Road To Halloween: Top 5 Stephen King Movie Adaptations

Written by Emily McWilliams October 19, 2012

Before we begin this top five, I feel the need to enlighten you on my childhood.  My parents (my dad in particular) had a hard time figuring out what was and wasn’t appropriate in terms of movies for children.  Those parental guidance ratings meant nothing to him, and often he would decide what we watched based on whether he remembered a movie as being good or not.  As a result, my younger sister and I watched a lot of Stephen King based movies, and it’s probably why to this day I hate the horror genre as a whole.  Don’t get me wrong – these are great movies – but my inner eight-year-old is still somewhat traumatized.  In honor of Halloween I give you the top five movies based off of Stephen King novels, and no, there will be no “Shawshank Redemption” – this is all about classic King Horror.

5. “Christine” (1983)

The plot is pretty straightforward.  Arnie is a nerdy guy with a new car that begins to have a mind of its own.  Arnie’s friends decide that the car, Christine, needs to go but she and Arnie won’t let them leading to some deadly conflicts.  The film and story seem a bit dated now, but this film has become something of a cultural icon.

4. “Cujo” (1983)

Another simple premise with terrifying action.  A mom and her son are trapped in their car when it stalls on some abandoned property.  Their only other company is Cujo, a rabid rottweiler that is determined to get them.  Maybe it doesn’t sound that scary, but remember this was before cell phones, and the family is literally stuck in a small car where most of the action takes place.  This film is full of tension and surprises.

3. “Pet Semetary” (1989)

Creepy neighbor? Check. Creepy kid? Check. Indian burial ground that brings back the dead? Check.  This is a lesser known King adaptation, but it is definitely one of the scarier ones.  A family moves to a house near a large highway and when their cat is hit by a car, the dad learns that if it is buried in a certain cemetary, it will come back to life.  However, the animals that come back have an evil personality.  So what happens when the family’s little boy is also killed in a car accident? Watch and you’ll actually be afraid of children.

2. “Carrie” (1976)

Want to relive your awkward teen years? Then “Carrie” is the film for you! Carrie, a quiet teenage girl who lives with her religiously oppressive Mom, discovers that she has telepathic powers.  When the school’s popular guy, Tommy, decides to ask her to prom in an act of kindness, the school bullies have something else planned for Carrie.  Their prank unleashes Carrie’s powers and leads to a twenty-minute sequence of pure destruction and terror.  Skip any remakes and make sure you watch the original that features great performances from Sissy Spacek and John Travolta.

1. “The Shining” (1980)

Even though King actually hated Kubrick’s take on his novel, there is no denying that this is one of the greatest horror films ever made and probably one of the more iconic King-based films.  Kubrick planned this movie as a deliberate mind-trip for the audience by creating a set that is architecturally impossible; an abandoned hotel is creepy enough but when you realize it’s impossible for certain rooms to exist that just takes it to a whole new level.  Mostly this film is known for Jack Nicholson’s tour-de-force performance as the deranged Jack Torrence, and there is a good reason for that.  Nicholson portrays pure terror and remains the scariest thing in the film even when competing with random ghosts that keep popping up.  If you haven’t seen this movie, then Halloween is the perfect time to do so.  If you have, watch it again – Kubrick made this film a puzzle so see if you can catch onto what he was trying to do.

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