The worst Stephen King adaptations


There have been some fantastic movies based on Stephen King’s writings, as evidenced in our list here, but there have also been a few absolute duds. Here are the worst, all terrifying in the wrong kind of way.

6. Firestarter

Firestarter isnt atrocious, exactly – it’s just a bit, embarrassing. King’s own source material doesn’t help matters – it’s Carrie in her pre-teen years… with fire – so it was always going to be a difficult transition to the big screen. It doesn’t help that every time Drew Barrymore wants to burn something – or someone – her hair thinks it’s in a Timotei advert. Martin Sheen, fresh from his stint in The Dead Zone, pops up, and George C Scott is a one-eyed villain who gets a little too close to the flames. It’s all a bit lame, really, like a CBeebies version of what a King novel should be. Firestarter was the first King novel I ever read and it terrified me (I was about nine). The shoddy film means I have no desire to revisit it.

5. Secret Window

Based on King novella Secret Window, Secret Garden, once again we have a writer at the forefront of one of his stories. But the only thing this shares with a masterpiece like Misery is the latter’s title comes to mind when watching it. Johnny Depp goes to his local butcher and orders a nice thick slice of ham as Mort Rainey, an author who isn’t all that he seems. Not as annoying as Jack Sparrow, but definitely dud Depp.

4. It: Part 2

There was no way for It: Part 2 to match the horror of It: Part 1 – not unless you find John-Boy Walton scary, but did it have to let us down so spectacularly? In fairness to John-Boy (Richard Thomas), he is actually pretty good in this, and the same can be said for the late great John Ritter and Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown. But they are lumbered with some hokey material and a terrible ending – plasticine spiders tend not to frighten me. Or anyone over the age of 4. It was always going to be difficult to keep up the tension of It’s first part – things are way scarier when it’s wide-eyed kids getting terrorised rather than their wisecracking adult versions – but still. Oh well, at least the unsettling underage orgy from the book didn’t make the cut.

3. Sleepwalkers

King wrote the script for this pretty terrible Cat People knock-off, which predates Twilight in its yawnful (ball of) yarn about a girl falling for some bloke who likes eating living things when night falls. And who is also dating his own mother. The problem with Sleepwalkers, apart from the hokey script and terrible action, is its premise – the were-kitties only weakness? Why, cats, of course. That makes no sense. Not even cameos from King and Mark Hamill can save this soggy moggy.

2. Dreamcatcher

Right, now we get to the real King crud. On paper, Dreamcatcher sounds like a film studio’s, uh, dream. Heck, if they pitched it now it would probably get made – Homeland’s Damian Lewis and Morgan Freeman battling aliens bent on world domination? Sign me up. Oh, what’s that? The whole thing’s set in a log cabin and the aliens crawl out of your arse when you’re on the toilet? Uh, maybe I’ll just sit through Sleepwalkers again…

1. Maximum Overdrive

And now to what the French call ‘the piece of resistance’ of crap King. And he has no one to blame for this one… but himself. Not only is it taken from his short story, Trucks, but King actually stepped into the director’s chair too. Someone directed this?! Well, kind of. King subsequently admitted that he was high on cocaine while making Maximum Overdrive. To be fair to him, he has never shied away from pointing out how bad the film is. Commissioner Gordon, Lisa Simpson and Emilio Estevez appear in a tale of villainous vehicles taking over a truck stop. Not exactly The Stand, is it? What could have been a lot of fun is just a complete mess, although MO does have a few redeeming features – a rocking AC/DC soundtrack (King picked the band himself to do it and appears at the start of their Who Made Who video that went with the movie) and a brilliant but crap but brilliant trailer, introduced by good old Steve himself, telling his prospective audience how great his new film was. Lying git. King never directed again. Anyone unfortunate enough to see it never watched Maximum Overdrive again either.



2 Responses to “The worst Stephen King adaptations”

  1. Nice! There are several “top Stephen King adaptation” lists around but sometimes I’d just like to see something properly trashy 🙂

  2. It’s true that his books don’t always translate well to the big (or small) screen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: