As one of the best-selling and prolific authors of all time, its no surprise that many of Stephen Kings stories have been adapted for the screen. Unfortunately, not every one of those adaptations is worth watching. Actually, its probably fair to say that there are more bad King adaptations than good ones.
This list collects the worst of the worst. If you wanna waste your time on any of this lot, well, dont say we didnt warn you And if you’re interested, here are the 20 Best Stephen King movies (opens in new tab).
Secret Window (2004)
The Movie: Author Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is stalked by another writer who accuses him of plagiarism.
What It Got Wrong: In a post-Scream world, where audiences are more canny than ever, horror movie tropes have become as easy to predict as an episode of Sesame Street. Secret Window was behind the times, then, with its lame attempts at menace mostly dead animals and threatening notes and youll-definitely-see-it-coming twist ending. Disappointing.
Silver Bullet (1985)
The Movie: Wheelchair bound kid Marty (Corey Haim) begins to suspect that a werewolfs to blame when people in his town turn up ripped to shreds.
What It Got Wrong: Having a disabled boy as the hero was a masterstroke, but the movie just wont let it lie, navigating the issues surrounding Martys disability with all the elegance of an elephant on a trapeze. The less said about the cheesy narration the better.
Cats Eye (1985)
The Movie: Three horrific tales from the master of horror including one about Drew Barrymore battling trolls, and one starring James Woods all linked together by a stray cat.
What It Got Wrong: In the US, it was released with just a PG-13 rating (even in the 80s, that spelled doom for horror fans), meaning Cats Eye is neither punishing horror nor thrilling drama. The trolls are particularly embarrassing like Smurfs whove been playing in the sewer for too long.
Needful Things (1993)
The Movie: A strange shop appears in a small town, and seems to contain everything that each shopper ever dreamed of. But at what cost?
What It Got Wrong: According to critic Roger Ebert; You know you’re in trouble when a movie’s about Satan, and his best lines are puns. Stir in unappealing characters and a plot that fails to hang together when all the twists are revealed, and this films in desperate, uh, need of saving.
The Shining (1997)
The Movie: Nope, not the Kubrick one. King disapproved so thoroughly of the Jack Nicholson version of his story that he wrote the teleplay for another version of the hotel-based horror, directed by Mick Garris.
What It Got Wrong: Pretty much everything. King apparently didnt want to leave out any detail from his novel, but some of the scenes worked far better on the page than on the screen. Like the scene where Jack (Steven Weber) is stalked by sentient topiary. Just daft.
The Langoliers (1995)
The Movie: A miniseries based on Kings novella of the same title, The Langoliers sees a planeful of people mysterious disappear while the survivors are chased by weird time-eating monsters.
What It Got Wrong: Its too long, the central mystery too dull, and the less said about the Langoliers themselves, the better. Oh, alright they look like giant evil Pac-man clones, which no-one ever has been afraid of.
The Movie: Andy McGee (David Keith) goes on the run with his daughter Charlie (Drew Barrymore, in another weak King adap), attempting to escape government agents who want to exploit their psychic abilities.
What It Got Wrong: A flabby mid-section stops Firestarter from being the explosive firecracker it should be. The first 40 minutes provide intrigue and on-the-run excitement, but thats all lost when Charlie and her dad are caught by The Shop. A Carrie-aping climax attempts to reignite things, but comes too late.
The Night Flier (1997)
The Movie: Reporter Richard Dees (Miguel Ferrer) battles a troublesome female co-worker as he follows the trail of a vampire who travels by plane.
What It Got Wrong: Far from Kings finest short story to begin with, The Night Flier makes for a less than average horror movie which at least means its true to its origins. Its painfully obvious that this is director Mark Pavias first time behind the camera, and the film never resembles anything more than a cheap TV movie.
Bag Of Bones (2011)
The Movie: Writer Mike Noonan (Pierce Brosnan) gets writers block after his wife dies, so takes himself off to their summer house where he encounters a troubled family and a ghost.
What It Got Wrong: Originally a mini-series, it falls into the same trap as most King mini-serieses its too long, and it tries to cover too much. Also, Brosnan is awful in it.