Today is a very special day! It’s the King of Horror’s birthday! That’s right, today is the day to celebrate Stephen King! With such an important day to horror fans, I thought it would be fun to put together a short list of my favorite film adaptations of his work. This isn’t everything but definitely a great place to start!
- Salem’s Lot (1979)- “Ben Mears has returned to his hometown to write a book about the supposedly haunted Marsten House. When people around the Marsten House start dying mysteriously, Mears discovers that the owner of the mansion is actually a vampire who is turning them into an army of undead slaves.” I remember watching this with my mom when I was young. It’s definitely a great watch and reminiscent of a time when vampires were monstrous.
- The Shining (1980)- “Jack Torrance accepts a caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel, where he, along with his wife Wendy and their son Danny, must live isolated from the rest of the world for the winter. But they aren’t prepared for the madness that lurks within.” I know Stephen King doesn’t like this iteration of his book but it really is an incredible film. It saddens me to know that Shelley Duvall was treated so poorly given her amazing performance. The made for tv movie is also worth checking out if you want to see something closer to the source material.
- Misery– “Novelist Paul Sheldon crashes his car on a snowy Colorado road. He is found by Annie Wilkes, the “number one fan” of Paul’s heroine Misery Chastaine. Annie is also somewhat unstable, and Paul finds himself crippled, drugged, and at her mercy.” This is easily my favorite Stephen King film adaptation and book. There is so much tension and dread. Kathy Bates KILLS it with her performance and rightfully won an Oscar for it. Do not skip this one.
- Silver Bullet– “The small city of Tarker’s Mill is startled by a series of sadistic murders. The population fears that this is the work of a maniac. During a search, a mysterious hairy creature is observed. This strange appearance is noticed once a month. People lock themselves up at night, but there’s one boy who’s still outside, he’s preparing the barbecue.” This is another film my mom showed me when I was outgrowing the scares of the Universal Monster films. It was terrifying then and still holds a lot of nostalgia for me now. Fun fact: the book was originally released as a sort of graphic novel (under the title Cycle of the Werewolf) with art from Bernie Wrightson, who is absolutely fantastic.
- Doctor Sleep– “Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the ‘shine’. Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers.” Doctor Sleep is Mike Flanagan at his best. The film delivers emotion and scares in a way that only Flanagan can.
I hope you enjoyed my not-to-miss picks! I’ve also created a list over on Letterboxd of all of my favorite Stephen King adaptations. Be sure to check on it often because as I watch more I will add to it! Also, go take a listen to our Stephen King episodes of Final Girls Feast! They are some of our best! What are your favorite Stephen King films? Let me know in the comments below!