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Here Are The Top 10 Stephen King Movie Adaptations You Need To Watch In 2021

If you loved the new It movies, you're going to love this list.

1. The Shining (1980)

Jack bursting through a door with an axe and Wendy screaming on the other side of the door
Warner Bros.

Stanley Kubrick's adaption of King's novel of the same name is by far one of the most iconic films in King's cinematic repertoire. The story follows the Torrance family as they take on the role of caretakers of the Overlook hotel during its closed winter season. Combining Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic with a hot temper; his son, Danny, who's gifted with a supernatural ability known as "the shining;" and the hotel's bloody past, the Torrances become prime targets for the malicious spirits that dwell within the hotel. Will they all survive the winter in one piece?

2. Carrie (1976)

Carrie White at prom covered in pig blood
Red Bank Films

This is Brian De Palma's 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's debut novel, Carrie (1974). Much like The Shining, this isn't only a popular King adaptation but an all-around iconic film in the horror genre. The story follows Carrie White, an unpopular teenager who's oppressed by her fanatically religious mother and mocked by her peers for being different, but they don't know just how different she really is. As hard as she tries to hide her hidden powers, all it will take is one final straw to set in motion a revenge-fueled trail of destruction, revenge, and horror.

3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Red and Angry in the prison yard plotting an escape
Columbia Pictures

While King is best known for his iconic horror masterpieces, The Shawshank Redemption proves that he's not limited to just one genre. This story follows two men who develop a bond during their years in prison and attempt to redeem themselves. While not scary in the traditional sense, the themes of hitting rock bottom and the cruelty of the U.S. prison system are chilling nonetheless.

4. Stand By Me (1986)

A group of four boys wandering through the woods
Columbia Pictures

Another non-horror movie in King's filmography, Rob Reiner's adaptation of King's 1982 novella – originally titled The Body – follows a group of young boys as they search for the body of a missing young man. As we join them on their journey, we're reminded of the innocence of youth, the significance of friendship, and the impact of death and grief on us all. Again, while not necessarily horror, there are definitely some horror-adjacent moments for those who need that extra bit of ~spook~ to be persuaded to watch this classic film.

5. The Green Mile (1999)

A group of police officers escorting a large man into a prison cell
Warner Bros.

Frank Darabont, who also directed The Shawshank Redemption, brings another piece of King's work to life with this 1999 adaptation of The Green Mile. The story follows John Coffey, a Black man with mental disabilities on death row for the murder of two white girls in 1935. When one of the prison guards, Paul Edgecomb, discovers that the inmate has a supernatural gift that allows him to perform uncanny miracles, he begins to suspect that Coffey is innocent.

6. It Chapter One (2017) and It Chapter Two (2019)

Pennywise the scary clown holding a balloon and smiling wickedly
Warner Bros. / Via

Even though these are two separate films, the sequel is a direct continuation of the first film, and I think it's important to include both. Based on one of Stephen King's most popular novels, the two films tell the story of the Loser's Club, a group of outcast childhood friends who attempt to defeat an evil creature that feeds on the children of their hometown. After twenty-seven years pass, the creature returns, leaving the now-grown Loser's Club no choice but to reunite and kill the monster once and for all.

7. Misery (1990)

Author, Paul Sheldon, in bed as Annie Wilkes stands over him with a creepy aura
Columbia Pictures / Via

Misery is another piece of King's writing brought to the silver screen by Rob Reinerwent who also directed Stand By Me. The story follows Paul Sheldon, an accomplished writer who finds himself under the care of an obsessive fan named Annie Wilkes. As he heals, he realizes Annie might not be the helpful, devoted fan she says she is. Will Paul live to write another tale or does Annie have other plans for him?

8. Cujo (1983)

A rabid dog covered in blood from eating a bunch of people
Warner Bros.

Based on King's 1981 novel of the same name, Cujo follows a mother and her young son who find themselves trapped in a broken down car as they're being terrorized by the titular rapid St. Bernard dog. If you ever thought, "Hey, I bet Old Yeller would be great as a horror story," then this story is perfect for you.

9. Pet Sematary (1989)

Church, the undead cat, after coming to life from the grave and hissing evilly at his owners
Paramount Pictures

Based on of what King himself claims to be his most terrifying novel, this film follows Louis Creed and his family as they move into a new home which just so happens to have a small pet "sematary" out back where the locals bury their dead animals. What they don't know is that just beyond the pet cemetery lies an ancient burial ground that possesses the ability to bring the dead back to life. After a well-meaning neighbor reveals the burial ground's powers to Louis, tragedy strikes the family and a grieving Louis decides to use the burial ground's powers to reverse death. But, as Louis soon finds out the hard way, sometimes dead is better.

10. And lastly: The Dead Zone (1983)

Johnny Smith walking through a dark, damp tunnel
Paramount Pictures

Based off of King's 1979 novel of the same name, The Dead Zone tells the story of Johnny Smith, a man who discovers that he has psychic abilities after waking up from a coma. With this new found power, he attempts to put it to good use by solving crimes, warning others about future accidents, and attempting to stop a war-hungry politician, no matter the costs.

So, that's the end of my list, but what are some of your favorite Stephen King books turned into movies?

Carla Gugino in Gerald's Game screaming in her bed with her hands tied to the bed

Be sure to drop your recommendations in the comments!