There are quite a few people who could be dubbed masters of horror. There was even a short-lived Showtime series dedicated to showcasing their work, but there’s one person who would pretty much be undisputed as master of all masters. We’re talking of course about Stephen King.
With October in full swing, many are in the mood to be scared, and unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to read a book (where King’s work obviously shines brightest) as it does to watch a movie…or ten.
With that, here’s a list of 10 movies based on Stephen King’s work that are perfect viewing for the Halloween season.
1. The Shining
Stephen King isn’t a fan of this particular adaptation because it differs so greatly from the source material, but most cinephiles hold the film in very high regard thanks to the masterful work of the late Stanley Kubrick. If you choose to watch one movie from this list with the goal of being creeped out, you should choose this one. It’s widely regarded as one of the scariest movies of all time.
2. Pet Sematary
If you choose two of these films, make this the second one. Overall, The Shining is a better film, but Pet Sematary has some genuinely scary moments both at the emotional and bone-chilling levels. If you’ve seen it, just the thought of Zelda saying, ‘Rachel” is probably enough to make your blood curdle. Not only does this one have King’s seal of approval, he wrote the screenplay himself.
3. Salem’s Lot
Though it was made for television, the original Salem’s Lot remains one of the creepier Stephen King movies to date. That’s probably because it had another so-called “master of horror” behind the camera in Tobe Hooper, best known as the director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This one is a vampire tale and has some of the most memorable non-Dracula vampire imagery every to grace the screen.
I don’t know why they keep remaking Carrie, because the original Brian De Palma classic is nearly perfect. It’s a tale with both heart and chills (not to mention William’s Katt’s amazing hair). It even has a scare so effective it was blatantly ripped off by the original Friday the 13th with a scene that gave birth to a pop culture icon in Jason Voorhees.
5. The Mist
If you’re in the mood for something a little more contemporary, The Mist is one of the best Stephen King adaptations in recent memory. It features great performances from the acting talent, plenty of character development, and of course…monsters! Just prepare yourself to be emotionally devastated by the time it’s over. Pro tip: turn the color down on your TV and watch it in black and white. This helps mask some questionable CG effects and gives it more a 50s monster movie appeal. This is actually a bonus feature on the DVD. There’s a good reason for it.
Creepshow is arguably the best horror anthology of all time. Would you expect anything less from a collaboration between Stephen King and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead)? It’s great for Halloween because with Creepshow you don’t just get one spooky tale, you get five! And they’re all memorable in their own way.
7. Creepshow 2
Everything from number 6 applies here, except that instead of five tales, this one only features three. Still Romero and King. Still memorable.
8. Silver Bullet
It’s hardly Halloween without werewolves, and Silver Bullet is without a doubt one of the top ten werewolf movies of all time. This is another one that Stephen King wrote the screenplay for himself. The movie features Corey Haim, Gary Busey, and a werewolf. What more could you possibly want?
9. Children of the Corn
You may not want to open your door for trick or treaters after watching this tale about murderous children who kill all the adults in a small Nebraska town to claim it as their own.
10. The Night Flier
Lastly, we’ll throw in one more vampire flick. It’s no Salem’s Lot, but presents an entirely unique take on the vampire genre. Even the vampire itself is unique in that it has giant centralized fangs as opposed to the typical canines you’re probably accustomed to. Stylistically, it’s an interesting film, and it features the always wonderful Miguel Ferrer. The Night Flier, based on a short story from Stephen King’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes collection, is arguably one of the most underrated film adaptations of the author’s work.
Remember, this isn’t necessarily a list of the best Stephen King adaptations, but rather a collection of those that would make for ideal October viewing in the spirit of Halloween.
This week, it was announced that Stephen King’s latest novel, End of Watch, will be released on June 7. This will be the final book in a crime trilogy that included Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers.