It’s a good time to be a Stephen King fan. With last year’s Stranger Things functioning partly as an homage to the work of the world’s greatest horror author, two blockbuster King adaptations hitting theaters this year in It and The Dark Tower, plus two new Netflix movies — Gerald’s Game and 1922 — also set to arrive this year, one could argue that King’s popularity has reached its highest point since his 1980s heyday. It and The Dark Tower especially are generating much more interest than any King project in recent memory, and they may very well end up going down as some of the best adaptations of his work. But before they arrive, now seems like a good time to take a look back at the best Stephen King adaptations that have been produced so far.
There are a ton of movies based on King’s work — over 60 including sequels — plus another two dozen or so TV projects. Obviously, not all of them are great (looking at you, Maximum Overdrive), but a number of them really are something special — and some of his best have nothing to do with horror. So take a look below and see if your favorite made our list of the 24 best Stephen King adaptations.
There are few ideas more frightening or heartbreaking than having your beloved family pet turn against you, which is probably why “Cujo” is still used as a moniker today for any unruly dog.
23. Secret Window
A stellar performance by Johnny Depp and a great twist make this a fun watch.
22. Under The Dome
While this series went off the rails in later seasons, the first season is classic King.
A fun, X-Files-type sci-fi series based on King’s novel The Colorado Kid and set in a small town in Maine, like nearly all self-respecting King works.
Wondering where Stranger Things got their idea for a superpowered little girl whom a shady government organization tries to weaponize? Look no further.
19. The Tommyknockers
Life pro tip: If you find something green and glowing buried in your backyard, do not dig it up.
18. Pet Sematary
Sometimes, dead really is better.
17. Storm of the Century
Technically not an adaptation since King wrote it specifically for television, but it’s still a very underrated and spooky miniseries — especially to someone who grew up in a small Maine town that was frequently hit with severe winter storms.
This 2007 thriller is easily the scariest Hotel-set film since King’s own The Shining, which appears much later on this list.
Stephen King and John Carpenter join forces to tell a story about a murderous car. Does it get any better than that?
14. The Mist
The buildup is masterful, but the ending will leave you devastated. Devastated.
13. The Running Man
One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movies, this ’80s action flick was also a likely influence on The Hunger Games.
12. Dolores Claiborne
Well-acted and well-paced, this is Kathy Bates’ second-best performance in a King movie.
The most recent entry here, this limited series about a time-traveler trying to prevent the JFK assassination premiered last year on Hulu and represents the first — but probably not the last — streaming success for King.
10. Salem’s Lot
The first-ever King miniseries, from 1979, it’s still one of the most-frightening depictions of vampires ever put to screen.
A collaboration of vignettes from King and fellow horror legend George A. Romero, this homage to 1950s horror comics succeeds on a number of levels.
Warner Bros. Television
I hold this 1990 miniseries solely responsible for so many people having a fear of clowns.
7. The Green Mile
One of the great non-horror King films, this one still maintains a supernatural element.
6. The Dead Zone
Who doesn’t want to live in a world where Christopher Walken has psychic powers?
The first King adaptation, and still one of the best.
Kathy Bates won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role as deranged fan Annie Wilkes in this iconic thriller.
3. Stand By Me
Based on King’s novella The Body, this 1986 classic is simply one of the finest coming of age movies ever made.
2. The Shining
Considered by some to be the scariest movie of all-time, Stanley Kubrick’s classic is at least the scariest film based on King’s work.
1. The Shawshank Redemption
This should come as no surprise. The 1994 drama is consistently ranked among the greatest films ever produced, and with good reason. It’s the best adaptation of a Stephen King story, without question, and it’s not even a horror film. That’s how good it is.