Tom Jolliffe with his top ten Stephen King movies…
With the impending release of the new It film, now seems a good time to run through a top 10 list of Stephen King movies. These are all feature films. I’ve not included TV miniseries.
As a writer it’s fair to say that King has been prolific. The sheer amount of novels, novellas and shorts he’s written has been astonishing and he doesn’t seem to show too many signs of slowing. The recent trend of translating popular fiction from page to screen is nothing new either. King’s work has been getting the Hollywood treatment for over 40 years. His films by their very concepts offer something interesting, often bizarre. As such there’s an array of films that lend themselves very much to cult followings. The output of King inspired work on-screen is a mixed bag. From cinema classics, to those which are trashy (but still watchable).
With It due for release, I can’t go without mentioning the previous screen incarnation of Pennywise the clown in the mini-series. Whilst inconsistent (the first part is exponentially better than the second) there’s no denying that Tim Curry as the demonic clown was utterly terrifying.
As far as this top 10 – choosing 10 was tough. There have been a lot of King films that weren’t brilliant but I loved. As a Schwarzenegger fan it pains me not to include The Running Man, but I haven’t. Likewise I loved Children of the Corn, Pet Semetary, Maximum Overdrive and even the daft nonsense that was The Lawnmower Man (so bad it’s actually quite good). I should also say that the number 1 spot is not taken up by a prison film.
Without further ado. My Top 10 Stephen King films:
10. The Mist
Recently rebooted as a TV series, this 2007 film from writer/director Frank Darabont remains fairly underrated. Like a lot of horrors of its ilk the film becomes less scary the more is revealed and shown but the opening half, as a group of local townsfolk are trapped within a supermarket to escape a mist housing something horrific, is actually very good. Darabont had previous in adapting King’s work into screenplay form, and we will get to that later.
9. Silver Bullet
Gary Busey. Need I continue? Okay, well this one includes a few recognisable King tropes, including the small town sensibility. As far as Werewolf flicks go this is a fine example of the genre. Busey is excellent, heading a solid cast which also features a very good performance from a young Corey Haim before he really hit the big time in the latter stages of the 80’s.
8. The Green Mile
This may be contentious to some, and to an extent this suffers from the curse of being “the other Stephen King prison film.” It’s a good film. It’s gut wrenching at times and the performances from Hanks and the late, great, Michael Clarke Duncan in particular are electrifying (sorry…). For me it descends into melodrama at times. Again, this is penned by Frank Darabont, who also took up the directors chair for this.
I love this film. It has certain disadvantages going for it that have meant it often gets overlooked. Firstly, as previously mentioned and as the rest of my list will attest, there have been great King adaptations. Secondly it’s a John Carpenter film and his CV, in this genre particularly, is absolutely first rate. So a film like Christine, which in its own right is fantastic, just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Great concept, great design and good performances. This is a truly overlooked 80’s gem.
6. The Dead Zone
For many of the same reasons as Christine, this is another overlooked piece of brilliance. It’s not the best film in David Cronenberg’s filmography but he was a master exponent of horror, particularly psychological or body horror. This one features Christopher Walken developing psychic abilities following a coma. As per the norm with King, any blessing normally turns into a curse. As you’d expect from Cronenberg this is visually interesting, dark, and engrossing.
Click below to continue on for the top five…