Unreal Power Rankings: Top 5 Movies Based on Stephen King Stories

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We’re gonna introduce a new type of article here at Unreality called Power Rankings.  We often make lists or categorize certain actors, roles, scenes, etc., but without much regard to order or rank.  With Power Rankings, though, we’ll actually rank whatever it is we are categorizing.  For our first, let’s rank the five best movies based on Stephen King stories.  Some of the movies on the list are obvious, but you may not know that some of the movies were based on a King story to begin with.  Don’t agree with my rankings?  Feel free to comment and correct me.  Ad hominem attacks are also welcomed.  Power Rankings begin after the jump:

5.  Carrie

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With apologies to The Running Man, The Mist, and the made-for-TV movies The Stand and It, Brian De Palma’s Carrie comes in at number five.  Carrie White, after years of torment from just about everyone – including her own mother – discovers that she has the power of telekinesis.  The girl goes through a lot, and you can’t help but feel sorry for her.  Getting your first period in front of your classmates has got to be rough enough, but the bucket of pig blood that is spilled on Carrie at the prom is just plain cruel.  Carrie snaps and unleashes her telekinetic power, killing just about all her fellow students in the gym where the prom is held.  This classic climactic scene – along with the later-parodied “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” shouts from Carrie’s mother – land Carrie in the top five of these Power Rankings.

4. Stand By Me

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Directed by Rob Reiner and starring Cory Feldman, River Phoenix, a young, fat Jerry O’Connell, and Keifer Sutherland, Stand By Me is based on the story “The Body.”  Four young friends set out to find a dead body and bond along the way, fleeing from junkyard golden retrievers named Chopper, having deep discussions concerning what type of animal Goofy is, and listening to Gordie’s stories.  Who can ever forget the Lardass Barf-O-Rama?  Stand By Me makes the top four because of its uncanny tendency to give the audience a sense of nostalgia for their childhood friends.  And also because of the scene where Gordie gets a leech on his balls.  Truth.

3. Misery

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Also directed by Rob Reiner, Misery told the story of author Paul Sheldon, nursed to health after a car accident and then made prisoner by a psychotic fan.  Kathy Bates earned a Best Actress award for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes, and this was no fluke; never have I found a chubby middle-aged woman so terrifying.  The movie is a pretty faithful adaptation of the novel, with one exception being the infamous hobbling scene.  In the movie, Annie breaks Paul’s ankles by setting a block of wood between them and then blasting them with a sledgehammer.  In the book, she cuts off his foot and burns the stump.

2. The Shawshank Redemption

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I’m guessing that a lot of people don’t know that this movie was based on a Stephen King short story.  If you did, cool, but I generally believe that it’s tough to go wrong underestimating the knowledge of the general public.  I mean, didn’t we have a Vice Presidential candidate that thought Africa was a country, not a continent? Amazing.  But the point of this article ain’t politics, it’s movies, so let’s get back to Shawshank.  Andy Duphresne (played by Tim Robbins) is a fascinating character, maintaining his honesty and personal moral code in a realm filled with criminals and crooked guards.  His integrity is rewarded by the end of the film, as after escaping prison and screwing (not literally) the warden, he meets up with Red in Mexico to live the rest of his life free and peacefully.  A lot of people consider Shawshank one of their favorite movies and I agree, it’s great, but it’s not the best on this list.

1. The Shining

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I don’t know where to start with the Shining, to be honest.  I recognize that the movie is quite different from the book, but that shouldn’t affect the movie’s position on this list; it was still based on a Stephen King story.  Word is that King hated Kubrick’s film, which I think can only be a good thing, considering how many awful movie adaptations King has endorsed.  The Shining is classified as a horror film – and it is scary – but this film transcends that genre.  Nicholson’s performance, the score, and the pacing of this movie are just about perfect, but what stands out the most is the cinematography.  I think my favorite shot in movie history is when, with the use of the Steadicam, we follow Danny on his Big Wheel through the Overlook Hotel.  Every sharp turn that Danny makes, we make, and you can almost feel the texture of the ground as Danny rides over alternating patches of carpet and wood.  There are so many ways to film a child riding his Big Wheel through a hotel, but Kubrick’s vision gives us a tense, uneasy ride the whole way through.  And then, when Danny stops, we see the creepy little girls who were butchered years ago in the very same hotel.  The Shining is more than just a horror movie.  It’s just about perfect and the best movie ever based on a Stephen King story.

Agree?  Disagree?  Wanna make out?


  • Nattyb

    As long as you had Stand By Me then I’m good to go. Nice work sir.

  • trustthedust
  • Bendu

    Replace Misery or Carrie with Green Mile

  • max

    You can’t transcend a genre, by definition. The Shining is a horror film, whether you like horror films or not, and it is certainly not the best horror film. The structure of the film is very fractured and has a lot of holes in it. Its as if Kubrik took the book and just ripped out very important plot and narrative devices and junctions, resulting in a plot that makes very little sense unless you’ve read the book.

  • ricinsing

    The Green Mile doesn’t make it? Big surprise really!!! although trying to pick the tope 5 is hard.. Christine would be up there for me too.. atleast a honourable mention for the two of them..

  • max

    what about “The Green Mile”. Thats a hell of a lot better than Carrie and even Shawshank.

  • koolkid

    What about Green Mile?

  • Mothertrucker

    I do believe that this list screwed up on several movies of Awesomeness.

    Maximum Overdirve is Epic. It has gun, killer electronics, and ACDC did the soundtrack.

    Silver Bullet. It has Garey Busey, a wheelchair with a V8, and Werewolves.

    Also I think The Stand got the shank a little bit, but I think that’s more of a personal preference then what other’s think.

    Also The Green Mile probably should have made your top 5.

  • nongeek

    Personally, I think the the Shining was good, but the Shawshank Redemption was best. Just my humble opinion. Glad you actually got the “Best” 5. I agree that a lot of the adaptations of his stories have been garbage.

    Honorable Mention- The Dead Zone

  • rik

    Great list, though I’d add The Dead Zone somewhere!

  • Any way you look at Stephen King, the man writes. But the most important thing to do is hear the words…We, for years have been reading to each other King’s books, but the persen listening!!!!! must listen with thier eyes closed, and leave them closed the entire time,and for a full three minutes after the reading is over. I suggest you read Thinner first in this way,(Richard Bachman,is King)…and have on hand a simlpe slice of cheese cake for desert.

  • Jim

    Nice list.

    The only thing I would change is to push The Shining a little farther down in the list. While it was a decent movie, I think that Shawshank, Misery and Stand By Me not only were better adaptations of King’s stories, they were also better stories for film. The Shining kind of left me scratching my head.

    Perhaps I’d even rank Carrie over The Shining. I agree the cinematography was outstanding, it doesn’t really make up for the confusion in the plot.

  • brian robbins

    what about The Green Mile?

  • If there was a Top 6, Needful Things would have been a good one to have.

  • Rocky Raccoon

    You listed all the most important characters in Stand by Me but left out Wil Wheaton? WTF? You could at least IMDB it.

  • Agreed, these five are good films. But ninety percent of the others are unwatchable. The Langoliers for example and that god-awful remake of The Shining starring that kid with the huge cheeks.

  • Xerobull

    Can’t argue with your list, but maybe you can do a subset of horror-only movies.

  • EddyS

    A good knowledge, impressive choices, but the omission of The Green Mile is quite frankly shameful.

  • JetKrosswind

    “It” wasn’t on here? This list fails.

  • Jeff Miller

    So you listed off everyone in Stand By Me but Richard Dreyfuss, John Cusack and the kid who was actually the star of the movie? Why no love for Wheaton?

  • Anon

    alright, i’m gonna go rent the shining now… (agree with most of your rankings)

  • TheWatcher

    A great list and i fully agree! great article. For the record, Shawshank redemption was originally titled “Rita Hayworth and the shawshank redemption”. For those who are interested.

  • Bill

    Shawshank is terrible.

  • I think The Green Mile should be somewhere on this list…

  • rikki

    What about The Stand?

    I thought that was pretty good.

  • Tom

    Glad to see Stand by Me on there as well…but Green Mile is suspiciously missing.

  • I think The Mist is underrated, but it’s a solid list nevertheless.

  • Roman

    Two Words: The Stand!

  • Danomolis

    The top 4 I completely agree with. Carrie is on my bubble though, and you pointed out that it slightly topped It, and the Stand.
    I think I would have listed “It” above Carrie only because I’m terrified of clowns.

  • Mike

    Great list… I agree with every item on it, however, I probably would have put Shawshank at #1.

  • Ralph

    You missed the Dead Zone…just my opinion of course

  • Darklighter5000

    Forgot to mention a young Will Wheaton in “Stand By Me.” – he’s in the picture.

    It’s a good write up, but it wouldn’t hurt to check your grammar and spelling too.

  • Trenture

    I almost agree with this list, of course, except for numbers 1 and 2. I do however admire the fact that you’ve power ranked these 5 awesome films, and I think 3 through five you could have shuffled and still be correct.

    My problem with 1 and 2 is the oddity that though King is a horror writer, he pens one of the greatest stories of hope ever. There are a lot of horror fans, and the Shining is up there on all of their lists, but there are more ‘just movie’ fans, and people who only watch movies for fun now and then, and all of those people have Shawshank at the top or near the top of their list. Not that I think popularity should be the cornerstone of a good list, just the opposite in MOST cases, but not this one.

    Yes both books differ from the movies, and Shawshank is actually a short story (in four Seasons with another great story to not great movie… Apt Pupil), but the genius to cast Morgan Freeman as Red and Narrator (something copied many times since) sets the tone for the whole movie. I don’t like Tim Robbins, but I love Andy Dufresne. I love Clancy Whathisnuts, but I LOATHE Hadley.

    Great list.

    Well, that’s just my opinion,

  • Jason

    you forgot Pet Sematary. it’s not very different from the book, and it is pretty damn scary, gut-wrenching at times.

    I love this movie, always have.

    with Grandpa munster as Judd, and that lovable no-name actor who starred in Time-Trax in the early ninties.

    you know, the guy who was in one episode of Dexter in season 2?

    hell I can’t remember his name either.

    but I’ve always had a spot in my heart for Pet Sematary the movie.

  • Dan

    Good list, but I disagree with your comment about Shawshank.. it’s easily the best movie on the list, followed by Stand by Me 🙂

  • you know

    shoulda made it a top 6 and included the green mile!

  • thiga

    Personally Shawshank is a way better film than the Shining and to prove it, even King hated the Kubrick film. Shawshank has also been voted the most inspirational film of all time. While the list is generally good i would’ve preferred a ‘no particular order’ at the top.

  • memals

    unfortunately the list of bad Steven king movies is much longer.
    Dreamcatcher
    The Langoliers
    The Tommyknockers
    It
    etc…
    mainly because the movies were not following the books accurately.

  • Doug

    I mean, didn’t we have a Vice Presidential candidate that thought Africa was a country, not a continent?

    Which is worse? Not electing a fool VP or electing a guy who has thought there were 57 states in the nation which he was hoping to be elected leader of?

    Both sides slip on occasion. And Obama without a teleprompter is a scary thing…

  • Um, I do believe you left Wil Wheaton out of the cast list for Stand by Me. An intentional mistake? It couldn’t be. There would be no Stand by Me without Wil. Period. You mention Gordie twice, without listing Wil as the actor who brought him to life.

    Oh, and this list is B.S. without “Christine”.

  • billyb

    The list is def the best of King but Shawshank should be #1. Its the only movie on the list that doesn’t stray from the original story except for the name. “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”

  • Rodolfo

    Somewhat less known: “The Running Man” Writen as Richard Bachman pseudonym

  • Impeach Obama

    Funny, I find The Shining wayyyyy overrated. Just like the new President. We must impeach him before he does any more damage!!!!

  • noj

    Salem’s Lot…very scary floating vampires, underappreciatted movie. I also vote for Needful Things and i thought Green Mile was such an overwrought, melodramatic crudpile. What’s with the people saying it should be on this list, or even be considered good? Yuck.

  • Jester

    Yep, you missed The Green Mile. Not sure about the order, but the movie TGM should replace is The Shining, which shouldn’t be in the top 5. The Shining has *scenes* that are remarkably good, I agree (and the one you mention is top notch), but taken as a *whole*, the movie is a mess and that’s why King hates it.

    The thing that makes The Shining, the book, so fantastic is that the story cleverly points out how many of us are standing on the brink of madness or depravity, only needing the slightest nudge to push us over the edge. The book is subtle, and watching Jack Torrance teeter on that brink is half the fun. The scary part is that every single one of us knows someone like Jack Torrance, who is fighting to stay on the top of the cliff, every day.

    In the movie, Jack Nicholson doesn’t teeter. He takes a running, flying leap off that edge screaming “wheeeee!” the entire time. That’s not scary. It’s funny, and fun as hell to watch, but ultimately stupid, not scary.

  • Madison

    @Jason

    Pet Semetary is one of my favorite King books, if not my very favorite (tied with The Long Walk). The movie’s pretty good, all things considered, I just don’t think it’s better than the five I listed above.

  • Jack

    Dump The Shining and substitute Dolores Claiborne. It is beautifully filmed and directed and has a cast who are all at the top of their game.

    As for The Shining, between Nicholson chewing up the scenery, and a totally miscast Shelley Duvall who has you wishing Nicholson would hurry up and kill her, no amount of cinematic skill can make the film watchable. How is it possible that the director who created Doctor Strangelove could fail to realize that with The Shining he had created the worst situation comedy ever filmed.

  • No metnion of the stand? c’mon.

  • Trevor

    No one ever remembers but he wrote this made for tv movie called “The Storm of the Century” one of the best horror flicks I have ever seen
    also props to Green Mile that movie also rocked

  • Roomtone

    The Shining is one of the best movies ever made. Period.

    There is so much going on in that movie, it’s sick. It’s a movie that requires multiple viewings before you can see the layers of complexity. Kubrick was just a plain ol’ genius.

    It’s not his fault Stephen King doesn’t have the attention span to understand his changes.

    Someone mentioned holes? There are no holes. The movie is a puzzle, much like the Maze outside and it’s doppleganger, the hotel itself (hence the steadycam shots with Danny). Yet, all of it’s secret are in plain view, like the ghosts and the ultra-bright-for-a-horror-movie lighting.

    Delve deep, it’s a movie with endless rewards that will keep you coming back, like Mr. Torrance himself.

  • daisyvilla

    The Green Mile must be in the top 5.

  • stacey

    the shining? seriously? I hated that movie. Maybe because it has jack nickelson. Can’t stand him either.

    My #1 would have been Shawshank. One of my all time favorites.

  • electrobrain

    You all *do* realize what will end up at the top of this list, right?

    The Dark Tower. Oh yes. The series has been optioned in to the hands of geniuses. For $19, no less.

    http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/09/02/damon-lindelof-updates-the-dark-tower/

    I’m truly optimistic. It could be great in the sense that (I think) the Lord of the Rings movies were great. That might seem overly bold to some, but it’s easily imaginable to me!

    Cheers.

  • Jay

    I am just glad IT got some sort of an honorable mention. Creepy clowns with a good story makes for a fascinating movie.

  • Isobel C

    I have to agree with a lot of the others, The Green Mile should really be up there. You could at least put it up as an honorable mention.

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  • Jason

    Although not based on a novel, I think the original Creepshow is a very strong Stephen King film.

  • Ivo

    I completely agree with the list. Great written review, especially for shining. Shawshank deserves #2 and, also, better review. No habla espanol .

  • Poobeer

    @trustthedust
    You need an internet resource telling you what is overrated or not? You mean you don’t have an opinion of your own?
    How s.a.d.

    To you and all those other way-too-serious critics here:
    Can’t you see this list is just the humble opinion of Madison?
    Of course you’re allowed to rate movies to own liking, this list is not like the Law of Gravity or something

  • Louise Iana

    Stand By Me is definitely my favourite movie of all time. I read the short story after I saw it and I think it movie is way better.

    I only watched The Shawshank Redemption for the first time about a month ago, I’d just never gotten around to it since I had already read the short story.

    I wish I had seen the movie first without knowing the ending. It would have been more powerful on screen.

    Good list.

  • Big Dave

    Just pointing out that I did know the real title of the the story is “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” Anyhow, as a looong time King fan, I can’t disagree with your list very much at all. Carrie, being the first King hit to make it to celuloid, is always the best. SBM and Shawshank are awesome character movies. Misery is able to portray the intensity of the book, and The Shining? Hey, it’s Jack Nicolson, do you need to say any more? But your top 5 needs to be expanded to 10. My 10 would include The Green Mile, Christine, Needful Things, Pet Sematary and more recently, The Mist. I love the twist ending that was not in the story. And you could jumble them into any order you want, and I would agree. Oh, and special mention for the minseries of The Stand. It was surprisingly faithful to the book, and an awesome story. Great list.

  • Cali

    Decent list, though The Shining just pissed me off. The changes made from the book completely missed the whole point. Though not as well acted/directed the TV version of the The Shining at least stayed accurate to the book and still scared the S#!@ out of me.

    Personally I would have had Stand by me or the Shawshank redemption at the top of the list and storm of the century would have replaced Carrie.

  • Madison

    @ Cali

    I feel ya, but remember, I wasn’t ranking the films based on how faithful they were to the source material.

    Thanks for reading.

  • soundbyter

    I think this list was lazily and hastily written. The Shining in film is vastly different than the book, and Stephen King was quite upset with the treatment; it turned a wonderfully written story about a clairvoyant boy into a vehicle for Jack Nicholson.

    Also, as listed above; no Green Mile? No Dolores Claiborne? How about The Running Man?

  • Madison

    @ soundbyter

    I’m really getting tired of repeating myself: the list isn’t about the movies that were most faithful to the source material.

    No, no Green Mile. It’s not as good, in my opinion, as the five I have listed. I don’t care if it was nominated; it’s an incredibly overrated movie.

    And seriously, you bash The Shining for not being faithful to the book, but then suggest The Running Man should have made the list? It seems to me the only thing that was lazily and hastily written was your comment.

    Thanks for reading.

  • “I mean, didn’t we have a Vice Presidential candidate that thought Africa was a country, not a continent?”

    No, we did not. Small people just happen to be extremely credulous about the most obvious lies when it happens to be something bad about someone they disagree with or dislike.

    What the hell happened to Shelley Duval? She was a household name, but she was in like three movies. Annie Hall, Popeye, and The Shining.

  • Barry

    Good List-These comments prove why SK’s books have become so popular over the years-People are dumb as dirt!(My favorite was the guy who said the appalling Maximum Overdrive was ‘Epic’!)King has capitalized on Human Nature,we all love to rubberneck at the carcrash …

  • Kajay

    Shawshank Redemption was really good, and despite what people say, not overrated. Green Mile was too good to have left off of this list. Carrie was OK, nothing special. The Shining was fun, but hardly the best of King. “It” should have been on this list. Stand By Me was worth a look, but only one, and therefore not listworthy.

  • Obamalicious

    Storm of the Century is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen – same with Salem’s Lot – sure – they were made for TV, but they are great still. Don’t put on Storm of the Century in a snowstorm.

  • This list is near perfect. I can’t believe the number of incredibly ignorant posts here. You really should think about barring some of these people from ever posting again. Start with everyone who said the Green Mile should be included. It’s a terrible film. The worst Frank Darabont has ever done. Really, it’s a terrible terrible film.

    Next, delete everyone that thinks Shawshank is overrated. It’s not.

    Last, you should not only delete the posts that disagree with the Shining at #1, but we must devise a plan to prevent these people from ever accessing the internet ever again. Kubrick is one of the top 5 greatest directors of all time. The Shining is an achievement in not just film, but all of the arts. If you have ever studied film extensively or directed anything of your own, you’ll understand why The Shining is so incredible.

  • Cin77

    I love this list! I don’t agree with the people saying “The Green Mile” was the bomb though, reading the book was great, but as you said, this is based on the movies and I thought the green mile movie was so long and tedious.
    Ooh and I thought christine was crap too, shame to waste all those cars to make it.
    My opinion of most Stephen King movies is: they should have been left alone. Too many people read the books and bemoan the fact that the movies are different, the thing is a writer only gives your imagination some guidance, the majority of the scenery is up to your mind, so of course someone elses version of it is going to be different.

  • sammy

    to leave out “the Mist” is a travesty

  • ra

    I must agree that Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining is probably the best movie based on a Stephen King novel.

  • Alice Keymer

    Aere you all on crack? The Shining is the shittest, unscariest Stephen King film of all. Replace it with Carrie, The Dead Zone, Creepshow, Firestarter, Christine. They were way cooler than this 2 hour bore which sent me to sleep. It’s interesting to see how many people go “ooh it’s genius, brilliant adaptation” and all that pompus shit – and then go and pan Children of the corn and say they don’t like it becuase it’s not faithful to the original story. Ignorant twats!

  • Messa

    I would have had “The Green Mile” on there somewhere. That’s a movie that’s still good today. Not scary, mind you, but amazing.
    Personally, I hated The Shining. Even ignoring the fact that it was so far from the book, which I loved dearly, there wasn’t much good about it at all. Even for it’s time, there were hardly any magnificent traits for it to cling to.

  • DAVID L

    Don’t listen to any of these people who tell you otherwise about The Shining. For one day perhaps, they too will be ‘able’ to see the truth.

    I’m a huge film fan in general and your review of The Shining is spot on. I think there also is something to be said about Danny Lloyd and Shelley Duvall because for a child who has to hold his weight with Jack Nicholson, and a woman who had to be hysterical or crying half the time, they both did a good job. Stanley Kubrick is a master and anyone who thinks his films don’t transcend genres, don’t know much about his entire body of work. All of his films are unique from one another (from a narrative standpoint), and he reinvented himself with every film he made.

    The Shining is one of the most visceral films and it should also be said that watching it in a theater is completely different from any other situation. ‘The great escape’ only complements the most visceral of films (e.g. 2001)

    Great review, hope to see more in the future

  • Apathygrrl

    I agree with your list, but I would swap The Shining and Shawshank. Shawshank is the better movie of the two. Shelley Duvall was atrocious in the Shining. I wanted to kill her myself after 5 minutes. The only good thing about the horrendous remake of the Shining is that Rebecca De Mornay was sooooo much better than Shelley Duvall.

  • Poop-on-a-licorice-stick

    Here’s an interesting tidbid: in The Shining the shot you mentioned where the camera follows Danny, the film crew used a wheelchair instead of a Steadicam.

  • Jennaa

    lmfao i love the
    Agree? Disagree? Wanna make out?

    best part

  • Jack Torrance

    The Shining is one of the not so good Kubrick movies, I think. But of course still lightyears ahead from The Green Mile that so many people seem to love. The Green Mile is exactly the kind of cheesy supersweet bullshit that usually is done by Stephen Spielberg to complete his tension/pretension/total bullshit-cycle.

  • TrixRabbi

    There’s something about Reiner’s change to Misery, where she breaks his foot rather than cut it off completely that makes it all the more terrifying. But I don’t know why.

  • skwigalls

    how did you miss the green mile man?
    excellent book and film.
    i very much agree with the shining though

  • aileenj1

    I like the Tv Series…..The Stand..especially the all star cast..and the beginning with the music….with Don’t Fear the Reaper….good entrance to movie!

  • JakeMan

    Stand By me and Shawshank Redemption are his 2 greatest works.
    Everything else is Shock treatment for limited minds

  • I’ve read em all and watched em all. Loved all of them. Shawshank Redemption is an excellent read as well, so much more depth than the movie.

  • Oh come on, you can’t leave off the movie that gave an entire generation a clown phobia. Yes, IT was just a tv movie, but when Pennywise opened his mouth to show those teeth, thousands of kids wet their pants.

  • Sadiebaby

    I would agree that the Green Mile was a great adaptation of the book(s) (it was actually written as a serial novel) and definately deserved mention in your countdown. But there’s one other thing I wanted to point out about book/movie differences from “Misery”. Annie Wilkes shot the Sheriff in the movie. In the book . . . she ran over him with a law mower. Much more Annie-ish than a shot gun.

  • Ian

    oh Stephen King movies.
    I agree with your 5 best.

    How about the 5 worst:

    5. The Mangler
    4. Rose Red
    3. Sleepwalkers
    2. Dreamcatcher
    1. sometimes they come back

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  • Feisty Cadaver

    5. The Stand
    4. It
    3. Pet Semetary
    2. Shawshank Redemption
    1. The Green Mile

  • billafu

    I find myself mostly agreeing with your list. I would put “Creepshow” and “The Mist” before “Misery” and “Shawshank” though. As to the issue of faithful adaptations, I think a novel cannot be truly adapted to movie length. Even a long movie will lose some of the details in a novel length story. Could “The Shining” have been more faithful to the original? Of course, the remake certainly was. The prime example of a movie based on a completely unrelated treatment of a Stephen King story has for me always been “Lawnmower Man”. Wherein, apparently, only the title was kept from the original source material. Kind of makes “The Shining” look like a word for word transcription by comparison. Sorry for the length of this post but as a side note, two of the movies in this list (as I’m sure the readers of the stories know) come from the same collection of four novellas: The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me. This collection, called “Different Seasons”, also includes another adaptation to the silver screen as yet unmentioned here, I believe. A story and movie called “Apt Pupil”. And while it is not one of my favorites in either incarnation, the fourth story in that collection is. I keep hoping that someone will attempt to bring “The Breathing Method” to the big screen, or even the small screen. It puts me in mind of a somewhat more graphic Twilight Zone or Night Gallery episode. I always thought it would have made a good adaptation for the latter day Outer Limits on Showtime.

  • MacGyver1138

    I personally think that the Shining is overrated. The book was quite memorable to me, but the movie was kind of boring. Kubrick was great, but I am not a fan of his style in a lot of movies. (I honestly think that about an hour could have been cut from 2001 and it would have been a better movie)

  • Martin

    In the same way that America is a continent, not a country.

  • Jessica

    No complaints with the list here. I recently read and re-watched The Shining and it really is an amazing film. There are a few story elements left out of the movie that would’ve been great to see how Kubrick could’ve included, but it’s still amazing.

    “It” definitely deserves an honorable mention. See Tim Curry in that and then watch him as another bad guy in Home Alone 2 haha. I saw “It” when I was 4 years old (epic childcare fail) and was freaked out for years by so many parts!!

    After all, they all float down here.

  • mobiusclimber

    The problem with Kubrick’s “The Shining” is that there is no character arc. Jack Torrence is crazy from the very beginning. It’s also a real shame that the ambiguity in the novel wasn’t preserved in the film. The movie plays pretty much like a haunted house story and the “twist” at the end was incredibly lame and unbelievable. Why didn’t Kubrick focus on Jack’s alcoholism instead of trying to create a ghost story that just doesn’t really work. I love the movie, but it has some serious problems in its story, mostly due to Kubrick removing the ambiguity and trying to create some weird twist ending (not to mention the real ending that got cut off the film), and for the casting decisions.

    I completely agree with the other films listed, tho a longer list would have made more sense. Personally, I’d have included Cujo, Pet Semetary, The Dark Half and Salem’s Lot (the original miniseries). Shame this is “movies based on stories” tho because Storm of the Century is one of my favorite King films.

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  • C

    Slow kids, “The Stand” was not a movie (as the category states.)
    Rather it was a mini-series and about 8 hours long. But yes it did rock very hard.

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  • Stacy

    Great job! I completely agree with this list.

    Ps. make out, definitely haha.

  • Kupo

    Id hate to admit it, but The Mist was actually pretty decent.
    Maybe because im a silent hill fan (not the movie) which was inspired by the Mist. One of the better adaptations of Kings work.

    The Shining is overrated, not to say its bad. Just not as good as people say.

    Dolores Claiborne should be up there.

    Just hoping the Dark tower series are made well, they might eventually top the list…

    Considering the dozens of movies made from Kings material, perhaps it should have been a top 10 list.

  • Madison

    @ Kupo

    Power Rankings are always Top 5…and even though there have been dozens of adaptations of King’s work, I don’t know that there have been 10 good ones. There’s more bad than good, for sure.

    Thanks for reading.

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  • Morphindel

    Pay no attention to these fools. Shawshank is one of the greatest films ever made. I would say it is better than The Shining, but to be honest they are both spectacular films. The Green Mile isn’t all its cracked up to be i dont think, and the real greatness of it comes from the performances of Sam Rockwell and Doug Hutchison

  • Madison

    @ Morphindel

    Of course I agree…Shawshank and Shining, regardless of which you believe is the better of the two, are leagues above the rest of the movies on this list.

    I left off Green Mile for a reason. It’s not bad, but that’s about all I can say.

  • Horace

    Needful Things and The Green Mile should be on the list.

  • Pennywise

    Love your list, and The Shining as #1 is very deserved. I watch it every winter, it’s become a regular ritual. Sure it’s different from the book but Kubrick is a genius on his own so he took creative licence, whatever.

    Stand By Me is just beautiful, Shawshank too. Misery another perfect movie, different from the book too but still great.

    Can’t believe you cut Cujo, but it is only a Top 5 list…..

  • Madison

    @ Pennywise

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Cujo…but it doesn’t really compare to my Top 5, especially the Top 3. Totally different league.

  • SomeGuy9834

    Christine sucked ass, period. It does not deserve a spot on this list. Leaving that topic in the mud, i think there are serious problems about this list. Someone apparently had not seen The Green Mile or did not realize that it was a Stephen King novel. It certainly is better than Carrie, Stand By Me, and Misery. On the topic of those three, I think that Carrie was better than Rob Reiner’s two adaptations of King stories. Stand By Me and Misery had some great performance (kudos Kathy Bates, James Caan, River Phoenix, a pre-fucking-fucking-annoying-Wesley-Crusher Wil Wheaton, a pre-Corey Haim Corey Feldman, and a pre-Kangaroo Jack Jerry O’Connell), however, Rob Reiner’s directorial style is too clean-cut Hollywood PG-13, especially in Misery. Brian De Palma was stylishly gruesome with Carrie, which beats out Reiner’s efforts for its over-the-top style and a decent performance from a bad guy John Travolta, a rare thing. I don’t think The Shining is better than Shawshank. Don’t get me wrong, The Shining is a fucking classic and Kubrick is the master, probably one the best directors in the history of cinema. However, The Shawshank Redemption is a seriously affecting drama about realistically portrayed human beings, whereas The Shining, like many Kubrick films, centers around three, intentional caricatures, played as so in order to heighten the surrealism of the film in which they feature. Shelley Duvall basically does her whole Olive Oyl routine and Jack Nicholson plays Jack Nicholson, as always, crazy from the get go. Both Shawshank and the Shining were great films, but Shawshank had the greater task of delivering a straight-forward, conventionally made, Hollywood drama that still managed to be heart-breaking and memorable.

  • Madison

    @ Someguy9834

    In all honesty, Green Mile would probably be #6. I think it’s overrated, but still a pretty good flick. It doesn’t resonate like the others on this list.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and I love the Olive Oyl comparison for Shelly Long.

  • #Jimmy

    No Green Mile, Christine or Salem’s Lot? Yeah, this list lacking.

  • Alex DeLarge

    Good list. I’m in total agreement with the selection of The Shining as number 1. Frankly, Stephen King should be more than a little humbled that Kubrick chose one of his (King’s) books as inspiration for one of his (Kubrick’s) masterpieces. I mean, King is an adequate writer, but if we were to compare the stature of King in his medium, to the stature of Kubrick in his, King would be dwarfed. Sorry to all you Stephen King fanboys, but it’s true.

  • Madison

    @ Alex

    I couldn’t agree more, and that’s a great way to compare King and Kubrick.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Madd Maxx

    It’s been years since I’ve seen it but I would have to include Salem’s Lot into this list.

  • morse

    Quote; “I mean, didn’t we have a Vice Presidential candidate that thought Africa was a country, not a continent? Amazing”

    Is that so Madison?

    Now we have a President who thinks we have fifty seven states!

    But the point of this post isn’t politics, it’s movies, and you nailed the top five. Although the order is mixed up! You kept the list short for the power rankings I see.

    The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Misery, Stand By Me and last Carrie.

    As far as horror films made from Kings work The Shining is tops.
    Many of the screenplays made from Stephen King novels end up better than the original work.

    There are some exceptions. Green Mile for example. Great flick, just a disappointment to many of those that read the book. Still, in the top ten. Far better than Cujo for example. “Nope, nothing wrong here!”

    The King still rules as a prolific writer, but just remember….
    “Blockheads read what blockheads write.”

  • cindy

    I have to say that “The Shining” is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen it many times and have enjoyed it but it isn’t the masterpiece it is portrayed as. Jack Nicholson creeps me out throughout the film but the problem is that he does that from the very beginning. Shelley Duvall is just someone you can’t help but want to kill throughout.
    I have to say that the best performances were given by the kids. They impressed me.
    One film that seems to be forgotten but is one of my favorites is “Firestarter”. It isn’t a horror film, more of a sci-fi thriller. I enjoyed it though. Drew Barrymore is pretty good and George C. Scott does an excellent job. I can’t get enough of watching that kid kick ass.
    “The Green Mile” should definetly have been on the list though.

  • April

    Adding to the list of ‘Hey, you forgot Wil Wheaton in Stand By Me’! He may be ‘Just A Geek’ by he plays the character, Gordie LaChance, who’s exploits you mention twice, whereas Keifer Sutherland’s character, Ace, shows up in two or three scenes. Needs an edit there.

  • anon9100

    The Shining was an AWFUL movie.

  • marco

    I believe IT should have made the list (I wasn’t scared of clowns until I watched this movie…when i was 18!).
    But leaving out pet sematary was unforgivable! it has the ramones, for gods’ sake! any movie with the ramones in its soundtrack is just plain awesome.
    I rest my case.

  • Joshua H.

    Love the list.
    The thing with King’s movies and why most come out like crap is because you need to get a director with a mind as twisted and screwed up as Stephens’ is.
    But like all movies made from books the movie no matter how good it is will always suck compared to the book.

  • ravenscar_313

    WHERE IS THE GREEN MILE?!?!? AND THE MIST WAS VERY UNDERRATED THOMAS JANE DID VERY WELL IN THAT FILM AND THE ENDING WAS NOTHING SHORT OF DEVASTATING IN A GOOD WAY

  • Kayla F.

    I agree with every movie on this list. Good Work!

  • Tim

    Why would you even MENTION running man?
    Anyone who read the story knows that the movie follows it in name only. I don’t understand why they didn’t stick to the text on that one, as it could have made such an awesome (and less corny) movie. I would put it in the bottom 5 King adaptions.

    • Madison

      It’d be tough to film the story as it was written by King (now, at least), what with the whole plane flying into the building scene at the end.

  • I’d vote for Green Mile as well.

    never really liked Carrie and The Shining. Its interesting to see how “horror” films have changed over the years.

    Much faster paced and more gore now – which isn’t neccesarily better!

  • demoncat

    nice list but would have put not only pet Cematary but also the stand. should have been on the list . not to mention cujo for that was one scary nasty dog. it true should have been mostly due to Pennywise. other wise good list. as for the shinning. that is the one film Steven has stated he hated how Kubrick did the film version of the book and remade it.

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  • john

    Has everyone forgotten salems lot, scared the crap out of me when i first watched it.

  • Sammy Danger

    There is a dilemma! As the Green Mile should have been included on this list, but the list was too good to omit a choice. Truly this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object! Therefore, the list should have been a top 6. Green Mile included.

  • C

    OK, the titles says movies, not mini-series so IT, the Stand, and the Tommyknockers are out, so is my personal favorite Storm of the Century. The list is solid.

  • don’t forget “Green Mile” bro’ !

    I used to love Stephen King until I read “Tommyknockers”. The scales fell away from my eyes after that as he seemed to knock out some superb books intermingled with some real turkeys.

    Some of his best books don’t translate well to movies. The Stand should have got the same treatment as Lord of the Rings