Movies You Didn’t Know Were Stephen King Movies
I have been on a bit of a Stephen King kick since IT (2017) came out. I was an avid Stephen King fan in the 80s and early 90s, and have read several novels and many short stories. There are several of those stories that I had even read back in the day, and didn’t realize those were the same stories that had been made into some of my favorite movies!
Here is a list of 8 movies (in no particular order), that you may not have known were Stephen King movies.
- 1408 (2007)
Based on the 1999 short story
Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shaloub
Believe it or not, before IT (2017), 1408 was Stephen King’s highest-grossing movie adaptation. That year “torture” movies were all the rage, so something that was scary, but not so gory seemed to appeal to audiences at the time. John Cusack plays a writer who stays in room 1408, and experiences much more than he expected.
- Apt Pupil (1998)
Based on the 1982 novella
Starring: Ian McKellan, Brad Renfro, Bruce Davison, David Schwimmer
I really did not enjoy this film. It’s well-made, with really unpleasant subject matter about a teen who finds out a Nazi lives on his block, and blackmails him to get information. Unfortunately, Renfro died in 2008 at age 25 of a heroin overdose, a week before Heath Ledger died from pill overdose.
- Hearts In Atlantis (2001)
Based on 2 novellas from the 1999 Hearts In Atlantis Collection
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Anton Yelchin, David Morse, Hope Davis
This one stuck with me. I really enjoyed this coming-of-age story. It stars a young Anton Yelchin, who played Checkov in the new Star Trek movies. He was tragically killed in 2016 at the age of 27 when he was pinned by his own car at the bottom of his driveway. He was fantastic in his role, and so was Anthony Hopkins, as usual.
- Secret Window (2004)
Based on the 1990 novella Secret Window, Secret Garden
Starring: Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro, Timothy Hutton
I really enjoyed this one. Johnny Depp is great, he plays a writer going through a divorce when a strange man appears on his doorstep saying “you stole my story.” It’s a fun ride.
- The Running Man (1987)
Based on the 1982 novel by Richard Bachman (King’s pen name)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dawson, Maria Conchita Alonso
This novel is actually credited to Richard Bachman, King’s pen name, which may explain why many don’t know it’s a Stephen King movie. King himself made sure Bachman’s name is on it. The movie is set in the year 2017, which is pretty entertaining–some of it’s not accurate, some of it is very accurate! Richard Dawson is perfect as the game show host, of course.
- The Green Mile (1998)
Based on the 1996 novel
Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt
A long movie, and a tear-jerker. It’s about prison guards who recieve a new inmate that seems to have special powers. Bruce Willis recommended Michael Clarke Duncan after working with him in Armageddon. It’s one you’ll think about for awhile.
- Stand by Me (1986)
Based on the 1982 novella The Body
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, John Cusack
Another wonderful coming-of-age movie, with a stellar young cast, most of whom went on to become big stars. King has said it’s one the closest adaptations of his films, and Rob Reiner has said it’s one his best films. I found it interesting that the scene with the leeches was inspired by King’s real life experience. Also, we lost another great young actor, River Phoenix, at the age of 23 in 1993 of a drug overdose.
- The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Based on the 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, Clancy Brown, William Sadler
#1 on IMDb’s 250 Top-Rated Movies, this a great film. It didn’t do well in theaters, but went on to become one of the highest-grossing rentals, and was played ad nauseum on TNT after Ted Turner acquired the rights to the film.
I did actually re-watch each of these movies, and I have to say I really enjoyed most all of them (with the notable exception of Apt Pupil). They are thought-provoking, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, disturbing, and repulsive, but all are well-made, set a palpable mood, and provide a nice escape when you’re stuck inside during the upcoming cold winter months.
King has said his favorite book-to-film adaptations are Stand by Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Mist.