertain and his dark imagination has brought us some fantastic tales and characters. He is the undisputed master of the horror genre and so it should come as no surprise that most of his works have been adapted for the silver screen. In fact Stephen King has had a mountain of novels and short stories adapted for film over the years and not all of them are in the horror genre. The results have been mixed. Sometimes his books translate to cinematic gold. Sometimes they turn out to be turkeys.
We'll have a look at the big successes first and then we'll have a chuckle at the ones that didn't quite work.
The Top Five Stephen King Horror Films
5 - It
This was definitely one of King's scariest books. The movie was made for TV and it has some ropy moments, but there is enough creepy Pennywise the clown action for it to provide a few chills. Tim Curry does a great job of bringing the evil clown to life and, while it is undeniably cheesy, it's tough not to like this film.
4 - Misery
Famous author, Paul Sheldon, has a car crash and gets taken in by the apparently caring, Annie. Turns out she is his biggest fan, but unfortunately for him she is also dangerously obsessed with his books. His saviour soon turns prison warden and then things get even worse. Great acting from James Caan and especially Kathy Bates makes this a classic.
3 - Pet Sematary
The idea that you can bury a dead loved one in a Native American burial ground and they'll come back to life may be pretty ridiculous but let's face it - if your child died you would have a go wouldn't you? This awesomely creepy film has some terrific moments and blends supernatural horror with the ultimate real life horror of losing your family. Unfortunately, although the person you bury may return to life, they aren't the same person you remember. Gage with his scalpel is enough to give anyone nightmares and Fred Gwynne gives a wonderful performance here as the wise old neighbour who utters the immortal line "Sometimes dead is better."
2 - Carrie
This is one of the greatest horror films of all time directed by Brian De Palma and adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name. It is about a young girl who is cruelly bullied and taunted at high school because she is different. Even her insane mother treats her like some kind of freak but none of them seem to realise the extent of her incredible powers. This film first came out in 1976 and it had a profound impact on the horror genre which can still be observed today.
1 - The Shining
The imposing Outlook Hotel requires a winter caretaker, cue down on his luck writer, Jack and his wife and son. His son has a psychic gift of some sort and before long he becomes aware that something unpleasant is lurking in the halls of this distinguished hotel. Unfortunately for him the evil presence is having an effect on his father which threatens to consume them all.
The undisputed heavyweight champion of the horror genre arguably owes more to the charismatic lead actor, Jack Nicholson, and the visionary director, Stanley Kubrick than it does to Stephen King. The author himself was displeased with the film and actually participated in a TV mini-series which was terrible in comparison but he has changed his mind about it over the years. The book is quite different from the movie but there can be no doubt this is a strong candidate for the greatest horror film of all time and the ideas at play here are genius. The combination of such a wealth of talent is a very rare thing, especially in the horror genre and so The Shining is a treat to be savoured.
The Worst Five Stephen King Horror Movies
5 - Silver Bullet
This is actually the kind of bad horror movie that I find extremely entertaining but there's no arguing about how terrible it is. Corey Haim is the wheelchair bound boy hero who is up against a deadly werewolf played by Everett McGill. Gary Busey pops up as the most hilariously awful influence imaginable. Playing the alcoholic Uncle Red he transforms his nephew's wheelchair into a motorized death trap. With the help of a silver bullet it all turns out predictably enough.
4 - The Mangler
A King short story, Tobe Hooper at the helm and Robert Englund starring how can that not be the recipe for a great horror film? Well the story is about a laundry machine possessed by a demon. Need I go on? This is sadly not much of a cinematic spectacle and firm proof that not every work from the hand of Stephen King really merits a film version.
3 - Sleepwalkers
A bunch of shapeshifting cat people with super powers terrorise a small town but ironically their nemesis proves to be real cats. Who saw that coming? The most interesting thing about this terrible movie is the cameos and to keep from going insane as you watch it keep an eye out for John Landis, Tobe Hooper, Joe Dante, Stephen King and Mark Hammill.
2 - Dreamcatcher
This film proves that a big name cast and a talented director cannot save a film from being awful. Lawrence Kasdan directs, Timothy Olyphant, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, and Morgan Freeman star and the budget was around $70 million. It starts out ok with a group of childhood friends who are united by a form of telepathy thanks to a retarded kid they protect. Things get out of hand because of the toilet monster that enters people through the backdoor, if you know what I mean. It gets sillier as it goes on.
1 - Maximum Overdrive
Just because you're a talented writer does not mean you can direct a movie and if you want proof check out Maximum Overdrive. To begin with the story about machines all suddenly deciding to kill people is ridiculous and the final revelation that aliens did it doesn't really help. In effect this is a stupid, rock-filled action movie about killer trucks. It tries to be funny and it is, but not in the way it sets out to be. Apparently King was really wasted when he made this and it shows. There is an uncut version which may interest gore hounds but this is pretty cringe worthy stuff.
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