Stephen King reigns as a master of horror because his stories are incredibly relatable. His characters wrestle with or even embody demons greater than what the otherworldly creatures themselves present. (Re)watch these five Stephen King adaptations, and catch all of the nuances that unsettle simple, everyday life.
In addition to the powerhouse performance of 25-year old Sissy Spacek, Carrie proved to also be a notable showcase for Laurie Piper, Amy Irving, pre-House William Katt, Nancy Allen, and John Travolta (the latter two who would reunite in 1981’s Blow Out). Brian DePalma’s 1976 opus of high school insecurity and angst, bullying, revenge, and religious fanaticism is still chilling 40+(!) years later.
As fantastic as this year’s version was, take a look at Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1990 IT , with Tim Curry as the terrifying Pennywise. Featuring a roundtable of that decade’s finest, including Harry Anderson, John Ritter, Tim Reid, Richard Thomas, and Annette O’Toole, this take is impressive for being a two-part series on network TV. Whispers from the sewer and floating balloons are scary, regardless of which decade they’re filmed in.
Rob Reiner went from the boyhood camaraderie of “Stand by Me” to the twisted world of Misery, where fandom becomes a writer’s living hell. Long before Kathy Bates was an AHS fave, she was Annie Wilkes, the unhinged nurse who makes James Caan painfully regret his decision to kill off a popular storybook heroine. It’s difficult not to squirm at the sledgehammer scene – brrrr!!!
George Romero + classic King = Creepshow, five dark, slightly campy tales of dysfunctional families, toxic relationships, alien invasions, and germophobic nightmares. Catch a young Joe King as the comics reading scamp who evokes the Creep, and his dad as the country bumpkin title lead in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” Additionally, Ed Harris has his last family get together, Adrienne Barbeau meets a beast, Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson engage in reciprocal revenge, and E.G. Marshall suffers the wrath of cockroaches.
Many Stephen King adaptations include creepy kids or animals, and Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary features both. Neither Church the cat or Miko Hughes’ Gage Creed are so lovable after being resurrected, but blame it on Fred Gwynne. Beloved Herman Munster did advise “Sometimes dead is better,” AFTER showing Dale Midkiff the Micmac ritual burial site.
Which of these Stephen King King adaptations unnerves you the most?