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The 11 Best Stephen King Screen Adaptations

February 6, 2011  |  7:00am

The Master of Horror, Stephen King, has published 49 novels, five non-fiction works and nine collections of short stories selling more than 350 million copies. His work has been adapted for the screen many times over the years to both wonderful and horrific effect.

With several King works currently being developed for the screen, we decided to list the best adaptations of his stories. Some of them are terrifying, some are heartwarming and a couple of them are so bad you can’t help but love them.

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11. IT
Source Material: IT (1986 novel)
Why It’s Awesome: The British magazine Radio Times named IT the scariest program aired on television.

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10. The Stand
Source Material: The Stand (1978 novel)
Why It’s Awesome: The mini-series features such class acts as Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe and Molly Ringwald. However, the acting is also awesomely bad.

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9. The Mist
Source Material: The Mist (1980 novella)
Why It’s Awesome: The Mist makes the list predominantly because it’s the first decent King horror story since Misery. It’s not his best, but it’s certainly not as bad as Dreamcatcher.

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8. Pet Sematary
Source Material: Pet Sematary (1983 novel)
Why It’s Awesome: Equal parts scary and terrible acting plus a Ramone’s theme song and Herman Munster makes for one awesome Stephen King experience.

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7. Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Source Material: Short stories from Nightmares and Dreamscapes (1993), Night Shift (1978) and Everything’s Eventual (2002).
Why It’s Awesome: Stars include William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Samantha Mathis, William H. Macy, Ron Livingston, and Kim Delaney. Nightmares and Dreamscapes offers delicious servings of Stephen King in one-hour bites.

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6. Carrie
Source Material: Carrie (1974 novel)
Why It’s Awesome: Based on the first King novel, the first King adaptation still remains among the best. The scene where Carrie burns down the school gym with her mind while her tormentors are trapped inside is one of the most relentless revenge scenes in history. That’ll teach bullies to be nicer to the nerds.

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5. Misery
Source Material: Misery (1987 novel)
Why It’s Awesome: Another Reiner film, Misery is every writer’s worst nightmare. Kathy Bates took home the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. Annie Wilkes is one of the most sickly sweet antagonists since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Nurse Ratched. “I’m your number one fan.”

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4. The Green Mile
Source Material: The Green Mile (1996 novel)
Why It’s Awesome: Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and two other categories, Stephen King called this film the single most faithful adaptation of his work.

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3. Stand by Me
Source Material: The Body (1982 novella)
Why It’s Awesome: Directed by Rob Reiner, this coming of age film featured the first notable appearance of River Phoenix. It also showed audiences and critics that a Stephen King story doesn’t have be a part of the horror/sci-fi genre to be entertaining. In fact, he’s capable of drama that can be both nostalgic and moving. Did you ever notice that Richard Dreyfuss doesn’t save the document on his computer before turning it off?

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2. The Shawshank Redemption
Source Material: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (1982 novella)
Why It’s Awesome: Like The Green Mile, Shawshank is another prison film directed by Frank Darabont except without the fantasy elements. Shawshank was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay Best Actor for Morgan Freeman.

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1. The Shining
Source Material: The Shining (1977 novel)
Why It’s Awesome: Stanley Kubrick took King’s terrifying novel and completely made it his own. There are many notable differences between the book and the film (King reportedly hates the movie), but unlike most other endeavors where liberties are take with the source material, Kubrick’s vision of The Shining stands completely on it’s own. It’s one of the few horror movies that’s not only an incredibly scary horror film, but an amazing film, period.

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