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My Top Five Favorite Stephen King Films

Ariel has a love for movies, writing, books, pop culture and other fun stuff.

Carrie 1976


Sissy Spacek as a teenager who is bullied by her peers and abused by her highly crazy religious mother. She discovers that she possesses the terrifying power of telekinesis. After falling victim to an unsuspecting prank at the prom, Carrie uses her powers in a vengeful act against her tormentors. Spacek's performance as the bullied teen is heartbreaking and powerful that you cannot help but root for her as she unleashes a fury upon her peers.
She was nominated for an academy award, along with her costar, Piper Laurie, who plays her psychotic mother, Margret. The film has been remade twice and a sequel was produced, but the original is considered one of the better King adaptions and one of the scariest films of all time.

Director: Brian De Palma

Cast: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Amy Irving and John Travolta

Pet Semetery 1989


Mary Lambert brings one of King's most haunting novels to life in this horror classic. Dale Midkiff plays Louis Creed, a young doctor who moves his family to a quiet Maine town. There, they meet their neighbor, an elderly man named Jud Crandell played by Fred Gwynne. They notice a path behind their house leading to the woods. Jud informs the path leads to a pet cemetery created by children who have lost their pets due to the busy roads. One day, Louis is informed his daughter's beloved cat, Church, has been hit and killed. Jud, knowing how heartbroken Ellie would be, takes Louis to bury the cat beyond the pet cemetery to sacred ground. Louis is surprised and shocked to see a reanimated Church returning to the house. The Creeds are dealt a devastating blow as their infant son is killed. Louis, knowing the power brought back Church, why can't it bring back his son? Louis finds out the hard way that sometimes dead is better.
Again, one of the better King adaptations, and later spawned a sequel and a remake. Lambert does a wonderful job in capturing the unsettling and disturbing subject and bringing it from the page to the screen. Some of the performances fall flat, but we can all agree Fred Gwynne's performance as the sweet Jud steals the show.

Director: Mary Lambert

Cast: Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby, Miko Huges, Blaze Berdahl and Brad Greenquist

Thinner 1996

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This adaption is often slept on and is not given the praise that it should. Thinner follows an obese lawyer Billy Halleck, who, during a moment of passion with his wife in a car, accidentally hits an elderly woman, killing her. Guilt-ridden, Billy is spared any punishment from the judge, who is a close friend of Billy's. Displeased, the woman's father Tadzu Lempke places a curse on Billy by touching his cheek and saying the word " thinner." Billy begins to lose a rapid amount of weight and is on the verge of death. He begs and pleads with Lempke to rid him of the curse, but the old man believes he and his friends must suffer for their deeds. Billy must do whatever he can, including hiring a hitman to instigate fear into the old man and his family, or else he will be suffering a fate worse than death.
The great thing about this film is the special effects. They are really well-done and realistically terrifying. The performances are hit and miss, except for Joe Mantegna who plays Richard ' The Hammer' Ginelli. His performance alone is what makes the movie enjoyable. This film is sort of hit-and-miss with King fans, but I found it to be one of the better adaptations.

Director: Tom Holland

Cast: Robert John Burke, Lucinda Jenney, Michael Constantaine, Joe Mantegna and Kari Wuhrer

Stand By Me 1986


Based on the short story called The Body from the novella Different Seasons, Stand by Me is directed by Rob Reiner and tells the story of a young boy named Gordie Lachance played by Will Wheaton. The story is told through the eyes of a now adult Gordie, who along with his friends, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio, head out to find the body of a boy, who went missing. It's a simple story but not a dull one. We viewers will be entertained and invested in the boys as they dodged trains, share stories, or fall into the pool of water filled with leeches.
It's not a typical Stephen King story. There are no monsters (unless you count the human ones) and no boogeyman, but when it comes to adaptations, this one may be the most accurate. The cast of this film is incredible. There are just amazing performances all around, especially from the younger cast. By the end of the film, you're going to be saying " two for flinching."

Director: Rob Reiner

Cast: Will Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O' Connell, Kiefer Sutherland and Richard Dreyfuss

The Stand 1994


Director Mick Garris succeeds in adapting one of King's most epic novels and bringing it to the small screen in this four-hour mini-series. A deadly virus sweeps throughout the country and eventually the world, wiping out half of the population. The remaining survivors are divided into two factions. One is led by an elderly woman Mother Abagail played by Ruby Dee and the other is led by an evil being known as Randall Flagg played by Jamie Sheridan. The fate of humanity now rests in the hands of the survivors as the battle between good and evil begins to unfold.
The Stand is considered one of the best Stephen King novels and is also the longest. The mini-series packs an all-star cast of A-listers such as Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Ossie Davis Shawnee Smith, and Molly Ringwald, just to name a few. Though some of the special effects may be dated and casting choices are a little questionable, there are certain ones that stand out, like Jamey Sheridan playing the seductive demonic Randall Flagg. Flagg is King's most famous villain and appears in a lot of his books and movies later on. The series was remade again in 2020 and aired during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was met with mixed reviews, particularly about the casting and certain changes in the movie. However, this version seems to be more accurate than the latest one. And let's not forget that opening scene set to the tune of Don't Fear the Reaper. To me, that scene alone makes this one of my favorite King adaptations.

Director: Mick Garris

Cast: Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, Shawnee Smith, Corin Nemec, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Jamey Sheridan, Adam Storke and Laura San Giacomo

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