Monday, July 27, 2015

Stephen King Movies Ranked

Photo Credit Michael Tackett/CBS
Because why not?

I grabbed most of this list from the Wikipedia article "List of adaptations of works by Stephen King."
I've removed the TV series and TV episodes. Movies, both theatrical and TV, are included, and I've decided miniseries count as super-long TV movies. Leaving off miniseries would leave off things like It, which is, y'know, iconic at this point, if only for Tim Curry as Pennywise.

My ranking of "best movies" may differ from yours. This is arranged somewhat by technical quality and somewhat by level of enjoyment. I'm able to forgive some flaws--technical, story, effects--if there are good performances.

I divided my list into categories:

The Great - movies that are classics or should be classics.
The Good - movies that I feel hold up pretty well (although from about Firestarter on, the films become less "really good" and more "okay").
The Dumb But Fun - movies that I can't really make the argument are good, but are certainly fun to watch in different way--stupid plot, overacting, cheesy effects, or just sheer lunacy.
The Bad - it should go without saying that this is the dreck.
The Unseen - movies that I haven't seen yet for whatever reason.

Without further ado.

The Great

1. The Shining (1980)
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
3. Misery (1990)
4. The Dead Zone (1983)
5. The Mist (2007)
6. Hearts in Atlantis (2001) (based on the novella Low Men In Yellow Coats from 1999)
7. Carrie (1976)
8. 1408 (2007)
9. Stand By Me (1986) (based on the novella The Body from 1982)
10. The Green Mile (1999)

The Good

11. The Dark Half (1993)
12. Cujo (1983)
13. Pet Sematary (1989)
14. Secret Window (2004) (based on the novella Secret Window, Secret Garden from 1990)
15. Creepshow (1982)
16. Christine (1983)
17. Salem's Lot (1979)
18. Storm of the Century (1999)
19. Rose Red (2002)
20. It (1990)
21. Children of the Corn (1984)
22. Carrie (2013)
23. Thinner (1996)
24. Desperation (2006)
25. Firestarter (1984)
26. The Stand (1994)
27. The Shining (1997)
28. Needful Things (1993)
29. Bag of Bones (2011)
30. Creepshow 2 (1987)

The Dumb but Fun

31. Silver Bullet (1985) (based on the novella Cycle of the Werewolf from 1983)
32. Maximum Overdrive (1986) (based on the short story "Trucks" from 1973)
33. The Mangler (1995)
34. The Running Man (1987)
35. The Tommyknockers (1993)
36. The Langoliers (1995)
37. Sometimes They Come Back (1991)
38. Quicksilver Highway (1997)

The Bad

There's really no point to ranking these because they're all pretty bad to atrocious.
  • Dreamcatcher (2003)
  • The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (2003)
  • Pet Sematary Two (1992)
  • Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1993)
  • Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
  • Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)
  • Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)
  • Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return (1999) 
  • The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
  • Carrie (2002)
  • Salem's Lot (2004)
  • Sometimes They Come Back...Again (1996)
  • Riding the Bullet (2004)
  • The Lawnmower Man (1992)*
  • The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)*
*These two are of particular note because, as bad as some adaptations of King's work have been, The Lawnmower Man was so bad, and so far removed from the story King wrote, he actually successfully sued to have his name removed from the movie. The sequel isn't even listed on the "adaptations of Stephen King" article on Wikipedia--the rationale for which appears to be that the sequel wasn't based on any Stephen King story, which would be fine, except for all of the Children of the Corn sequels and the Sometimes They Come Back sequels.

You probably noticed that none of the miniseries made it into the "great" category. That's for a number of reasons. Even the best miniseries were constrained by what could be shown on television, which often meant cheap effects, weaker scares, and sometimes some pretty hammy acting. And because these miniseries were much longer, often to stay truer to the actual plot of the book, the pacing is a bit all over the place even in the best ones.

The Unseen
  • 1985 Cat's Eye
  • 1987 A Return to Salem's Lot
  • 1990 Graveyard Shift
  • 1991 Golden Years
  • 1992 Sleepwalkers
  • 1995 Dolores Claiborne
  • 1997 Trucks
  • 1997 The Night Flier
  • 1998 Apt Pupil
  • 2001 Children of the Corn: Revelation
  • 2001 The Mangler 2
  • 2002 Firestarter 2: Rekindled
  • 2005 The Mangler Reborn
  • 2007 Creepshow III (Unofficial sequel to the 1987 film. King wasn't involved.)
  • 2007 No Smoking (Indian film) (based on the short story Quitters Inc.)
  • 2009 Dolan's Cadillac
  • 2009 Children of the Corn
  • 2011 Children of the Corn: Genesis (sequel to the 2001 film)
  • 2014 Big Driver
  • 2014 A Good Marriage (based on the 2010 novella. Screenplay by Stephen King)
  • 2014 Mercy (based on the short story "Gramma" from King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew)