Stephen King has been churning out creepy tales of murder and terror for decades now. Almost as long, Hollywood has been turning to him for inspiration, and the latest Stephen King work to be adapted is Bag of Bones, hitting DVD on March 13th. In honor of that heart-stoppingly bone-chilling occasion, here are the seven greatest Stephen King movie adaptations.


Brian De Palma is a master of the psychological thriller, so it's appropriate that he was the first person to bring a Stephen King novel to the screen. And he does it with a flair for genre alchemy, mixing cheesecake, teen comedy, and over-the-top camp in with the horror story about a high school outcast with telekinetic powers. The climactic massacre at the school prom is still one of the most shocking set-pieces ever devised, 36 years later.

The Shining

Stephen King himself wasn't a fan of the changes Stanley Kubrick made to his novel about a father attacking his family with an axe during a stay at an abandoned (and haunted) hotel. Most movie fans disagree, though, and The Shining has a reputation as one of the best and scariest horror movies ever made.


Stephen King doesn't just write novels, you know. He also writes screenplays, like this one that was directed by horror legend George A. Romero. He even acts in one of the five chapters of the EC Comics-inspired Creepshow called "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" (adapted from a King short story, so it still counts as an adaptation!). His unhinged performance as a man who gets invaded by plant-like aliens is a highlight, as is Leslie Nielsen as a murderous psychopath.

The Dead Zone

What is it about master horror directors and Stephen King? In this case, the master at the helm is David Cronenberg, who handles the story of Christopher Walken as a man with psychic abilities just as well as anyone would expect. The movie is a delightful blend of heavy drama, gruesome horror (still flinching because of that scissors scene), and sweaty paranoia. And Martin Sheen plays a psycho Republican, so this is a good movie all-around.


Next on the list of horror maestros to adapt Stephen King novels is John Carpenter, whose film about a killer car with a mind of its own is a pretty underrated Stephen King adaptation. The real star of the show is the 1958 Plymouth Fury, possessed by some kind of evil spirit that makes it hurt and kill people. It might not have the critical reputation of Carrie or The Shining, but Carpenter's killer car movie is ... I was going to say it's "a fun ride," but that's lame, right?


Stephen King is known for crafting scary stories around main characters who share his profession. There's just something scary about a guy sitting alone at a typewriter, I guess. In Misery, James Caan plays a novelist who has grown to hate the character of "Misery Chastain" that's brought him fame and fortune. And he's about to get to know a misery of a different sort after an accident incapacitates him and puts him at the mercy of his "number one fan," played by a terrifying Kathy Bates.

The Shawshank Redemption

Not all Stephen King movies are about murder and horror. As the title suggests, this cult classic is about redemption. Tim Robbins plays a man who wrongfully receives a life sentence and ends up learning all about life thanks to fellow lifer Morgan Freeman. Not only does it make prison seem like a viable option for anyone suffering from a mid-life crisis, it makes escaping from prison seem possible and fun. Ah, movie magic.

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