Picking out the best Stephen King movies and shows isn’t easy. With that in mind, we’ve taken a mix of movies and shows that are fantastic and should be re-watched by fans of The King of Horror.
Important: We have excluded The Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile from this list because they are two of the greatest movies ever made. Including them would result in a predictable top-2.
10. Pet Sematary (1989)
Pet Sematary has a few iterations. The one we rate #10 was released in 1989 and written by Stephen King himself. Pet Sematary is a zombie movie that presents an interesting take on the walking dead and how someone may try to take advantage of it. It’s gory, unsettling, and for its age, still creepy. Forget the 59 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and check it out for yourselves.
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9. 1408 (2007 )
Made in 2007 and starring John Cusack, who plays a paranormal debunker taunted into staying in the haunted hotel room, 1408. What follows is a psychological horror that isn’t the best Stephen King adaptation, but one much better than the 61 percent given on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. The Dead Zone (2002)
The Dead Zone pilot is based on the book by Stephen King. Despite further episodes veering off on their own, the show remains true to its origin about a man who wakes from a coma with psychic powers. The show ran for six seasons and despite being a mixed bag, it remains one of the better Stephen King shows made.
Directed by Brian De Palma, this King adaptation is memorable and deserves much more than the 77 percent given on Rotten Tomatoes. The mother-daughter face-off in Carrie is gripping, and the movie is full of iconic scenes, including Sissy Spacek covered in pig’s blood. If you’ve never seen it, stream it now.
6. Castle Rock
Castle Rock is not an adaptation of a book but a homage to King’s worlds. It’s a reimagining that explores King’s canon with new stories that are both big-budget and fantastically made. What makes this a must-watch show is that everything comes together in a way that unifies Stephen King’s work, and it’s unmissable television because of it.
5. IT Chapter One
The original IT movie was good but the kids in the 2017 remake (Chapter One) are better. They have an on-screen friendship and togetherness which the original couldn’t match. Plus, modern effects allow Pennywise the Dancing Clown to be bigger and scarier. If you want jump scares and some great one-liners, IT Chapter One is a must-watch adaptation.
4. The Mist
The Mist (movie) has an ending most won’t see coming. It breaks from the norm and leaves a lasting impression. Like with most Stephen King adaptations, the characters are interesting beyond plot devices, and The Mist delivers more than most, and all within the confines of a store.
3. The Outsider
The Outsider was one of the best shows of 2020. The only negative is that it forces you to watch multiple episodes back-to-back — it’s that good. This single-season show is gripping, with fantastic performances and a supernatural tale that’s not to be missed. If you have HBO Max, make sure you add it to your watchlist now.
Misery is easily one of the best Stephen King thrillers ever. Its brilliance can be summed up in two words: Kathy Bates. The actress’s performance is the reason to watch this Stephen King adaptation. It’s so good she won the Best Actress Oscar for it. To this day, Misery is the only Stephen King adaptation to ever win an Oscar.
1. Stand by Me
Without a doubt, with the exclusion of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, Stand by Me is the best Stephen King movie or show. It has chemistry, a simple premise, and is the best growing-up kids’ movie ever made. If you only watch one King movie on this list, Stand by Me should be it — unless you want something scary, of course.