From “Mysterious River” to “Dementia 13,” the most famous living literary icon of horror is also an avowed cinephile. These are the movies he likes, including adaptations of the King classics Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption.
Stephen King is the creator of the taste of terror. Ever since he broke out with “Carrie” — the sordid tale of a telekinetic teenage girl adapted into Brian De Palma’s 1976 classic starring Sissy Spacek — the horror auteur has had a hand in shaping our nightmares.
With dozens of novels, novels and short stories to his name, the 75-year-old writer has inspired just as many genre filmmakers. Mike Flanagan, the mastermind behind Netflix’s super successful Haunting anthology, has two King adaptations under his belt, including 2017’s Gerald’s Game (also released by the streaming giant) and 2019’s theatrical release Doctor Sleep . He will then take over The Dark Tower as a TV series.
Frank Darabont earned his three Oscar nominations working on the Best Picture nominees The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, both of which were based on King’s stories. He was also behind 2007’s The Mist, among many other King adaptations. Rob Reiner introduced the film closest to King’s heart with 1986’s Stand By Me: a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story starring Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell and the late River Phoenix. Reiner would earn Kathy Bates her first Best Actress nomination (and only win) with 1990’s Misery: a kidnapping thriller anchored in the outrageous psychological implosion of King’s brilliant Annie Wilkes creation. David Cronenberg, George A. Romero and other legends have also faced off against King.
The “Pet Sematary” author has talked about various adaptations of his work over the years. Many will remember his criticism of Stanley Kubrick’s widely acclaimed The Shining: Jack Nicholson’s 1980 masterpiece, which King likened to “a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine in it.” He’s been just as outspoken about movies that have nothing to do with his work, but King says he still doesn’t like them. For example, he hated Kill Bill Vol. 1” enough to write a full review of it in 2007: calling Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film “narcissistic” and “irrelevant”.
It was these harsher words that made King’s endorsement worth seeking out in Hollywood. Whether endorsing recent movies on Twitter or calling out decades-old favorites in interviews, King’s opinion carries enough weight to sink a body and turn the tides for projects big and small. Listed in no particular order, here are just 14 of the movies Stephen King has publicly recommended.
[Editor’s note: This list is not comprehensive and will serve as a living document to be updated over time.]
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